Category : * Economics, Politics

(Local Paper) With more than 770 South Carolina coronavirus cases, cities and towns enacting stay-in ordinances

As cases of the coronavirus continue to grow in South Carolina, local officials have gone back and forth on how much they should restrict their communities.

Beach town communities closed, reopened, then closed their again as they tried to interpret state guidance, while cities like Charleston and Columbia stood firm on their stay-at-home ordinances.

South Carolina health officials announced 113 new cases of the coronavirus and one new death Sunday afternoon, bringing the state’s total to 774 cases in 40 counties.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, City Government, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(NYT) ‘White-Collar Quarantine’ Over Virus Spotlights Class Divide

In other cases, the rich aren’t going east or west, but down. Gary Lynch, general manager of Rising S, a Texas maker of safe rooms and bunkers that range in price from $40,000 to several million dollars, said he had added a second shift of 15 workers to handle the flood of new orders, mostly for underground bunkers.

“I’ve never seen interest like there is now,” said Mr. Lynch, who has taken to turning his phone off at night so he can get some sleep. “It has not let up.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Personal Finance & Investing

(Local Paper) Publix, Bi-Lo, Harris Teeter, Food Lion to install plexiglass in all stores for protection during pandemic

Customers at Publix, Bi-Lo, Food Lion and Harris Teeter supermarkets will soon notice plexiglass panels in areas of the store with direct interaction with shoppers.

Florida-based Publix will begin installing the acrylic plastic partitions this weekend at cash registers, customer service desks and pharmacies in all of its stores, according to spokeswoman Maria Brous.

The company expects every store to have plexiglass installed within the next two weeks.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Health & Medicine

The Latest letter from the Archbishops to the Church of England on the Coronavirus Situation

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Stay home, protect the NHS and save lives

We are writing further to you given the rapidly changing nature of the situation in our country at present. We want to thank you for the ministry you are exercising and for the creative and imaginative ways in which you are responding to the crisis and showing the love and care of Christ to the communities we serve, particularly to the most vulnerable in our society.

As we move towards Passiontide, focussing on what Jesus did for us on the cross, more than ever this is brought into stark focus. We want to reiterate the advice we have already sent. The government is asking us to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. We call upon all our churches and church leaders, clergy and lay, to follow this advice.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Politics in General

(NYT Op-ed) Russell Moore–God Doesn’t Want Us to Sacrifice the Old

A generation ago, the essayist and novelist Wendell Berry told us that the great challenge of our time would be whether we would see life as a machine or as a miracle. The same is true now. The value of a human life is not determined on a balance sheet. We cannot coldly make decisions as to how many people we are willing to lose since “we are all going to die of something.”

A life in a nursing home is a life worth living. A life in a hospital quarantine ward is a life worth living. The lives of our grandparents, the lives of the disabled, the lives of the terminally ill, these are all lives worth living. We will not be able to save every life. Many will die, not only of the obviously vulnerable but also of those who are seemingly young and strong. But every life lost must grip us with a sense of lament, that death itself is not natural but is, as the Bible tells us, an enemy to be withstood and, ultimately, undone.

That means we must listen to medical experts, and do everything possible to avoid the catastrophe we see right now in Italy and elsewhere. We must get back to work, get the economy back on its feet, but we can only do that when doing so will not kill the vulnerable and overwhelm our hospitals, our doctors, our nurses, and our communities.

And along the way we must guard our consciences. We cannot pass by on the side of the road when the elderly, the disabled, the poor, and the vulnerable are in peril before our eyes. We want to hear the sound of cash registers again, but we cannot afford to hear them over the cries of those made in the image of God….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Theology

(Meet The Press) Mohammed Hameeduddin, Mayor of Teaneck New Jersey: ‘Three Pearl Harbor Attacks At The Same Time.’

Watch and listen to it all.

Posted in City Government, Health & Medicine

Local Newspaper Editorial: Charleston’s stay-at-home order a painful but needed step

Charleston and Mount Pleasant, two of South Carolina’s four largest cities, are soon expected to require residents to stay home, essentially closing all businesses deemed nonessential, in yet another effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. These are painful, controversial, steps, but they ultimately are justified and needed to save lives.

The decisions mean that businesses such as nail salons, barbershops and clothing stores will join public schools and colleges that already have been ordered closed. Restaurants and bars were closed last week except for take-out and delivery.

Many other businesses deemed essential, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, utilities, banks, hardware stores, construction companies, liquor stores and the news media, may remain open. People still can walk their dog or go for a jog but should make a point to stay at least 6 feet away from others.

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Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, City Government, Health & Medicine

(NPR) When The President will see a time to reopen the economy remains a very difficult decision with many dimensions

In his Tuesday afternoon briefing with the coronavirus task force, President Trump couched earlier comments about the need to reopen the U.S. economy within weeks, emphasizing the decision would ultimately be data-driven and made in consultation with public health experts.

The president said he still wants Americans working again by Easter Sunday, something he first said during a virtual town hall with Fox earlier in the day. But he was much more circumspect over whether that would be possible from a medical standpoint.

His previous comments about reopening the economy prompted alarm among public health experts across the country, who said it’s far too early. Trump seemed to much more carefully toe the line during his briefing as he talked about “carefully and responsibly reopening the country.”

“I want to assure Americans that we have a team of public health experts … also economists and other professionals working to develop a sophisticated plan to reopen the economy as soon as the time is right, one based on the best science, the best modeling and the best medical research there is anywhere on earth,” he said.

Trump stressed that this is a “medical crisis, this isn’t a financial crisis.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, President Donald Trump

(Local Paper) South Carolina announces 44 more coronavirus patients, bringing total to 342 cases in 36 counties

South Carolina announced 44 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 342 cases spread across 36 counties.

The new cases include eight in Greenville County and five in Charleston County, as well as four cases each in Kershaw, Richland, Sumter and York counties.

Gov. Henry McMaster and Education Superintendent Molly Spearman jointly announced Tuesday the state’s schools would not reopen in April. Nine days ago, McMaster ordered all schools and colleges to close through March 31. The extension hasn’t officially been ordered yet, but officials wanted to give a heads up that it’s coming.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

(Science Mag) ‘I’m going to keep pushing.’ Anthony Fauci tries to make the White House listen to facts of the pandemic

Q: I’m curious about some things that aren’t happening on a national scale. One is, why are shelter in place orders happening state by state? Why are we doing this sequentially? Is that a mistake?

A: No, I don’t think we could say it’s a mistake or not a mistake. There is a discussion and a delicate balance about what’s the overall impact of shutting everything down completely for an indefinite period of time. So, there’s a compromise. If you knock down the economy completely and disrupt infrastructure, you may be causing health issues, unintended consequences, for people who need to be able to get to places and can’t. You do the best you can. I’ve emphasized very emphatically at every press conference, that everybody in the country, at a minimum, should be following the fundamental guidelines. Elderly, stay out of society in self isolation. Don’t go to work if you don’t have to. Yada, yada, yada. No bars, no restaurants, no nothing. Only essential services. When you get a place like New York or Washington or California, you have got to ratchet it up. But it is felt—and it isn’t me only speaking, it’s a bunch of people who make the decisions—that if you lock down everything now, you’re going to crash the whole society. So, you do what you can do, as best as you can. Do as much physical separation as you can and ratchet it up at the places you know are at highest risk.

Q: But I heard a guy say, if you think you’re doing too much, you’re probably doing the right amount.

A: That’s me.

Q: I know it’s you. The “15 Days to Slow the Spread” campaign doesn’t mention religious gatherings. I know Pence mentioned them yesterday. But why aren’t they on the 15 days recommendations? All these other places are mentioned.

A: It was implied in no crowds of more than 10 people. But you’re right, crowds in church are important and every time I get a chance to say it, I mention it. I can’t really criticize them strongly for that at all. When you say less than 10, it makes common sense that it involves the church. I say it publicly and even the vice president has said it publicly.

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

(Local Paper) ‘Essential’ businesses making their case with SC governor to remain open

Gov. Henry McMaster’s office is being inundated with notices from businesses that say they want to continue operating if a shelter-in-place order is issued in response to the coronavirus, even though McMaster said he is not yet considering such an order at this time.

The notices are in response to a federal memo that broadly outlines the types of businesses considered essential to “ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security” during a crisis, such as the current outbreak of coronavirus, known as the COVID-19 pandemic. The memo was issued Thursday by Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security office.

Those essential businesses include sectors such as healthcare, energy and law enforcement as well as transportation, public works and critical manufacturing.

Read it all.

Update: “In his most recent press briefing, Governor Henry McMaster issued an executive order authorizing law enforcement officers in the state to prohibit or disperse any gatherings of people in groups of 3 or more outside of your own home, focusing in on spontaneous gatherings and leaving the decision up to the discretion of the law enforcement officer.”

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

(AP) As offerings dwindle, some churches fear for their future

As in-person worship services are canceled or downsized amid the coronavirus outbreak, some churches across the U.S. are bracing for a painful drop in weekly contributions and possible cutbacks in programs and staff.

One church leader, Bishop Paul Egensteiner of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Metropolitan New York Synod, said some of the 190 churches in his region were unlikely to survive because of a two-pronged financial hit. Their offerings are dwindling, and they are losing income from tenants such as preschools which can no longer afford to rent church venues.

“As much as I’d like to help them, everybody’s reserves are taking a hit because of the stock market,” Egensteiner said,

At Friendship Baptist Church in Baltimore, a mostly African American congregation of about 1,100, the Rev. Alvin Gwynn Sr. bucked the cancellation trend by holding services last Sunday. But attendance was down by about 50%, and Gwynn said the day’s offering netted about $5,000 compared to a normal intake of about $15,000.

“It cuts into our ministry,” he said. “If this keeps up, we can’t fund all our outreach to help other people.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Local Paper) Charleston mayor says business as usual has price: ‘Death sentence for thousands’

County and city officials around the Charleston area are urging residents to stay home if at all possible, saying the new coronavirus could spread exponentially in South Carolina if strict preventive measures aren’t taken immediately.

South Carolina officials announced 22 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Sunday, including four in Charleston County. This brings the total number of cases in the state to 195 in 33 counties.

There are two new cases each in Beaufort, Greenville, Horry, Lancaster and York counties. Berkeley, Colleton, Darlington, Hampton and Kershaw counties each have one new case, while Richland County has three new cases.

Additionally, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is investigating a potential exposure to the virus and its related disease, COVID-19, at Wando High School.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, City Government, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

A Reflection on Saint Joseph the Worker for his Feast Day

ZENIT spoke with Father Tarcisio Giuseppe Stramare of the Congregation of Oblates of Saint Joseph, director of the Josephite Movement, about Tuesday’s feast of St. Joseph the Worker….

ZENIT: What does “Gospel of work” mean?

Father Stramare: “Gospel” is the Good News that refers to Jesus, the Savior of humanity. Well, despite the fact that in general we see Jesus as someone who teaches and does miracles, he was so identified with work that in his time he was regarded as “the son of the carpenter,” namely, an artisan himself. Among many possible activities, the Wisdom of God chose for Jesus manual work, entrusted the education of his Son not to the school of the learned but to a humble artisan, namely, St. Joseph.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Theology

(Local Paper) South Carolina orders bars and restaurants close dine-in service as cases of coronavirus grow to 47

Gov. Henry McMaster ordered Tuesday that restaurants and bars stop dine-in service starting Wednesday. He is prohibiting gatherings of 50 people or more in order to slow community spread of the coronavirus. South Carolina had 47 reported cases in 13 counties as of Tuesday afternoon.

McMaster also ordered that state tax deadlines, both to file and pay, be delayed until June 1.

The new cases announced Tuesday include one case in Beaufort County, two cases in Charleston County, one case in Calhoun County, five cases in Kershaw County, one new case in Lexington County, one case in Richland County, one case in York County, one case in Greenville County and one case in Horry County.

A case previously identified as a case from Kershaw County was actually a Fairfield County case, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control officials said.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, State Government

(WSJ) Top Health Official Urges Americans to Stay Home Amid Coronavirus

“Americans should be prepared that they are going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Dr. Fauci, appearing on all the major Sunday morning television shows, warned that it could be several weeks to a few months before life in the U.S. begins to return to normal. Dr. Fauci urged people to work from home if they can and practice “social distancing” to prevent a potentially catastrophic spike in infections.

He said he wouldn’t eat at crowded restaurants or fly on planes unless it is necessary, advice that he said applies especially to older Americans and those with health conditions. He said parents should think twice about sending their children out to crowded playgrounds. And young people, even though they appear to be less vulnerable, could be endangering the lives of their grandparents or elderly relatives by not heeding public health warnings, he said.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to congregate anybody anywhere,” Dr. Fauci said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

As Dr. Fauci issued his warnings, the Trump administration grappled with how to handle an influx of Americans and other travelers into the country, who were clogging customs at major airports in response to the European travel ban.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, The U.S. Government

(Stat News) Coronavirus testing is starting to get better — but it has a long way to go

The Roche case offers some encouragement: Brown said that the company started working on its new test last month, and finished the work in six weeks. Roche asked the FDA for emergency clearance earlier this week, and received it around the stroke of midnight Friday. As he announced a national emergency Friday afternoon, President Trump promised that testing capacity would eventually reach 5 million.

Testing serves two purposes. It can tell whether an individual person is sick. But it also acts as our way of knowing how bad the epidemic is, and where it is worst. Other types of technologies might help with the second part, if not the first. Blood tests that look to see if people have antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 –when they become available — can tell us how many people have had Covid-19. Next-generation DNA sequencing technologies could also play a role in monitoring it.

Through all this, the CDC and other health officials now need to follow an old maxim: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Regulatory standards are important, and if the U.S. had organized its response sooner, getting the developers of diagnostic tests and major labs ready, there would have been time for an orderly process. But this is an emergency. And there is a need for speed.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government

EF Interviews Jonathan Tame, the Director of the Jubilee Centre in Cambridge–“The Bible says debt is a form of enslavement, and interest a means of oppression”

Q. You mentioned the precarious jobs and low wages. An example of that is a much praised film in the UK, titled “Sorry We Missed You”, a story about a man who starts working as a deliveryman in one of the new businesses such as Amazon, Uber… What ‘curses’ come with these new types of jobs linked to mobile phone ‘apps’ and the new ‘needs’ of costumers to have everything as fast and as cheap as possible?

A. Yes, it has been very interesting in the last decade that the combination of the new technologies that developed, especially smartphone apps, and that high unemployment at the beginning of the decade following the financial crisis, created the perfect conditions for what we call the ‘gig economy’ to emerge.

This form of capitalism, if you like, has developed where we have a cultural individualism and a market economy; but the consumer’s choice and freedom are becoming the most important thing of all. So we have 24/7 shopping, and somehow, we accept the ‘curse’ zero-hours contracts. And people who have to deliver this service are people we don’t really see, that are kind of invisible and anonymous. They are working having very anti-social hours and often not given much advance warning, only one day or two before they are told when they can work. This makes the worker in this ‘gig economy’… Well, it is a new kind of oppression, to be honest.

The loss of rights, the loss of freedom, especially for family relationships which came out in the film, is a very high price to pay for this new kind of consumerism – the new way we do buying and selling. So yes, it is something we should look out very critically.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Personal Finance & Investing, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(New Atlantis) Ted Nordhaus–Must Growth Doom the Planet?

For this reason, degrowth offers no guarantee that environmental impacts will decline. This is all the more so as calls for degrowth are frequently coupled with demands for a return to simpler, less technological, and non-synthetic systems for the provision of food and energy and for production of material goods and services. Less affluent economies more dependent upon production systems that use less technology would substantially increase the resource demands associated with consumption, and would erode or even entirely offset the benefits of lower levels of consumption.

Indeed, all over the world, poor populations dependent on low-productivity technologies often require surprisingly large per capita resource footprints to sustain their meager consumption. One 2012 study in PNAS, for instance, found that the average West African requires the same amount of land as the average Northern European to support a diet that is much poorer calorically and offers much less dietary protein.

By contrast, over the last two centuries, a virtuous cycle of rising energy and resource productivity has allowed for unprecedented levels of human wellbeing. With that has come a growing population — not because people are having more children but because life expectancies are much higher. Greater prosperity has brought rising material consumption — not mainly because of conspicuous consumption in the wealthiest societies, but rather the agrarian, energy, and demographic transitions that have allowed much of the global population to escape rural poverty and achieve something approaching modern living standards.

Growing demand for material goods and services by a growing and increasingly affluent global population has increased the pressure on natural resources. But it has also led to innovation that has raised resource productivity. In this way, rising resource productivity has allowed for both continuing economic growth and the increasing environmental efficiency of the global economy.

Reversing those dynamics will not necessarily result in lower resource usage, or lower environmental impacts. Lowering demand for resources could as easily result in less-productive resource use as in reduced pressure on resources. The combination of large post-growth human populations, economic stagnation, and increasingly abundant natural resources might drive human societies toward less-productive technological systems. The end of growth, in this way, may do more harm to the planet than good.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Religion & Culture

(PCN) Dean’s Beans: Blackburn Cathedral launches new coffee business

Blackburn Cathedral is launching its very own blend of coffee in the latest of its drinks businesses set up to boost its mission and ministry.

Hot on the heels of the first ever cathedral branded gin, Dean’s Beans Coffee has been produced by a local company and will be sold in the cathedral’s cafe.

Like its gin business, it’s hoped the coffee will soon be stocked in supermarkets.

Named in honour of the Dean of Blackburn Very Rev Peter Howell-Jones, Dean’s Beans retails at £5 a 225g bag for both ground and beans.

A tea business is expected to launch later this year too.

Read it all.

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

(USA Today) Midwest farmers face a crisis. Hundreds are dying by suicide.

Heather Utter, whose husband’s cousin was the third to die by suicide, worries that her father could be next. The longtime dairy farmer, who for years struggled to keep his operation afloat, sold the last of his cows in January amid his declining health and dwindling finances. The decision crushed him.

“He’s done nothing but milk cows all his life,” said Utter, whose father declined to be interviewed.

“It was a big decision, a sad decision. But at what point do you say enough is enough?”

American farmers produce nearly all of the country’s food and contribute some $133 billion annually to the gross domestic product….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Suicide

(WSJ) Nathan Lewin–The US Supreme Court Justices Punt on Religious Liberty

[Justice Byron] White then rejected the notion that TWA should have to pay “premium wages” to a substitute, wrecking employment opportunities for many religiously observant employees. “To require TWA to bear more than a de minimis cost in order to give Mr. Hardison Saturdays off is an undue hardship,” he wrote. He justified this repudiation of respect for conscience by declaring that if TWA bore any cost whatever, it “would involve unequal treatment of employees on the basis of their religion.” Never mind that any accommodation by definition results in unequal treatment.

Accommodating religious observance usually requires more than “de minimis” cost and inconvenience. By defining religious accommodation as voluntary cost-free etiquette, Justice White empowered bosses to treat an employees’ religion as a mere inconvenience.

Justice Thurgood Marshall declared in dissent: “Today’s decision deals a fatal blow to all efforts under Title VII to accommodate work requirements to religious practices.” He concluded that “one of this Nation’s pillars of strength—our hospitality to religious diversity—has been seriously eroded.”

In Patterson v. Walgreen, the drugstore chain claimed that it had accommodated Mr. Patterson’s religious observance by offering him a lower-paying position in which he could observe the sabbath and by allowing him to swap shifts with other employees who wouldn’t have to be paid extra. Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch said they were prepared to overrule White’s noxious Hardison declaration. But they believed there were too many technical hurdles in Patterson v. Walgreen to make it “a good vehicle for revisiting Hardison.”

I am an Orthodox Jew, and I’ve been blessed with accommodative employers for nearly all of my professional life. Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(C of I) ‘Every voice is worth listening to’ – Faith in Democracy lecture by Bishop Rowan Williams

Setting out the stall for democracy, Bishop Williams said it was not quite as straightforward as may be imagined. We need to question why it should work and understand what it is as well as what it is not. He suggested democracy is often defined by what it is not – it is not autocracy, oligarchy or dictatorship. Democracy raises the question of what is lawful in human society and what kind of system has a proper claim on our loyalty and obedience. It also asks what it is that we can recognise that represents our voice and our interests. “Democracy may be a mess but it’s our mess. It may have strange ideas but it reflects our ideas,” he stated.

The Bishop pointed out that democracy does not happen automatically when other systems disappear, citing Iraq and Libya as examples. He said that the advance of democracy went hand in hand with certain advances in secularism but did not agree that democracy is secular. “The fundamental of democracy is that it represents who we are, what we want and what we care about. But there is a risk of populism. Is something made right by the majority vote?’ he asked.

The paradox of democracy, he contended, is that it believes that every human agent is worth listening to. But if every human agent is worth listening to, then that includes minorities as well as the majority. “Democracy is a system in which every voice has a claim to be heard. But that can be a challenge. The voices that have not prevailed are still worth listening to… We go on arguing and that is a sign that democracy is working because the minority voice is still being taken seriously,” he said. “The majority decision may be lawful but it is still up for debate… It is crucial for a democracy to be liberated from the idea that majority votes end arguments.” He added that freedom of speech must be safeguarded (with certain limits) if democracy is to be a means of change in society.

However, he said public debate does not mean that we allow our neighbour to shout for a while before taking our own turn to shout. We must recognise that the person who opposes us in an argument has goals which we can recognise as intelligible.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Church of Ireland, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Theology

(CT) Advice for Churches from the Surgeon General: Preparing Your Church for Coronavirus

First, communicate well with your church when it comes to your commitment to keep your people as healthy as possible.

This includes reminding your people that if they have any type of symptoms of coughing, sneezing, fever, nausea, achiness, or any flu-like symptom, to stay home. Remind them that you love them, but that you can see them next week if they are experiencing anything that may be contagious.

Second, reeducate your church staff and volunteers regarding good hygiene for all.

Especially those working with older and younger populations need to enforce the importance of hand-washing and good health practices with all those in your programs. Remind them that we need to be especially cautious of those who may have suppressed immune systems.

Finally, now might be a good time to (at least temporarily) modify routines that may threaten to spread disease.

For example, during the greeting time (if you have one), encourage people to simply say hello instead of shaking hands or hugging. (We used elbow bumps in our meeting this morning.) Already churches have been considering altering their practices, and it appears to be time to increase those measures just a bit.

The Surgeon General emphasized that we will know a lot more “in a week or two” on how this will play out, and in some places “large public gatherings” such as church services may have to be restricted.

However, social distancing is something that should start happening now. I specifically asked if we should be limiting church activities like shaking hands. He responded, “It is prudent to limit touching, especially hand-to-hand.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, The U.S. Government

(Local Paper Front Page) As coronavirus reaches Southeast, South Carolina braces for first case of dangerous strain

Two patients in the Charleston area were recently screened for a potentially deadly strain of coronavirus, a hospital official confirmed Tuesday.

Lab results determined both patients at the Medical University of South Carolina tested negative for the potentially deadly virus, said MUSC spokeswoman Heather Woolwine.

No patients at Trident Health or Roper St. Francis have been tested for the disease. Other area hospitals did not immediately respond to inquires from The Post and Courier or deferred questions to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, which has so far refused to disclose how many patients statewide have been tested.

Dr. Jonathan Kanoche, a DHEC medical consultant, couldn’t confirm the exact number of coronavirus tests that have been conducted in South Carolina at an information session on Monday at North Charleston City Hall, but he said the department had completed a handful of tests with no positive cases.

On Thursday, the S.C. Senate Medical Affairs Committee will huddle with DHEC officials for a briefing on the illness. On Monday, DHEC Director Rick Toomey called the spread of coronavirus “a rapidly evolving situation” and assured members of the press that his agency takes “every new infectious disease seriously.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, State Government

(TGC) Albert Mohler–The Decadent and the Damned? Ross Douthat’s Timely Vision of Western Civilization

Indeed, Douthat employs decadence as a diagnosis of “economic stagnation, institutional decay, and cultural and intellectual exhaustion at a high level of material prosperity and technological development.”

As expected, Douthat lays out his case with skill and nuance. The age of economic expansion that began with the Industrial Revolution and ended sometime before the end of the 20th century is over. We should have seen it coming, Douthat writes: “At some point, every advanced-for-its-time society has ceased advancing; there is no reason to assume that the modern world is inherently immune from the torpor that claimed the Ottomans and imperial China in the not-so-distant past.”

But decadence also comes with sterility, and Douthat’s chapter on falling birthrates around the world is the most authentically dystopian part of his argument and analysis. This dystopia comes with two fundamental facts—there will be fewer babies, and there will be many more old people. The problem for society is that babies use up a lot of resources for a time, but then they become net producers for a much longer time. When it comes to the aged, the costs may well be even higher at the end of life, but without the promise of future contributions. An aging society is a society winding down, and this entropy is spreading nation by nation. It is a spiritual crisis.

The fact that human beings are making fewer babies is a far deeper problem, spiritually speaking, than the fact that Hollywood is stuck in a cycle of sequels.

Beyond stagnation (mostly economic) and sterility and repetition, Douthat also points to sclerosis (mostly political). His commentary is both perceptive and also sobering. He sees our “once-effective political order becoming impervious to constructive change.” That is a hard argument to refute, and Douthat wisely refuses to argue that it’s a truly recent development. This sclerosis was a long time in the making, and few significant political forces are even interested in reversing the process.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(CT) Nigeria’s Government Agrees: Islamist Terrorists Target Christians

In comments given exclusively to CT, the administration of President Muhammad Buhari clarified that this targeting is not new.

“Yes, Boko Haram is targeting individual Christians. In doing so, their target is all Nigerians, and their goal is to divide Christian brother against Muslim brother,” Mohammed, the information minister, told CT.

“What Boko Haram seeks—and always has sought—is to drive a wedge between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.

“By targeting Christians, they seek to promulgate the falsehood that the democratically elected Nigerian government does not care to protect them.

“By targeting Muslims, they seek to promulgate the falsehood that the terrorists themselves follow truthfully Islamic teachings, and those they target do not.

“It is the strategy of the desperate.”

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Posted in Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Terrorism

(FB) Charles Fain Lehman Reviews Ross Douthat’s ‘The Decadent Society’

Each of Douthat’s “four horsemen of decadence”—economic stagnation, collective infertility, political sclerosis, and cultural repetition—represents structural choices to sacrifice the future for the present. Weak innovation is driven by selecting short-term returns over investment, and by a publish-or-perish paradigm that makes careers but not discoveries. Collapsing fertility rates reflect deferred childbearing, spending the future social and personal benefits of children to ensure individuals’ present stability. Sclerosis is produced by a political class that clings to its own power, at the cost of training a future elite. And cultural repetition is in large part a product of Hollywood playing it safe, churning out blockbuster pablum instead of investing in something that might fail.

In other words, what is meant by “decadence” is in part “risk-averseness.” Where once we dared to do impossible things in the hope of a better tomorrow, now we pour everything possible into simply preserving the status quo.

The book’s last section sees Douthat imagining ways we could break out of this feedback loop. Through three chapters, he considers a societal collapse driven by mass strife over immigration, a la Michel Houllebecq; a rising Africa driving “renaissance,” and a return either to the will to power through renewed space exploration, or the will to meaning through a religious revival.

Even in the case of catastrophe, Douthat seems to see such regime-shattering possibilities as fundamentally positive. The return of history, even in its worst forms, might be better than the eternal now. As writer Tara Isabella Burton put it in her own review, “What we need, Douthat implies, is a renewed eschatological vision of what history, and what we, are for [emphasis in original].” It is little surprise that among Douthat’s many positive reviewers is arch-techno-optimist Peter Thiel, who writes that, “If there is a problem with the book, it is that Douthat does not press his own theme [of returning to the future] urgently enough.”

For all the book’s many strengths, there is one question to which Douthat gives perhaps inadequate treatment: Why has decadence happened?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Books, Children, Economy, Marriage & Family

(CP) Al-Shabaab warns all Christians to leave northeastern Kenya

The Somalia-based al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab has “ordered” Christians to leave three counties in northeastern Kenya to allow local Muslims to get all local jobs, according to the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern.

“Muslim teachers, doctors, engineers, and young graduates from the northeastern province are unemployed. Isn’t it better to give them a chance? There is no need for the presence of disbelievers,” al-Shabaab’s spokesman, Sheikh Ali Dhere, said in an audio clip posted online, referring to the counties of Garissa, Wajir and Mandera.

In the 20-minute clip, the spokesman urged Somali-Kenyans to drive all non-Muslims out if they do not leave on their own.

The majority of the people living in the three counties are Somalis, who fled to Kenya due to war and violence in Somalia.

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Posted in Kenya, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Somalia, Terrorism

(Vatican News) Yeb Saño–The cry of the earth is no different than the cry of the poor

Yeb Saño believes that the environmental crisis is rooted in three human characteristics, all of which are “closely connected with who we are”. All of these three words, he says, “start with the letter A”.

The first word is arrogance. Arrogance is the belief that you’re better than God or better than nature, that we’re smarter than nature – and that has caused a lot of havoc in the world.

The second word is apathy. Apathy is the dangerous belief that it’s somebody else’s job to care, it’s somebody else’s job to take care of others or take care of the environment.

And the third one is avarice, which is extreme greed. Greed has made this world a much, much worse place to live in. Greed is what drives, for example, corporations to only think about profits and not the people and the planet.

These are three words that “we as Catholics strive to stand up against”, three forms of a lack of love: “the love that Pope Francis reminds us to embrace as a commandment from God and as an example from the life of Jesus”, says Yeb Saño.

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