Category : * International News & Commentary

(BP) Supreme Court delivers 2 religious liberty wins

The U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed in two 7-2 rulings Wednesday (July 8) that churches and religious organizations are free to make employment and health insurance decisions based on their convictions.

In one ruling, the justices reiterated their support for a “ministerial exception” that enables churches and other religious bodies to hire and fire based on their beliefs. They had ruled unanimously in 2012 in favor of such an exception. In consolidated cases, two Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles chose not to renew contracts for two fifth-grade teachers based on what they said was poor performance.
In its other opinion, the high court upheld federal rules that protect the rights of employers with religious or moral objections to the Obama-era, abortion/contraception mandate. The opinion came after a seven-year legal battle by the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order that serves the poverty-stricken elderly, to gain an exemption from the requirement.

The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) commended both decisions as victories for religious freedom.

“If a religious organization cannot recruit leaders who agree with the beliefs and practices of those organizations, then there can be no true religious freedom. The Court recognized that today,” ERLC President Russell Moore said in a written statement of the “ministerial exception” opinion.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(Gallup) More Mask Use, Worry About Lack of Social Distancing in U.S.

As the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is rising sharply, 54% of Americans say they are worried about the lack of social distancing in their local area. Gallup’s June 22-28 polling marks the first time that this measure has reached the majority level, and it coincides with a record-high 86% of U.S. adults saying they have worn a mask in public in the past week.

Read it all.

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

UK Faith leaders make call for environment-focused economic recovery

Marking the end of the first half of London Climate Action Week, representatives from UK faith groups have signed an open letter to the UK Government urging it to ensure that its economic recovery strategy is centred on the urgent need to reduce the impact of climate change.

In the letter, the signatories, some of whom are members of the ‘Faith for the Climate’ network, also commit to the goals of the Laudato Si encyclical – an initiative of Pope Francis – to advocate for and model positive initiatives to continue to tackle the Climate Emergency.

The open letter [begins]:

COVID-19 has unexpectedly taught us a great deal. Amidst the fear and the grief for loved ones lost, many of us have found consolation in the dramatic reduction of pollution and the restoration of nature. Renewed delight in and contact with the natural world has the capacity to reduce our mental stress and nourish us spiritually.

We have rediscovered our sense of how interconnected the world is. The very health and future of humanity depends on our ability to act together not only with respect to pandemics but also in protecting our global eco-system.

At the same time, less travel and consumption and more kindness and neighbourliness have helped us appreciate what society can really mean.

We have also seen yet again that in times of crisis, injustice becomes more obvious, and that it is the poor and vulnerable who suffer most….

Read it all.

Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

A Short description of Jan Hus from the Virtual Museum of Protestantism

He protested against the ecclesiastical system, he preached in favour of reform in the Church and advocated a return to the poverty recommended by the Scriptures. Indeed, the Scriptures were the only rule and every man had the right to study them. In Questio de indulgentis (1412) he denounced the indulgences.

He admired Wyclif’s writings and defended him when he was condemned as a heretic. He was excommunicated. An interdict was pronounced over Prague and he had to leave it and go to southern Bohemia, where he preached and wrote theological treatises, notably the Tractatus de ecclesia (1413), known as «The Church».

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Czech Republic

(BBC) Coronavirus: The priest treating patients during crisis

Belfast man Christopher Gault left medicine to join the priesthood in 2014.

With the outbreak of coronavirus, he returned to work as a doctor for six weeks on the front line in Belfast’s Mater hospital.

Read it all (video availablealso).

Posted in --Ireland, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained

(CNN) In pictures: Americans celebrate Independence Day 2020

Check out all of them.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Photos/Photography

Another Prayer for Independence Day

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the peoples of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in America/U.S.A.

David McCullough–A Momentous Decision

“In Philadelphia, the same day as the British landing on Staten Island, July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress, in a momentous decision, voted to ‘dissolve the connection’ with Great Britain. The news reached New York four days later, on July 6, and at once spontaneous celebrations broke out. ‘The whole choir of our officers … went to a public house to testify our joy at the happy news of Independence. We spent the afternoon merrily,’ recorded Isaac Bangs.”

“A letter from John Hancock to Washington, as well as the complete text of the Declaration, followed two days later:

“‘That our affairs may take a more favorable turn,’ Hancock wrote, ‘the Congress have judged it necessary to dissolve the connection between Great Britain and the American colonies, and to declare them free and independent states; as you will perceive by the enclosed Declaration, which I am directed to transmit to you, and to request you will have it proclaimed at the head of the army in the way you shall think most proper.’ “Many, like Henry Knox, saw at once that with the enemy massing for battle so close at hand and independence at last declared by Congress, the war had entered an entirely new stage. The lines were drawn now as never before, the stakes far higher. ‘The eyes of all America are upon us,’ Knox wrote. ‘As we play our part posterity will bless or curse us.’
“By renouncing their allegiance to the King, the delegates at Philadelphia had committed treason and embarked on a course from which there could be no turning back.

“‘We are in the very midst of a revolution,’ wrote John Adams, ‘the most complete, unexpected and remarkable of any in the history of nations.’

“In a ringing preamble, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the document declared it ‘self-evident’ that ‘all men are created equal,’ and were endowed with the ‘unalienable’ rights of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ And to this noble end the delegates had pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

“Such courage and high ideals were of little consequence, of course, the Declaration itself being no more than a declaration without military success against the most formidable force on Earth. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, an eminent member of Congress who opposed the Declaration, had called it a ‘skiff made of paper.’ And as Nathanael Greene had warned, there were never any certainties about the fate of war.

“But from this point on, the citizen-soldiers of Washington’s army were no longer to be fighting only for the defense of their country, or for their rightful liberties as freeborn Englishmen, as they had at Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill and through the long siege at Boston. It was now a proudly proclaimed, all-out war for an independent America, a new America, and thus a new day of freedom and equality.”

—-David McCullough, 1776

Posted in America/U.S.A., History

Walt Whitman Reads “America”: The Only Surviving Recording of the Beloved Poet’s Voice

Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.

Read and listen to it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Poetry & Literature

An LA Times Independence Day Quiz

1. Which of these events actually happened on July 4, 1776?

A) The U.S. declared victory in the Revolutionary War.

B) A group of patriots dressed as Native Americans tossed British tea into the harbor to protest excessive taxes.

C) The Declaration of Independence was finalized.

D) The Constitution was finalized.

E) Paul Revere rode from Boston to Lexington and Concord to warn the patriots that the British would attack by sea….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History

Louis Armstrong plays the National Anthem

Posted in America/U.S.A., Music

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: It was the Flag of the Union

“Today we stand on an awful arena, where character which was the growth of centuries was tested and determined by the issues of a single day. We are compassed about by a cloud of witnesses; not alone the shadowy ranks of those who wrestled here, but the greater parties of the action–they for whom these things were done. Forms of thought rise before us, as in an amphitheatre, circle beyond circle, rank above rank; The State, The Union, The People. And these are One. Let us–from the arena, contemplate them–the spiritual spectators.

“There is an aspect in which the question at issue might seem to be of forms, and not of substance. It was, on its face, a question of government. There was a boastful pretence that each State held in its hands the death-warrant of the Nation; that any State had a right, without show of justification outside of its own caprice, to violate the covenants of the constitution, to break away from the Union, and set up its own little sovereignty as sufficient for all human purposes and ends; thus leaving it to the mere will or whim of any member of our political system to destroy the body and dissolve the soul of the Great People. This was the political question submitted to the arbitrament of arms. But the victory was of great politics over small. It was the right reason, the moral consciousness and solemn resolve of the people rectifying its wavering exterior lines according to the life-lines of its organic being.

“There is a phrase abroad which obscures the legal and moral questions involved in the issue,–indeed, which falsifies history: “The War between the States”. There are here no States outside of the Union. Resolving themselves out of it does not release them. Even were they successful in intrenching themselves in this attitude, they would only relapse into territories of the United States. Indeed several of the States so resolving were never in their own right either States or Colonies; but their territories were purchased by the common treasury of the Union. Underneath this phrase and title,–“The War between the States”–lies the false assumption that our Union is but a compact of States. Were it so, neither party to it could renounce it at his own mere will or caprice. Even on this theory the States remaining true to the terms of their treaty, and loyal to its intent, would have the right to resist force by force, to take up the gage of battle thrown down by the rebellious States, and compel them to return to their duty and their allegiance. The Law of Nations would have accorded the loyal States this right and remedy.

“But this was not our theory, nor our justification. The flag we bore into the field was not that of particular States, no matter how many nor how loyal, arrayed against other States. It was the flag of the Union, the flag of the people, vindicating the right and charged with the duty of preventing any factions, no matter how many nor under what pretence, from breaking up this common Country.

“It was the country of the South as well as of the North. The men who sought to dismember it, belonged to it. Its was a larger life, aloof from the dominance of self-surroundings; but in it their truest interests were interwoven. They suffered themselves to be drawn down from the spiritual ideal by influences of the physical world. There is in man that peril of the double nature. “But I see another law”, says St. Paul. “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind.”

–Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (1828-1914). The remarks here are from Chamberlain’s address at the general dedicatory exercises in the evening in the court house in Gettsyburg on the occasion of the dedication of the Maine monuments. It took place on October 3, 1889. For those who are history buffs you can see an actual program of the events there (on page 545)–KSH.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces

The Full Text of America’s National Anthem

O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

–Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Music

A Prayer for Independence Day from the 1928 BCP

Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners.

Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues.

Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those to whom in Thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth.

In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Spirituality/Prayer

(CNBC) Coronavirus forced 62% of summer camps to close this year and early estimates predict the industry will take a $16 billion revenue hit

If you visited Lochearn Camp For Girls, nestled on the shores of Vermont’s Lake Fairlee, during the summer months you’d likely hear the sounds of tennis balls hitting the court, horses trotting in the nearby corrals and girls laughing as they canoe in pristine waters.

But this year, the grounds are much quieter without the roughly 360 campers Lochearn welcomes each summer. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, camp director Tony Oyenarte and his team decided to close the overnight resident program for the 2020 season. “It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make as a camp director and as a businessman,” Oyenarte tells CNBC Make It.

“We’ve been open for 104 consecutive years. We went through the flu of 1918, both world wars, H1N1. But when June 1 came, and we had to make a decision for the summer, it was focused on: Are we gonna be able to deliver an experience that’s going to be safe and is it going to be fun?” Oyenarte says. And the short answer, after much soul searching, was no. “At the end of the day, we just said it’s not going to be the best experience for our campers and our staff.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Economy, Marriage & Family, Sports

(EF) Membership of German free evangelical denominations remains stable while Protestant and Catholic churches suffer huge losses

The latest statistics on members of free evangelical churches in Germany show that independent evangelical groups are stable. This contrasts with the heavy losses of the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches.

The Union of Baptist Free Evangelical Churches (BEFG) of Germany reported 80,195 members at the end of the year 2019, 961 less than the year before.

This loss of 1% in its membership is attributed to the fall of baptisms (1,610, almost half than in 2017). Another reason for this slight fall of membership, the Baptist annual report says, has to do with the fact that members who move from one church to another, do not often ask for membership in the new congregation.

Meanwhile, the Union of Pentecostal Free Churches (BFP), reported 62,872 members in 2019, a growth of over 10% if compared to the year 2017.

Read it all.

Posted in Germany, Religion & Culture

(FT) Data point to soaring US gun sales in June

A record 3.9m firearm background checks were conducted in June, according to new FBI figures that underscore the sharp rise in US gun sales since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd.

According to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the number of firearm background checks conducted last month in the US was 71 per cent higher compared with the same time last year. The monthly figures broke the previous record, which was set in March, when 3.7m checks were conducted.

The latest figures cover a period in which the number of coronavirus cases increased rapidly in many states across the American south and west, including Florida, Texas and Arizona. They also take into account the period of widespread antiracism protests and civil unrest after Floyd was killed in late May.

The FBI database does not convey the total guns sold, however, because background check laws and other rules surrounding firearm purchases vary from state to state. Not all gun buyers in the US are subject to background checks.

Read it all.

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

(WSJ) U.S. Daily Coronavirus-Case Count Crosses 50,000, a new daily record

New coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose above 50,000, a single-day record, as some states and businesses reversed course on reopenings and hospitals were hit by a surge of patients.
The U.S. accounts for about a quarter of more than 10.6 million coronavirus cases world-wide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The nation’s death toll climbed above 128,000.

Cases and hospitalizations are rising sharply in a number of areas.

In Texas, 6,533 Covid-19 patients were in hospitals, according to the state’s Department of Health. For most of April and May that number hovered between 1,100 and 1,800. It broke the 2,000 mark on June 8.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, State Government

(Church Times) Government guidance for services: count them in, keep it short, and beware ‘consumables’

From 4 July, incumbents will be responsible for determining how many people can safely attend public worship in their churches, based on a risk assessment of the capacity and ventilation of the building, the Government has said.

The guidance, published on Monday and effective from 4 July, was drawn up by the Places of Worship Taskforce, which includes faith leaders and government ministers. It has legal status under the Health and Safety and Equality Acts.

No maximum number is specified for people attending for general worship, which includes led prayers, devotions, or meditations. The guidance confirms, however, that a maximum of 30 people are permitted to attend weddings, funerals, and other “life-cycle” services, such as baptisms, regardless of the size of the building, unless this takes place during routine communal worship (News, 26 June).

It states: “Limits for communal worship should be decided locally on the basis of the capacity of the place of worship following a risk assessment. The number of people permitted to enter the place of worship at any one time should be limited, so that a safe distance of at least two metres, or one metre with risk mitigation (where two metres is not viable) between households.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Politics in General, Stewardship

(Atlantic) A Dire Warning From COVID-19 Test Providers

The United States is once again at risk of outstripping its COVID-19 testing capacity, an ominous development that would deny the country a crucial tool to understand its pandemic in real time.

The American testing supply chain is stretched to the limit, and the ongoing outbreak in the South and West could overwhelm it, according to epidemiologists and testing-company executives. While the country’s laboratories have added tremendous capacity in the past few months—the U.S. now tests about 550,000 people each day, a fivefold increase from early April—demand for viral tests is again outpacing supply.

If demand continues to accelerate and shortages are not resolved, then turnaround times for test results will rise, tests will effectively be rationed, and the number of infections that are never counted in official statistics will grow. Any plan to contain the virus will depend on fast and accurate testing, which can identify newly infectious people before they set off new outbreaks. Without it, the U.S. is in the dark.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(PRC) Public’s Mood Turns Grim; Trump Trails Biden on Most Personal Traits, Major Issues

With less than five months until the 2020 elections, Americans are deeply unhappy with the state of the nation. As the United States simultaneously struggles with a pandemic, an economic recession and protests about police violence and racial justice, the share of the public saying they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country has plummeted from 31% in April, during the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak, to just 12% today.

Anger and fear are widespread. Majorities of Democrats and Republicans say they feel both sentiments when thinking about the country, though these feelings are more prevalent among Democrats. And just 17% of Americans – including 25% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and 10% of Democrats and Democratic leaners – say they feel proud when thinking about the state of the country.

However, nearly half of adults (46%) say they feel hopeful about the state of the country, although a 53% majority says they are not hopeful.

Read it all.

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

Posted in America/U.S.A., Politics in General, Psychology, Sociology

Happy Canada Day and 153nd Birthday to all Canadian Blog readers!

Posted in Canada

(DW) Religion is still relevant in Germany even as churches lose members

Germany’s two major Christian churches both recorded a large drop in membership last year. This is a trend that has persisted for a long time, though in 2019, for a change, more Catholics left the church than Protestants. Overall,more than 540,000 Christians turned their back on organized religion. Not since the early 1990s have membership numbers fallen so drastically.

Just over half of all people living in Germany — 43.3 million people, to be exact — are still members of either the Protestant or Catholic church. But that’s a decline of about 5 million compared to 10 years ago. Church membership is also falling because the number of church members dying far surpasses the number of baptisms.

Read it all.

Posted in Germany, Religion & Culture

(CNBC) CDC says U.S. has ‘way too much virus’ to control pandemic as cases surge across country

The coronavirus is spreading too rapidly and too broadly for the U.S. to bring it under control, Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday.

The U.S. has set records for daily new infections in recent days as outbreaks surge mostly across the South and West. The recent spike in new cases has outpaced daily infections in April when the virus rocked Washington state and the northeast, and when public officials thought the outbreak was hitting its peak in the U.S.

“We’re not in the situation of New Zealand or Singapore or Korea where a new case is rapidly identified and all the contacts are traced and people are isolated who are sick and people who are exposed are quarantined and they can keep things under control,” she said in an interview with The Journal of the American Medical Association’s Dr. Howard Bauchner. “We have way too much virus across the country for that right now, so it’s very discouraging.”

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) John Saxbee reviews ‘C. S. Lewis and the Christian Worldview’ by Michael L. Peterson

IN 1947, Time magazine called him “one of the most influential spokespersons for Christianity in the English speaking world”. More than 50 years later, in 2000, he was recognised by Christianity Today as the most influential Christian author of the 20th century — and he continues to feature as one of Amazon’s bestselling authors.

So Michael Peterson introduces the subject of this exemplary intellectual biography. C. S. Lewis is likely to feature on the bookshelves of most Church Times readers — Narnia, Screwtape, and Malcolm may well be familiar names. But his fantasy fiction and popular theology was inspired and informed by a philosophical journey that led from atheism to his embrace of orthodox Christianity. As he himself put it, “imagination is the organ of meaning,” but “reason is the natural organ of truth.”

Lewis, however, was not systematic in his articulation of the philosophy informing his progression towards Christianity’s world-view. So here Peterson seeks to provide just such a systematic treatment and does so with what might be described as typical Lewisian accessibility.

This is literary/philosophical “biography” because Lewis’s varied and voluminous publications can be understood only in the light of his personal story. Peterson deftly negotiates the balance between biography illuminating Lewis’s intellectual odyssey, and explaining it away.

Read it all (registration).

Posted in Apologetics, Books, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Theology

(Sun Times) Asian American churches hold march through Chinatown, calling for unity with Black communities

Chinatown’s Chinese Christian Union Church and Bronzeville’s Progressive Baptist Church have existed for more than a century just 1.5 miles apart on Wentworth Avenue.

But the two churches have rarely interacted or helped each other — until Sunday.

With coordination from the Asian American Christian Collaborative, leaders and members of the two churches — as well as many other Asian religious organizations in the area — marched through Chinatown to call for increased unity between the Asian and Black communities.

“For too long, the Asian American Christian church has been silent on tons of matters, especially when it comes to race,” said CCUC deacon Chris Javier, one of the organizers.

“This is the end of silence. This is us pledging to stop that, to start using our voice on behalf of those that are hurting, even if they don’t look like us.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ecumenical Relations, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(1st Things) Carl R. Trueman–The Road to Bostock

It is here that Farrow’s book is so singularly helpful. The essay “Autonomy: Sic transit anima ad infernum” is worth the price of the book all by itself. In it he traces with both remarkable depth and enviable conciseness the rise of the modern self: the autonomous self-creator to whom reality must bend or, better still, for whom reality is merely what works best for the individual concerned. With roots in Rousseau and Nietzsche, this self lies behind Anthony Kennedy’s oft-cited fantasy of selfhood in Casey and lurks in the background of all the subsequent Supreme Court rulings on matters involving sexuality, up to and including Bostock. Indeed, Farrow makes the necessary point:

The autonomous will really has no choice but to attack the body as well as the mind. For the body is the most obvious locus of the given, the most stubborn impediment to the power claimed by the will.

Transgenderism is the logical outcome of all this. In fact, the annihilation of gender as a stable category tout court is the logical outcome—a point that seems to have eluded Justice Gorsuch, who apparently wants to keep his binary categories while not realizing the metaphysical depths of the revolution he has now placed into law.

The shock and awe surrounding the Bostock ruling perhaps indicates that the old task of apologetics is now being oddly reversed. The pressing pastoral need of the hour for the church is not to explain the faith to the world but rather first to explain the world to the faithful. If Richard Rorty’s famous quip—the truth is what your contemporaries let you get away with saying—works as a descriptive rather than prescriptive principle in terms of cultural dynamics, in terms of which arguments work and which do not, then it behooves us to ask in what kind of culture the stated logic of the Bostock decision has come to make sense. If Christians do not understand the wider context, then they will continue to underestimate the true depth of the cultural problem, be perplexed at the speed of apparent change, and be disturbed by new developments. And that will make it very hard to navigate this world as both good citizens and good stewards of the gospel.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Secularism, Supreme Court

(WSJ) Masks Could Help Stop Coronavirus. So Why Are They Still Controversial?

As countries begin to reopen their economies, face masks, an essential tool for slowing the spread of coronavirus, are struggling to gain acceptance in the West. One culprit: Governments and their scientific advisers.

Researchers and politicians who advocate simple cloth or paper masks as cheap and effective protection against the spread of Covid-19, say the early cacophony in official advice over their use—as well as deeper cultural factors—has hampered masks’ general adoption.

There is widespread scientific and medical consensus that face masks are a key part of the public policy response for tackling the pandemic. While only medical-grade N95 masks can filter tiny viral particles and prevent catching the virus, medical experts say even handmade or cheap surgical masks can block the droplets emitted by speaking, coughing and sneezing, making it harder for an infected wearer to spread the virus.

Although many European countries and U.S. states have made masks mandatory in shops or on public transport, studies show that people are reluctant to wear them unless they have to.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Hong Kong

(TGC) Americans Don’t See Human Life as ‘Sacred’—But See Humanity as ‘Basically Good’

The Story: A new study finds that a majority of Americans no longer believe human life has intrinsic value, with six out of ten rejecting the idea that “human life is sacred.” Yet a majority also say that humans are “basically good.”

The Background: According to new research from the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, only 39 percent of Americans today view human life as “sacred,” or as having unconditional, intrinsic worth. Groups that still hold this view include adults with a biblical worldview (93 percent); those attending an evangelical church (60 percent); born-again Christians (60 percent); political conservatives (57 percent); people 50 or older (53 percent); and Republicans (53 percent).

Some religious groups had only a minority who viewed life as sacred, including those attending Pentecostal (46 percent), mainline Protestant (45 percent), or Catholic (43 percent) churches. Evangelicals were the group most likely (60 percent) to say that life is sacred, while spiritual skeptics were the least likely (13 percent).

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Stat News) CDC broadens guidance on Americans facing risk of severe Covid-19

Redfield suggested many of the infections now being diagnosed would have been missed earlier in the pandemic, when testing was less common.

“I’m asking people to recognize that we’re in a different situation today than we were in March, in April, where the virus was being disproportionately recognized in older individuals with significant comorbidities and was causing significant hospitalizations and deaths,” he said.

“Today we’re seeing more virus. It’s in younger individuals. Fewer of those individuals are requiring the hospitalizations and having a fatal outcome. But that is not to minimize it.”

But Redfield went on to note that descriptions of the state of the pandemic in the country can be misleading, with maps that show where transmission is high suggesting much of the nation is experiencing high levels of spread. In reality, he said, about 110 or 120 counties in the country currently have significant transmission. There are more than 3,100 counties in the United States.

The new guidance breaks down medical conditions that can influence disease severity into those for which there is strong evidence, and those for which the evidence is not as strong, classifying the latter as conditions that might increase the risk of severe illness.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology