Category : * International News & Commentary

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: I Have a Dream

You can find the full text here.

I find it always is really worth the time to listen to and read and ponder it all on this day especially–KSH.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Almighty God, who by the hand of Moses thy servant didst lead thy people out of slavery, and didst make them free at last: Grant that thy Church, following the example of thy prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of thy love, and may strive to secure for all thy children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(Economist) Hindu bigots are openly urging Indians to murder Muslims

All hindus must pick up weapons and conduct a cleanliness drive,” bellowed a Hindu priest at a three-day “religious parliament” in north India last month. Another speaker fired up the large crowd even more crudely: “If a hundred of us become soldiers and kill two million of them, we will be victorious.” By “them”, she meant India’s 200m Muslims.

Those priests baying for blood are not isolated bigots. Under the Hindu-nationalist government of Narendra Modi, the world’s most populous democracy has seen a growing wave of intolerance. In Gurgaon, a satellite city of Delhi, Muslims have been denied the use of open space to pray because it “offends sentiments”. They have also been denied permission to build mosques. Elsewhere Muslims accused of transporting cattle for slaughter, or of being in possession of beef, are sometimes lynched. Muslim businesses are boycotted. In recent months young Hindu radicals have persecuted high-profile Muslim women by creating apps to “auction” them off.

Muslims are not the only target of Hindu chauvinism. In Varanasi, a Hindu temple town, posters warn non-Hindus to stay away. Attacks on Christians, a tiny minority, have risen in recent years. Last week, after Mr Modi, the prime minister, was briefly delayed on an overpass in Sikh-majority Punjab, people associated with his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp) warned darkly of a repeat of 1984, when thousands of Sikhs were killed in pogroms after the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. In an index of societal discrimination against minorities compiled by Bar Ilan University in Israel, India scores worse than Saudi Arabia and no better than Iran. It is impossible to know the number of hate crimes in the country: independent trackers were shut down in 2017 and 2019, and the government stopped collecting data in 2017.

Read it all.

Posted in Hinduism, India, Islam, Religion & Culture, Violence

(FT) Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson–Financial fatalism fuels a gambling gold rush

But why are so many prepared to place high-risk bets when the odds are stacked against them? Pandemic stimulus packages certainly handed many Americans some extra cash, but they could have parked that in a mutual fund account instead.

The explanation may be the fatalistic view many have of markets and the economy. Polls since the global financial crisis have shown a growing cynicism about capitalism, particularly among younger Americans, many of whom doubt that they will be better off than their parents, or that their employer will provide a fair wage and decent pension.

That is fuelling a form of financial nihilism which the investor and former ecommerce executive Mike Effle has christened “finihilism”. In an economy too many see as rigged against them, and with markets showing little connection to underlying value, perhaps a bet on the playoffs or a sociable sally against AMC’s short sellers seems as good a use of your money as any.

It is easy to moralise about the upsurge in speculation. But it is hard to fault people for wanting to get rich quick if they have lost faith in their ability to get rich slow.

Read it all.

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

(NYT front page) No Shots, No Day Care: Parents of Kids Under 5 Stuck in Grueling Limbo

Twice last year, Margaret Schulte and her husband, Jason Abercrombie, traveled 11 hours round-trip to Louisiana from their home in Tulsa, Okla., in the hopes of vaccinating their children, who were 2 and 4, against the coronavirus.

The only way they could get shots for their children — among the more than 19 million Americans under 5 years old who are not yet eligible for vaccinations — was to take part in a clinical trial. So they signed up, hoping a successful vaccine would mean that by now, or at least sometime very soon, a semblance of prepandemic life would be on the horizon.

It has not worked out that way.

The Pfizer trial that their children participated in did not produce promising results, the company said last month. Nor have vaccines emerged from other corners. Moderna has yet to release results of its pediatric trials.

Now Ms. Schulte and Mr. Abercrombie are among the millions of parents stuck in an excruciating limbo during a surge of Omicron cases, forced to wrestle with day care closures and child care crises as the rest of the world appears eager to move on.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Stress, Travel

(Telegraph) Mother gives up baby for adoption over dishonest sperm donor

A Japanese woman has given up her baby for adoption after discovering the sperm donor lied about his education and ethnicity.

The woman, identified only as a Tokyo resident in her 30s, is suing the man in a case that has cast light on Japan’s widely unregulated sperm donation industry.

She is seeking around 330 million yen (£2m) for emotional distress, claiming he lied in order to have sex with her, in the first legal case of its kind, according to Japanese media.

The woman and her husband reportedly came into contact with the man, who is in his 20s, via a social media sperm donation account while trying to conceive their second child.

Read it all (registration).

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Japan, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology

(Gallup) U.S. Charitable Donations Rebound; Volunteering Still Down

Eighty-one percent of Americans say they donated money to a religious or other charitable organization in the past year, and 56% volunteered time to such an organization. After dipping in April 2020 during the early stages of the pandemic, charitable donations have rebounded and are essentially back to the level measured in 2013 and 2017 surveys.

Volunteer activity also dropped in 2020 but, in contrast to charitable giving, remains lower than it was in pre-pandemic surveys. While lower today than in recent years, the rate of volunteering has been at its current level in the past, most notably during the Great Recession.

The decline in donations was seen among all income groups in 2020, but more so among those in lower- and middle-income households. Charitable donations are back up among those in all income brackets, with upper-income Americans now returning to pre-pandemic rates. Giving rates among lower- and middle-income Americans are only slightly below where they were in 2017.

Volunteer activity is also lower now among all income groups than before the pandemic.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(NYT Op-ed) America Is Falling Apart at the Seams

In June a statistic floated across my desk that startled me. In 2020, the number of miles Americans drove fell 13 percent because of the pandemic, but the number of traffic deaths rose 7 percent.

I couldn’t figure it out. Why would Americans be driving so much more recklessly during the pandemic? But then in the first half of 2021, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle deaths were up 18.4 percent even over 2020. Contributing factors, according to the agency, included driving under the influence, speeding and failure to wear a seatbelt.

Why are so many Americans driving irresponsibly?

While gloomy numbers like these were rattling around in my brain, a Substack article from Matthew Yglesias hit my inbox this week. It was titled, “All Kinds of Bad Behavior Is on the Rise.” Not only is reckless driving on the rise, Yglesias pointed out, but the number of altercations on airplanes has exploded, the murder rate is surging in cities, drug overdoses are increasing, Americans are drinking more, nurses say patients are getting more abusive, and so on and so on.

Yglesias is right.

Read it all.

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

(Economist) As violent crime leaps, liberal cities rethink cutting police budgets

In the days after George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020, protesters took to the streets across America. They urged cities to “defund the police”, and politicians listened. Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, called for his department’s budget to be cut by up to $150m. London Breed, San Francisco’s mayor, announced that she would “redirect funding from the sfpd to support the African-American community”. City councils in Oakland and Portland, Oregon, among other cities across America, approved budgets that cut police funding.

That trend has reversed. Portland and Oakland increased police funding to hire more officers. The Los Angeles Police Department’s budget will get a 12% boost. Last month Ms Breed vowed to “take steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement” and “less tolerant of all the bullshit that has destroyed our city”. Why such a stark reversal, and what does it mean for the future of criminal-justice reform?

The first question is easy to answer. Though crime overall did not rise during the pandemic, the type people fear most—murders and shootings—did, and the surge has not abated. Over three decades from 1990, America’s homicide rate fell steeply (see chart). From 2019 to 2020, however, the rate had its highest-ever year-on-year rise, of nearly 30%, followed by a further rise in 2021. More than three-quarters of the murders were committed with guns. In Oakland, 133 people were murdered in 2021, more than in any year since 2006, and almost 600 more were shot but not killed. Portland was one of at least 16 American cities that set all-time homicide records last year.

Read it all (registration).

Posted in America/U.S.A., City Government, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(CT) Russell Moore–Why Christians should support our government staying out of religious affairs.

We believe in religious freedom not because we believe in freedom on its own terms, but because we believe in the exclusivity of Christ and in the power of the gospel. We believe there is one name under heaven whereby we must be saved—and that name is not “Caesar” or “Ayatollah” or “assistant secretary for civic affairs.”

We believe in religious freedom because we know what Jesus has given us to fight against the kingdom of darkness—the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. We believe in religious freedom because there’s no civil substitute for the gospel of Christ.

We believe in religious freedom because we want to persuade our neighbors to be reconciled to God—not so they won’t be fined by the earthly government, but so they will find eternal life in the heavenly kingdom. So that they won’t end up in hell.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(WSJ) Why the Roman Catholic Church Is Losing Latin America

Tatiana Aparecida de Jesus used to walk the city’s streets as a sex worker, high on crack cocaine. Last year, the mother of five joined a small Pentecostal congregation in downtown Rio called Sanctification in the Lord and left her old life behind.

“The pastor hugged me without asking anything,” said Ms. de Jesus, 41, who was raised a Catholic and is one of more than a million Brazilians who have joined an evangelical or Pentecostal church since the beginning of the pandemic, according to researchers. “When you are poor, it makes so much of a difference when someone just says ‘good morning’ to you, ‘good afternoon,’ or shakes your hand,” she said.

For centuries, to be Latin American was to be Catholic; the religion faced virtually no competition. Today, Catholicism has lost adherents to other faiths in the region, especially Pentecostalism, and more recently to the ranks of the unchurched. The shift has continued under the first Latin American pope.

Seven countries in the region—Uruguay, the Dominican Republic and five in Central America—had a majority of non-Catholics in 2018, according to a survey by Latinobarómetro, a Chilean-based pollster. In a symbolic milestone, Brazil, which has the most Catholics of any country in the world, is expected to become minority-Catholic as soon as this year, according to estimates by academics that track religious affiliation.

Read it all.

Posted in Brazil, Globalization, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, South America

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hilary of Poitiers

O Lord our God, who didst raise up thy servant Hilary to be a champion of the catholic faith: Keep us steadfast in that true faith which we professed at our baptism, that we may rejoice in having thee for our Father, and may abide in thy Son, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit; thou who livest and reignest for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, France, Spirituality/Prayer

(Gallup) Americans are Reading Fewer Books Than in Past

Americans say they read an average of 12.6 books during the past year, a smaller number than Gallup has measured in any prior survey dating back to 1990. U.S. adults are reading roughly two or three fewer books per year than they did between 2001 and 2016.

The results are based on a Dec. 1-16 Gallup poll, which updated a trend question on book reading. The question asks Americans to say how many books they “read, either all or part of the way through” in the past year. Interviewers are instructed to include all forms of books, including printed books but also electronic books and audiobooks, when entering the respondent’s answer.

The decline in book reading is mostly a function of how many books readers are reading, as opposed to fewer Americans reading any books. The 17% of U.S. adults who say they did not read any books in the past year is similar to the 16% to 18% measured in 2002 to 2016 surveys, though it is higher than in the 1999 to 2001 polls.

The drop is fueled by a decline in the percentage of Americans reading more than 10 books in the past year. Currently, 27% report that they read more than 10 books, down eight percentage points since 2016 and lower than every prior measure by at least four points.

Read it all.

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

BBC Radio 4 Today programme interviews Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

Listen to it all (starts just past 2:42 minutes in and goes around 5 minutes).

“One way we grieve well is to reach out to others…”

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

(BBC) Yeterday Uganda schools reopened after almost two years of Covid closure

Children in Uganda have expressed their joy at finally returning to school nearly two years after they were closed because of Covid.

“I am really excited because it’s been a long time without seeing our teachers. And we have missed out a lot,” Joel Tumusiime told the BBC.

“I am glad to be back at school,” echoed another, Mercy Angel Kebirungi.

But after one of the world’s longest school closures, authorities warned at least 30% of students may never return.

Some have started work, while others have become pregnant or married early, the country’s national planning authority said.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Education, Health & Medicine, Uganda

(Telegraph) Children risk being targeted by ‘aggressive gambling adverts on social media’

The Church of England has warned that a social media advertising “loophole” could leave children exposed to “aggressive” gambling adverts.

Rt Revd Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans, said a ruling this week by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), set a concerning “precedent” for promotions on social media.

The watchdog’s ruling dismissed complaints about poker adverts on a popular YouTube channel, as the owner supplied analytics from the site showing that most of his audience were over 18.

However, the Bishop warned that the analytics were an “incredibly dubious metric” as YouTube, which has a minimum age of 13, does not have any age verification and many viewers watch it without signing into an account.’

Read it all.

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

(C of E) New ‘cathedral’ of digital worshippers emerges from online broadcasts

Members of a new “cathedral” of online worshippers formed since the first lockdown are to play a key role in the Church of England’s 100th national online service to be broadcast this weekend.

Prayers will be read by people who joined a regular digital worshipping community that grew through YouTube and Facebook broadcasts of national online services.

The first national online service was broadcast from the crypt chapel at Lambeth Palace on Mothering Sunday 2020 as the nation went into lockdown. Since then a service has been broadcast every Sunday – with additional services broadcast over Easter, Advent and Christmas.

The broadcast on Sunday, marking the milestone of the 100th service, will led by the Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields Dr Sam Wells, with a sermon from Revd Dr Isabelle Hamley, who oversees the Church of England’s national online services.

Dr Hamley, who took part in the first online service broadcast in March 2020 from the Crypt chapel of Lambeth Palace, will pay tribute to the work of both the national and local churches in providing online services during the pandemic.

Read it all.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

A Prayer for Epiphany from the Church of South India

O God, who by a star didst guide the wise men to the worship of thy Son: Lead, we pray thee, to thyself the wise and the great in every land, that unto thee every knee may bow, and every thought be brought into captivity; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Epiphany, India, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel Azariah

Emmanuel, God with us, who didst make thy home in every culture and community on earth: We offer thanks for the raising up of thy servant Samuel Azariah as the first indigenous bishop in India. Grant that we may be strengthened by his witness to thy love without concern for class or caste, and by his labors for the unity of the Church in India, that people of many languages and cultures might with one voice give thee glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, India, Spirituality/Prayer

George Washington’s January 1 1795 Proclamation

Deeply penetrated with this sentiment I George Washington President of the United States do recommend to all Religious Societies and Denominations and to all persons whomsoever within the United States to set apart and observe thursday the nineteenth day of February next as a day of public Thanksgiving and prayer; and on that day to meet together and render their sincere and hearty thanks to the great ruler of Nations for the manifold and signal mercies, which distinguish our lot as a Nation; particularly for the possession of Constitutions of Government which unite and by their union establish liberty with order, for the preservation of our peace foreign and domestic, for the seasonable controul which has been given to a spirit of disorder in the suppression of the late insurrection, and generally for the prosperous course of our affairs public and private…

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President

(BBC) London’s 2022 fireworks

Posted in * General Interest, England / UK

(Guardian) Robyn Vinter–A Christmas Carol is not cosy, and its angry message should still haunt us

“A Christmas Carol isn’t just a cheery, uplifting tale that we can mimic in various modern ways,” says Mayhew. “It’s a very seriously intended work of moral fiction and, perhaps because we tend to pigeonhole it as a Christmas story, we don’t read just how serious it is.”

The message that Dickens had for Victorian Britain is increasingly pertinent, even though we may use different words to describe similar problems, [Professor Robert] Mayhew believes.

“It’s interesting because we’re living right now with unprecedented levels of homelessness and individuals needing the support of food banks. We have the binary between extreme wealth on one hand and those inured to poverty on the other.” You feel the resonance of A Christmas Carol seems to get stronger every year.”

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Christmas, England / UK, History, Poverty, Religion & Culture

Happy Boxing Day to all Blog Readers!

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, England / UK, Globalization

The Queen’s Christmas message for 2021

And for me and my family, even with one familiar laugh missing this year, there will be joy in Christmas, as we have the chance to reminisce, and see anew the wonder of the festive season through the eyes of our young children, of whom we were delighted to welcome four more this year.

They teach us all a lesson – just as the Christmas story does – that in the birth of a child, there is a new dawn with endless potential.

It is this simplicity of the Christmas story that makes it so universally appealing: simple happenings that formed the starting point of the life of Jesus — a man whose teachings have been handed down from generation to generation, and have been the bedrock of my faith. His birth marked a new beginning. As the carol says, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight”.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas.

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(SMH) Philip Huggins–The Christmas story evokes a warm-heartedness the world needs

As the Dalai Lama says and as the Christmas story conveys, there is a lot of warm-hearted understanding and forgiveness needed. A lot of more honest conversations which acknowledge our mistakes and offer new beginnings. A lot of choosing to heal and of choosing not to do any further harm.

May this Christmas lift our spirits for this important work that lies ahead.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Christmas, Religion & Culture

(C of E) Nothing can cancel the message of Christmas – bishops speak of hope amid uncertainty

In their annual Christmas messages, bishops of the Church of England speak of the end of 2021 as a time of uncertainty and anxiety but say the message of the Christmas story is needed more than ever.

The Bishop of Lichfield, Dr Michael Ipgrave, refers to weeks of uncertainty about whether some Christmas celebrations should go ahead amid concerns about spreading covid-19, at the end of “another unsettling year for the human race, and us as individuals”.

But he adds: “Every Christmas we tell again the story of … God, who loves our world so much that he chooses to come among us – not because he is obliged to, not because we have asked him to, but simply out of grace.

“We always begin with grace, and we always come back to grace, shown in the sign of Emmanuel, God with us in Jesus Christ, born as a baby among us.

“No law, no government, no power on earth can cancel the wonder of that birth.”

Read it all and there are video links provided.

Posted in Advent, Christmas, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Nikkei Asia) China hoards over half the world’s grain, pushing up global prices

Less than 20% of the world’s population has managed to stockpile more than half of the globe’s maize and other grains, leading to steep price increases across the planet and dropping more countries into famine.

Read it all.

Posted in China, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General

(BBC) Pillar of Shame: Hong Kong’s Tiananmen Square statue removed

A famous statue at the University of Hong Kong marking the Tiananmen Square massacre was removed late on Wednesday.

The statue showed piled-up corpses to commemorate the hundreds – possibly thousands – of pro-democracy protesters killed by Chinese authorities in 1989.

It was one of the few remaining public memorials in Hong Kong commemorating the incident.

Its removal comes as Beijing has increasingly been cracking down on political dissent in Hong Kong.

The city used to be one of few places in China that allowed public commemoration of the Tiananmen Square protests – a highly sensitive topic in the country.

Read it all.

Posted in Art, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Hong Kong, Politics in General

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Lottie Moon

O God, who in Christ Jesus hast brought Good News to those who are far off and to those who are near: We praise thee for awakening in thy servant Lottie Moon a zeal for thy mission and for her faithful witness among the peoples of China. Stir up in us the same desire for thy work throughout the world, and give us the grace and means to accomplish it; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in China, Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

(ITV) Archbishop of Canterbury talks of disappointment and sadness at Downing Street garden image

So what about the vaccines then? He tweeted recently that getting the booster is how you love your neighbour. Is being vaccinated a moral issue?

“I’m going to step out on thin ice here and say yes, I think it is. A lot of people won’t like that – but I think it is because it’s not about me and my rights.

“Obviously there are some who for health reasons can’t be vaccinated – but it’s not about me and my rights to choose.

“Reducing my chances of getting ill reduces my chances of infecting others. It’s very simple.”
So is it a sin – is it immoral – not to get vaccinated if you can?
“I’m not going to get lured into this because I can see this going back at me for years to come. But I would say – go and get boosted – get vaccinated. It’s how we love our neighbour”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Movies & Television, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology