Category : * International News & Commentary

(Church Times) The idea of the Parish is not threatened, says Archbishop Justin Welby

The parish is “essential” and is not under threat, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

In an interview last Friday for the Church Times, Archbishop Welby responded to the Save the Parish campaign by stating: “There is no ‘threat’ to the parish. . . There is no conspiracy to abolish the parish.”

It was “rubbish”, he said, to suggest that the parish system was outdated. “We are the Church for England. If we are going to be for England, we have to be in every community, or as many as we can possibly manage. We have to be open to every person, not just the congregation, precious as they are.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Drought puts 2.1 million Kenyans at risk of starvation

An estimated 2.1 million Kenyans face starvation due to a drought in half the country, which is affecting harvests.

The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) said people living in 23 counties across the arid north, northeastern and coastal parts of the country will be in “urgent need” of food aid over the next six months, after poor rains between March and May this year.

The crisis has been compounded by Covid-19 and previous poor rains, it said, predicting the situation will get worse by the end of the year, as October to December rains are expected to be below normal levels.

The affected regions are usually the most food-insecure in Kenya due to high levels of poverty.

Read it all.

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

(WSJ) China’s Biggest Movie Star Was Erased From the Internet, and the Mystery Is Why

Zhao Wei spent the past two decades as China’s equivalent of Reese Witherspoon, a beloved actress turned business mogul.

She directed award-winning films, sold millions of records as a pop singer and built a large following on social media, amassing 86 million fans on Weibo, China’s Twitter -like microblogging site. She also made a fortune as an investor in Chinese technology and entertainment companies.

Today, the 45-year-old star has been erased from the Chinese internet. Searches for her name on the country’s biggest video-streaming sites come up blank. Her projects, including the wildly popular TV series “My Fair Princess,” have been removed. Anyone looking up her acclaimed film “So Young” on China’s equivalent of Wikipedia wouldn’t know she was the director; the field now reads “——.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Asia, Blogging & the Internet, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hildegard of Bingen

O God, by whose grace thy servant Hildegard, enkindled with the fire of thy love, became a burning and shining light in thy Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Europe, Spirituality/Prayer

(NYT) Why Australia Bet the House on Lasting American Power in Asia

When Scott Morrison became Australia’s prime minister three years ago, he insisted that the country could maintain close ties with China, its largest trading partner, while working with the United States, its main security ally.

“Australia doesn’t have to choose,” he said in one of his first foreign policy speeches.

On Thursday, Australia effectively chose. Following years of sharply deteriorating relations with Beijing, Australia announced a new defense agreement in which the United States and Britain would help it deploy nuclear-powered submarines, a major advance in Australian military strength.

With its move to acquire heavy weaponry and top-secret technology, Australia has thrown in its lot with the United States for generations to come — a “forever partnership,” in Mr. Morrison’s words. The agreement will open the way to deeper military ties and higher expectations that Australia would join any military conflict with Beijing.

It’s a big strategic bet that America will prevail in its great-power competition with China and continue to be a dominant and stabilizing force in the Pacific even as the costs increase.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Australia / NZ, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, France, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(AP) Key Parts of America see COVID-19 cases climbing, wiping out months of progress

COVID-19 deaths and cases in the U.S. have climbed back to levels not seen since last winter, erasing months of progress and potentially bolstering President Joe Biden’s argument for his sweeping new vaccination requirements.

The cases — driven by the delta variant combined with resistance among some Americans to getting the vaccine — are concentrated mostly in the South.

While one-time hot spots like Florida and Louisiana are improving, infection rates are soaring in Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee, fueled by children now back in school, loose mask restrictions and low vaccination levels.

The dire situation in some hospitals is starting to sound like January’s infection peak: Surgeries canceled in hospitals in Washington state and Utah. Severe staff shortages in Kentucky and Alabama. A lack of beds in Tennessee. Intensive care units at or over capacity in Texas.

Read it all.

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

A Prayer for the (provisional) Feast Day of Catherine of Genoa

Gracious God, reveal to thy church the depths of thy love; that, like thy servant Catherine of Genoa, we might give ourselves in loving service, knowing that we have been perfectly loved by thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Italy, Spirituality/Prayer

(Northeast Now) Last service said at Watson’s Anglican church, congregation to join nearby parish in Humboldt

It was a bittersweet celebration in Watson over the weekend as the St. Bride’s Anglican Church was deconsecrated.

The final mass was said by Bishop of the Saskatoon Diocese, Chris Harper, Rev. Matteo Carboni, and Archdeacon Alex Parsons on Sept. 12 with members of the Watson and Humboldt congregations in attendance.

Carboni resided over the Watson parish before Sunday’s secularization service and those congregants will now be welcome to attend mass at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Humboldt where Carboni also resides.

While the service was a mixture said Harper of celebration and sorrow, with only four members of the congregation celebrating service at the church, Carboni said they were putting in a lot of time and energy into maintaining the parish.

Margaret Henderson, one of the few members of the Watson church, said it was getting hard to justify the resources being spent on four people.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Tim Keller) The Decline and Renewal of the American Church: Part 1 – The Decline of the Mainline

Virtually the only major cultural figure to sound an alarm in the U.S. was the eminent writer and journalist Walter Lippmann. Lippmann was a non-religious Jew who was at the center of the secular liberal establishment. But in 1955 he wrote his last book, Essays in the Public Philosophy, which dismayed his peers. “His heresy was to say that his liberal colleagues were trying to build a public consensus based on inherited principle, even after they had dynamited the foundations on which those principle had first been established.”

He charged that our liberal American values (whether fully executed or not)—equal dignity of all people, freedom of conscience, thought, and speech, government by consent, trust in science and reason—were not the deliverances of science. Originally, these American ideas were based on transcendent moral standards, a higher “universal order” that we could all recognize as the truth.

Lippmann was no theist, and so he was speaking more in the tradition of Aristotle. But he insisted that unless a society could recognize an objective moral order, a set of standards that were not merely produced by culture or our private feelings, there was no grounding for a public, shared social order. “If what is good, what is right, what is true, is only what the individual ‘chooses’ to ‘invent,’ then we are outside the traditions of civility.” By that he meant that no one had ever tried to create a social common life on such a basis. Who is to say that one particular law is just and another unjust? Do we do it by majority vote? Then what do we say to Germany whose majority thought it was right to persecute and even destroy minorities?

Lippmann was right that our original “American values” originated in an agreement between Christians who believed these were the teachings of the Bible as well as Enlightenment thinkers who believed as the ancients in “natural law”—a transcendent, moral order in the universe that was discernible through human reason and reflection. But in 1955 the American modern liberal establishment was aghast at Lippmann. They reviewed his book negatively and pushed back, saying that returning to belief in God or natural law was dangerous and completely unnecessary. A “nondogmatic, relativistic, pragmatic” way of testing beliefs was the best. Our values are just things “we all know” that will benefit human beings best and will make most people happy. They are not rooted in God or a cosmic order.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Religion & Culture, Theology

Food for Thought from Saint Cyprian on his Feast Day

Let us therefore, brethren beloved, pray as God our Teacher has taught us. It is a loving and friendly prayer to beseech God with His own word, to come up to His ears in the prayer of Christ. Let the Father acknowledge the words of His Son when we make our prayer, and let Him also who dwells within in our breast Himself dwell in our voice. And since we have Him as an Advocate with the Father for our sins, let us, when as sinners we petition on behalf of our sins, put forward the words of our Advocate. For since He says, that “whatsoever we shall ask of the Father in His name, He will give us,”how much more effectually do we obtain what we ask in Christ’s name, if we ask for it in His own prayer!

But let our speech and petition when we pray be under discipline, observing quietness and modesty. Let us consider that we are standing in God’s sight. We must please the divine eyes both with the habit of body and with the measure of voice. For as it is characteristic of a shameless man to be noisy with his cries, so, on the other hand, it is fitting to the modest man to pray with moderated petitions. Moreover, in His teaching the Lord has bidden us to pray in secret in hidden and remote places, in our very bed-chambers which is best suited to faith, that we may know that God is everywhere present, and hears and sees all, and in the plenitude of His majesty penetrates even into hidden and secret places, as it is written, “I am a God at hand, and not a God afar off. If a man shall hide himself in secret places, shall I not then see him? Do not I fill heaven and earth?” And again: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”And when we meet together with the brethren in one place, and celebrate divine sacrifices with God’s priest, we ought to be mindful of modesty and discipline””not to throw abroad our prayers indiscriminately, with unsubdued voices, nor to cast to God with tumultuous wordiness a petition that ought to be commended to God by modesty; for God is the hearer, not of the voice, but of the heart. Nor need He be clamorously reminded, since He sees men’s thoughts, as the Lord proves to us when He says, “Why think ye evil in your hearts?” And in another place: “And all the churches shall know that I am He that searcheth the hearts and reins.”

And this Hannah in the first book of Kings, who was a type of the Church, maintains and observes, in that she prayed to God not with clamorous petition, but silently and modestly, within the very recesses of her heart. She spoke with hidden prayer, but with manifest faith. She spoke not with her voice, but with her heart, because she knew that thus God hears; and she effectually obtained what she sought, because she asked it with belief. Divine Scripture asserts this, when it says, “She spake in her heart, and her lips moved, and her voice was not heard; and God did hear her.”We read also in the Psalms, “Speak in your hearts, and in your beds, and be ye pierced.”The Holy Spirit, moreover, suggests these same things by Jeremiah, and teaches, saying, “But in the heart ought God to be adored by thee.”

–From his Treatise On the Lord’s Prayer

Posted in Africa, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Cyprian

Almighty God, who didst give to thy servant Cyprian boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of the same our Lord Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Africa, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Congratulation to Daniel Medvedev, 2021 US Open Men’s Tennis Champion

Posted in America/U.S.A., Men, Russia, Sports

The full transcript of the final telephone call of Todd Beamer, from United flight 93, on 9/11/2001

Please take the time to try to digest it–KSH

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Terrorism

Congratulation to Emma Raducanu, Winner of the US Open Women’s Tennis Final

The 18-year-old Raducanu was being hailed Sunday as the new queen of British sport — and perhaps the architect of one of the most unlikely sporting achievements of all time — by winning the U.S. Open as a qualifier.

Her 6-4, 6-3 victory over Leylah Fernandez, broadcast on free-to-air TV in Britain, was in a primetime slot on Saturday evening, allowing the nation to savor a superstar in the making.

Among them, apparently, was the British Prime Minister.

“What a sensational match! Huge congratulations to Emma Raducanu,” read a tweet from Boris Johnson’s official account. “You showed extraordinary skill, poise and guts and we are all hugely proud of you.”

The queen also sent her congratulations.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., England / UK, Sports, Teens / Youth, Women

The Legacy Website for September 11, 2001

This site is intended as a place to remember and celebrate the lives of those lost on September 11, 2001. It includes Guest Books and profiles for each of those lost.

It is well worth your time to explore it thoroughly today.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Terrorism

Billy Graham’s Address at the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance in 2001

President and Mrs. Bush, I want to say a personal word on behalf of many people. Thank you, Mr. President, for calling this day of prayer and remembrance. We needed it at this time.

We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious, or political background may be. The Bible says that He’s the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles. No matter how hard we try, words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. September eleven will go down in our history as a day to remember.

Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God. Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God.

We’ve always needed God from the very beginning of this nation, but today we need Him especially. We’re facing a new kind of enemy. We’re involved in a new kind of warfare. And we need the help of the Spirit of God. The Bible words are our hope: God is our refuge and strength; an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking now. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands these feelings that you may have. We’ve seen so much on our television, on our ”” heard on our radio, stories that bring tears to our eyes and make us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.

But what are some of the lessons we can learn? First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I’ve been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept by faith that God is sovereign, and He’s a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says that God is not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a mystery. In 1st Thessalonians 2:7 it talks about the mystery of iniquity. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Who can understand it?” He asked that question, ‘Who can understand it?’ And that’s one reason we each need God in our lives.

The lesson of this event is not only about the mystery of iniquity and evil, but secondly it’s a lesson about our need for each other. What an example New York and Washington have been to the world these past few days. None of us will ever forget the pictures of our courageous firefighters and police, many of whom have lost friends and colleagues; or the hundreds of people attending or standing patiently in line to donate blood. A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart. But instead it has united us, and we’ve become a family. So those perpetrators who took this on to tear us apart, it has worked the other way; it’s back lashed. It’s backfired. We are more united than ever before. I think this was exemplified in a very moving way when the members of our Congress stood shoulder to shoulder the other day and sang “God Bless America.”

Finally, difficult as it may be for us to see right now, this event can give a message of hope–hope for the present, and hope for the future. Yes, there is hope. There’s hope for the present, because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation. One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in America. And God has told us in His word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins and return to Him, and He will bless us in a new way. But there’s also hope for the future because of God’s promises. As a Christian, I hope not for just this life, but for heaven and the life to come. And many of those people who died this past week are in heaven right now. And they wouldn’t want to come back. It’s so glorious and so wonderful. And that’s the hope for all of us who put our faith in God. I pray that you will have this hope in your heart.

This event reminds us of the brevity and the uncertainty of life. We never know when we too will be called into eternity. I doubt if even one those people who got on those planes, or walked into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon last Tuesday morning thought it would be the last day of their lives. It didn’t occur to them. And that’s why each of us needs to face our own spiritual need and commit ourselves to God and His will now.

Here in this majestic National Cathedral we see all around us symbols of the cross. For the Christian–I’m speaking for the Christian now–the cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering. For He took upon himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, our sins and our suffering. And from the cross, God declares “I love you. I know the heart aches, and the sorrows, and the pains that you feel, but I love you.” The story does not end with the cross, for Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the cross to the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life, for Christ has conquered evil, and death, and hell. Yes, there’s hope.

I’ve become an old man now. And I’ve preached all over the world. And the older I get, the more I cling to that hope that I started with many years ago, and proclaimed it in many languages to many parts of the world. Several years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast here in Washington, Ambassador Andrew Young, who had just gone through the tragic death of his wife, closed his talk with a quote from the old hymn, “How Firm A Foundation.” We all watched in horror as planes crashed into the steel and glass of the World Trade Center. Those majestic towers, built on solid foundations, were examples of the prosperity and creativity of America. When damaged, those buildings eventually plummeted to the ground, imploding in upon themselves. Yet underneath the debris is a foundation that was not destroyed. Therein lies the truth of that old hymn that Andrew Young quoted: “How firm a foundation.”

Yes, our nation has been attacked. Buildings destroyed. Lives lost. But now we have a choice: Whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people, and a nation, or, whether we choose to become stronger through all of the struggle to rebuild on a solid foundation. And I believe that we’re in the process of starting to rebuild on that foundation. That foundation is our trust in God. That’s what this service is all about. And in that faith we have the strength to endure something as difficult and horrendous as what we’ve experienced this week.

This has been a terrible week with many tears. But also it’s been a week of great faith. Churches all across the country have called prayer meetings. And today is a day that they’re celebrating not only in this country, but in many parts of the world. And the words of that familiar hymn that Andrew Young quoted, it says, “Fear not, I am with thee. Oh be not dismayed for I am thy God and will give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand upon “thy righteous, omnipotent hand.”

My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we trust in Him. We also know that God is going to give wisdom, and courage, and strength to the President, and those around him. And this is going to be a day that we will remember as a day of victory. May God bless you all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, History, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

Must not Miss 9/11 Video: Welles Crowther, The Man Behind the Red Bandana

The Man Behind the Red Bandana from Drew Gallagher on Vimeo.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Marriage & Family, Sports, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

Twenty Years Later, we Remember 9/11

“The cloudless sky filled with coiling black smoke and a blizzard of paper—memos, photographs, stock transactions, insurance policies—which fluttered for miles on a gentle southeasterly breeze, across the East River into Brooklyn. Debris spewed onto the streets of lower Manhattan, which were already covered with bodies. Some of them had been exploded out of the building when the planes hit. A man walked out of the towers carrying someone else’s leg. Jumpers landed on several firemen, killing them instantly.

“The air pulsed with sirens as firehouses and police stations all over the city emptied, sending the rescuers, many of them to their deaths. [FBI agent] Steve Bongardt was running toward the towers, against a stream of people racing in the opposite direction. He heard the boom of the second collision. “There’s a second plane,” someone cried.”

–Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Random House [Vintage Books], 2006), pp.404-405

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

(WCAX) TEC Diocese of Vermont confronts financial squeeze

The Episcopal Diocese of Vermont is considering its next steps after a recent financial analysis revealed problems.

“Fewer people may mean fewer dollars coming in to those congregations and thus those congregations giving fewer dollars to support the dioceses,” said the Diocese’s Rev. Walter Brownridge. This is the flow of finances for the church in Vermont and he fears they will struggle to support their 45 congregations. “We knew we were facing some real challenges in a few years if we didn’t change course.”

There are less than 6,000 Episcopalians in the state, a number that is on the decline due to various reasons, including an aging demographic.

“I’m almost 80 myself and I’m not particularly unusual in our congregation, and there are a lot of parishes like this that are losing members due to attrition, to deaths, to people moving away,” said Glenn Sproul, a member of the All Saints Episcopal Church in South Burlington.

Read it all (part of summer break article catch-up).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Parishes

(Economist) The Church of England needs new members. How to get them?

Now the church is displaying evangelising glints that are, for many, alarming. A briefing paper on “Vision and Strategy”, delivered in July at its general synod, called for a church that is “younger and more diverse”—and much bigger. It aims to develop 3,000 “worshipping hubs” for children and young people, and has linked with a movement called “Myriad” (the word is Greek for 10,000), which aims to create 10,000 new churches and a million new worshippers in Britain within a decade.

Myriad does not mean “churches” in the spinsters-and-stained-glass sense. It is not promising 10,000 more pulpits or transepts or tea urns or vicars. It is not promising buildings at all. Myriad groups might meet in churches and work with priests—or they might meet independently, in houses or offices or parks. Followers talk freely about God. As a promotional video explains, this movement is “not just reserved for Bibles and a building”. These churches will be “predominantly” led by lay people—a Myriad boss referred to buildings and theological training as “key limiting factors” in church expansion.

The response has been bitter. Both the church and Myriad later apologised for the “limiting factors” comment, but the damage was done. The plans have been described as “Stalinist” and a “Great Leap Forward”. This, one vicar wrote, is a Christianity that is “randy for converts”. A Save the Parish group has been formed. Diarmaid MacCulloch, an emeritus professor of ecclesiastical history at Oxford University, sees in the scheme a certain “adolescent self-confidence”. Many are very angry. Mr MacCulloch says he is merely “mildly cross in an Anglican sort of way”. Which in Anglicanese means furious.

Read it all.

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

(NYT) A remarkable US Open tournament now features 2 unseeded teenagers in the women’s final

Two teenage women who were barely known to anyone other than the most devout tennis fans before this U.S. Open will vie for the singles championship on Saturday in what has to be the most improbable matchup for a Grand Slam final since the modern era of tennis began more than 50 years ago.

On a Thursday night that would have been shocking had Emma Raducanu of Britain and Leylah Fernandez of Canada not been pulling rabbits out of their hats for the better part of two weeks, the two teenage sensations once again knocked off seasoned pros who exist in a different stratosphere in the world rankings.

First, Fernandez outlasted the second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, in three sets, 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4, in a nervy, error-filled match that saw both players let go of chances to put the battle away long before Sabalenka finished herself off with one last flurry of double faults. It was Fernandez’s fourth consecutive three-set win over one of the top 20 players in the world.

Then Raducanu took the stage at Arthur Ashe Stadium and did what she has been doing for more than a week — blitzing players far more accomplished and making them play their worst matches of the tournament. Raducanu ambushed the 17th-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece, 6-1, 6-4.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Canada, England / UK, Sports, Teens / Youth, Women

(Washington Post) Xi Jinping’s crackdown on everything is remaking Chinese society

The orders have been sudden, dramatic and often baffling. Last week, “American Idol”-style competitions and shows featuring men deemed too effeminate were banned by Chinese authorities. Days earlier, one of China’s wealthiest actresses, Zhao Wei, had her movies, television series and news mentions scrubbed from the Internet as if she had never existed.

Over the summer, China’s multibillion-dollar private education industry was decimated overnight by a ban on for-profit tutoring, while new regulations wiped more than $1 trillion from Chinese tech stocks since a peak in February. As China’s tech moguls compete to donate more to President Xi Jinping’s campaign against inequality, “Xi Jinping Thought” is taught in elementary schools, and foreign games and apps like Animal Crossing and Duolingo have been pulled from stores.

A dizzying regulatory crackdown unleashed by China’s government has spared almost no sector over the past few months. This sprawling “rectification” campaign — with such disparate targets as ride-hailing services, insurance, education and even the amount of time children can spend playing video games — is redrawing the boundaries of business and society in China as Xi prepares to take on a controversial third term in 2022.

Read it all.

Posted in China, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the the Martyrs of Memphis (also called Constance and her Companions)

We give thee thanks and praise, O God of compassion, for the heroic witness of the Martyrs of Memphis, who, in a time of plague and pestilence, were steadfast in their care for the sick and dying, and loved not their own lives, even unto death; Inspire in us a like love and commitment to those in need, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Spirituality/Prayer

(PRC) Muslims are a growing presence in U.S., but still face negative views from the public

An unprecedented amount of public attention focused on Muslim Americans in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The U.S. Muslim population has grown in the two decades since, but it is still the case that many Americans know little about Islam or Muslims, and views toward Muslims have become increasingly polarized along political lines.

There were about 2.35 million Muslim adults and children living in the United States in 2007 – accounting for 0.8% of the U.S. population – when Pew Research Center began measuring this group’s size, demographic characteristics and views. Since then, growth has been driven primarily by two factors: the continued flow of Muslim immigrants into the U.S., and Muslims’ tendency to have more children than Americans of other faiths.

In 2015, the Center projected that Muslims could number 3.85 million in the U.S. by 2020 – roughly 1.1% of the total population. However, Muslim population growth from immigration may have slowed recently due to changes in federal immigration policy.

The number of Muslim houses of worship in the U.S. also has increased over the last 20 years. …

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Islam, Religion & Culture

The Bishop of Croydon, The Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, announces departure from the Diocese of Southwark

The Bishop of Croydon, The Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, announced today that he will be leaving the Diocese of Southwark on March 21, 2022 – exactly 10 years to the day of his consecration as Bishop.

“I’m sad about all I’ll be leaving, as well as excited about what lies ahead,” said Bishop Jonathan, who will be moving to Orkney with his wife Alison, who will be continuing her academic and creative work. “I plan to write more and will be teaching, leading retreats and offering mentoring support to clergy,” he continued.

The Bishop of Southwark, The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, said, “Bishop Jonathan has served the Diocese of Southwark with energy, integrity and vision for ten years as the Bishop of Croydon. He has been a superb colleague and has also served the wider Diocese as Chair of the Southwark Board of Education as well as the national church in various additional roles, particularly on Ministry Council and as one of the lead bishops for refugee issues. I am grateful to him for all he has accomplished, for his companionship in episcopal ministry, and for his loving service of God’s people. He and Alison go with our prayers and gratitude as they move forward to the next stage of life and ministry.”

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) Welsh same sex marriage blessing bill passes for 5 year experimental period

Several clergy acknowledged the struggles they had on the issue. The Revd Richard Wood (Bangor) believed that those opposed to the Bill had been misrepresented: “We disagree how we read scripture. I stand here not as a bigot, but as someone who has struggled to a point where I believe this Bill would be crossing a boundary,” he said. “My position has been maligned. A pastoral response is not to offer kindness for kindness’s sake….”

Bishop Cameron, summing up the debate, described it as “the most difficult job I’ve ever been given”. He sought to assure the Evangelical constituency that he had not chosen to misrepresent or condemn their views.

“When I talked about my understanding of scripture, I was speaking autobiographically. It was not intended as rubbishing of conservative Evangelical thinking, theology, or ministry.

“But I don’t agree with you that the Bible can only be read as hostile to gay relationships. I refuse to be told that I am ‘unorthodox’. . . We should not ‘disfellowship’ each other because we do not agree on this issue. . . Christ compels me to stand with the vulnerable and oppressed. I will not betray them at any price in this world or the next.”

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Wales, Anthropology, Church of Wales, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CNBC) U.S. heads into Labor Day with Covid vaccines but a substantially worse outbreak than this time last year

The U.S. is heading into Labor Day weekend with just over four times as many Covid-19 cases and more than twice as many hospitalizations as at this time last year — despite having vaccinated 62% of the American population with at least one dose.

The U.S. and the world are nowhere near where health officials hoped, and thought, we would be 20 months into the pandemic — and more than eight months after vaccines that boasted efficacy rates around 95% were rolled out.

Though the outbreak is significantly worse by most measures than 2020, setting the U.S. up for a tough fall season, the delta variant, vaccines and open schools make it hard to predict how the pandemic will unfold, doctors and scientists say.

“There is a lot more uncertainty right now. The dynamic interplay between variants and vaccine and particularly people unvaccinated, and the sort of game changer of the delta variant leads to a lot of uncertainty in terms of what the fall holds,” said Dr. Barbara Taylor, an assistant dean and infectious disease specialist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

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

Friday Food for Thought from Francis Spufford on why He Wrote ‘Light Perpetual’

[F]or the last twelve years, I’ve been walking to work at Goldsmiths College past a plaque commemorating the 1944 V-2 attack on the New Cross Road branch of Woolworths. Of the 168 people who died, fifteen were aged eleven or under. The novel is partly written in memory of those South London children, and their lost chance to experience the rest of the twentieth century.

But what has gone is not just the children’s present existence…It’s all the futures they won’t get, too. All the would-be’s, might-be’s, could-be’s of the decades to come. How can that loss be measured, how can that loss be known, except by laying this absence, now and onwards, against some other version of the reel of time, where might-be and could-be and would-be still may be?

–quoted by yours truly in last week’s sermon

Posted in Anthropology, Books, England / UK

(NYT) Houses of Worship Struggle Back, and Tread Lightly on Vaccines

The weekly rhythms of Catholic life have started to return at Our Lady of Lourdes in Harlem. The pews are packed on Sunday mornings, prayer groups meet after work and the collection plate is almost as full as it was before the coronavirus pandemic began.

But parishioners are starting to worry about the virus again.

“For a little while everyone felt more free, not using masks and things like that,” said the Rev. Gilberto Ángel-Neri, the pastor. “But now that we hear all the news about the Delta variant, everyone is using masks again.”

The progress made at Father Ángel-Neri’s church, and at houses of worship across New York City, may be threatened by a rise in virus cases in the past month and by an uneven patchwork of rules governing vaccination that can differ from one place to another.

New rules that have been enacted in recent weeks to curb the spread of the virus’s more contagious Delta variant require New Yorkers to show proof of vaccination to participate in many indoor activities, including sitting inside restaurants or bars, going to a gym or nightclub and visiting a museum or zoo. But they do not apply to religious services.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Business Standard) Africa ‘not on track’ to 10% Covid-19 vaccination target by year end: WHO

Only 1.5 per cent of the whole population of Africa has been vaccinated against Covid-19, and the continent might not even reach 10 per cent coverage by December 2021, although the World Health Organization (WHO) wanted to cross that threshold by September of this year, WHO officials warned on Friday.

“Right now, we are not on track to hit 10 per cent coverage in Africa by the end of this year,” said Bruce Aylward, senior advisor to the WHO director general, at a press conference here on Friday.

“That should be a scar on all of our conscience, quite frankly,” he added, pointing out that the number of coronavirus-related deaths has increased by 80 per cent on the African continent, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Only a fraction of the globally available vaccine doses have been administered in Africa, less than two per cent of the 4.07 billion doses used worldwide, according to the WHO.

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Posted in Africa, Health & Medicine