Category : * International News & Commentary

(David French) Should Americans Worry About Amy Coney Barrett and ‘People of Praise’?

The more I looked into People of Praise, the more I had two simultaneous thoughts: First, many millions of American Christians see echoes of their lives in Judge Barrett’s story. And second, lots of folks really don’t understand both spiritual authority and spiritual community. The concerns about Barrett reflect in part the glaring gaps in religious knowledge in elite American media.

In other words, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet was right when he told NPR’s Terry Gross, “We don’t get religion. We don’t get the role of religion in people’s lives.”

So let’s try to “get religion,” especially in the context of close-knit religious fellowships like People of Praise. First, outside of true cults, the concept of spiritual authority and spiritual “headship” is quite divorced from the lurid fears and imaginations of many Americans—and it rarely has anything at all to do with law, politics, or the American Constitution. It has much more to do with religious doctrine and religious practice—orthodoxy and orthopraxy. And words and terms that sound strange to secular ears are simply biblical and traditional to countless Christian Americans.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(WSJ) How South Korea Successfully Managed Coronavirus

South Korea appears to have cracked the code for managing the coronavirus. Its solution is straightforward, flexible and relatively easy to replicate.

The country has averaged about 77 new daily cases since early April and recently suppressed a spike in infections. Adjusting for population, that would be the equivalent of about 480 cases a day in the U.S., where new daily cases have averaged about 38,000 over the same period. Total deaths in the U.S. due to Covid-19 just surpassed 200,000.

South Korea halted virus transmission better than any other wealthy country during the pandemic’s early months. It was about twice as effective as the U.S. and U.K. at preventing infected individuals from spreading the disease to others, according to a recent report from a United Nations-affiliated research network. South Korea’s economy is expected to decline by just 0.8% this year, the best among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s forecasts for member nations.

The key to South Korea’s success came from blending technology and testing like no other country, centralized control and communication—and a constant fear of failure.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, South Korea, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Sergius

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that inspired by the devotion of thy servant Sergius of Moscow, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer

(Washington Post) Mike Shannon–I tracked electoral votes for George W. Bush. Beware of 2020 forecasts

All the data – and every model and prediction based on them – are overshadowed by unusual factors that create enormous uncertainty.

First, we’ve had no real general election campaign yet. Most of the season has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has had just a handful of his beloved rallies. Biden has mostly stayed at home. The in-person conventions were canceled, replaced by virtual conventions that recorded a collapse in voter interest (only 28% said they watched at least some of the 2020 Republican National Convention, compared with 64% four years ago) and that were virtually bounceless, the first time in modern history when neither candidate appeared to get a bump. In this campaign-less campaign, Trump has been the only player on the field, which has been to his detriment. This will change with the debates, which could be the most consequential of our lifetime and should provide a better sense of the race.

Second, to continue the sports metaphor, even as an abbreviated season gets underway, a dense fog is covering the playing field, making both the ground game and scoring difficult: No one knows how the pandemic will affect voter turnout or the actual casting of ballots. This is a big deal for forecasting and polling – an everything deal when swing-state poll margins are within five points, which is where most are today. Moving turnout share just a few points here and there among Republicans and Democrats could have changed three of the past five presidential outcomes. A measurable disparity in whose supporters’ votes are actually counted – because of higher rates of disqualification of mail-in ballots, pandemic-related difficulties at the polls or even partisan malfeasance – could have a similar effect.

Now, a Supreme Court nomination fight has burst onto the campaign playing field with less than two months to go. With it comes a new layer of unpredictability. There’s no modern precedent to help us forecast how this will affect the contest.

Finally, there is an additional significant factor of uncertainty unrelated to the pandemic or the Supreme Court – the dimensions of the playing field itself.

Read it all.

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

(NPR) 2 Louisville Police Officers Shot After Charges In Breonna Taylor Case Spark Protests

The chief said that under the tense circumstances following the indictment by the grand jury Wednesday, he is “very concerned for the safety of [his] officers.”

Hundreds of protesters swiftly began demonstrations calling for justice for Breonna Taylor after a grand jury decided to indict just one of the three Louisville Metropolitan Police officers who fired nearly two dozen bullets into her apartment, killing the 26-year-old during a no-knock raid.

City and state officials, who have been expecting a decision from the grand jury all week after months of outrage and anticipation, were braced for widespread protests, preemptively calling for reinforcements from the National Guard.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CC) Philip Jenkins–To understand African Christianity, remember the Battle of Adwa

The new war culminated on March 1, 1896, at Adwa, when the Italian force of around 18,000 allowed itself to be drawn into battle against an Ethiopian army at least six times larger. The Italian force was utterly destroyed as a fighting unit, suffering at least 6,000 dead and losing all artillery and equipment. Only Menelik’s diplomatic sense and restraint prevented his forces from sweeping up all the now defenseless Italian territory that remained on the Red Sea. Why risk his gains when he already had achieved everything he needed? (The campaign is expertly described in Raymond Jonas’s 2011 study The Battle of Adwa.)

The sheer scale of the European catastrophe demands attention. This was a period when White empires might lose the occasional battle, as the British had to the Zulus some years before, but they certainly did not lose whole wars to despised Black Africans. Nor did the familiar stereotype allow for a situation where African commanders outmaneuvered imperial invaders and deployed modern weaponry against them. To put such a reversal of expectations in a US context, we would have to imagine an alternate world where Native forces both triumphed at Little Bighorn and then went on to secure the independence of the whole Black Hills region for a generation.

That context explains the very long shadow cast by Adwa, on Europeans and Africans alike. Italy recalled the battle as an epic humiliation, a horror made all the worse by propaganda tales of the atrocities inflicted on their prisoners of war….

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Church History, Ethiopia, Italy, Military / Armed Forces

(CT) Atlanta’s Black Church

They say you can’t love what you don’t know, and lately, many of us are realizing just how much we don’t know. This year, my church in Augusta, Georgia, began exploring the racial history of our city, the location of one of the first and largest civil rights riots in the South. The details of the 1970 riot—chronicled in a recent Georgia Public Broadcasting podcast—resemble current events: a teen beaten to death in police custody, the black community responding with peaceful demands then rebellion, police using deadly force to suppress the uprising. But the parallels to the present aren’t striking if, like so many young people in our city, you had no idea it took place.

No wonder we feel so stuck in this racial justice fight. You can’t lament a past you don’t remember. You can’t change problems you don’t recognize. You can’t empathize with voices you ignore. Part of our call to love and serve our neighbors is to understand the lingering scars and burdens they bear.

Learning how my community downplayed the significance of its racial past made me all the more curious about the extensive civil rights legacy in the Georgia capital, the subject of this month’s cover package. Across the generations, Atlanta—with the black church as its heartbeat—has worked to honor its hard-won progress as well as to lament the cost of the ongoing fight for justice.

That practice has helped carry on a long legacy and inspire today’s leaders in Atlanta—the preachers and politicians, entrepreneurs and activists, who are working to see the principles of God’s kingdom shape every sphere of life.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Telegraph) Pandemic response is too centralised, say Archbishop Welby and Bishop Mullally

When the coronavirus pandemic began and lockdown took force across the country – shuttering shops and pubs, closing schools and barring places of worship – much of what we saw, heard and experienced was dictated and driven by “the centre”. Ministers and officials commanded our attention and determined the daily details of our lives. Few of us have experienced the sheer power of government like that in our lifetimes.

It makes sense to instinctively look for central direction in such an acute crisis, and we’re indebted to the roles many played in doing so, especially those who organised the NHS to cope with the increased demand. Within the Church there are lessons to be learnt about the role and importance of central guidance, and its crucial interplay with government rules that exist for the benefit of all.

But with a vaccine still far from certain, infection rates rising and winter on the horizon, the new normal of living with Covid-19 will only be sustainable – or even endurable – if we challenge our addiction to centralisation and go back to an age-old principle: only do centrally what must be done centrally.

As a country, this principle is in our DNA. In the Church of England, we have been committed to localism for centuries.

Read it all.

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

(PRC) U.S. Image Plummets Internationally as Most Say Country Has Handled Coronavirus Badly

Since Donald Trump took office as president, the image of the United States has suffered across many regions of the globe. As a new 13-nation Pew Research Center survey illustrates, America’s reputation has declined further over the past year among many key allies and partners. In several countries, the share of the public with a favorable view of the U.S. is as low as it has been at any point since the Center began polling on this topic nearly two decades ago.

For instance, just 41% in the United Kingdom express a favorable opinion of the U.S., the lowest percentage registered in any Pew Research Center survey there. In France, only 31% see the U.S. positively, matching the grim ratings from March 2003, at the height of U.S.-France tensions over the Iraq War. Germans give the U.S. particularly low marks on the survey: 26% rate the U.S. favorably, similar to the 25% in the same March 2003 poll.

Part of the decline over the past year is linked to how the U.S. had handled the coronavirus pandemic. Across the 13 nations surveyed, a median of just 15% say the U.S. has done a good job of dealing with the outbreak. In contrast, most say the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Union have done a good job, and in nearly all nations people give their own country positive marks for dealing with the crisis (the U.S. and UK are notable exceptions). Relatively few think China has handled the pandemic well, although it still receives considerably better reviews than the U.S. response.

Read it all.

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

(Stat News) CDC study: Covid-19 complications killed 121 Americans under age 21 through July

A true saving grace of the pandemic is that Covid-19 poses far less risk to children than to adults, particularly older adults. But in rare cases, it has made children and young adults severely sick or even been fatal.

In a new report that analyzed fatal Covid-19 cases in Americans under age 20, researchers found that some of the same patterns of deaths in older populations carried over to younger populations: There was a disproportionate burden among children and young adults with underlying health conditions and those who were Latinx, Black, or American Indian or Alaska Native.

The report also found that 18- to 20-year-olds accounted for nearly half of the 121 deaths in the group during the time period studied — mid-February to the end of July — adding to the evidence that younger children generally are less likely to get seriously ill from Covid-19. Still, 10% of fatal cases occurred in children under 1 year old.

Read it all.

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

(CNN) The unlikely rise of Yoshihide Suga, the son of a farmer who is expected to become Japan’s next Prime Minister

Suga is the son of a farmer, and he’s known as a pragmatic, behind-the-scenes deal maker. He grew up in the rural Akita prefecture, and moved to Tokyo after high school. He then worked a series of odd jobs — including one at a cardboard factory and another at the famed Tsukiji fish market — to save money for university, which he went on to attend part time while working.

Suga entered the fast-paced, punishing world of Japan’s salary men after graduation, but it didn’t last. Politics was what shaped and impacted the world, and that’s what he wanted to do.

So he decided to run for city council in Yokohama. Though he lacked connections and political experience, he made up for it with gumption and hard work. He campaigned door-to-door, visiting about 300 houses a day and 30,000 in total, according to the LDP. By the time the election rolled around, he had worn out six pairs of shoes.

Read it all.

Posted in Japan, Politics in General

(ABC Aus.) Rodeo bronc rider to Christian leader, Keith Christie celebrates church’s 20 years

Before Pastor Keith Christie joined the church he was a rodeo-going bronc rider with what he described as a “pretty bad attitude”.

Standing in Mount Isa’s Christian Outreach Centre, it is hard to draw any parallel between the Pastor Keith who stands before you and the photos of the bronc rider on his office walls.

Pastor Keith reopened the Christian Outreach Centre two decades ago and celebrated the milestone last month.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(VOA) 19 Years On, Does a Post-9/11 Generation Remember the Attacks?

Nineteen years later, [Aidan] Thayer is a fifth-year undergraduate student at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, where he triple-majors in physics, mathematics and German. Thayer, despite his near-photographic memory, can only recall some scenes from the day of the attacks.

For older Americans, in contrast, 9/11 remains a vivid memory. Ten years later, 97% of Americans 8 or older at the time could remember exactly where they were when they heard the news, according to a 2011 survey by the Pew Research Center.

For many young people, though, 9/11 is a subject learned secondhand.

“It feels like something that we learned in history books, something like World War Two,” said Christina Liu, 22, from New York City. Liu graduated from New York University last year and will start work this month as an associated development operations engineer at Veeva Systems, a cloud computing company in California.

“It seems very distant to me, despite being an event that happened in my lifetime,” added Liu, who found she couldn’t distinguish her memories of 9/11 from her memories of a massive 2003 power outage dubbed the Great Northeast Blackout.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., 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., Evangelicals, History, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theodicy, Theology

Andrew Sullivan on 9/11–This is what a Day Means

“This is what a day means. Like the day an archduke was shot in Sarajevo, when no one knew in the morning what the afternoon would have proved. Like the day of the first blitzkrieg into Poland, when denial in the dawn ceded to dread at dusk. Like the day in November 1963 when the same sense of numbness and grief swept through Americans in an instant. Like the beautiful September day, when a man heard a sound and looked up into the sky in curiosity and calm and saw the end of something we never truly appreciated until in one short day, it had already disappeared.”

Andrew Sullivan in the NYT, September 23, 2001

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

Nineteen 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

(Unherd) Justin Webb–Is The American Left looking increasingly extreme?

If you are searching for a view of the intellectual and moral slack the American far-Left is cutting itself, look no further than gentle old National Public Radio. More than a decade ago, when I lived in the US, NPR was genially Left-of-centre, but not aggressively so. Last week it revealed itself to be — in the eyes of many Americans — quite unhinged, publishing an interview with Vicky Osterweil, the author of a book called In Defense of Looting.

Osterweil made two assertions, the first being that looting is justified because it attacks the idea of private property and the world of work: “So you get to the heart of that property relation, and demonstrate that without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free.”

The second is that stealing from shops is part of the wider movement for change in America: “Looting strikes at the heart of property, of whiteness and of the police,” she said: “It gets to the very root of the way those three things are interconnected. And also it provides people with an imaginative sense of freedom and pleasure and helps them imagine a world that could be. And I think that’s a part of it that doesn’t really get talked about — that riots and looting are experienced as sort of joyous and liberatory.”

None of this is robustly challenged, and this was not some sociology professor playing with edgy thoughts on campus — it was an interview conducted and disseminated by one of the most important mainstream broadcasters in the USA, a non-profit devoted to ideals of impartiality and truth.

Read it all.


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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Violence

(NYT Op-ed) Michael Sandel–Disdain for the Less Educated Is the Last Acceptable Prejudice

At the heart of this project are two ideas: First, in a global, technological age, higher education is the key to upward mobility, material success and social esteem. Second, if everyone has an equal chance to rise, those who land on top deserve the rewards their talents bring.

This way of thinking is so familiar that it seems to define the American dream. But it has come to dominate our politics only in recent decades. And despite its inspiring promise of success based on merit, it has a dark side.

Building a politics around the idea that a college degree is a precondition for dignified work and social esteem has a corrosive effect on democratic life. It devalues the contributions of those without a diploma, fuels prejudice against less-educated members of society, effectively excludes most working people from elective government and provokes political backlash.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Psychology, Theology

Tuesday Inspiration–John Stott on William Wilberforce’s Great Example of Perseverance

It was in 1787 that he first decided to put down a motion in the House of Commons about the slave trade. This nefarious traffic had been going on for three centuries, and the West Indian slave-owners were determined to oppose abolition to the end. Besides, Wilberforce was not a very prepossessing man. He was little and somewhat ugly, with poor eyesight and an upturned nose. When Boswell heard him speak, he pronounced him ‘a perfect shrimp’, but then had to concede that ‘presently the shrimp swelled into a whale.’ In 1789 Wilberforce said of the slave trade: “So enormous so dreadful, so irremediable did its wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for the abolition…. let the consequences be what they would, I from this time determined that I would never rest till I had effected its abolition.

So abolition bills (which related to the trade) and Foreign Trade Bills (which would prohibit the involvement of British ships in it) were debated in the commons in 1789, 1791, 1792,194, 1796 (by which time Abolition had become ‘the grand object of my parliamentary existence’), 1798 and 1799. Yet they all failed. The Foreign Slave Bill was not passed until 1806 and the Abolition of the Slave Trade Bill until 1807. This part of the campaign had taken eighteen years.

Next, soon after the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars, Wilberforce began to direct his energies to the abolition of slavery itself and the emancipation of the slaves. In 1823 the Anti-Slavery Society was formed. Twice that year and twice the following year, Wilberforce pleaded the slaves’ cause in the House of Commons. But in 1825 ill-health compelled him to resign as a member of parliament and to continue his campaign from outside. In 1831 he sent a message to the Anti-Slavery Society, in which he said, “Our motto must continue to be PERSEVERANCE. And ultimately I trust the Almighty will crown our efforts with success.” He did. In July 1833 the Abolition of Slavery Bill was passed in both Houses of Parliament, even though it included the undertaking to pay 20 million pounds in compensation to the slave-owners. ‘Thank God,’ wrote Wilberforce, that I have lived to witness a day in which England is willing to give 20 million pounds for the abolition of slavery.’ Three days later he died. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, in national recognition of his FORTY-FIVE YEARS of persevering struggle on behalf of African slaves.

— John R W Stott, Issues facing Christians Today (Basingstoke: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1984), p. 334 (cited by yours truly in the Sunday sermon)

Posted in Church History, England / UK, Evangelicals, Race/Race Relations

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Søren Kierkegaard

Heavenly Father, whose beloved Son Jesus Christ felt sorrow and dread in the Garden of Gethsemane: Help us to remember that though we walk through the valley of the shadow, thou art always with us, that with thy philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, we may believe what we have not seen and trust where we cannot test, and so come at length to the eternal joy which thou hast prepared for those who love thee; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Denmark, Philosophy, Spirituality/Prayer

(PRC) A majority of young adults in the U.S. live with their parents for the first time since the Great Depression

The coronavirus outbreak has pushed millions of Americans, especially young adults, to move in with family members. The share of 18- to 29-year-olds living with their parents has become a majority since U.S. coronavirus cases began spreading early this year, surpassing the previous peak during the Great Depression era.

In July, 52% of young adults resided with one or both of their parents, up from 47% in February, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of monthly Census Bureau data. The number living with parents grew to 26.6 million, an increase of 2.6 million from February. The number and share of young adults living with their parents grew across the board for all major racial and ethnic groups, men and women, and metropolitan and rural residents, as well as in all four main census regions. Growth was sharpest for the youngest adults (ages 18 to 24) and for White young adults.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Sociology, Young Adults

A Monday Story about a Dedicated Servant from the Life of John Kenneth Galbraith

[When we] lived in Washington in a pleasant furnished apartment]…A very strong-willed and exceptionally short,…

Posted by Kendall Harmon on Sunday, August 30, 2020

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

(NYT) ‘I’m Only One Human Being’: Parents Brace for a Go-It-Alone School Year

Parents across America are facing the pandemic school year feeling overwhelmed, anxious and abandoned. With few good options for support, the vast majority have resigned themselves to going it alone, a new survey for The New York Times has found.

Just one in seven parents said their children would be returning to school full time this fall, and for most children, remote school requires hands-on help from an adult at home. Yet four in five parents said they would have no in-person help educating and caring for them, whether from relatives, neighbors, nannies or tutors, according to the survey, administered by Morning Consult. And more than half of parents will be taking on this second, unpaid job at the same time they’re holding down paid work.

Raising children has always been a community endeavor, and suddenly the village that parents relied on is gone. It’s taking a toll on parents’ careers, families’ well-being and children’s education.

In families where both wage earners need to work outside the home, parents have obvious logistical challenges because they cannot be in two places at once. Three-fourths of these parents say they will be overseeing their children’s education, and nearly half will be handling primary child care, according to the survey, answered by a nationally representative group of 1,081 parents from Aug. 4 to 8.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Education, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family

(AC) J.I. Packer: A Remembrance

Already in his 70s at the time, he preferred not to travel on a Sunday, but to travel earlier and serve a local church on Sunday, preaching to and teaching the faithful gathered in that place. He would fly in on a Friday, spend the weekend relaxing and recreating with us, preach and teach on Sunday, and then head off to CT Monday morning. He was always the perfect houseguest.

The first visit was arranged by my friend and parishioner Mark Galli, then editor at Christianity Today. It was thrilling to have him as a guest and to introduce him to my parishioners. The epistle for that Sunday was from Philippians 4, and he urged us not to neglect the important Christian work of rejoicing in the Lord’s goodness. But it was his second visit, rather the arranging of that visit, that opened a particular window onto his character.

I was in my office at the church one afternoon when the phone rang. I answered and heard a soft, British voice say, “Hello Chip, this is Jim Packer. I hope you remember me…”

I hope you remember me? Are you kidding me? But there you are, Jim Packer was perhaps the least presumptuous person I have ever known. He never felt that the renown his work had earned him was his entitlement to any special recognition or treatment.

Here’s another thing about Jim Packer: that man could eat! I never remember him turning down seconds at a meal, or refusing dessert because he was full. Oddly, he didn’t drink water, didn’t like it at all, but ate his food as spicy as he could get it. Once, at the airport in Dallas, we shared a breakfast of eggs and bacon. Lots of folks, myself included, like a bit of hot sauce on a scrambled egg. I remember Jim drowning his eggs in Tabasco Sauce, creating what looked like a sort of Tex-Mex Egg Drop soup.

Another time, driving from Columbia, SC to Tallahassee, FL for a Prayer Book Committee meeting, we stopped at an old Boarding House restaurant in south Georgia for lunch. At those places, you don’t order, they just bring what they have prepared that day: a variety of vegetables and rolls, and a choice of three meats. Jim chose all three. And when the two dessert options were offered, he asked if he might be permitted to have both.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Canada, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Seminary / Theological Education

Monday Mental Health Break–Dizzy – Roman Candles

Posted in * General Interest, Canada, Music

(CT) Bruce Hindmarsh–J.I. Packer Was the Robin Hood of Evangelicalism

J. I. Packer was my teacher at Regent College when I was a young graduate student. Some years later, he became my colleague and next-door neighbor in the hallways at the college and a fellow church member at St. John’s Anglican Church in Vancouver. I will forever be grateful to have known him. He shaped my life and thought in many ways, and I am not alone in this experience.

In light of his recent passing, I have been thinking more about his wider legacy and especially his significant contribution to evangelicalism as a whole. In the present political culture, however, the word “evangelical” or “evangelicalism” is freighted with a good deal of baggage that’s worth shedding immediately.

We can do so by going back in time. The Old English word “gospel” never got a proper Old English adjective and had to steal a Greek one: “evangelical.” But the noun and the adjective belong together. And as the great Bible translator William Tyndale put it, “evangelical” is a word that “signifieth good, merry, glad and joyful tidings, that maketh a man’s heart glad, and maketh him sing, dance, and leap for joy.”

This vibrant relationship between word and life, message and experience, doctrine and devotion was absolutely central to the evangelical movements in Germany and English-speaking lands that emerged at the beginning of the modern period.

Evangelicals today claim some sort of genealogical or theological continuity with these movements. But wherever we see the preaching of Jesus Christ generate new life and set people in joyful motion, that is where we properly use the adjective “evangelical” in its most important and basic sense. It is why we cannot, I think, abandon the term. Again, the words “gospel” and “evangelical” ought always to be kept together. Indeed, Jim Packer played a significant role in evangelicalism over the past six decades precisely because he helped those who identify as social evangelicals to be theological and spiritual evangelicals as well.

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Posted in Canada, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Seminary / Theological Education

JI Packer RIP

Years after the death of President Calvin Coolidge, this story came to light. In the early days of his presidency, Coolidge awoke one morning in his hotel room to find a cat burglar going through his pockets. Coolidge spoke up, asking the burglar not to take his watch chain because it contained an engraved charm he wanted to keep. Coolidge then engaged the thief in quiet conversation and discovered he was a college student who had no money to pay his hotel bill or buy a ticket back to campus. Coolidge counted $32 out of his wallet — which he had also persuaded the dazed young man to give back! — declared it to be a loan, and advised the young man to leave the way he had come so as to avoid the Secret Service! (Yes, the loan was paid back.)

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15 ESV

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Dr. J.I. Packer, a treasured faculty member, author, churchman, and friend.

James Innell Packer died July 17th in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was ninety-three, and humorous, gracious, and prayerful even in his final days.

One of the most widely-respected systematic theologians of the twentieth century, Jim drew his inspiration primarily from Scripture, but was deeply influenced by the works of John Calvin and the English Puritans. Jim brought seventeenth-century Puritan devotion to life for his twentieth- and twenty-first-century students. While named as one of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals by Time Magazine in 2005 and author of one of the best-selling Christian books of all time, Knowing God, Jim Packer’s description of himself was as an “adult catechist.” “Theology, friends, is doxology” is a phrase students recall, and in many respects, the adage that shaped his lengthy career.

From his youth as the son of a railway clerk in Gloucester, England, Jim won a scholarship to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he was noted as a remarkable student with a brilliant intellect. Growing up in a nominal Anglican home, Jim became a Christian early in his time at Oxford, largely through the InterVarsity Fellowship Christian Union and St. Aldate’s Anglican Church.

Following his undergraduate degree, Jim taught Greek at Oak Hill Theological College in London. He quickly felt drawn to further study, and commenced his studies in theology at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He was awarded an MA and DPhil, writing his dissertation on Puritan Richard Baxter’s doctrine of salvation under Geoffrey Nuttall. “It was the Puritans,” Jim noted, “that made me aware that all theology is also spirituality.”

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Posted in Canada, Church of England, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Evangelicals, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(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.

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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.

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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….

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