Category : * International News & Commentary

(Atlantic) The Tiny Blond Bible Teacher Taking on the Evangelical Political Machine

Moore was flying home from a ministry event in October 2016 when she decided to compose the tweets that changed her life. That weekend, she had glimpsed headlines about Donald Trump’s 2005 comments on the now infamous Access Hollywood tape. But it wasn’t until that plane ride, with newspapers and transcripts spread out in front of her, that Moore learned the full extent of it—including the reaction of some Christian leaders who, picking up a common line of spin, dismissed the comments as “locker-room talk.”

“I was like, ‘Oh no. No. No,’ ” Moore told me. “I was so appalled.” Trump’s ugly boasting felt personal to her: Many of her followers have confided to her that they’ve suffered abuse, and Moore herself says she was sexually abused as a small child by someone close to her family—a trauma she has talked about publicly, though never in detail.

The next day, Moore wrote a few short messages to her nearly 900,000 followers. “Wake up, Sleepers, to what women have dealt with all along in environments of gross entitlement & power,” she said in one tweet. “Are we sickened? Yes. Surprised? NO.” Like other women, Moore wrote, she had been “misused, stared down, heckled, talked naughty to.” As pastors took to the airwaves to defend Trump, she was trying to understand how “some Christian leaders don’t think it’s that big a deal.”

The tweets upended Moore’s cheerful, feminine world. Breitbart News claimed that Moore was standing “in the gap for Hillary Clinton,” borrowing a turn of phrase from the Book of Ezekiel. Moore did not support Clinton; she told me she voted for a third-party candidate in 2016. But she was horrified by church leaders’ reflexive support of Trump. To Moore, it wasn’t just a matter of hypocrisy, of making a deal with the devil that would deliver a Supreme Court seat, among other spoils. Moore believes that an evangelical culture that demeans women, promotes sexism, and disregards accusations of sexual abuse enabled Trump’s rise.

Read it all.


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

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

(CT) Warren Smith–David Foster Wallace Broke My Heart

While a graduate student at the University of Arizona, he started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and that brought him face-to-face with religion and religious people. AA’s 12-Step program is a far cry from a systematic and biblical theology, but for someone like Wallace—brilliant, arrogant, skeptical—its principles were humbling and eye-opening, especially the admonition to “surrender to a power higher than ourselves.”

Recovery ultimately took several years and involved multiple relapses, time in a residential rehab facility (brilliantly fictionalized in Infinite Jest), and at least one suicide attempt. But when Wallace came out the other end, he was a different, humbler man. As Max puts it,

To do well in recovery required modesty rather than brilliance. It was not easy for him to accept humbling adages like “Your best thinking got you here.” How smart could he be, the other program members would remind him, if here he was in a room in the basement of a church with a dozen other people talking about how he couldn’t stop drinking?

If these experiences did not lead Wallace to religion, or Christianity in particular, they did lead him to admire and respect Christians, many of them “ordinary Joes” he met in these church basements. In 1999, to one of his writer friends, he wrote, “You’re special—it’s OK—but so’s the guy across the table who’s raising two kids sober and rebuilding a ’73 Mustang.”

That respect showed up in his work, and despite his background and education, he became something of a “blue-collar intellectual.” He often wore jeans, flannel shirts, and unlaced Timberland boots. In the heat of Arizona, he would pull his long hair back with a bandana, and the look became his trademark. Wallace would skewer the pompous and the hypocritical without a trace of pity, but he developed a quiet and profound respect for the humble and sincere Christians who often led these AA meetings and served as his sponsors—people who desperately, unironically talked about a God he wanted to but could not quite embrace….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Terrific ABC Nightline Piece on the rescue efforts in North Carolina in the midst of Hurricane Florence

Watch it all, it is a model of a news story that covers faith seriously and respectfully.

“Q:What do you need?” “A:Right now prayers. We’ve done everything man can do. Now it’s in God’s hands and we’re going to trust Him.”

Posted in America/U.S.A., Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Police/Fire, Weather

‘Try Not to Go Into Labor’: Tales From Those in the Path of Hurricane Florence

Charles Cejka, Edenton, N.C.
Unfortunately, my family does not have the resources to put gas in our vehicle. If we did, the gas pumps here in Edenton, N.C., are empty just minutes after being filled it seems. Long lines of cars wait for fuel to arrive.

I, myself, came here to this city to care for my father, who was diagnosed with cancer, with next to nothing to my name.

We have no way out, so we are staying. We live together in a double-wide trailer.

The family and I have spent the last two days determining what takes precedence to pack and store away. We have prepared meals ahead of time. I bagged up paperwork and made many of my meals ready to eat and water filtration materials available for use. We struggled to find water to store with so many store shelves bare, but we managed.

As Hurricane Florence gets closer, our fingernails seem to get shorter. All this family can do is double-check things, lose a bit of sleep and pray.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Economy, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Personal Finance, Weather

(NBC) One Woman’s way of honoring those who lost their lives on 9/11

Terrific and touching–watch it all.

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

Kendall Harmon for 9/11: Number 343


(You may find the names of all 343 firefighters here–KSH).

On Monday this week, the last of the 343 firefighters who died on September 11th was buried. Because no remains of Michael Ragusa, age 29, of Engine Company 279, were found and identified, his family placed in his coffin a very small vial of his blood, donated years ago to a bone-marrow clinic. At the funeral service Michael’s mother Dee read an excerpt from her son’s diary on the occasion of the death of a colleague. “It is always sad and tragic when a fellow firefighter dies,” Michael Ragusa wrote, “especially when he is young and had everything to live for.” Indeed. And what a sobering reminder of how many died and the awful circumstances in which they perished that it took until this week to bury the last one.

So here is to the clergy, the ministers, rabbis, imams and others, who have done all these burials and sought to help all these grieving families. And here is to the families who lost loved ones and had to cope with burials in which sometimes they didn’t even have remains of the one who died. And here, too, is to the remarkable ministry of the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, who played every single service for all 343 firefighters who lost their lives. The Society chose not to end any service at which they played with an up-tempo march until the last firefighter was buried.

On Monday, in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, the Society therefore played “Garry Owen” and “Atholl Highlander,” for the first time since 9/11 as the last firefighter killed on that day was laid in the earth. On the two year anniversary here is to New York, wounded and more sober, but ever hopeful and still marching.

–First published on this blog September 11, 2003

Posted in * By Kendall, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Police/Fire, Terrorism

A Remember 9/11 Prayer


From here:

Almighty God, the past year will be indelibly inscribed in our memories.

We looked with horror on the terrorist attacks of last September 11th.
But we looked with honor on acts of courage by ordinary people
who sacrificed themselves to prevent further death and destruction.

We shed our tears in a common bond of grief for those we loved and lost.
We journeyed through a dark valley, but your light has led us to a place of hope.
You have turned our grief into determination.
We are resolved to do what is good, and right, and just.

Help us to remember what it means to be Americans””
a people endowed with abundant blessings.
Help us to cherish the freedoms we enjoy and inspire us to stand
with courage, united as one Nation in the midst of any adversity.

Lord, hear this prayer for our Nation. Amen.

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

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.

Originally launched in September 2001, the site has received more than 6 million visitors and more than 200,000 Guest Book entries….

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

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

A Prayer for 9/11 by Kendall Harmon

Almighty God and Father who wills that people may flourish and have abundance of life, be with us especially on this day when we remember such destruction, darkness, devastation, death and terror; help us to honor the memory of those whose lives were utterly cut short, and to believe that you can make all things new, even the most horrible things. Redeem and heal, O Holy Spirit, grant us perspective, humility, light, trust and grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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

(Pewr FactTank) 6 facts about America’s students

America’s students are more racially and ethnically diverse than ever, while teachers remain overwhelmingly white. In fall 2015, the share of nonwhite students in U.S. public elementary and secondary schools hit a record 51%. That’s up from 30% in fall 1986. Growth has been especially fast among Hispanic students, who increased from 10% of students in 1986 to 26% in 2015.

At the same time, nonwhites continue to make up a relatively small share of teachers: In the 2015-16 school year, just 20% of public school elementary and secondary teachers were nonwhite, up from 13% in 1987-88. (In 2015, 39% of all Americans were nonwhite.)

While America’s overall student body has become more diverse, many nonwhite students go to public schools where at least half of their peers are of their race or ethnicity. Large shares of blacks (44%) and Hispanics (57%) attend public schools where people of their own race or ethnicity make up at least half the student body. Meanwhile, whites – who continue to make up a larger share of overall U.S. public school students than any other race or ethnicity – tend to go to schools where half or more of students are white.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Education, Sociology

(WSJ) Nonbelievers Seek Political Power to Match Their Growing Numbers

As November’s midterm election approaches, nonbelievers in the U.S. are trying to build something that has long eluded them: political power.

The portion of U.S. adults who don’t identify with any religious group rose to 24% of the population in 2016 from 14% in 2000, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. But their political influence has lagged behind: Just 15% of voters in 2016 identified as not belonging to a religious group, according to exit polls.

A coalition of secular organizations is now determined to close that gap. This summer, they kicked off a nationwide voter registration drive, which will culminate with a get-out-the-secular-vote campaign in the fall. Their goal is also to politically galvanize nonbelievers around issues like separation of church and state and access to abortion.

There’s just one catch: How to unite a group of people whose common denominator is what they don’t believe? And even on that point, they are heterogeneous: 16% of religiously unaffiliated Americans still describe themselves as a “a religious person,” according to PRRI.

“We don’t meet every week. That’s an issue,” said Ron Millar, PAC coordinator for the Center for Freethought Equality, a nonprofit group dedicated to boosting secularists’ political power.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Atheism, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Secularism

(NPR) Bobi Wine Is Willing ‘To Die Trying’ To Win Freedom For Uganda

“I’m supposed to be a dead man,” says Bobi Wine, a Ugandan musician turned politician.

His driver Yasin Kawuma was shot dead on Aug. 13. Wine tweeted a graphic picture he said was of the man’s dead body. Wine says police were the ones who shot Kawuma, but Wine says he was their real target.

Bobi Wine’s real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu. He rose to fame as a musician — first with love songs and dance songs, but more recently turned to political themes in his music. His 2017 song “Freedom” has become a rallying cry for the country’s opposition.

In the same year, Wine was elected to the country’s Parliament as an independent.

He’s become a leader in opposing the country’s longtime President Yoweri Museveni — in power since 1986. Museveni is known for violently crushing dissent. Human Rights Watch says the government “continues to violate free association, expression, and assembly rights.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Music, Politics in General, Psychology, Uganda

(WSJ) It’s time to Learn about Generation Z as they enter the workforce

About 17 million members of Generation Z are now adults and starting to enter the U.S. workforce, and employers haven’t seen a generation like this since the Great Depression. They came of age during recessions, financial crises, war, terror threats, school shootings and under the constant glare of technology and social media. The broad result is a scarred generation, cautious and hardened by economic and social turbulence.

Gen Z totals about 67 million, including those born roughly beginning in 1997 up until a few years ago. Its members are more eager to get rich than the past three generations but are less interested in owning their own businesses, according to surveys. As teenagers many postponed risk-taking rites of passage such as sex, drinking and getting driver’s licenses. Now they are eschewing student debt, having seen prior generations drive it to records, and trying to forge careers that can withstand economic crisis.

Early signs suggest Gen Z workers are more competitive and pragmatic, but also more anxious and reserved, than millennials, the generation of 72 million born from 1981 to 1996, according to executives, managers, generational consultants and multidecade studies of young people. Gen Zers are also the most racially diverse generation in American history: Almost half are a race other than non-Hispanic white….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Young Adults

(NBC) Montana had the highest suicide rate in the country. Then budget cuts hit.

Libby is in Lincoln County, which has a population of nearly 20,000 but just one behavioral health employee, Amy Fantozzi, a graduate student who oversees the county’s contracts with medical providers who do mental health assessments.

The town had a clinic run by the nonprofit Western Montana Mental Health Center, the largest service provider in the region, which had 12 clinics serving 15,000 clients across 15 counties. But after the cuts were announced last year, the center laid off more than 60 case managers and shut down three clinics, including the one in Libby. That left hundreds of patients without access to therapy, medication and a case manager to check on them.

Now, when those patients are in crisis, their only option is the emergency room at Lincoln County’s lone hospital. Once they check in, Fantozzi gets a call, and she must decide whether to spend $100 of her $18,500 annual budget on a mental health assessment. Depending on the results, she could then spend an additional $300 to have the patient evaluated and involuntarily committed at the nearest mental institution 90 miles away.

There have yet to be any publicly reported deaths by suicide as a result of the local clinic’s closure, but county officials fear the current system of mental health triage won’t hold up…

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, State Government, Suicide, Theology

Martin Davie–On the Flying of Flags

Can Christians use the rainbow flag to convey their own message?

It might be argued, however that it could be right for Christians to fly the rainbow flag, not in order to signify acceptance of the LGBTI + programme, but in order to bear witness to the Christian conviction that lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex people have been created by God in his image and likeness and are unconditionally loved by him, that they are therefore welcome to be part of the Church, and that they should not be subject to unwarranted exclusion, unjust discrimination, violence or persecution.

It is fundamentally important that Christians should bear witness to this conviction in a context in which Christianity is often portrayed as hostile to those who are lesbian, gay, transgender or intersex. However, flying the rainbow flag is not an effective way to bear witness to this conviction.

The reason this is the case is because what is conveyed by the flying of a flag in a particular context is not necessarily what is intended by the person flying it. For example, there are those in the United States who wish to fly the Confederate flag in order to mark the continuing importance of Southern history and culture, or to honour those who gave their lives for the Confederate cause. However, in the current American context, and particularly among black people, this is not what flying the Confederate flag conveys. What it conveys is support for white supremacy.

Anyone thinking about flying the Confederate flag needs to take this reality into account and in a similar way anyone in the Church of England considering flying the rainbow flag needs to take into account the reality of what flying it will convey. It will not convey the nuanced message of Christian conviction noted above. What it will convey is a message that those flying it are on board with the entire LGBTI + programme. This is a not a message that Christians should give out and consequently they should not fly the rainbow flag.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology