Category : * International News & Commentary

(Crux) Ukraine Catholics warn that priests arrested by Russia could be tortured

After two of its clergy were detained by Russian forces last week, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Exarchate of Donetsk has warned they could be victims of torture and has called for their immediate release.

In a Nov. 30 statement labeled as “urgent,” the exarchate voiced their solidarity with the clerics, who serve in the city of Berdyansk, in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region.

The priests are Father Ivan Levytskyi, who serves as abbot of the Nativity of the Holy Theotokos parish, and Father Bohdan Geleta, who assists at the parish.

They were detained several days ago for allegedly housing explosives with the intention to commit “guerilla” activities against the Russian army.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Military / Armed Forces, Religion & Culture, Russia, Ukraine, Violence

(Terry Mattingly) a Marvin Olasky flashback: Back to the evangelical clashes over character and two-party politics

Back in 2016, Olasky noted that opposing Trump was risky: “Our call for a different Republican candidate will lose us some readers and donors.” Then in 2021, Trump-era tensions played a major role in his exit at World, after serving as editor for nearly three decades.

“Many people continue to stress that we are electing a president, not a preacher,” said Olasky. “I am also aware that God can do many things outside the limitations of what I think about all of this.”

But Olasky stands by his views in “The American Leadership Tradition” about fidelity and character. “From my selfish point of view,” he added, “the whole Trump era has been a vindication of that book.”

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

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Pzephizo) Ian Paul–Is Britain no longer a ‘Christian’ country?

The census was of ‘religious attitudes‘, and not religious practice, so there was no question here about any kind of attendance. This leads to some key observations.

First, there is a large disparity between those identifying as ‘Christian’ and actual regular attendance at churches, on Sundays or midweek. C of E regular attendance is around 850,000, and (according to the work of Peter Brierley) this represents around a quarter of all attendance, which would then be 3.4 million, or just under 6% or the population. That attendance figure is a small part of the 27.5 million identifying as ‘Christian’.

(An interesting comparison is football viewing and attendance. In 2020/21, a record breaking 26.8m people or 40% of the population watched a live Premier League match at some point during the year. During football season match days, total attendance at matches of the first four divisions is 720,000—so the Christian faith is still far more popular, in terms of commitment and affiliation, than football!)

So the question is, what did people mean by saying they identified as Christian? For some, they will be aware of the heritage of Christian values which has shaped our culture—but I suspect for most, particularly those who are older, the term is effectively equivalent to ‘decent’, ‘moral’, ‘respectable’, or even ‘traditional British’.

This is very different from any reasonable working definition of ‘Christian’. In the gospels, it is clear that the core of Jesus’ message is ‘The time has come, and the kingdom of God is at hand—repent and believe the good news!’ (Mark 1.15). We might express this in contemporary terms: ‘the kingly, ruling presence of God is on its way; change the direction of your life, and trust your life to me.’ St Paul sums up Christian commitment as confessing that ‘Jesus is Lord’ (Rom 10.91 Cor 12.3), that is to say, it is to Jesus we owe the faithful allegiance of our lives as we receive the forgiveness, hope and confidence that he offers through his life, death and resurrection. As an ordained Christian minister, I confess I am much more concerned with how many people are Christian in this sense, than how many tick a box on a census form!

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

(NYT front page) In Blacked-Out Kyiv, Life Goes On, by Flashlight

Elevators across Ukraine’s capital are stocked with emergency supplies in case the power fails. Banks have sent messages to customers to assure them their money is safe in the event of prolonged blackouts. The National Philharmonic played on Tuesday night on a stage lit by battery-powered lanterns, and doctors last week performed surgeries by flashlight.

This is Kyiv, a modern, thriving European capital of 3.3 million people, and now a war-torn city struggling with shortages of electricity, running water, cellphone service, central heating and the internet.

One popular cafe has created two menus — one featuring heated food like homemade pasta for when it has power, a second offering cold dishes like Greek yogurt with granola and applesauce when it doesn’t. At another restaurant, a chef cooked on a sidewalk grill as two young men warmed their hands over the coals. The sun sets early, before the school day is done, so children hold flashlights while waiting for their parents to arrive in total darkness to pick them up.

Generators of all sizes rattle and roar across the city, where municipal officials estimate that 1.5 million people are still without power for more than 12 hours a day.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(BBC) Cost of living: People in Cardiff ‘eating pet food’

Mark Seed now runs a community food project in Trowbridge, east Cardiff.

BBC Wales analysis of new Census data suggests six of Wales’ most deprived communities are in the city.

A charity warns that struggling households do not just appear in areas long associated with poverty and policy needs to focus on people not places.

Trowbridge lies in what Mr Seed calls an “arc of poverty” from east to west of the Welsh capital, with issues endemic in his area.

“I’m still shocked by the fact that we have people who are eating pet food,” he said.

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Posted in --Wales, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, England / UK, Personal Finance & Investing, Poverty

(WSJ) Gun Death Rate Nears Three-Decade High, With Men at Most Risk

The rate of gun deaths in the U.S. reached a 28-year high in 2021 after sharp increases in homicides of Black men and suicides among white men, an analysis of federal data showed.

A record 48,953 deaths in the U.S., or about 15 fatalities per 100,000 people, were caused by guns last year, said the analysis published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Network Open. Gun deaths declined in the 1990s, but have been rising steadily over the past decade and skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic, said researchers who conducted the analysis.

Gun-related deaths of women and children have risen, the analysis said, but men remain far more likely to die from guns.

“The disparities are so marked,” said Chris Rees, a co-author of the study and an assistant professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Rees and his colleagues analyzed U.S. firearm fatality rates from 1990 to 2021 using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. have died from guns since 1990, the analysis showed.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Men, Violence

(NYT) Christine McVie, Hitmaker for Fleetwood Mac, Is Dead at 79

Christine McVie, the singer, songwriter and keyboardist who became the biggest hitmaker for Fleetwood Mac, one of music’s most popular bands, died on Wednesday. She was 79.

Her family announced her death on Facebook. The statement said she died at a hospital but did not specify its location or give the cause of death. In June, Ms. McVie told Rolling Stone that she was in “quite bad health” and that she had endured debilitating problems with her back.

Ms. McVie’s commercial potency, which hit a high point in the 1970s and ’80s, was on full display on Fleetwood Mac’s “Greatest Hits” anthology, released in 1988, which sold more than eight million copies: She either wrote or co-wrote half of its 16 tracks. Her tally doubled that of the next most prolific member of the band’s trio of singer-songwriters, Stevie Nicks. (The third, Lindsey Buckingham, scored three major Billboard chart-makers on that collection.)

The most popular songs Ms. McVie wrote favored bouncing beats and lively melodies, numbers like “Say You Love Me” (which grazed Billboard’s Top 10), “You Make Lovin’ Fun” (which just broke it), “Hold Me” (No. 4) and “Don’t Stop” (her top smash, which crested at No. 3). But she could also connect with elegant ballads, like “Over My Head” (No. 20) and “Little Lies” (which cracked the publication’s Top Five in 1987).

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

(Economist) How will America deal with three-way nuclear deterrence?

The cold war, in which America and the Soviet Union menaced each other with tens of thousands of nukes, was scary enough. In the new age America confronts not just Russia but also China. New weapons—among them hypersonic missiles that are hard to detect and shoot down, and space and cyber weapons that threaten command-and-control systems—may unsettle the nuclear balance. Worse, decades of arms-control agreements may end by 2026. A new nuclear-arms race looms. Many think that it has already started.

Admiral Richard last year sounded the alarm that China was staging a “strategic breakout”. This month he warned that America was losing the military contest: “As I assess our level of deterrence against China, the ship is slowly sinking.” President Joe Biden says America faces a “decisive decade” in which to shape the global order. In a flurry of national-security policy documents this autumn his administration classifies Russia as the “acute” threat and China as “the “pacing challenge”.

“By the 2030s the United States will, for the first time in its history, face two major nuclear powers as strategic competitors and potential adversaries. This will create new stresses on stability and new challenges for deterrence, assurance, arms control, and risk reduction,” declares the Nuclear Posture Review (npr).

Stratcom says it needs a new generation of theorists.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia

U.S. Men’s National Team Advances To Knockout Round Of 2022 FIFA World Cup With 1-0 Shutout Victory Over Iran

The U.S. Men’s National Team advanced to the knockout stage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup with a 1-0 victory against IR Iran on an historic night for U.S. Soccer. Needing a victory to advance, forward Christian Pulisic scored the game-winner in the 38th minute off an assist from defender Sergiño Dest.

With the result, the USA finishes second in Group B with five points and will face Group A winner Netherlands in the Round of 16 on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 10 a.m. ET (FOX, Telemundo). England defeated Wales 3-0 in the other Group B match tonight to finish atop the group with seven points. The victory also ensured the USA’s advancement to the knockout round at five of the last seven World Cups in which the USMNT has participated.

It was fitting that Pulisic, the USMNT’s talisman for much of this four-year cycle, provided the difference maker in a crucial win-or-go-home match. Goalkeeper Matt Turner and the U.S. defense held strong against a spirited second half push by Iran to record a second clean sheet of the tournament, marking the first time that the USA has recorded multiple shutouts at the World Cup since 1930.

After putting plenty of pressure on the Iran defense for the majority of the first half, the USA’s breakthrough finally came in the 38th minute. Left back Antonee Robinson ran a ball down on the left wing deep in Iran territory. He played a bass back and centrally to Adams, who then played Weston McKennie and the U.S. midfielder spotted Dest making a run behind the defense into the right side of the penalty area. Dest ran under the perfectly chipped pass and sent a header bouncing through the middle to Pulisic who put his body on the line to smash home a half-volley from four yards out a second before enduring a heavy collision with the Iran goalkeeper, an incident that would cause Pulisic to be replaced at halftime due to an abdominal injury. The goal was the 22nd of his international career for Pulisic, who was replaced at halftime by Brenden Aaronson, and the young midfielder played a stellar second half.

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

(Washington Post) Bryce Ward–Americans are choosing to be alone. Here’s why we should reverse that.

According to the Census Bureau’s American Time Use Survey, the amount of time the average American spent with friends was stable, at 6½ hours per week, between 2010 and 2013. Then, in 2014, time spent with friends began to decline.

By 2019, the average American was spending only four hours per week with friends (a sharp, 37 percent decline from five years before). Social media, political polarization and new technologies all played a role in the drop. (It is notable that market penetration for smartphones crossed 50 percent in 2014.)

Covid then deepened this trend. During the pandemic, time with friends fell further — in 2021, the average American spent only two hours and 45 minutes a week with close friends (a 58 percent decline relative to 2010-2013).

Similar declines can be seen even when the definition of “friends” is expanded to include neighbors, co-workers and clients. The average American spent 15 hours per week with this broader group of friends a decade ago, 12 hours per week in 2019 and only 10 hours a week in 2021.

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

Martin Davie–The Bishop Of Southwark’s recent Presidential Address – An Intial Response.

Allowing clergy to be in same-sex marriages would also involve a change in the Church’s position. In line with the Bible and the Christian tradition the Church of England has always held that clergy need to live lives of visible holiness so as to be ‘wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ,’ [4] and that this means, among other things, that their sexual conduct must be in line with the biblical principle of either sexual faithfulness within heterosexual marriage or sexual abstinence outside it. What the bishop’s suggestion would mean is either the Church saying that the sexual conduct of the clergy simply does not matter, or that same-sex sexual relationships are acceptable to God, neither of which the Church of England has authority to say.

It is also not something that is required on ‘ecumenical or Anglican inter-provincial grounds.’ There is nothing in the Church of England’s ecumenical commitments or in its membership of the Anglican Communion that means that the Church of England needs to allow clergy to be in same-sex marriages. This is a complete red-herring.

If the Church of England were to adopt either or both of the bishop’s suggestions this would mean that it had ceased to uphold Christian orthodoxy with regard to sexual ethics. At this point orthodox Anglicans would have no choice except to visibly differentiate themselves from the Church of England’s position and the only way this could be done would either be through the formation of a province within the Church of England that continued to uphold orthodox Christian teaching and practice with regard to sexual ethics, or by their leaving the Church of England to join another Anglican jurisdiction that had remained orthodox in this area.[5]

The fundamental problem with the bishop’s address is that he is not acting properly as a bishop. As he rightly says, bishops are called to be ‘principal ministers of word and sacrament’ and ‘chief pastors’ However, as the 1662 Ordinal makes clear is that this means that bishops are called to ‘teach and exhort with wholesome doctrine’ and ‘banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s word.’ [6]

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

(WSJ) Walter Russell-Mead–Global Tensions Spur a Sea Change in Japan

What happens in Tokyo matters. Japan is America’s single most important ally, and the strategic bond between the two powers is the foundation of America’s position in the Indo-Pacific. Japan’s decision to double down on its American alliance while building up its own capabilities is a major setback for China’s effort to reshape East Asia. In the Philippines and Southeast Asia, Japanese investment and trade help counter China’s economic power. Japanese diplomacy, less hectoring and more culturally sensitive than America’s sometimes abrasive preaching on issues like human rights, is often more effective in Asian capitals. The steady development of closer Japanese relations with India and Australia has been a major factor behind the rapid evolution of the Quad.

Much remains to be done. Japanese-Korean relations, despite some improvements under South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, remain difficult. Japan itself, with a stagnant economy and the highest debt-to-GDP ratio in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, will be hard put to sustain the necessary military buildup.

But at this point it is the U.S. that must do more to secure the peace of East Asia. Given the long military supply lines across the Pacific and the likely difficulty of providing supplies if hostilities break out, the U.S. should position substantial quantities of weapons and supplies in the region. American as well as Taiwanese and Japanese officials told me that current stockpiles are woefully insufficient.

Beyond that, Washington still needs a regional economic strategy. Expanding economic integration between the U.S. and friendly Asian economies is an essential dimension of any long-term policy for the Indo-Pacific.

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Posted in Asia, Foreign Relations, Japan, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General

(Telegraph) Christians now a minority in England and Wales for first time

Christians now account for less than half of England and Wales’ population for the first time in census history, government figures reveal.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) results show that 46.2 per cent of the population (27.5 million people) described themselves as ‘Christian’ in 2021. This marks a 13.1 percentage point decrease from 59.3 per cent (33.3 million people) in 2011.

The census data also shows that every major religion increased over the ten-year period, except for Christianity.

Despite this decrease, ‘Christian’ remained the most common response to the question about religion. ‘No religion’ was the second most common response, increasing to 37.2 per cent (22.2 million) from 25.2 per cent (14.1 million) across the ten-year period.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, England / UK, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sociology

([London] Times) Queen Elizabeth II biography reveals stoic monarch in final days

According to the Right Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, she was in “fantastic form” on the weekend before she died.

He told Brandreth that she was “so alive and engaging”, and how they spoke about her childhood, her horses, church affairs and her sadness over the war in Ukraine. “Her faith was everything to her. She told me she had no regrets,” he said.

Brandreth wrote: “Her Majesty always knew that her remaining time was limited. She accepted this with all the grace you’d expect.” The biographer claimed he “heard that the Queen had a form of myeloma — bone marrow cancer,” which he wrote would explain the tiredness, weight loss and mobility issues that were spoken about during the last year of her life.

Her death certificate stated that she had died of old age.

Buckingham Palace has declined to comment on any of the claims in the book.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Books, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) For the U.S. vs. Iran, It’s Win or Go Home. That’s Pressure Enough.

“We used to be excited when one of our young players took the field against Chelsea, or Juventus or Milan,” said [Roger] Bennett. “Now we have talents that play for all of those teams and more. They have gained both the self-respect that comes with that, as well as the commercial opportunities.”

Stereotypes linger, especially overseas—the U.S. as plucky, undertalented overachievers from a country that doesn’t say football and can’t hang with the highest contenders. You could sense a little of this from the disappointed England fans who booed their homeland squad off the pitch following the draw with the U.S.

But that’s an old mindset. The U.S. team is in Qatar not to represent, but to win, the surest signal that the sport has evolved past any kind of existential debate about its future or perception around the world.

What does Tuesday’s game versus Iran mean for the United States? It means survival at the World Cup. That’s meaningful enough.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Qatar, Sports

One I try to get to Every Year this week–(WSJ) Melanie Kirkpatrick–Thanksgiving, 1789

It is hard to imagine America’s favorite holiday as a source of political controversy. But that was the case in 1789, the year of our first Thanksgiving as a nation.

The controversy began on Sept. 25 in New York City, then the seat of government. The inaugural session of the first Congress was about to recess when Rep. Elias Boudinot of New Jersey rose to introduce a resolution. He asked the House to create a joint committee with the Senate to “wait upon the President of the United States, to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God….”

It fell to a New Englander to stand up in support of Thanksgiving. Connecticut’s Roger Sherman praised Boudinot’s resolution as “a laudable one in itself.” It also was “warranted by a number of precedents” in the Bible, he said, “for instance the solemn thanksgivings and rejoicings which took place in the time of Solomon, after the building of the temple.”

In the end, the Thanksgiving resolution passed—the precise vote is not recorded—and the House appointed a committee. The resolution moved to the Senate, which passed it and added its own members to the committee.

The committee took the resolution to the president, and on Oct. 3 George Washington issued his now-famous Thanksgiving Proclamation. In it, he designated Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789 as “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.” He asked Americans to render their “sincere and humble thanks” to God for “his kind care and protection of the People of this Country.”

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

(ESPN) United States make a valiant effort in a draw with England at the 2022 World Cup

The United States was dominant in attack but could not find a way past England as it was held to a 0-0 draw in their second 2022 World Cup game on Friday.

The U.S. was the better side in a game lacking in clear cut chances. The closest threat came when Christian Pulisic rattled the crossbar with a ferocious effort midway through the first half, but neither side was able to break the deadlock.

The result leaves head coach Gregg Berhalter’s team third in Group B with two points from two games, needing a victory in their final group match against Iran on Tuesday to advance to the knockout stages. Meanwhile, England will qualify as long as it avoids a three-goal defeat in their match to Wales.

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

Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

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

The 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

[New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor — and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be — That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks — for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation — for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war — for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed — for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted — for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions — to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually — to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed — to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord — To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us — and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

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

Church aims to double number of UK Minority Ethnic Head Teachers in England

The ‘Leaders Like Us’ scheme, which is now open for applications, aims to equip UKME teachers with the skills for headship, and has funding to train more than 450 teachers by 2027.

Around one in every three students in schools in England are from UKME backgrounds, but there are fewer than 400 headteachers from the same backgrounds in total, out of more than 20,000 schools.

Research shows that the impact of teacher and school leader representation on students is significant; their attainment and likelihood of progressing to tertiary education is exponentially higher when students see leaders like them. Their exclusion and suspension rates decrease and future aspirations are also measurably lower.

However, data shows that teachers from UKME backgrounds are much less likely to progress to senior positions within their schools than their white peers, becoming increasingly under-represented the more senior the role. A recent report from the National Foundation for Educational Research showed that rather than improving over the last few years, there has in fact been a decline in representation.

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

(1st Things) Dan Hitchens on Richard Henry Tawney (1880–1962): A 20th Century Prophet

A couple of years ago I stumbled upon a cult. Browsing in a secondhand bookshop, I picked up R. H. Tawney’s Religion and the Rise of Capitalism and, remembering a vague resolution to read it one day, took it to the counter. The fresh-faced student at the cash register was delighted. “It’s . . . amazing,” he said reverently. A few days later, finding myself in full agreement, I emailed a writer in whose work I perceived some Tawney-like themes to ask whether he knew the book. “I read it fifty years ago,” he replied, “and it changed my life.”

In recent decades, membership of his fan club has declined—too Christian for the socialists, too socialist for the Christians—but at one time Richard Henry Tawney (1880–1962) towered over British intellectual life. To his contemporaries he was a legend, “the greatest living Englishman,” according to the historian Sir Michael Postan. The Guardian declared in 1960 that his writings “will be read with delight as long as the English language is spoken.” Surveying Tawney’s contributions, not just as a historian, but as a writer, activist, teacher, and mentor, someone suggested to Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple that what Britain needed was “more men like Tawney.” The archbishop replied: “There are no men like Tawney.” To a generation that had run out of faith in free-market capitalism, he appeared to be that unusual thing, a prophet who actually knew what he was talking about.

Deeply earnest, prematurely bald, self-deprecating to the point of masochism, Tawney nevertheless exuded an unmistakable charisma that can still be experienced today in the texture of his prose—its beautiful cadences, smash-and-grab satirical raids, elegiac melancholy, pin-sharp analysis, metaphorical exuberance, and spiritual clarity. The supreme example is Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, based on the Holland Memorial Lectures he delivered at King’s College, London in 1922. The bestselling history book in interwar Britain, it owed its success partly to a widespread feeling that the reigning economic system had failed, partly to the national weakness for nostalgia: Tawney was one of those writers who located his ideals in a consciously romanticized past, and the book is above all a lament for a lost moral order.

From the twelfth through the sixteenth century, in Tawney’s telling, money was, at least to an extent, governed by Christian moral norms. Feudal lords might be merciless, guilds might be ­monopolistic, the papacy might be corrupt, but late-­medieval society still shone out with, in ­Tawney’s characteristically memorable phrase, “a certain tarnished splendour.” Widespread cruelty and oppression could not wholly extinguish the idea of social solidarity, of a world that made eternal salvation its ultimate goal and thus put money-­worship in its place. Peasant and lord, craftsman and merchant knew their duties to each other, and the strong were regularly prevented from exploiting the weak. In the institutions that fed the hungry and provided credit to the financially insecure; in the ecclesiastical or civil courts where usurers were excommunicated and fined; in the pulpits where avarice was denounced as a deadly sin, and in the confessionals where middlemen would have to repent of overcharging customers or not sharing their goods with the poor, medieval man was prevented from destroying his own soul and his neighbor’s livelihood.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, England / UK, History, Religion & Culture

(Washington Post) Ukrainian energy systems on brink of collapse after weeks of Russian bombing

After just six weeks of intense bombing of energy infrastructure, Russia has battered Ukraine to the brink of a humanitarian disaster this winter as millions of people potentially face life-threatening conditions without electricity, heat or running water.

As the scope of damage to Ukraine’s energy systems has come into focus in recent days, Ukrainian and Western officials have begun sounding the alarm but are also realizing they have limited recourse. Ukraine’s Soviet-era power system cannot be fixed quickly or easily. In some of the worst-hit cities, there is little officials can do other than to urge residents to flee — raising the risk of economic collapse in Ukraine and a spillover refugee crisis in neighboring European countries.

“Put simply, this winter will be about survival,” Hans Henri P. Kluge, regional director for the World Health Organization, told reporters on Monday in Kyiv, saying the next months could be “life-threatening for millions of Ukrainians.”

Already, snow has fallen across much of Ukraine and temperatures are dipping below freezing in many parts of the country. Kluge said that 2 million to 3 million Ukrainians were expected to leave their homes “in search of warmth and safety,” though it was unclear how many would remain inside the country.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Church Times) Bishop Smith condemns human-rights abuses in China

The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has condemned the “wide range of human-rights abuses” committed in China against Christians and other religious groups.

He was speaking in a debate that he initiated in the Grand Committee of the House of Lords on Thursday.

Dr Smith said that he had been almost reluctant to call the debate because of his long-held admiration for China and its people. “Yet I feel I cannot remain silent in the face of such a wide range of human-rights abuses,” he said.

There was “a vast cultural gulf” between the UK and China, he continued, which was laid bare in President Xi’s speech last month to the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, in which the President had said: “We will . . . continue to take the correct and distinctively Chinese approach to handling ethnic affairs. . . We will remain committed to the principle that religions in China must be Chinese in orientation and provide active guidance to religions so that they can adapt to socialist society.”

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Posted in Anthropology, China, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

538 ranks teams chances of winning the World Cup

It’s hard to believe — mostly because it’s currently November and not June 1 — but the 2022 World Cup kicks off at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, on Nov. 20. The host nation will square off against Ecuador in the first World Cup match ever played in the Arab world. And the start of the tournament comes with plenty of questions about who might lift soccer’s most prestigious trophy.

Will it be Brazil, the betting favorite? Or could France become the first nation to repeat since 1962? Is Spain’s new golden generation — piloted by teenagers like Barcelona midfielders Gavi and Pedri — as good as its previous golden generation? 2 Does Lionel Messi have enough left in the tank to lead Argentina to glory and further cement himself as the G.O.A.T.? Is football finally coming home?3 Which squads could shock the world? Is there any shine left on Belgium’s underachieving golden generation?

Last week, we used Elo ratings to measure historical Groups of Death at the World Cup, and also to see where this year’s groups rank — or if a Group of Death even exists this time around. (TL;DR: We’re not sure/it’s complicated.) Today, we’re back with our full-fledged World Cup forecast model to take a broader look at the field and try to answer who’ll be the last team standing on Dec. 18.

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Posted in Globalization, Qatar, Sports

(FT) New England ‘importing European prices’ in looming gas supply crunch

A European-style winter energy crunch is looming over New England in the north-east US, even as American natural gas producers export record volumes and a wave of fuel heads across the Atlantic.

Utility bosses in the region have called for emergency assistance from Washington to pre-empt a crisis, while lashing out at a century-old law that has cut New England off from some of America’s prolific shale output and left it more dependent on expensive imports.

On Friday, a vessel laden with liquefied natural gas will land in Massachusetts — but the federal law preventing foreign vessels sailing between US ports means the gas will come from Trinidad, not the US export plants along the Gulf of Mexico that are shipping record amounts of fuel abroad.

“You would think that charity would begin at home . . . that American fuel would go to American ports,” Joe Nolan, chief executive of Eversource Energy, one of New England’s biggest utilities, said in an interview. “We’re going to have to compete just like everybody else — in the global market.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Economy, Energy, Natural Resources

(BBC) UK faces biggest fall in living standards on record

The UK faces its biggest drop in living standards on record as the surging cost of living eats into people’s wages.

The government’s forecaster said that household incomes – once rising prices were taken into account – would dive by 7% in the next few years.

It also expects the number of people who are unemployed to rise by more than 500,000.

It came as the chancellor said the UK was already in recession and set to shrink further next year.

But Jeremy Hunt said his Autumn Statement – which unveiled £55bn of tax rises and spending cuts – would lead to a “shallower downturn” with fewer jobs lost.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, England / UK, Personal Finance

A very hard winter for many: Some C of E bishops respond to the Chancellor’s Autumn statement

“Ahead of today’s statement one of our key concerns was to see benefits keep pace with inflation. So we welcome the Chancellor’s commitment in this regard but continue to call for the end to the two-child limit on Universal Credit, which hits some of the poorest families hardest.

“This is going to be a very hard winter for many. Our churches, in communities across the country, are already reporting alarming rises in demand for foodbanks and other services which have become a lifeline.

“It is heartbreaking to hear of people who just a year ago were donating to foodbanks but are now using them themselves.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture

(Gallup) World Less Than Satisfied With Climate Efforts

In the remaining days of the COP27 climate summit in Egypt, nearly 200 nations are rushing to seek deals that keep climate goals alive.

If they fall short, it will likely disappoint but not surprise much of the world’s population that is already unhappy with efforts to safeguard the environment.

In 66 out of 123 countries that Gallup surveyed in 2021 and 2022, less than half of people report being satisfied with their country’s efforts to preserve the environment.

This list includes many, but not all, of the world’s cumulative top emitters of carbon dioxide, which is linked to global warming. For example, while less than half of adults in one of the biggest emitters — the U.S. — are satisfied with their country’s efforts to preserve the environment, strong majorities in other big emitters such as China (89%) and India (78%) are satisfied.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization, Sociology

(VA) Shane Whitecloud–What Veterans Day means to me

I was sent back to Hawaii where I went to my chain of command to report the incident again. I was placed on restrictive duty for violating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I was discharged from the Navy in 1995 with a General Under Honorable Conditions discharge.

There weren’t a lot of resources for Veterans back then and the ones I heard about I was leery of. I fell into homelessness, drugs, and eventually incarceration. I was lost and alone. I didn’t want to be found. I attempted suicide twice before I turned 21. I used to tell people I’d never live to see 30.

I found that singing was my way of saving $40 on a shrink and I sang for touring rock bands for the next 20+ years. Something was still missing though. I never had that feeling of accomplishment.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, History, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, Suicide

(AC) David Roseberry–True North: Anguish and Compass

Peter Johnston, the new Ministry President for Anglican Compass, asked me to write an article about my long-standing interest and support of this site. I am happy to do it. I’m a fan.

During the course of my writing assignment, I had to text Peter a quick question. I know what I told Siri: Anglican Compass. But what she heard—and wrote—was a truthful comment on the state of the church, the culture, and our days ahead. Siri said: Anguish and Compass.

Many in the church today might relate to the phrase. These are days of great anguish, everywhere it seems. The culture is in a free fall. The church’s voice has been displaced by loud arguments of politics and media. It has made its own mistakes. Many (most?) congregations are still rebuilding from the pandemic. God is sovereign, I know, but I wonder if even He agrees sometimes that there is a lot to be “anguished” about.

We are all looking for guidance—for a reliable compass showing us True North.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Theology