Daily Archives: October 18, 2007

USA Today: Technology makes porn easier to access at work

More than a decade after employers began cracking down on those who view online pornography at work, porn is continuing to create tension in offices across the nation ”” in part because laptop computers, cellphones and other portable devices have made it easier for risk-takers to visit such websites undetected.

Devices providing wireless access to the Internet appear to be giving the porn-at-work phenomenon a boost even as employers are getting more aggressive about using software to block workers’ access to inappropriate websites. About 65% of U.S. companies used such software in 2005, according to a survey by the American Management Association and the ePolicy Institute, up from 40% in 2001.

Many employers say that because it’s so easy to access porn on portable devices ”” even those that are company-owned and outfitted to block access to adult-oriented websites ”” they are increasingly concerned about being sued by employees who are offended when co-workers view naughty images.

With wireless devices, close monitoring of workers is “impossible. There’s nothing you can do,” says Richard Laermer, CEO of the public relations firm RLM. “Liability is the thing that keeps me up at night, because we are liable for things people do on your premises. It’s serious. I’ll see somebody doing it, and I’ll peek over their shoulder, and they’ll say, ‘I don’t know how that happened.’ It’s like 10-year-olds. And it’s always on company time.”

Through the years, surveys have indicated that many workers run across adult websites or images while at work, but few say they have done so intentionally.

About 16% of men who have access to the Internet at work acknowledged having seen porn while on the job, according to a survey for Websense by Harris Interactive in 2006. Eight percent of women said they had. But of those who acknowledged viewing porn sites at work, only 6% of men and 5% of women acknowledged that they had done so intentionally.

Read it all from the front page of today’s USA Today.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Pornography

The Bishop of Buckingham on the 2008 Lambeth Conference

Since 1867 it’s been the Archbishop’s personal bash. Does it have to be a Big Boys Business meeting for it to be worth my while? I am just not self-regarding enough to mind. If Rowan wants a Vatican Council Theme Party, fine. If he wants to partay by showing us his Simpsons Videos, fine. It’s his party, not mine. There is a self-important little prat in me who feels business meetings matter more than parties. Jesus disagrees. The Sanhedrin has business meetings on Thursday nights. Jesus has a meal with his friends. This is a matter of substance as well as style. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer says how grievous and unkind a thing it is, when a man hath prepared a rich feast, decked his table with all kind of provision, so that there lacketh nothing but the guests to sit down; and yet they who are called (without any cause) most unthankfully refuse to come.

Read it all (Hat tip: SS).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Lambeth 2008

Charles C. Haynes: Presidential Contenders Scramble to Get God Right

When it comes to the desired degree of religiosity in presidential candidates, most voters are like Goldilocks tasting bowls of porridge: Not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

Of course, what is “just right” in one political cycle may not be in another. Current conventional wisdom holds that many voters want a heavy dose of God-talk. Following the electoral successes of George W. Bush, candidates feel compelled to reassure (if Republican) or reach out to (if Democrat) the so-called “values voter” with professions of faith–however genuine or contrived.

So prevalent is the religion factor on the campaign trail these days that Beliefnet.com and Time magazine have developed the cheeky “God-o-Meter” to help voters sort out who is saying what about religion and why.

From Barack Obama’s “faith tour” of Iowa (needle up) to Fred Thompson’s admission that he doesn’t attend church regularly (needle down), the God-o-Meter tracks the candidates’ often surreal scramble to get God right.

But in the ever-shifting world of presidential politics, conventional wisdom about the need to appear deeply religious may be outdated. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, the two frontrunners, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Rudy Giuliani, are the candidates viewed as least religious by voters. Both are described as “somewhat religious” by a majority of people.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

President Bush to Challenge Chinese to Support Religious Freedom

President Bush defended the awarding Wednesday of the nation’s top civilian honor to the Dalai Lama, the exiled religious leader of Tibet, and said that he will challenge Chinese leaders to support religious freedom during the award ceremony.

“I admire the Dalai Lama a lot. … I support religious freedom,” Bush said in a short-notice press conference at the White House.

Bush also said he had personally spoken with Chinese President Hu Jintao to say he would be attending the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony for the Dalai Lama, and Bush said the Chinese would be better off having diplomatic relations with the Tibetan leader.

“I have consistently told the Chinese that religious freedom is in their nation’s interest. I’ve also told them that I think it’s in their interest to meet with the Dalai Lama and will say so at the ceremony today in Congress,” Bush said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Religion & Culture

From the No Comment Department

It had the makings of a B horror movie: Crazed deer crashes through window and, bloodied but undeterred, careers through the halls terrorizing a school in a quiet New Jersey suburb.

But that is exactly what happened yesterday at the Lloyd Road Elementary School in Aberdeen when a 200-pound buck raced through a class of fifth graders and wandered the halls the way a gaggle of errant students would ”” ducking into the nurse’s office and some other rooms ”” before being shepherded out a back door.

It was just before 10 a.m., and Bonnie McCullough and Brenda Adelson were immersed in a vocabulary lesson with their class of 18 fifth graders.

“We heard this crash; I didn’t know what to make of it,” Ms. McCullough said. “It sounded like glass breaking, and I didn’t have time to look too much, and there was this brown blur.”

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Emily Garcia: Finding love and redemption in the Anglican Church

After our dinner, I snuck away to grab a glass of water, and at the doorway to the pantry I ran into Steve. He was dressed formally, in black with a white collar, with clean rimless glasses and neatly cut hair. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I do remember my first impression was something like, “Oh gosh, not a priest! I’ve got enough guilt already!” He thanked me for my comments during the discussion and introduced himself as the Episcopal chaplain. At the time, my knowledge was such that this brought up in my mind a small note-card which read only, “1: The American version of the Anglican Church; 2: Like the Roman Catholics, but without the pope.” (These assumptions are actually in many ways correct: the Episcopal Church is the American “daughter” of the worldwide Anglican Communion, so anyone who is Episcopalian is also Anglican.)

Steve asked about my religious background; I told him that my family is evangelical, but that I hadn’t been going to church for a while ”” two years in fact, and not because I was uninterested, but because I didn’t find our evangelical services helpful or enjoyable. I would leave on Sunday mornings feeling conflicted, angry and guilty ”” feeling unworthy without knowing how to make things right.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Andrew Goddard: The Anglican Communion after New Orleans and The Joint Standing Committee Report

It may be helpful to distinguish two questions in relation to the JSC Report:

1. Has it been faithful to Windsor and Dar in the criteria it has set by which to judge

2. Has it been accurate in its interpretation and assessment of the HoB’s response?

On the first question, it is clear that the JSC have not stuck to the letter of TWR or Dar. The HoB could have embraced the Windsor/Camp Allen Bishops’ resolutions which took this path but they refused. However, it is also clear that JSC have sought to determine whether or not, in practice, TEC has made a commitment to the two requested moratoria. Furthermore, their report understands the moratorium on same-sex blessings in a stronger sense than simply whether or not there is in existence an authorised rite. It appears to be requiring a moratorium that would mean (whatever the private and pastoral response to gay and lesbian Christians) there are no longer any public liturgies of blessing known to be occurring within TEC. Its test, in other words, is captured in the instruction of the Bishop of Hawaii ”“ there must be the bringing to an end of “any liturgies in our churches that might be construed by the reasonable outside observer as a formal public“blessing” or “marriage” of a same-sex couple”.

On the second question, the interpretation and assessment offered was undoubtedly a very generous one. The rejection of the Dar Pastoral Scheme and Council was largely passed by and TEC’s replacement proposals of Episcopal Visitors and wider consultation accepted as a viable alternative model. In addition, there was a willingness to accept the claimed constraints on the HoB due to the alleged supremacy of General Convention in TEC’s polity and a strong and maximalist reading of their commitments (especially in relation to same-sex blessings) that depended more on reading between the lines with a very strong presumption of good faith than on any evidence in the HoB statement (or apparently discussions) itself or any evidence on the ground in many dioceses of TEC. While it will, perhaps, be some time before the generous reading of B033 is tested, it is already becoming clear that the assessment in relation to same-sex blessings was overly optimistic and that a good number of bishops and dioceses have no intention of ending their current practice. What should have been evident from the wording of the statement is now crystal clear in the light of subsequent statements ”“ nothing in the HoB statement is likely to alter the assessment of the Communion Sub-Group Report (para 17) that it is “not at all clear whether, in fact, the Episcopal Church is living with the recommendations of the Windsor Report on this matter” and the Primates’ statement at Dar (para 21) remains as true after NOLA as before ”“ “we understand that local pastoral provision is made in some places for such blessings. It is the ambiguous stance of The Episcopal Church which causes concern among us”. The proof of the pudding will, as always, be in the eating but it seems almost certain that liturgies blessing same-sex unions will continue being conducted in the face of the congregation with the explicit or implicit authority of the bishop in a significant number of dioceses. Furthermore, though contrary to JSC’s maximalist interpretation of the HoB response, this outcome is quite compatible with (indeed perhaps the best understanding of) the intended and plain sense of the HoB statement itself.

In summary, although it may be argued that the JSC slightly lowered the bar set by Windsor/Dar, on the whole they kept faith with the developing Windsor process in terms of the criteria they used. However, the more serious problem is that ”“as has become increasingly obvious since its report was published – they gave the HoB credit for clearing the Windsor/Dar bar when, in fact, they have demonstrably fallen short. That failure at New Orleans sadly means the Archbishop of Canterbury must now face even more difficult decisions than those JSC have already outlined in Part Two of their report.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Telegraph: Anglican parishes to ordain own clergy

Dozens of conservative parishes will start ordaining their own clergy in an open revolt against their bishops if the Church of England continues its liberal drift, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.

Dr Rowan Williams was told that evangelicals would increasingly defy Church rules and their own bishops by parachuting in outsiders to carry out irregular ordinations of “orthodox” candidates.

The warning came from Reform, a 1,700-strong evangelical network, which is setting up structures to allow it operate as a resistance movement within the Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Nuclear-armed Iran risks 'World War III,' Bush says

President George W. Bush said Wednesday that he thought Russia still wanted to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. But stepping up his own rhetoric, the president warned that for Tehran to possess such a weapon raised the risk of a “World War III.”

That comment, made during a 45-minute news conference, came as reporters probed for the president’s reaction to a warning Tuesday by President Vladimir Putin of Russia against any military strikes on Iran to halt the nuclear work it has continued in defiance of much of the world. Iran says the program is purely peaceful.

“If Iran had a nuclear weapon, it’d be a dangerous threat to world peace,” Bush said. “So I told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested” in ensuring Iran not gain the capacity to develop such weapons.

“I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Iran, Middle East

The Presiding Bishop Writes Her Fellow Bishops About Assessing Recent Events and Documents

From several emails.

My brothers and sisters:

I am grateful for the considered way in which the House worked together in New Orleans, and for our demonstration of solidarity with the people of Louisiana and Mississippi. I am finding that most of you would rather focus on the latter!

I have received from Rowan both a thank you for his time among us, and a copy of the Joint Standing Committee report. This has been posted online in a number of places, and I hope you have seen it by now.

Rowan is asking that I report to him by the end of October the sense of this Province, precisely on the following:

“…how far your province is able to accept the JSC Report assessment that the House of Bishops have (sic) responded positively to the requests of Windsor and of the Dar es Salaam message of the Primates. The report sets out clearly for us the requests that were made, both in the context of the Windsor Report and of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué; there are other issues that have been raised in general discussion around the Communion, and indeed in the TEC communiqué, but I hope you will concentrate on the very specific matters put before the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops. I shall welcome not only your reactions but also proposals for any next steps we should take together. My intention is firmly to honour the discernment of all the primates and the wider Communion at this juncture…”

Let me note that consultation in your Diocese will undoubtedly be helpful, and if you can give me an indication of what that looked like, I would be most grateful. I have finally had time to read all of the submissions on Communion Matters, and I am struck by the breadth of comment received and its coherence. Henry Parsley and the Theology Committee are to be deeply thanked for their effective work on this, in a short time-frame.

Please note the relatively short time available to do this – let me suggest that Monday, 29 October would be a helpful target – and that what is most needed are your brief impressions following conversation in your diocese.

I remain

Your servant in Christ,

(The Rt. Rev.) Katharine Jefferts Schori

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Windsor Report / Process

Notable and Quotable on the Matter of the Communion of the UnBaptized

“Let none eat or drink of your Eucharist except those who have been baptised in the Lord’s Name. For concerning this also did the Lord say, ‘Give not that which is holy to the dogs.'”

–Didache ix.5, trans. Kirsopp Lake.

“This food we call Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake, except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Saviour being incarnate by God’s word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus. For the apostles in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, thus handed down what was commanded them: that Jesus, taking bread and having given thanks, said, ‘Do this for my memorial, this is my body’; and likewise taking the cup and giving thanks he said, ‘This is my blood’; and gave it to them alone.'”

–Justin Martyr, First apology 66, trans. Edward Rochie Hardy.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Philadelphia Inquirer: Scalia opines on faith and justice

Devout U.S. Catholics like himself may stand apart from much of the nation on abortion, homosexuality, and embryonic stem-cell research, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told a packed audience at Villanova University yesterday, but he insisted “there is no such thing as a ‘Catholic judge.’ ”
“The bottom line is that the Catholic faith seems to me to have little effect on my work as a judge,” he declared.

Invited to speak to that very question – “the role of Catholic faith in the work of a judge” – the famously opinionated justice rendered his decision just three minutes into his keynote lecture at Villanova Law School’s annual Scarpa conference on law, politics and culture.

“Just as there is no ‘Catholic’ way to cook a hamburger,” he said to a murmur of laughter, “I am hard-pressed to tell you of a single opinion of mine that would have come out differently if I were not Catholic.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Maine Middle School to Offer the Pill

Pupils at a city middle school will be able to get birth control pills and patches at their student health center after the local school board approved the proposal Wednesday evening.

The plan, offered by city health officials, makes King Middle School the first middle school in Maine to make a full range of contraception available to students in grades 6 through 8, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

There are no national figures on how many middle schools, where most students range in age from 11 to 13, provide such services.

“It’s very rare that middle schools do this,” said Divya Mohan, a spokeswoman for the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care.

The Portland School Committee voted 5-2 for the measure.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Living Church: Presiding Bishop Addresses Bishops' Response in Webcast

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori opened an hour-long live internet interview with a prepared statement recapping the events of last month’s House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans and its controversial response to the primates’ communiqué.

Wearing reading glasses and a dark jacket and looking directly into the camera, she acknowledged on Oct. 16 that progressives and conservatives had been disappointed by portions of the statement, but that its scope was intended to be broad. “That is an Anglican stance,” she said. “It recognizes that the body is larger than any one of us.”

She defended continued membership in the Anglican Communion, tying it to the church’s ability to witness to a broader audience on behalf of the normalization of homosexuality. She concluded the statement by declaring, “There will be no outcasts in this church, whether because of sexual orientation” or theological belief.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

NY Times: The Family Meal Is What Counts, TV On or Off

Television viewing has long been linked with poor eating habits. So when University of Minnesota researchers embarked on a study of family meals, they fully expected that having the TV on at dinner would take a toll on children’s diets.

But to their surprise, it didn’t make much difference. Families who watched TV at dinner ate just about as healthfully as families who dined without it. The biggest factor wasn’t whether the TV was on or off, but whether the family was eating the meal together.

“Obviously, we want people eating family meals, and we want them to turn the TV off,” said Shira Feldman, public health specialist at the university’s School of Public Health and lead author of the research. “But just the act of eating together is on some level very beneficial, even if the TV is on.”

The research, published this month in The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, is the latest testament to the power of the family meal. While many parents worry about what their kids are eating ”” vegetables versus junk ”” a voluminous body of research suggests that the best strategy for improving a child’s diet is simply putting food on the table and sitting down together to eat it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family

Abp. Ndungane comments on the Episcopal Church

From ACNS:

16-October-2007 – Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndunganes’ statement on The Episcopal Church – South Africa

”˜Now is the time of God’s favour’ writes St Paul, reminding us that in every present moment we must grasp the opportunities offered by God’s reconciling grace (2 Cor 5:16-6:2).

The Episcopal Church has grasped that opportunity, and committed itself to the path of reconciliation. Now the rest of the Anglican Communion must make sure the moment is not lost.

As the careful and comprehensive report of the Joint Standing Committee makes clear, the House of Bishops have now provided the necessary clarifications and assurances on the responses General Convention had given to issues raised in the Windsor Report. We now have a basis for going forward together, working alongside one another to restore the broken relationships both within the Episcopal Church and within the wider Communion.

The Episcopal Church has borne unprecedented scrutiny into its affairs, often with scant regard either for its legitimate internal polity or for the principle, observed since the ancient councils of the Church, of local jurisdiction and non-interference, and in the face of all this has had the courage to take hard decisions. The Presiding Bishop, in particular, is to be commended for her self-denial in the generosity of the provisions proposed for the ministry of Episcopal Visitors. Others should now respond by also abiding by the recommendations of the Windsor Report, as the Joint Standing Committee Report underlines.

This has not been an easy road to travel. Much remains to be done and we must continue to strive earnestly together to find the path ahead. The experiences of my own Province, both through the terrible divisions of the apartheid years, and in the differences of our earliest history (which contributed to the holding of the first Lambeth Conference), have repeatedly demonstrated that holding fast to one another yields lasting fruit, while separation solves very little. Our God is the God of reconciliation, not of division, and we can take courage that he will continue to guide our way forward. I am sure that as we continue to abide in Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord, in whom lies the gift of unity, that we will find ourselves, our churches, our world-wide Communion, refined and strengthened, for the life of worship, witness and service to which we are called.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Primates, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces

Ceri Bradford: Battle of the blogging sexes?

I normally roll my eyes at anything that smacks of the ”˜Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ vibe, but this post about gender differences in the blogosphere caught my attention.

According to Alex Iskold’s research, men dominate the top 20 blogs tracked by Technorati, which tend to focus on technology, while women blog more about books and family than men.

The results are hardly surprising ”“ the blogosphere is bound to reflect pre-existing interests, which are bound to reflect pre-existing cultural factors – but do they matter?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

Lifers as Teenagers, Now Seeking Second Chance

In December, the United Nations took up a resolution calling for the abolition of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for children and young teenagers. The vote was 185 to 1, with the United States the lone dissenter.

Indeed, the United States stands alone in the world in convicting young adolescents as adults and sentencing them to live out their lives in prison. According to a new report, there are 73 Americans serving such sentences for crimes they committed at 13 or 14.

Mary Nalls, an 81-year-old retired social worker here, has some thoughts about the matter. Her granddaughter Ashley Jones was 14 when she helped her boyfriend kill her grandfather and aunt ”” Mrs. Nalls’s husband and daughter ”” by stabbing and shooting them and then setting them on fire. Ms. Jones also tried to kill her 10-year-old sister.

Mrs. Nalls, who was badly injured in the rampage, showed a visitor to her home a white scar on her forehead, a reminder of the burns that put her into a coma for 30 days. She had also been shot in the shoulder and stabbed in the chest.

“I forgot,” she said later. “They stabbed me in the jaw, too.”

But Mrs. Nalls thinks her granddaughter, now 22, deserves the possibility of a second chance.

“I believe that she should have gotten 15 or 20 years,” Mrs. Nalls said. “If children are under age, sometimes they’re not responsible for what they do.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Teens / Youth