Monthly Archives: February 2010

Notable and Quotable

A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all””and more amusing.

–C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters, letter IX from Uncle Screwtape to his nephew the demon Wormwood

Posted in Pastoral Theology, Theology

To Court Blacks, Foes of Abortion Make Racial Case

(Please note the above headline is theirs and not the way I would choose to word it–KSH).

For years the largely white staff of Georgia Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, tried to tackle the disproportionately high number of black women who undergo abortions. But, staff members said, they found it difficult to make inroads with black audiences.

So in 2009, the group took money that it normally used for advertising a pregnancy hot line and hired a black woman, Catherine Davis, to be its minority outreach coordinator.

Ms. Davis traveled to black churches and colleges around the state, delivering the message that abortion is the primary tool in a decades-old conspiracy to kill off blacks.

The idea resonated, said Nancy Smith, the executive director.

“We were shocked when we spent less money and had more phone calls” to the hot line, Ms. Smith said.

Read it all (from the front page of yesterday’s New York Times).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

In Oklahoma an Episcopal pastor eyes new programs

A joyful and adventurous leader has taken the helm of St. Basil’s Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Debora Jennings will miss climbing Mt. Ranier, but she looks forward to discovering the beauty of eastern Oklahoma and capturing it with her camera.

Coming from the Lower Yakima Valley in Washington, the grandmother said the university here was a big draw for her. She’s taught a number of courses, including speech, interpersonal and intercultural communication, and rhetoric, and lectured in sociology, psychology and religious studies.

The local congregation had been without a clergy for a number of years and was hungry for a full-time clergy who would help them focus on mission and ministry.

“The people here in Tahlequah are very hospitable and the people in the congregation very welcoming,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

CNS–Priest finds calling in bringing Christ's presence to wounded soldiers

To watch Capuchin Father James Stump at work is to see a Christ-centered “ministry of presence” in action as a daily routine.

A chaplain at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Palo Alto, Father Stump makes his rounds with one purpose in mind: to invite sick and wounded veterans to encounter the living Christ.

Father Stump is quick in his step and quick with a joke as he goes about his work.

Accompanied by a reporter on one of his recent rounds, he joked to a Marine on the move down the hallway in a wheelchair to “watch the speed limit.” They chatted about the Marine’s spinal reconstruction surgery. But in a moment, without a break in the informality, the priest prayed over the patient and asked that Jesus “show his face to you, have mercy on you.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

United Methodists respond to Chile earthquake

The earthquake struck at 3:34 a.m. and reports of damage continued to come in all day. The force of the earthquake was enough to jolt the 94-year-old mother of the Rev. Oscar Carrasco, a district superintendent in the United Methodist Northern Illinois Conference, from her bed in Curacautín.

Joyce Carrasco, Oscar’s wife, reported that they had heard his mother was OK, but that his sister’s house next door was heavily damaged. Her mother-in-law is keeping the family focused in prayer and she feels the family is blessed to be able to be together and prepare a meal. “Thank goodness for fire wood while Curacautín is isolated. ”¦ bridges are out. There is a tense calm,” Carrasco said. “Still waiting to hear more news.”

A United Methodist volunteer-in-mission group from Wisconsin was thought to be in Chile when the earthquake occurred.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Chile, Methodist, Other Churches, South America

Lutherans in Chile Report Significant Earthquake Damage

(ELCA News) Earthquake damage is said to be extensive in Santiago and Concepcion following the Feb. 27 severe earthquake in central Chile, according to Karen Anderson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Global Mission staff in Santiago.
The Feb. 27 earthquake measured 8.8 on the Richter scale. The Chilean government has reported at least 147 deaths in all of the country. A tsunami warning was issued for the entire Pacific basin as a result of the earthquake, including Hawaii and U.S. territories such as Guam and American Samoa.
According to news reports in Chile, the earthquake damaged 1.5 million homes, 500,000 “very seriously,” Anderson wrote in an e-mail to the ELCA News Service. Phone service was not available.
“Many homes, especially in older parts of Santiago, were destroyed,” she wrote. The international airport there suffered “major damage” and is closed, Anderson wrote.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Chile, Lutheran, Other Churches, South America

Chile earthquake: death toll passes 200

A tremor with a magnitude of 8.8 devastated large parts of southern Chile and sent huge waves racing at up to 400 miles an hour across the Pacific. Isolated ocean islands were reported to have suffered severe wave damage, and tsunami warnings were issued across a vast area stretching from Russia and Japan through to the Philippines and New Zealand.

In the Chilean capital, Santiago, some five million woke up to “hell” as the earthquake, which struck in the small hours of Saturday morning, collapsed tower blocks and bridges and swallowed cars as it ripped cracks in the roads. Rescue teams worked throughout the day to dig out people buried alive in the rubble.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Chile, South America

Mystical Form of Islam Suits Sufis in Pakistan

For those who think Pakistan is all hard-liners, all the time, three activities at an annual festival here may come as a surprise.

Thousands of Muslim worshipers paid tribute to the patron saint of this eastern Pakistani city this month by dancing, drumming and smoking pot.

It is not an image one ordinarily associates with Pakistan, a country whose tormented western border region dominates the news. But it is an important part of how Islam is practiced here, a tradition that goes back a thousand years to Islam’s roots in South Asia.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Islam, Other Faiths, Pakistan, Religion & Culture

Jonathan Sacks–Why the Ancient Greeks were wrong about morality

Nowadays the very concept of personal ethics has become problematic in one domain after another. Why shouldn’t a businessman or banker pay himself the highest salary he can get away with? Why shouldn’t teenagers treat sex as a game so long as they take proper precautions? Why shouldn’t the media be sensationalist if that sells papers, programmes and films? Why should we treat life as sacred if abortion and euthanasia are what people want? Even Bernard Williams came to call morality a “peculiar institution”. Things that once made sense ”” duty, obligation, self-restraint, the distinction between what we desire to do and what we ought to do ”” to many people now make no sense at all.

This does not mean that people are less ethical than they were, but it does mean that we have adopted an entirely different ethical system from the one people used to have. What we have today is not the religious ethic of Judaism and Christianity but the civic ethic of the Ancient Greeks. For the Greeks, the political was all. What you did in your private life was up to you. Sexual life was the pursuit of desire. Abortion and euthanasia were freely practised. The Greeks produced much of the greatest art and architecture, philosophy and drama, the world has ever known. What they did not produce was a society capable of surviving.

The Athens of Socrates and Plato was glorious, but extraordinarily short-lived. By now, by contrast, Christianity has survived for two millennia, Judaism for four. The Judaeo-Christian ethic is not the only way of being moral; but it is the only system that has endured. If we lose the Judaeo-Christian ethic, we will lose the greatest system ever devised for building a society on personal virtue and covenantal responsibility, on righteousness and humility, forgiveness and love.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Egypt’s Coptic Tensions

[FRED] DE SAM LAZARO: Author and democracy activist Alaa Al Aswany also blames poor governance for Egypt’s persistent poverty. He says the resulting frustration has often fueled sectarian tension, and beginning in the 1970s so has a steady rise in the Wahabi brand of religious conservatism, imported and financed from Saudi Arabia.

ASWANY: You have, for example, in Egypt more than 17 TV channels every day promoting the Wahabi ideas, and this way of understanding the religion is very exclusive in the sense that they are against anybody who is different. They are against Shia, people of Iran. They are against even Muslims who are for democracy, like myself, accusing me of being secular, against the religion. They are against Jews, of course. They are against Christians. They are against everybody who is not with them.

DE SAM LAZARO: Egyptians who grew up in the 50s and 60s see the growing influence of Wahabism. Most Egyptian women cover their hair today, and growing numbers don the niqab, covering all but their eyes. It’s evident even in cemeteries like this one, where you can see disagreement over allowing inscriptions on tombstones.

AHMED THARWAT (reading inscription): This is “the most merciful” whatever, and then somebody says we’re not supposed to do that, he wipes it, and you actually see the culture clashing in print, right before your eyes.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Egypt, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Beer-drinking, smoking chimp sent to rehab

A Russian chimpanzee has been sent to rehab by zookeepers to cure the smoking and beer-drinking habits he has picked up, a popular daily reported on Friday.

An ex-performer, Zhora became aggressive at his circus and was transferred to a zoo in the southern Russian city of Rostov, where he fathered several baby chimps, learned to draw with markers and picked up his two vices.

“The beer and cigarettes were ruining him. He would pester passers-by for booze,” the Komsomolskaya Pravda paper said.

Read it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

NPR–Failed Justice Leaves Rape Victim Nowhere To Turn

(Warning–the content may not be suitable for some blog readers–KSH).

On a morning in April 2006, Eva was in her kitchen baking cookies. She was going to send them to Margaux, who was finishing her freshman year. Then the phone rang.

Eva remembers the call: “I had never heard such a desperate, just a truly desperate sound in her voice. She was just sobbing hysterically. And she kept saying ‘Mom, Mom, Mom. Mom, Mom,’ over and over. And finally I said, ‘Margaux, please, tell me what’s wrong. What’s wrong?’ And she said, she said: ‘I’ve been raped.’ ”

Margaux says, “I just remember, I was laying in my bed in my dorm. I had been out of control all week and crying and just laying in bed crying. But it was like a wailing, loud cry. The girl next door would come by my room and be like, ‘Are you OK?’ I’m not a big crier, so when I do cry, my parents know something’s really wrong.”

Margaux’s story is fairly typical for the many women who are sexually assaulted on college campuses. And what’s also common is the failure of even the best-intentioned colleges and universities to investigate a criminal matter like rape ”” and then punish it.

I caught this on the morning run. I would rather not think about it also, but it is an issue that has to be faced. I highly recommend the audio (not far under 8 minutes) as it is far more powerful (and detailed) than the written piece. Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Men, Sexuality, Violence, Women, Young Adults

NBC's Bob Costas Interviews Canada's Joannie Rochette

Watch it all–just a wonderful piece.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Sports

Friends of the Ordinariate Website

I have not yet had a chance to link to this–check it out.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Newsweek–Europe’s big choice

In the last few months, a dark tribalism has swept Europe. In January, after Italy’s worst race riots since World War II, the government sent armed carabinieri to clear out camps of jobless African migrants in the country’s south. In Britain, Tory leader David Cameron recently pledged to slash immigration by 75 percent if elected. In France, which is heading into key regional elections this spring, President Nicolas Sarkozy has launched a noisy debate about “French identity” that has featured talk of banning the burqa and other kinds of minority bashing. Even Switzerland, long one of Europe’s most refugee-friendly states, has turned ugly, passing a referendum amending its Constitution to ban minaret construction.

In country after country, immigrants, often from Muslim countries, are being targeted. More than at any point in recent decades, fear is becoming the dominant force in European politics, warns the French commentator Dominique Moisi. The immediate cause for this fear has been the economic crisis, which has stoked worries about outsiders stealing Europe’s jobs and overburdening its welfare system. But the animosity reflects a deeper shift. Immigration to Europe has exploded in recent years, so much so that the EU has overtaken the U.S. as the world’s premier destination for people seeking a better life abroad. Since 1990, 26 million migrants have landed in Europe, compared with 20 million in America. There they have helped fuel economic booms, reinvigorated the continent’s declining birthrate, and transformed cities from Madrid to Stockholm. The European Commission estimates that, since 2004, migration by Eastern Europeans alone to Western Europe has added a net €50 billion, or 0.8 percent, to the bloc’s GDP each year.

Yet not everyone is convinced of these benefits, and the migrants are provoking deep fears that Europe’s racial and religious identity is being lost. Driven by such anxieties, governments are starting to turn against the newcomers. Many states, including Britain and Italy, have put new limits on immigration, while others, such as Spain and the Czech Republic, are paying migrants to go home. As a result of such measures and the downturn, labor migration to Europe plummeted last year.

As these trends intensify, Europe will face a stark choice. It can appease the angry masses and slam the doors. Or it can defy public opinion and open the gates to more and better-skilled immigrants. Doing so will be difficult politically. But it is also a necessary part of ensuring the continent’s economic recovery and long-term vitality. While inviting more foreigners in might seem an odd choice today, Europe simply can’t afford not to. Should it force itself to become a more open, mobile society–modeled on traditional immigrant countries such as Canada, Australia, and the U.S.–it will thrive. If it locks its doors and halts integration, on the other hand, it will wind up like Japan: shriveling, xenophobic, and resigned to decline.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General