Daily Archives: May 14, 2011

Religious belief is human nature, huge new study claims

Religion comes naturally, even instinctively, to human beings, a massive new study of cultures all around the world suggests.

“We tend to see purpose in the world,” Oxford University professor Roger Trigg said Thursday. “We see agency. We think that something is there even if you can’t see it. … All this tends to build up to a religious way of thinking.”

Trigg is co-director of the three-year Oxford-based project, which incorporated more than 40 different studies by dozens of researchers looking at countries from China to Poland and the United States to Micronesia.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Globalization, Religion & Culture, Theology

15th Bishop of Colombo of the Church of Sri Lanka ordained

Read it all–loved the pictures.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Asia, Sri Lanka

John Grondelski (NCR)–Pornography as a Teacher

In 2005, Pamela Paul coined the term “pornified” (in her book of the same name) to characterize the ubiquity and mainstreaming of pornography in contemporary American society, in large measure because of the Internet. Her book described the deleterious impact this phenomenon is having on marriage, women, young people and men.

Five years later, Princeton’s Witherspoon Institute has published this impressive collection of 11 papers from its 2008 conference, further detailing how corrosively widespread Internet pornography has become. The essays are divided into three main groups: evidence of the harm pornography causes (including a new essay by Pamela Paul); moral perspectives (including Roger Scruton’s thought-provoking essay busting various modern sex myths); and how public policy might combat this ill (including essays by James Stoner and Gerard Bradley discussing the very real impediments certain trends in contemporary constitutional jurisprudence could interpose).

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Books, Pornography

John Cogan–many retirees will collect double in Social Security and Medicare from what they paid in

According to my calculations based on government data, such [typical] married couples [as I cite in my example] will begin receiving monthly Social Security checks that will, on average, total about $550,000 after inflation. They will receive health-care services paid for by Medicare that, on average, will total another $450,000 after inflation. The benefactors will be a generation of younger workers who are trying to support themselves and their families while paying taxes to finance the rest of government spending.

We cannot even remotely afford to make good on these promised benefits. Although our system of personal liberty, free enterprise and limited government has made us an affluent and upwardly mobile people, we are not yet a nation of [wealthy benefactor] John Beresford Tiptons.

The existence of so many million-dollar couples is not the result of elected officials carefully weighing the needs of senior citizens against the financial ability of younger workers to meet these needs. Rather, it is the result of decades of separate legislative actions by both political parties to liberalize retirement and health-care benefits, the sum total of which no one has bothered to calculate.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Budget, Economy, Health & Medicine, Medicare, Social Security, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

J. Gordon Melton–Religious Freedom and Bloodless Liver Transplants

Last week, a three-judge state appeals court panel ordered the state of Kansas to pay for Mary Stinemetz to have a liver transplant performed in neighboring Nebraska. The reason? Ms. Stinemetz is a Jehovah’s Witness who believes that blood transfusions violate the tenets of her faith. So she sued to have Medicaid fund a more expensive, “bloodless” version of the procedure that her hospital in Kansas doesn’t perform.

Ms. Stinemetz’s case is not a historical oddity. Jehovah’s Witnesses, though they number only about one million in the U.S., have had an outsized influence on American jurisprudence.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government

The Economist Leader–The new Technology Bubble

Some time after the dotcom boom turned into a spectacular bust in 2000, bumper stickers began appearing in Silicon Valley imploring: “Please God, just one more bubble.” That wish has now been granted. Compared with the rest of America, Silicon Valley feels like a boomtown. Corporate chefs are in demand again, office rents are soaring and the pay being offered to talented folk in fashionable fields like data science is reaching Hollywood levels. And no wonder, given the prices now being put on web companies.

Facebook and Twitter are not listed, but secondary-market trades value them at some $76 billion (more than Boeing or Ford) and $7.7 billion respectively. This week LinkedIn, a social network for professionals, said it hopes to be valued at up to $3.3 billion in an initial public offering (IPO). The next day Microsoft announced its purchase of Skype, an internet calling and video service, for a frothy-looking $8.5 billion””ten times its sales last year and 400 times its operating income. And those are all big-brand companies with customers around the world. Prices look even more excessive for fledgling firms in the private market (Color, a photo-sharing social network, was recently said to be worth $100m, even though it has an untested service) or for anything involving China. There has been a stampede for shares in Renren, hailed as “China’s Facebook”, and other Chinese web giants listed on American exchanges.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Asia, Blogging & the Internet, China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Psychology, Science & Technology, Stock Market

Judges put brakes on secondary proceedings against Fort Worth

The diocese has received good news this month from two federal courts: Two suits initiated in 2010 against diocesan leadership have been stayed until the appeal of the primary suit has run its course in state courts, and a third will not impede an arbitration process already under way.

On Wednesday, May 11, in Fort Worth, federal court judge Terry Means responded favorably to two motions filed by the Diocese seeking to stay the intellectual-property suits brought against Bishop Iker last fall. One, brought by The Episcopal Church last September, seeks to seize control of the diocesan seal and the name “The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.” The other, filed a month later by All Saints’ Church on Crestline Road in Fort Worth, alleged that Bishop Iker had been using the parish’s seal and had improperly bestowed its name on another congregation. Subsequently Fr. Darryl Pigeon and the vestry of his Fort Worth congregation were added as defendants. Judge Means stayed the first suit in December; his decision of Wednesday confirms and extends that order. The stay on the All Saints’ suit is the first order he has issued in that case.

Read it all and follow the links also.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Manchester City win the FA Cup Crown

Manchester City claimed their first piece of silverware for 35 years as Yaya Toure’s second half strike gave Roberto Mancini’s side a 1-0 win over Stoke City in the FA Cup final at Wembley.

Toure pounced to slam home an emphatic finish in the 74th minute to breach Stoke’s obdurate defence and give City their first FA Cup final win since 1969.

The Cup victory provided the proverbial icing on the cake for Mancini’s side, who clinched their primary objective of delivering a top-four finish for a Champions League spot next season, while it sealed a memorable day for the city of Manchester after United won the Premier League title.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Wow–Roger Bernadina's Leaping Catch in the Outfield Last night

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Manchester United Win the Premiere League Title for 2010-2011

A penalty from Wayne Rooney allowed Manchester United to clinch a record 19th league title following a 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.

Tomasz Kuszczak was a surprise inclusion in the Manchester United line-up, and it was his mistake that allowed Brett Emerton to fire Blackburn into the lead on 20 minutes. The Polish goalkeeper palmed Emerton’s initial cross into the path of Martin Olsson, who sent the ball to the back post for Emerton to volley home.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Sports

Medicare and Social Security will Run out of Funds sooner than Previously Thought

Medicare, the U.S. health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, and the Social Security trust for the disabled and retirees are running out of money sooner than the government had projected.

While Medicare won’t have sufficient funds to pay full benefits starting in 2024, five years earlier than last year’s estimate, Social Security’s cash to pay full benefits runs short in 2036, a year sooner than the 2010 projection, the U.S. government said today in an annual report.

Both forecasts were affected by a slower-than-anticipated economic recovery, the government said. The estimates for funding add urgency to talks between Democrats and Republicans on ways to cut spending to reduce the U.S. budget deficit.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Budget, Economy, Health & Medicine, Social Security, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

A Prayer to Begin the Day

We give thee thanks, O heavenly Father, who hast delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of thy Son; grant, we pray thee, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his presence abiding in us he may raise us to joys eternal; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. When he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish and said to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live for ever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.” Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of hurt was found upon him, because he had trusted in his God.

–Daniel 6:19-23

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

St. Francis on the Hill seeks God's will: Controversial climb nears apex

A theological disagreement between a local church and its former diocese has become a drawn-out, draining legal quarrel over a church building.

In November 2008, leaders of the now St. Francis on the Hill Anglican Church broke away from the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande over a theological dispute over foundational doctrines as salvation through Christ alone and the authority of the Bible. Also highly controversial was the 2003 ordination in New Hampshire of the first openly gay bishop, the Rev. V. Gene Robinson.

It was the second church in El Paso to break away from the diocese over the same issues.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Rio Grande, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology

Speaking Up in Class, Silently, Using Social Media

[The running online commentary]…instead of being a distraction ”” an electronic version of note-passing ”” the chatter echoed and fed into the main discourse, said Mrs. [Erin] Olson, who monitored the stream and tried to absorb it into the lesson. She and others say social media, once kept outside the school door, can entice students who rarely raise a hand to express themselves via a medium they find as natural as breathing.

“When we have class discussions, I don’t really feel the need to speak up or anything,” said one of her students, Justin Lansink, 17. “When you type something down, it’s a lot easier to say what I feel.”

With Twitter and other microblogging platforms, teachers from elementary schools to universities are setting up what is known as a “backchannel” in their classes. The real-time digital streams allow students to comment, pose questions (answered either by one another or the teacher) and shed inhibitions about voicing opinions. Perhaps most importantly, if they are texting on-task, they are less likely to be texting about something else.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Education, Psychology, Science & Technology

Crime Wave in Egypt Has People Afraid, Even the Police

The neighbors watched helplessly from behind locked gates as an exchange of gunfire rang out at the police station. Then about 80 prisoners burst through the station’s doors ”” some clad only in underwear, many brandishing guns, machetes, even a fire extinguisher ”” as the police fled.

“The police are afraid,” said Mohamed Ismail, 30, a witness. “I am afraid to leave my neighborhood.”

Three months after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, a crime wave in Egypt has emerged as a threat to its promised transition to democracy. Businessmen, politicians and human rights activists say they fear that the mounting disorder ”” from sectarian strife to soccer riots ”” is hampering a desperately needed economic recovery or, worse, inviting a new authoritarian crackdown.

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