Daily Archives: August 31, 2011

Mormon men waiting longer to marry, worrying church officials

Marriage is a fundamental tenet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But church leaders now face a matrimony problem within their flock: Young single Mormons are delaying marriage.

Becky Maher, 29, attends the American River Young Singles Adult Branch in Sacramento. She is active in the congregation and has held leadership positions in the church. But getting married has so far eluded her. “I would like to be married as soon as possible,” she said.

Ben Forsyth, 28, is also a member of the singles congregation. Sunday, he led the congregation in the benediction. But he’s not ready for marriage. “I don’t think I’ve put it off, I just haven’t found the right person,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Marriage & Family, Mormons, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

August deadliest for U.S. troops in Afghan War

Enemy-initiated attacks in Afghanistan have decreased by 25% as Afghan and coalition forces have degraded insurgent leadership and hammered their morale, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East said Tuesday.

The latest figures come during the deadliest month ever for Americans in the 10-year war. Sixty-six U.S. servicemembers have been killed this month, a toll that includes the deaths of 30 troops in an Aug. 6 helicopter crash. The previous high was 65 troops killed in July 2010.

Commanders cautioned that violence levels alone are not an effective way to measure progress or failure.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Pakistan, War in Afghanistan

(BBC) New body 'liquefaction' unit unveiled in Florida funeral home

A Glasgow-based company has installed its first commercial “alkaline hydrolysis” unit at a Florida funeral home.

The unit by Resomation Ltd is billed as a green alternative to cremation and works by dissolving the body in heated alkaline water.

The facility has been installed at the Anderson-McQueen funeral home in St Petersburg, and will be used for the first time in the coming weeks. It is hoped other units will follow in the US, Canada and Europe.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Science & Technology, Scotland

The Archbishop of Canterbury–To Muslim friends and fellow workers on the occasion of 'Id Al-Fitr

Over the last few weeks of prayer, fasting and reflection it must have been very difficult to watch the growing unrest and rioting in many of the major cities in the United Kingdom. The tragic deaths of Haroon Jahan, Shahzad Ali and Abdul Muzavir in Birmingham occurred at the darkest moment of those days. Their families and friends suffered horrific bereavement and shock, but somehow in the midst of this chaos, they brought about a change. On the day after their murder, Tariq Jahan, the father of one of the boys who died, showed immense dignity in calling for restraint in his local community. His call for peace and unity was one of the decisive moments during those days and was a gift in Ramadan that gave hope to many not just in Birmingham but all over the United Kingdom and beyond….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths

A Married Lesbian priest is among five nominees to become the next Episcopal Bishop of New York

The Diocese of New York, which includes the Lower Hudson Valley, is generally quite liberal and very open to gays and lesbians at all levels. But there has been some tension over whether gay couples can be married by priests.

[Bishop Mark] Sisk supported the passage of civil gay marriage by the state Legislature and has been very supportive of gays in church life. But he does not believe that church law has empowered priests to perform marriages for same-sex couples.

In a statement this past June, he said that clergy can offer a blessing for a gay couple that has entered into a civil marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology

(Christian Century) Benjamin Dueholm–Advice and consent: Monogamy in the age of Dan Savage

While violating provisions of the Torah or the Sermon on the Mount does not by itself constitute grounds for driving someone from office (even in the hive-mind of 24-hour cable news), reactions to the Weiner scandal tended to borrow their moralism from these sources. Voices from inside politics and out, and across the political spectrum, were quickly raised in indignation. Even [Congressman Anthony] Weiner’s defenders tended to criticize his actions while insisting that they were private, legal and ultimately a distraction from serious public issues.

One prominent pundit went considerably further in defending Weiner: “Weiner does not have a problem. He has a computer. The whole world has Weiner’s problem: same old horniness, brand new box.” This incredulous voice of moral realism belongs to Dan Savage….Preachers, teachers and counselors who aren’t listening to Dan Savage should be””he is one of the more interesting church substitutes in American culture. He started in the 1990s answering questions on rarely discussed sexual practices, but he has since come to address a much wider range of concerns (including the moral and political implications of online affairs, whether by politicians or private citizens). When it comes to answering the ethical dilemmas and disappointments that persist even among those with knowing and disenchanted attitudes toward the how-tos of intimate life, Savage’s authority has no peer.

Read it all and please note the content may not be appropriate for some blog readers–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(RNS) 9/11 gave birth to an aggressive breed who are termed `New Atheists' by some

In September 2001, Sam Harris was an unknown doctoral student who didn’t believe in God.

But after the World Trade Center crumbled on 9/11, he put his studies aside to write a book that became an instant best-seller — and changed the way atheists, and perhaps Muslims, are perceived in this country.

Published in 2004, Harris’s “The End of Faith” launched the so-called “New Atheist” movement, a make-no-apologies ideology that maintains that religion is not just flawed, but evil, and must be rejected.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Atheism, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(Christianity Today) DeVon Franklin Keeps the Faith in Hollywood

DeVon Franklin was on track to become a mover and shaker in Hollywood when he hit what he calls “development hell.” For a time, his upwardly mobile career path was stalling, if not dying altogether. His employer, MGM, was about to be sold, and Franklin, then a junior exec, thought he’d lose his job.

When Sony Pictures bought MGM in 2004, Franklin survived the sale and continued his climb. He’s now vice president of production for Columbia Pictures (a division of Sony), where he has overseen such projects as The Pursuit of Happyness, The Karate Kid, and this summer’s Jumping the Broom. Franklin, 33 and single, chronicles his story in Produced by Faith: Enjoy Real Success Without Losing Your True Self (Howard Books, 2011). His book encourages fellow Christians to use “faith as a professional asset,” with chapters on “Writing the Script,” “God’s Green Light,” and, yes, “Development Hell.”

Actor Will Smith, one of Franklin’s oldest friends in Hollywood, says Franklin “lives his life the same way he makes his movies: with commitment, humility, and a work ethic that demands respect.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(Zenit) Vatican, Lutherans Preparing Document on Reformation

According to the Vatican official on ecumenism, the Church and the World Lutheran Federation are preparing a Joint Declaration on the Reformation, in view of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, announced this in an interview with the German Catholic agency KNA.

In this context, Vatican Radio reported Monday that Benedict XVI wants his Sept. 22-25 trip to Germany to have an ecumenical focus.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Ecumenical Relations, Lutheran, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

(WSJ) Italy Living on Borrowed Time

Continued involvement of the ECB could be stymied by two factors. The first is its own distaste for the job. “The fact that markets are dysfunctional is, in our opinion, the responsibility of governments,” ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said in Brussels on Monday. “They are issuing their own securities. They have the responsibility for the credibility of their own securities.”

There are also question hanging over the Italian austerity plan that the ECB wanted as the price of its support. On Monday, a proposed tax increase on high earners was ditched and some cuts to local-authority funding were scaled back.

“If Italy can’t deliver austerity, it is going to run into some hard questions from the ECB this year,” Mr. Penn said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Italy, Politics in General, Taxes

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saints Aidan and Cuthbert

Everliving God, who didst call thy servants Aidan and Cuthbert to proclaim the Gospel in northern England and endued them with loving hearts and gentle spirits: Grant us grace to live as they did, in simplicity, humility and love for the poor; through Jesus Christ, who came among us as one who serves, and who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God in whom all fullness dwelleth, who givest without measure to them that ask; Give us faith to ask, and faith to receive, all that thy bounty giveth; that being filled with all thy fullness we may as thy faithful stewards impart thy gifts to all thy children; for Jesus Christ’s sake.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

And as soon as it was morning the chief priests, with the elders and scribes, and the whole council held a consultation; and they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate wondered.

–Mark 15:1-5

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NY Times Dealbook) Charities Struggle With Smaller Wall Street Donations

Operation Hope built a nonprofit powerhouse over the last decade, spinning a stockpile of donations from Wall Street firms into 27 financial education centers across the country.

But the charitable organization’s donor base has retrenched in the wake of the financial crisis. Citigroup’s foundation last year cut its giving 60 percent, to $115,000. The ING Foundation delayed paying its $300,000 commitment to Operation Hope. And the CIT Group, a lender that was once one of the organization’s biggest benefactors, stopped giving altogether.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Trust offers £1,000 prize for people to explain why they will remain Anglican

A charity that aims to advance Christianity with Anglican principles has announced a prize of £1,000 ($1,600) for the best 5000-word answer to “Why I am an Anglican and believe I shall remain so.”

St. Boniface Trust has been concerned that yet more divisions are being created within both the Anglican and the Roman Catholic churches. Its response is to run the competition, which is open to lay people and clergy of all ages and in any province of the Anglican Communion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal

(CEN) Anglican Liturgical group rejects American push for Same Sex blessings

Members of the IALC present at the meeting told The Church of England Newspaper the US delegation led by Prof. Ruth Meyers of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific and Bishop Thomas Ely of Vermont offered a theological rationale for same-sex blessings and offered a sample of one rite, with two female members of the US delegation serving as the spouses. After the ceremony the American team solicited comments from the gathered IALC, but asked for the return of the service leaflet as the rite remained a work in process and was not ready for publication.

While some members of the IALC, including its new chairman, Canadian-member the Rev. Dr. Eileen Scully, were generally supportive of the US view, the majority were not. One participant told CEN the objections fell in two general groups: those who believed the concept of same-sex blessings was un-Biblical, and those who were perturbed by the “aggressive” push by the US team to seize control of a study process on rites for traditional marriage to include their own agenda.

The Bishop of Bolivia, the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons explained the “theme of blessings for same sex partners was not in the purview of the IALC which is preparing a forthcoming study based upon marriage between a man and a woman.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Sacramental Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Vatican Radio–New Evangelisation Part 1: A Pope and his students

The segment description is as follows:

What does New Evangelisation actually mean? How does the Church ”“ universally and locally ”“ envision its concrete application? Is there any ”˜master plan’? And what did they really talk about at the Ratzinger Summer School? These are some of the questions that Emer McCarthy put to Fr. Vincent Twomey SVD., Professor emeritus of Moral Theology at Maynooth seminary in Ireland, and one of the founding members of the Ratzinger Schuelerkreis.

Recently convened for their annual meeting in Castel Gandolfo (Aug. 25-28), the group of 40 former theology and philosophy students of then Professor Joseph Ratzinger were given the task of discussing this sometimes ”˜nebulous’ term. Added to their ranks were academics who have chosen to study the thought and writings of Joseph Ratzinger ”“ a suggestion first put forward by Fr. Twomey himself – creating a veritable ”˜think-tank’, with some surprising results.

In the first part of this two part interview, Fr. Twomey speaks of how the concept of New Evangelisation is a thread that runs throughout the teaching and writing of Pope Benedict XVI, then Professor Ratzinger. He brings us back to their first meeting over 40 years ago, when as a young Irish missionary priest, he sought out the ”˜promising and brilliant theologian’ in his ”˜simple’ Bavarian home to ask to study under him. Fr. Twomey takes us on a journey from the Münster and Tübingen years, through the establishment of Ratzinger’s first ”˜Doctoral colloquium’, to the Regensburg years and finally, Rome. He speaks about why the New Evangelisation calls for ”˜God’s humility’ and why ”“ contrary to popular belief ”“ secularisation is not wholly negative.

Listen to it all (almost 27 1/2 14 minutes).

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology

Catherine Rampell –Why Washington Really Likes Itself

If it sometimes seems as if Washington exists in a totally different economic universe from the rest of us, rest assured: it does. According to Gallup, the District of Columbia is the most economically optimistic part of the country.Every day, the polling organization surveys Americans of all income levels about whether they think current economic conditions are good, and whether the economy is getting better. The results of these two questions make up Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index.

The latest index report shows that the District of Columbia is far more confident in the economy than any state, by a long shot. In every state, most residents think the economy is getting worse; in the nation’s capital, fully 60 percent think the economy is getting better.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Psychology, Senate