Daily Archives: September 6, 2011

Good News on the Health Front–Adult Smoking Rate Edges Down Slightly

Overall, about 19% of adults said they smoked last year, down from about 21% in 2005. The rate for smoking 30 or more cigarettes daily dropped to about 8% from almost 13%.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

Catholic and Anglican bishops speak out on Dale Farm evictions

Bishop Thomas McMahon from the Catholic Diocese of Brentwood and Bishop Stephen Cottrell of the Anglican Diocese of Chelmsford paid a pastoral visit to the Dale Farm site last Tuesday. They talked and prayed with some of the Travellers who face imminent eviction from the site by Basildon Council. Both Bishops also talked to the significant numbers of journalists on the site about their concerns.

The Bishops subsequently issued the following statement: ‘The Travellers’ community at Dale Farm, near Basildon, invited us to visit them today. An eviction notice is due to take effect at 12 midnight tomorrow. We prayed with Christian and non-Christian families and children who are under extreme stress, and expressed our solidarity with them.

‘This is a desperate situation. It is important that people should know that it is a humanitarian crisis, whatever they make of the legality and politics of the situation. The travellers are frightened and anxious people. If elderly and infirm people were shown on TV being forced out of their homes, we wouldn’t think we were watching something happening in England, but that is what will happen here….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Anglican church in Qatar to be fully operational next year

The Anglican Centre in Doha’s church complex will be fully operational by the end of next year, the church rector has said.

According to Father Bill Schwartz, the 35 million Qatari riyal complex, under construction since 2008, will be ready by the end of 2012 and will offer Christian Protestant denominational groups a location to worship.

“Building is moving ahead apace, and moving ahead in line with our expectations. The building should be usable by Christmas next year,” he said, quoted by Qatari daily Gulf Times.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Middle East, Parish Ministry, Qatar

The next Bishop of Winchester announced

Downing Street has today (6th September) announced that the next Bishop of Winchester will be the Revd Canon Tim Dakin.

Bishop designate Tim (53), who is currently head of the Church Mission Society, will be consecrated as the 97th Bishop of Winchester in January and assume the role in Spring 2012.

As well as heading up CMS since 2000 Tim is also a member of the Church of England’s ruling body, the General Synod, an associate priest in the parish of Ruscombe and Twyford in the Diocese of Oxford and an Honorary Canon Theologian of Coventry Cathedral….

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

(USA Today) Colleges turn to microsites to attract prospective students

Microsites are not new to higher ed Web strategy. But as the creeping aesthetics of the app world make traditional college websites appear tedious, some institutions have begun experimenting with more offbeat microsites to collect information from prospective students and alumni.

“While these have always been around, one of the big differences now is that these sites often have a more cutting-edge, radical design,” says Mark Greenfield, director of Web services in enrollment and planning at the State University of New York at Buffalo and a consultant at the higher ed consulting firm Noel-Levitz.

“It’s as if the creative folk living in a straitjacket of the ‘official’ design format suddenly find themselves with no constraints at all,” says Bob Johnson, president of the higher ed marketing firm Bob Johnson Consulting.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Art, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Education, Young Adults

Kendall Harmon–On Eldad and Medad and the Mysteriousness of Life

The spirit blows where he wills, Jesus said, which means you cannot box God in.

We Anglicans have a particularly hard time with this since we are told to expect worship to be “decent and in order.” But””have you noticed–things don’t always work like that. Life is not so much a problem to be solved as a mystery to be lived. When God is in charge patterns can be broken, expectations can be shifted, and all heaven can break loose.

One biblical story which speaks to this is the tale of Eldad and Medad in Numbers 11. Moses and the people of God are in a dispute about misfortune and food and Moses is getting blamed and feeling burdened. God asks Moses to gather seventy men among Israel’s elders who would be enabled to share the burdens of the people. It had to be done, however, outside the camp at the tent of meeting.

Moses did his part, and God came through also: “the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to ”¦[Moses], and took some of the spirit that was upon him and put it upon the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied (Numbers 11:25).” So far, so good.

But there was a problem. Two other men named Eldad and Medad who were not chosen by Moses and not at the tent of meeting also prophesied. Wrong people, wrong place. Uh oh.

Joshua the son of Nun objected. This isn’t according to Hoyle! It isn’t in the Vestry handbook! Moses, put a stop to it, he says.

But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:29)

Moses is commendably open to letting God be God in a surprising way. Please note, too, that it is the younger Joshua who is unduly limited by the script and the older Moses who is willing to ad lib and go with the flow of the Holy Spirit.

I pray that all of us will learn to be less like Joshua and more like Moses in the days and years ahead, if our Lord doesn’t return first.

–The Rev. Dr. Kendall S. Harmon is Canon Theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina and the convenor of this blog

Posted in * By Kendall, Pastoral Theology, Sermons & Teachings, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

Dorothy Rabinowitz reviews two Television programs on 9/11–A Dark Day's Enduring Life

Even with the armor that 10 years’ distance provides, there is no way to prepare emotionally for a confrontation with the facts of the 9/11 terror attack. That confrontation is the unavoidable result of the anniversary observance, and its most essential one. It is, one could say, the heart of the matter. There will be many speeches on the anniversary, plenty of tributes to the meaning of the day, and plentiful testimony about the universal lessons to be drawn from this occasion.

And yet no testimony could be as fitting as the hard facts of that September day a decade ago””the one, a Smithsonian documentary declares, that changed the world. Of the numerous television films produced in commemoration of this 9/11 anniversary, the Smithsonian Channel’s stands out for the clarity and strength of its narrative (delivered by Martin Sheen), and its focus. A heart-shattering focus, often enough as it takes in the pictures so well remembered, but so expertly deployed that those images seem here more immediate, the stories they tell more abundant. Here again are the scenes of people escaping the inferno of the World Trade Center just in time””crowds of dazed men and women dragging strangers alongside them into the safety of the street.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, History, Movies & Television, Terrorism

Jamie Quatro–God Texts the Ten Commanments

I enjoyed this–check it out.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Anglican Evangelicals, the Conversion of England and the Transformation of the Anglican Church

Read it all (54 page pdf).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

William Witt–Caller ID From the Source of the Universe: Another Providence Sermon

That Jesus is this Creator come among us is the heart of the story of how God deals with the bad things that happen. It is not just that Jesus calms the storm, but that he himself endures the worst storm that his creatures can throw at him. Recall another reference to the Jonah story in the gospels. Jesus stated: “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40) At the deepest level of the biblical pattern of how God deals with evil is the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. In the biblical account, the very Creator of the Universe, who loves and cares for his creation, who does not abandon but rescues those in distress, rescues them by himself becoming one of them, and goes through what they go through. As Jonah sank into the depths, so Jesus faced the cross, and the greatest evil that humans fear, death itself. As Jonah was rescued from the depths, so God the Father rescued his Son by raising him from death on the third day.

In one of my favorite essays, Dorothy Sayers refers to the incarnation of God in Jesus as “The Greatest Drama Ever Staged.” (1) If the incarnation is true, she says, then, for whatever reason that God made human beings, “limited and suffering and subject to death ”“ He had the honesty and courage to take his own medicine. Whatever game he is playing with his creation, he has kept his own rules and played fair,” she writes. And, of course, a subset of the final theme is that the followers of Jesus, his church, share in his death and resurrection as we become his disciples through faith and the sacraments. So from top to bottom, from beginning to end, the Christian version of how it is that God deals with suffering and evil is that God loves and cares for his creation, but also takes it seriously, so seriously that he provides rescue and redemption from evil and suffering in that creation by taking the full consequences of death and evil on himself, and coming out on the other side, and taking us with him.

That has interesting implications….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Apologetics, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theodicy, Theology

(Brookings) Bradford Wilcox and Andrew Cherlin: The Marginalization of Marriage in Middle America

This policy brief reviews the deepening marginalization of marriage and the growing instability of family life among moderately-educated Americans: those who hold high school degrees but not four-year college degrees and who constitute 51 percent of the young adult population (aged twenty-five to thirty-four). Written jointly by two family scholars, one of them a conservative (W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project) and the other a liberal (Andrew J. Cherlin, professor at Johns Hopkins University), it is an attempt to find common ground in the often bitter and counterproductive debates about family policy. We come to this brief with somewhat different perspectives. Wilcox would emphasize the primacy of promoting and supporting marriage. Cherlin argued in a recent book, The Marriage-Go-Round, that stable care arrangements for children, whether achieved through marriage or not, are what matter most. But both of us agree that children are more likely to thrive when they reside in stable, two-parent homes. We also agree that in America today cohabitation is still largely a short-term arrangement, while marriage remains the setting in which adults seek to maintain long-term bonds. Thus, we conclude by offering six policy ideas, some economic, some cultural, and some legal, designed to strengthen marriage and family life among moderately-educated Americans. Finally, unless otherwise noted, the findings detailed in this policy brief come from a new report by Wilcox, When Marriage Disappears: The New Middle America.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Economy, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance

Notable and Quotable

As a set, these letters [to the editor in response to my piece on Ayn Rand] reminded me again how odd and troubling a country America frequently is. Where else could one find a substantial minority who think it possible to be both a practicing Christian and an ardent admirer of a woman whose entire intellectual project was the perfect negation of all Christian values? It confirms me in my conviction that, for all the oceans of Christians that have flooded our shores over the centuries, somehow Christianity has remained strangely alien to our national temperament and to our spiritual tendency toward a bizarre and implausible materialist Gnosticism.

–David Bentley Hart, First Things (August/September 2011), page 19

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Philosophy, Religion & Culture

Kendall Harmon's Sermon from this past Sunday on Matthew 18:15-20

Listen to it all if you so desire.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, TEC Parishes, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty God, only giver of all mercies, whose Son, Jesus Christ, has taught us how to pray aright: Save us, we beseech thee, from all presumption in our prayer, and grant unto us the grace of humility and contrition; that we may, sharing the vision of thine apostle Saint Paul, know that it is by the grace of God alone that we are what we are, and that we can do nothing but through the strengthening of thy Son, Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD more than all that were before him. And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jerobo’am the son of Nebat, he took for wife Jez’ebel the daughter of Ethba’al king of the Sido’nians, and went and served Ba’al, and worshiped him. He erected an altar for Ba’al in the house of Ba’al, which he built in Sama’ria. And Ahab made an Ashe’rah. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.

–1 Kings 16:30-33

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Germany Top Court's Judgment on Bailouts Looms

The court’s judgment, highly anticipated in European capitals and financial markets, will settle whether Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government breached the German people’s property rights in agreeing to the initial bailout of Greece in 2010.

The court also is due to rule on whether the German government should have asked the country’s parliament before taking part in the bailouts of Ireland and Portugal, as well as on the legality of the European Central Bank’s purchases of government bonds.

Legal analysts say the court is unlikely to rule that aid for euro-zone partners is unconstitutional, but that the judges could make future loan packages for euro countries subject to approval by Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Germany, Law & Legal Issues

(Newsweek) Niall Ferguson: What If 9/11 Had Never Happened?

Back on the eve of destruction, in early September 2001, only 13 percent of Americans believed that the U.S. should be “the single world leader.” And fewer than a third favored higher defense spending. Now those figures are naturally much higher. Right?

Wrong. According to the most recent surveys, just 12 percent of Americans today think the U.S. should be the sole superpower””almost exactly the same proportion as on the eve of the 9/11 attacks. The share of Americans who want to see higher spending on national security is actually down to 26 percent. Paradoxically, Americans today seem less interested in the wider world than they were before the Twin Towers were felled.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(Christian Century) Thomas Long–Why sermons bore us

Like other teachers of preaching, I listen to a lot of sermons, sometimes a dozen in a single day. I have noticed that this fact rarely evokes covetous sighs from my faculty colleagues, many of whom imagine a daily regimen of multiple homilies as akin to endless trips to the periodontist.

Contrary to expectations, though, I find that helping students preach for the first time carries the excitement of teaching skydiving to beginners. There is always that telltale widening of the eyes as they stand in the open bay of the pulpit feeling the wind whip by, staring into the depths below and suddenly becoming aware of what they are about to do as you tap them on the shoulder and say, “Go!”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

Robert Samuelson–Labor Day Blues

To reduce unemployment, the economy must create enough new jobs to absorb entrants into the labor market and the existing out-of-work. [Heidi] Shierholz has calculated how many jobs would be needed to lower unemployment (9.1 percent in August) to 5 percent over five years. Her estimate: 16.9 million. That’s an average of 282,000 jobs a month. The trouble is that this rate of job creation far exceeds the present level (105,000 a month since early 2010) or even the level (240,000) achieved during the boom between 1993 and 2000.

You can tinker with Shierholz’s assumptions, but the main conclusion doesn’t change. Even with rapid job growth, unemployment will descend slowly. With sluggish growth — or another recession — it may remain high indefinitely. There are no quick fixes. Unemployment will increasingly define our economic prospects and politics.

It’s not only the jobless who will be affected. No one has yet repealed the law of supply and demand.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market