Daily Archives: December 16, 2011

(WSJ Houses of Worship) Jon D. Levenson: The Meaning of Hanukkah

…the heroes of the Jewish story fought not only against a foreign persecutor. They also fought against fellow Jews who””perhaps more attracted to the cosmopolitan and sophisticated Greek culture than to the ways of their ancestors””cooperated with their rulers….

Over time, the stories of the persecutions that led to this war came to serve as models of Jewish faithfulness under excruciating persecution. In the most memorable instance, seven brothers and their mother all choose, successively, to die at the hands of their torturers rather than to yield to the demand to eat pork as a public disavowal of the God of Israel and his commandments….

“Hanukkah” means “dedication.” Originally, the term referred to the rededication of the purified Temple after the Maccabees’ stunning military victory. But as the story of the martyrs shows, the victory was also associated with the heroic dedication of the Jewish traditionalists of the time to their God and his Torah. If Hanukkah celebrates freedom, it is a freedom to be bound to something higher than freedom itself.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

eCheating: Students find high-tech ways to deceive teachers

Everything’s going digital these days ”” including cheating….

“There’s an epidemic of cheating,” says Robert Bramucci, vice chancellor for technology and learning services at South Orange Community College District in Mission Viejo, Calif. “We’re not catching them. We’re not even sure it’s going on.”

Several security-related companies, such as Spycheatstuff.com, will even overnight-mail a kit that turns a cellphone or iPod into a hands-free personal cheating device, featuring tiny wireless earbuds, that allows a test-taker to discreetly “phone a friend” during a test and get answers remotely without putting down the pencil.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Teens / Youth, Theology

(Church Times) Behold, I Tweet Glad Tidings

Christians are using the social-media site Twitter to re-tell the Christmas story in novel ways this year.

In Germany, a Twitter-user called Joseph von Nazareth is journalling the nativity story from the perspec­tive of Joseph. Describing himself as a “35-year-old third-generation car­penter from Nazareth”, he regularly updates the site with short descrip­tions from the Christmas story.

Read it all and check out the winning tweets in the Bishop of Bradford’s competition.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Anglican Provinces, Blogging & the Internet, Christmas, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, England / UK, Europe, Religion & Culture

Best Religious Books of 2011: HuffPost Religion's Top 11

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Religion & Culture

Charleston, S.C, Economy takes off–now up to 11th-best in the U.S.

Continuing the region’s recent streak of national recognition, greater Charleston has been tagged as one of the economically healthiest metropolitan statistical areas in the country.

The Charleston-North Charleston MSA ranked 11th in the nonpartisan Milken Institute’s “Best-Performing Cities 2011,” up from 19th last year and from 30th in 2009….

Charleston climbed to just outside the top 10 on the strength of its “vibrant aerospace sector,” “stable military presence” and other high-tech, high-skill employers, according to the report.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, City Government, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General

(Church of Eng.) Archbishops' Council reduces request for funding from dioceses

Dioceses will be better placed to meet financial challenges in 2012 after the Archbishops’ Council cut its request for funding next year by £0.5 million. The Council has decided to request the same overall level of funding for its work in 2012 as in 2011, rather than the 1.8 per cent increase approved by the General Synod in July.

Although dioceses have already set their 2012 budgets, the resulting saving of £0.5 million will help dioceses meet other financial challenges whilst enabling the Council to meet all the commitments made when its budget was approved by General Synod in July….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Archbishop Rowan Williams–Challenge and Grace in the Midst of a "Messy" Christmas

…Every year, mysteriously, all our plans seem to evaporate and it’s the usual mess, with all the last minute panic. There’ll be a good few people concerned just now about what they can afford for a start.

Yet it’s odd in a way, this business of Perfect Christmasses. The story of the first Christmas is the story of a series of completely unplanned, messy events ”“ a surprise pregnancy, an unexpected journey that’s got to be made, a complete muddle over the hotel accommodation when you get there…Not exactly a perfect holiday….

But in the complete mess of the first Christmas, God says, ‘Don’t worry ”“ I’m not going to wait until you’ve got everything sorted out perfectly before I get involved with you….’

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Brendan O'Neill–Same Sex behaviours of wild animals shouldn't be used to push ideological causes

(Please note the content of this piece may not be appropriate for some blog readers–KSH).

The shift in the gay movement away from demanding equal rights and towards calling for recognition of the idea that gayness is “natural” occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Feeling under attack from a conservative backlash, gay-rights activists in the West started to argue, very defensively, that being gay was a simple biological trait and therefore it should not be criticised….

The aim of those who bang on endlessly about how beetles and penguins are just as likely as humans to be gay is to avoid testy moral debate about homosexuality in favour of effectively presenting gayness almost as an animalistic instinct, which therefore cannot be helped or “corrected” and which should not be criticised.

Homosexuality is not “natural”. It is not a mere biological instinct. Rather, like all human relations and interactions, it is a complex mix of desire and choice and love and lust. The campaigners who hold up the grunting antics of penguins and dogs as evidence that being gay is okay imagine that they are doing gay people a favour….

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Animals, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Sexuality, Theology

(Independent) A quarter of young girls have sex before they're 16

Girls are starting sex at ever younger ages ”“ but boys, it seems, are not.

The trend, revealed in the annual Health Survey for England 2010, published yesterday, triggered claims about the “pornification” of British culture.

The survey found more than one in four women (27 per cent) aged 16 to 24 said they’d had sex before the age of 16 ”“ the legal age for consent ”“ compared with just over one in five men (22 per cent).

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Women

(Der Spiegel) Berlin Remains Stoic in the Face of Growing Crisis

One wishes that financial investors were made of the same stuff as German Chancellor Angela Merkel. With virtually the entire world convinced that the euro zone has not done enough to save the common currency, Merkel remains stoic in the face of demands to erect a gigantic firewall. On Thursday, she ruled out increasing the size of the permanent euro backstop fund, the European Stability Mechanism, beyond the currently planned €500 billion ($648.5 billion).

“The German government has always made it clear that the European debt crisis is not to be solved with a single blow,” she told German parliamentarians one day earlier. She said that overcoming the debt crisis would take years and made a plea for patience and endurance.

It would appear, however, that not many are listening. This week has seen several indications that financial markets are by no means impressed with the results of last week’s European Union summit….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Germany, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Archdiocese Can Demolish SoHo Church, Court Rules

For three years before the church closed, a priest celebrated Mass in the basement because scaffolding cluttered the main nave. But a small, committed cluster of neighborhood residents and Lithuanian immigrants kept coming, and other groups also held services in the building, including Portuguese and Filipino contingents, parishioners said.

“There was like a renaissance happening in the church, with ebbs and flows,” said Ramute Zukas, the president of the New York chapter of the Lithuanian American Community.

Before deciding to close the church, the archdiocese consulted with the regional vicar, the parish administrator and the neighboring pastors, according to court documents. There was no need to get the agreement of the parishioners under church law, the archdiocese said.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(USA Today) Boomers head back to community colleges

Paul Klingler likes his job as a mold-maker for a Rochester plastics manufacturer.

But the 54-year-old Parma resident also liked his last mold-making job, which he held for four years before being laid off early this year. And when he didn’t get a call back regarding an open position at another company, Klingler chalked it up to his lack of a college degree. “I know I have all the other skills they’re looking for,” he says.

That’s why Klingler is working with Monroe Community College here to figure out what coursework he needs to earn an associate’s degree in its machine trades apprentice training program. He plans to start this spring.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Middle Age

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Lord God Almighty, King of glory and love eternal, worthy art thou at all times to receive adoration, praise, and blessing; but especially at this time do we praise thee for the sending of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, for whom our hearts do wait, and to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, be honour and dominion, now and for ever.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’

–Matthew 25:24-30

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Dave Mander–One View of the AMIA Mess on the Ground

So after reading all the articles on AMiA, I have determined that there is no simple summary so I will take a shot at it. By the way, “summary” means I left out a bunch of details. My blog; my prerogative on which details I leave out. The Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) is an organization of churches Chuck Murphy created when he left the Episcopal Church. In order to be an official Anglican organization recognized in the world by other Anglicans, he needed an endorsement from a genuine Anglican province. Rwanda and Asia stepped in to fill that role and now Chuck is Bishop Murphy. What they didn’t tell us (or at least what I didn’t get)….apparently this organization is not part of the province of Rwanda, as I had thought. It is a business venture of Bishop Murphy. So when Bishop Murphy breaks ties with Rwanda and leaves, so does the Anglican Mission. And that is what has happened. Bishop Murphy has cut our relationship with the Province of Rwanda.

This is where it gets complicated. Our church is an AMiA church, but our priests were received as official missionary priests in the province of Rwanda. So it would seem our church is under the authority of Bishop Murphy, but our priests are under the authority of Rwanda, but not Bishop Murphy. What? Exactly.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Rwanda, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

Muslim Reality Show, Under Fire, Denies Charges of Extremism

The cast and producers of “All-American Muslim,” a reality-TV show that has been a lightning rod for controversy, said Wednesday (Dec. 14) they are helping change negative perceptions of Muslims, and rejected criticisms that the show is propaganda that sugarcoats Islam.

“These are our lives. This is what we’ve been doing for years,” said Mike Jaafar, a sheriff’s deputy in the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, who appears on the show that follows the everyday lives of Muslims in and around Dearborn, Mich.

“The charge of propaganda is based on the fact that the reality of the Muslim American experience does not jibe with their preconceptions of what Islam is,” said Reza Aslan, co-founder of BoomGen Studios, which is helping promote the show.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Movies & Television, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(ENS) Province IV bishops call meeting with colleague ”˜honest, forthright’

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons