Daily Archives: January 27, 2012

Djokovic vs. Murray: An Absolutely Fantastic Australian Open Semi Final Match Today

It lasted just under 5 hours. Wow. I saw the last four sets.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Men, Sports

(WSJ Houses of Worship) David Skeel: On Religious Freedom, Years of Battles Ahead

A pair of momentous new government decisions on religion””in particular on whether religious institutions are exempt from secular laws””has given advocates of religious liberty a severe case of whiplash.

Early this month, the Supreme Court held (in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) that a Lutheran school’s decision to dismiss a teacher is an internal church issue that cannot be challenged under federal employment laws.

Just as the decision was beginning to sink in, the federal department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that numerous religious organizations won’t be exempted from ObamaCare’s requirement that employer health-care plans cover all of the costs of contraception. The message to Catholic hospitals and ministries that object to contraception: No accommodation for you.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(Christian Post) Pastors Debate 'Should Denominations Go Away?'

Seven influential megachurch pastors took part in live unscripted discussions on different approaches to ministry in the second round of The Elephant Room ”“ an event billed as “conversations you never thought you’d hear” from pastors.

Held in Aurora, Ill., and broadcast to over 70 locations around the U.S., the discussions were mediated by James MacDonald of Chicago’s Harvest Bible Chapel and Mark Driscoll of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church.

With nondenominational churches growing across the county, the role of denominations and church networks was the first topic discussed.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Disciples of Christ, Ecclesiology, Evangelicals, Lutheran, Methodist, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Reformed, Religion & Culture, Theology

Friday Morning Diversion–Yosemite HD

Yosemite HD from Project Yosemite on Vimeo.

Another huge winner from Vimeo–watch and listen to it all; KSH.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Energy, Natural Resources

(USA Today) Today's College Freshmen hit books harder than their recent Predecessors

This year’s college freshmen are more studious than their counterparts of the past few years, says an annual survey released today on their high school academic habits.

More of them took notes in class, did homework and took more demanding coursework as high school seniors, and fewer said they drank alcohol, partied or showed up late for class.

Those and other trends point toward an entering college freshman class that has a better chance of succeeding academically, say researchers who conducted the survey.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Young Adults

Bishop of Leicester: 'Lord Carey was wrong to defend government's welfare reforms'

…I disagree profoundly with the Government’s and Lord Carey’s view that our action in the Lords was about prolonging a culture of welfare dependency, or the implication that increased material poverty for some is a price worth paying to alleviate what some have described as the poverty of aspiration….

The Bishops’ amendment simply sought to exclude Child Benefit from the cap, to ensure that some financial support is still provided for each of the estimated 220,000 children who might otherwise be adversely affected.

Exempting Child Benefit will help prevent many children falling into serious poverty and could protect against family break up, or even homelessness.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

George Carey–My fellow bishops are wrong. Fuelling the culture of welfare dependency is immoral.

…these five bishops ”” led by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds ”” cannot lay claim to the moral high-ground.

The sheer scale of our public debt, which hit £1trillion yesterday, is the greatest moral scandal facing Britain today.

If we can’t get the deficit under control and begin paying back this debt, we will be mortgaging the futures of our children and grandchildren.

In order to do this, we desperately need to reform our welfare system.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Church Times) C of E Bishops win Lords victory on benefit for ”˜voteless’ children

Bishops led the House of Lords on Monday evening to vote in favour of an amendment excluding child benefit from the proposed cap on benefits in the Welfare Reform Bill.

Children’s charities welcomed the amendment, proposed by the Bishop of Ripon & Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, as a safeguard for those ”” about a quarter of a million children ”” who are ex­pected to bear the impact of the cap.

“The Government must not ignore the fact that the Lords have spoken out to defend the plight of some of the country’s most disad­vantaged children,” the Children’s Society’s policy director, Enver Solomon, said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Sightings) Martin Marty–How Shall We think about the American Divide?

One might add to the list of the many causes of the divide: cynicism spread by cynical popular culture and mass media; hyper-individualism (St. Ayn Rand) and denigration of community and support of “the common life;” polarization in politics and the loss of civility in “discourse;” quick-fix solutions to problems in religious, educational, and cultural life where patience would have more to offer; certainly the move into the world(s) of virtual reality with artificiality and insubstantiality in the bytes-world; radical pluralism and the jostling it brings. I know, I know: there is an up side to most of these, but we need to remind ourselves of more causes of division and isolation of “classes” than get much attention in Charles Murray’s world.

That being said, [Charles] Murray is still worth a read, not least of all because of data with which he works and statistics he presents. Of the numerous “worlds” he headlines for the “white working class”: “Marriage down 36 percentage points;” “males with jobs working fewer than 40 hours per week, ” “percentage doubled;” “secularism up 21 percentage points. . . .”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

(WSJ) Charles Murray–The New American Divide

America is coming apart. For most of our nation’s history, whatever the inequality in wealth between the richest and poorest citizens, we maintained a cultural equality known nowhere else in the world””for whites, anyway. “The more opulent citizens take great care not to stand aloof from the people,” wrote Alexis de Tocqueville, the great chronicler of American democracy, in the 1830s. “On the contrary, they constantly keep on easy terms with the lower classes: They listen to them, they speak to them every day….”

When Americans used to brag about “the American way of life”””a phrase still in common use in 1960””they were talking about a civic culture that swept an extremely large proportion of Americans of all classes into its embrace. It was a culture encompassing shared experiences of daily life and shared assumptions about central American values involving marriage, honesty, hard work and religiosity.

Over the past 50 years, that common civic culture has unraveled….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

(Washington Post) Pentagon budget set to shrink next year

The Pentagon budget will actually shrink next year, for the first time since 1998, under a proposal released by the Obama administration that will cut the size of the Army and Marine Corps, trim the number of fighter aircraft and ships, and seek congressional approval for another round of military base closures.

The cuts are part of a broader effort by the Pentagon to decrease its projected spending by $487 billion over the next 10 years, in accordance with a deficit-reduction deal President Obama reached with Congress in August.

The budget is also an attempt to realign the Pentagon’s accounts with Obama’s new military strategy, which he unveiled this month and which seeks to “rebalance” the armed forces toward Asia while maintaining their presence in the Middle East, principally to deter Iran.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Foreign Relations, Globalization, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, Senate, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(Arkansas Times) A Conversation with Episcopal Priest Lowell Grisham

In many ways, the Episcopal church is a microcosm of the United States, with congregations often split over social issues. Lowell Grisham himself has never been hesitant to speak his mind on social issues, and addresses them in his various newspaper columns that he writes.

For Lowell Grisham, Fayetteville is much like his boyhood home of Oxford, Mississippi, which translates into a great comfort for him. Previous to his seven years in Fayetteville, Grisham served for several years in Fort Smith.

Sitting down with the soft-spoken Grisham in his book-lined office at the church, one cannot fail to be impressed with the care with which he answers questions. This being an election year in which “moral issues” seemed to motivate many voters, it is only natural to ask if he feels that some moral issues have not been adequately addressed during the election.

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

A Prayer for the Provisional Feast Day of Lydia, Dorcas and Phoebe

Filled with thy Holy Spirit, gracious God, thine earliest disciples served thee with the gifts each had been given: Lydia in business and stewardship, Dorcas in a life of charity and Phoebe as a deacon who served many. Inspire us today to build up thy Church with our gifts in hospitality, charity and bold witness to the Gospel of Christ; who livest and reignest with thee in the unity of 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 Lord Jesus Christ, who when on earth wast ever about thy Father’s business: Grant that we may not grow weary in well-doing. Give us grace to do all in thy name. Be thou the beginning and the end of all: the pattern whom we follow, the redeemer in whom we trust, the master whom we serve, the friend to whom we look for sympathy. May we never shrink from our duty from any fear of man. Make us faithful unto death; and bring us at last into thy eternal presence, where with the Father and the Holy Ghost thou livest and reignest for ever.

–E. B. Pusey (1800-1882)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

–John 6:11-15

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(ENS) St. James, the smallest parish in the Diocese of West Texas

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Parishes

Episcopal Diocese of Georgia to meet in Augusta next week

Delegates of the church will elect officers, approve a 2012 budget and pursue a new capital and congregational development campaign called A New Era of Mission.

The program aims to reverse the declines in membership the Episcopal Church has experienced over the past 40 years, said the Rev. Frank Logue, the assistant to the bishop of the Diocese of Georgia.

“It focuses on nine areas of funding, nine priorities for us,” he said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

(Anglican Ink) Government backs down in face of Nigeria’s general strike

The Bishop of Lagos has called upon the President of Nigeria to convene an all-party, all-ethnic congress to negotiate the future of the West African nation in the wake of a week-long general strike that followed the government’s lifting of price controls on fuel.

On 16 January 2012 President Goodluck Jonathan capitulated to union demands and partially restored the state-subsidy on fuel. The week of civil strike saw the military deployed in the streets of Lagos and most major cities.

President Jonathan conceded that the “government appreciates that the implementation of the deregulation policy would cause initial hardships” and agreed to subsidize the price of fuel.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

Pope Benedict XVI's Address to Conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

It is quite significant that the passage concludes with a thanksgiving: “May thanks be given to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (15:57). The canticle of victory over death becomes a canticle of gratitude lifted up to the Victor. We too this evening, celebrating the evening praises of God, would like to join our voices, our minds and our hearts to this hymn of thanksgiving for what divine grace has worked in the Apostle of the Gentiles and through the wondrous salvific design of God the Father has accomplished in us through the Lord Jesus Christ. As we lift up our prayer, we are confident that we too will be transformed and conformed to Christ’s image. This is particularly true for the prayer for the unity of Christians. When we in fact implore the gift of unity of Christ’s disciples, we make our own the desire expressed by Jesus Christ in the prayer to the Father on the eve of his passion and death: “that all may be one” (John 17:21). For this reason, the prayer for the unity of Christians is nothing other than a participation in the realization of the divine plan for the Church, and the active commitment to the re-establishment of unity is a duty and a great responsibility for all.

Despite experiencing in our days the painful situation of division, we Christians can and must look to the future with hope insofar as the victory of Christ means the overcoming of all that prevents us from sharing the fullness of life with him and with others. Jesus Christ’s resurrection confirms that the goodness of God defeats evil; love overcomes death. He accompanies us in the struggle against the destructive force of sin that damages humanity and the entire creation of God. The presence of the risen Christ calls all of us Christians to act together in the cause of the good.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(First Things) Stanton Jones–Same-Sex Science

To avoid misunderstanding the phenomenon of homosexuality, we must grapple with the Achilles heel of research into the homosexual condition: the issue of sample representativeness. To make general characterizations such as “homosexuals are as emotionally healthy as heterosexuals,” scientists must have sampled representative members of the broader group. But representative samples of homosexual persons are difficult to gather, first, because homosexuality is a statistically uncommon phenomenon.

A recent research synthesis by Gary Gates of the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA Law School dedicated to sexual-orientation law and public policy, suggests that among adults in the United States, Canada, and Europe, 1.8 percent are bisexual men and women, 1.1 percent are gay men, and 0.6 percent are lesbians. This infrequency makes it hard to find participants for research studies, leading researchers to study easy-to-access groups of persons (such as visible participants in advocacy groups) who may not be representative of the broader homosexual population. Add to this the difficulty of defining homosexuality, of establishing boundaries of what constitutes homosexuality (with individuals coming in and out of the closet, and also shifting in their experience of same-sex identity and attraction), and of the shifting perceptions of the social desirability of embracing the identity label of gay or lesbian, and the difficulty of knowing when one is studying a truly representative sample of homosexual persons becomes clear.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Sexuality, Theology