Daily Archives: May 22, 2012

(WSJ) What Happens When Toddlers Zone Out With an iPad

Many apps for kids are designed to stimulate dopamine releases””hence encouraging a child to keep playing””by offering rewards or exciting visuals at unpredictable times.

My wife and I stopped letting our son use the iPad. Now he rarely asks for it. He is 4 and his friends aren’t talking about cool iPad games, so he doesn’t feel he’s missing out.

The experts interviewed were mixed on whether we did the right thing. About half say they would have taken away the iPad if their kid exhibited similar behavior””asking for it constantly, whining. The rest say we overreacted.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Education, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Science & Technology

(AP) Egypt court gives 12 Christians life sentences in case set off by religious tension

An Egyptian court sentenced 12 Christians to life in prison and acquitted eight Muslims on Monday in a case set off by religious tensions in the country’s south.

The Christians were found guilty of sowing public strife, the possession of illegal weapons and shooting dead two Muslims in April of last year in Minya province, about 220 kilometers (135 miles) south of Cairo.

Read it all.

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

A Look Back to 2009 and a Consideration of Statistics in the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington

Since Lexington has an upcoming Diocesan election, I decided to look at some history and and lo and behold the statistics for that diocese were discussed in a post and spirited discussion on August 14, 2009 with the title “Kendall Harmon: Significant Subsurface Deterioration in the Episcopal Church”. For starters, that whole blog post and all the comments are well worth the time to reread.

Since that blog post was nearly three years ago, the statistics in view were those from 2007–

If you look at baptized membership, Lexington shrank from 8949 in 1997 to 8002 in 2007. That is a decline of 10.6%. Now, however, consider the more meaningful number, Average Sunday Attendance. In this category, Lexington fell from 3905 to 2973 in the period from 1997-2007. That is a decline of 24%.

If you now go to the research and statistics website of the Episcopal Church, you can look at an update of these numbers for 2010. These figures show 2010 baptized membership of the diocese of Lexington at 7504 and Average Sunday Attendance at 2,693. If you now consider the 13 year trend, note that the decline in baptized membership from 1997 to 2010 is 16.15% and that of Average Sunday Attendance is just over 31%.

Also note that according to the U.S.Census Bureau’s figures, Lexington, the see city of the diocese, has grown in population from 260,512 in 2000 to 295,803 in 2010. This represents a population growth of approximately 13.5% in this time frame (the growth for the whole state of Kentucky’s population was 7.4% during this period).

Now, consider all this and ask yourself this question–given these trends and numbers, what is the one question you really must ask of each finalist to be next bishop in Lexington? Why something about their vision and strategy for growth and for reversing the precipitous decline, surely. And yet was such a question asked in the published profiles? No. This is what I mean by deep denial–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops, TEC Data, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, TEC Parishes

(FT) Gideon Rachman–Time to plan a velvet divorce for the euro

…I do think that it would ultimately be better if the eurozone broke up. This might not involve a complete reversion to national currencies. A hard core of euro-users, centred on Germany, might survive. But the current euro will have to go.
It is true that the transition from here to there will be painful and dangerous. My colleague Martin Wolf laid out an updated version of the full horror scenario in Friday’s FT ”“ involving a breakdown of law and order in Greece, and financial collapse across Europe. How could anyone responsibly run that risk?

The answer is that the alternatives to eurozone break-up are inherently implausible and deeply unattractive.At the weekend G8 leaders called for Greece to stay in the eurozone. Their present plan seems to involve some magical mix of stimulus and austerity that restores both budgetary balance and growth. But even if they can agree a real plan and even if it works ”“ and neither outcome is likely ”“ the eurozone’s structural problems would remain…..

Read it all (requires subscription).

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, France, Germany, Greece, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(LA Times) Roman Catholic institutions sue over Obamacare contraceptive rule

The battle between the Obama administration and some prominent Catholic institutions intensified Monday when 43 Catholic groups, including the archdioceses of Washington, D.C., and New York, and Notre Dame and Catholic universities, filed suit across the country challenging a federal mandate requiring them to provide contraception to their employees.

The organizations say the administration’s contraceptive requirement would compel them to violate church teaching. Some employers are exempt from the federal mandate ”“ but many are not, including schools, hospitals and charities that offer their services widely.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Commonweal) Wayne Sheridan–Why States are Getting Rid of Prison Chaplains

In 2011 North Carolina’s legislature voted to eliminate all funding for chaplains serving correctional institutions. According to Gary Friedman of the American Correctional Chaplains Organization, North Carolina later restored 33 percent of the funding, but it was still a drastic cut. Similar proposals are pending in other state legislatures. Some are cutting funding immediately; others are simply not replacing chaplains when they die or retire. One state’s commissioner of corrections recently told a statewide chaplains’ conference: “I am mandated to secure, educate, and medicate””religion is not an essential part of that mandate.” Friedman reports that New York State has seen its corps of prison chaplains reduced by nearly 50 percent over the past two years because of a hiring freeze. He pointed out that the hiring freezes have also cut into the remaining chaplains’ support staff””their administrative assistants and volunteer coordinators””which has left the chaplains themselves with more paperwork to do and less time for religious services and counseling.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(Yorkshire Post) Fears over faith split fuelled by free school proposals

Campaigners have warned the Government’s free school programme could add to religious and racial segregation in the region’s cities after plans to create Muslim, Sikh, and Jewish schools, and a failed bid by a Christian group to teach creationism to pupils were put forward.

Concerns have also been raised that another planned free school in Yorkshire is part of an education movement which is based on “pseudoscience” teachings ”“ a claim strongly rejected by those involved.

The Yorkshire Post can reveal that there have been at least eight faith groups or religious private schools in the region interested in joining the free school movement since the flagship policy was launched by Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture

The Church Musician as (Overlooked) Theologian

If we associate “theologian” with anyone in a congregation, it is usually the pastor or other ordained staff. Applying that term to our church musicians can seem like a stretch, especially when many church musicians lack the formal theological education clergy receive through master’s of divinity programs.

Part of the problem may lie in how we think about theology. If theology is mostly dried ink for a dusty classroom, then we may never learn to see musicians as theologians. But if one of the purposes””indeed, the chief purpose””of theology is doxology (the praise of God), then it is easier to see how the church musician does function as a practical theologian, complementing the theological role of the pastor. As David Arcus, adjunct associate professor of sacred music and Divinity School organist, told me recently, “Clearly, our tasks [of being musicians or pastors] are different. But we all share in the general responsibility of facilitating the praise of God.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Theology

(SMH) Tim Colebatch–The world holds its breath as Europe struggles in the quicksand

The immediate future of the global economy, including Australia, now depends on Europe, and whether it can restore confidence to markets. If European leaders can resolve their tangle of problems, growth is ahead of us. If they can’t, all bets are off.

Pessimism comes more naturally than optimism. It is now five years since we first heard the phrase ”the sub-prime crisis”, which rang the end of a golden era of debt-financed growth. Since then, we’ve had years of recurring crises, summits and resolutions that promised to solve the problems, but haven’t.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Australia / NZ, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, France, Germany, Globalization, Greece, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(Zenit) Cardinal Kurt Koch Reflects on 50 Years of Jewish-Christian Dialogue

Although Pope Paul VI had already taken decisive steps towards rapprochement with Judaism, the engagement in this issue by the leadership of the Catholic Universal Church was only really apprehended by the wider public in the form of Pope John Paul II. His passionate endeavours for Jewish”“Christian dialogue surely have their roots initially in his personal biography. Karol Wojtyla grew up in the small Polish town of Wadowice which consisted to at least one quarter of Jewish. Since everyday contact and friendship with Jews was taken for granted already in his childhood it was for him as Pope an important concern to maintain his friendship with a Jewish school friend, and to intensify the bonds of friendship with Judaism in general.

Beyond that, John Paul was able to give visible expression to his concern for reconciliation with Judaism through grand public gestures. Already in the first year of his pontificate on 7 June 1979 he visited the former concentration camp of Auschwitz”“Birkenau, where in front of the memorial stone with its Hebrew inscription he recalled the victims of the Shoah in a particular manner with the moving words: “This inscription awakens the memory of the People whose sons and daughters were intended for total extermination. This People draws its origin from Abraham, our Father in faith (cf. Rom 4:12) as was expressed by Paul of Tarsus. The very People that received from God the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” itself experienced in a special measure what is meant by killing. It is not permissible for anyone to pass by this inscription with indifference.”[15] Even more attention was paid by the public media to the visit by Pope John Paul II to the Roman synagogue on 13 April 1986, which is also accorded special significance because there was a Jewish community in Rome long before the Christian faith was brought to Rome. The historical significance of this event however is based above all on the fact that it was the first time in history the Bishop of Rome has visited a synagogue, to bear testimony to his respect for Judaism before the whole world. The gesture of the embrace of the Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff and Pope John Paul II remains an indelible memory.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Roman Catholic

The Awesome Ring of Fire Formed by the Moon and the Sun Over the Weekend

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wow–watch it all.

Update: A Washington Post slideshow is also available there (35 pictures in all).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Almighty God, who by thy holy apostle hast taught us to set our affection on things above: Grant us so to labour in this life as ever to be mindful of our citizenship in those heavenly places whither our Saviour Christ is gone before; to whom with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end.

–South African Prayer Book

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are round about him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him, and burns up his adversaries round about. His lightnings lighten the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.

–Psalm 97:1-6

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Final Nominees for the 7th Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Lexington

Read all the material and see what you think. Note that you can find it all as a 32 page pdf there.

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

Church of England House of Bishops approves Women Bishops Legislation

The House also accepted an amendment to express in the Measure one of the three principles which the House had agreed in December (see notes). This amendment adds to the list of matters on which guidance will need to be given in the Code of Practice that the House of Bishops will be required to draw up and promulgate under the Measure. It will now need to include guidance on the selection by the diocesan bishop of the male bishops and priests who will minister in parishes whose parochial church council (PCC) has issued a Letter of Request under the Measure. That guidance will be directed at ensuring that the exercise of ministry by those bishops and priests will be consistent with the theological convictions as to the consecration or ordination of women which prompted the issuing of the Letter of Request. Thus, the legislation now addresses the fact that for some parishes a male bishop or male priest is necessary but not sufficient.
The House rejected more far- reaching amendments that would have changed the legal basis on which bishops would exercise authority when ministering to parishes unable to receive the ministry of female bishops.

Read it all.

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

Don’t lose faith because of bombings, Archbishop Okoh tells Nigerians

Okoh admitted that situation in the country calls for concern, President Jonathan should not fear to administer the country, noting that with God things can not be out of control, therefore people should have faith that they would not sink.

“This synod called the whole of the country not to loss faith, because of the bombing and insecurity people were beginning to loss faith in God as if God is not able to protect them, we are trying to remind them not lose control.

“People are beginning to lose faith in the entity called Nigeria and we want them to restore that faith that God is able to solve whatever problem we have. Individuals also are beginning to loss faith in themselves, losing courage in themselves, they felt that every thing is collapsing, but again with God things can not be out of control, God is in control and individual will not sink, Nigeria is going ahead to progress”….the Primate advised.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Terrorism, Violence

(WSJ Real Time Economics Blog) Most States Still Years Away From Getting Back Lost Jobs

Most states are still more than two years away from returning to prerecession employment levels, according to a new analysis.

Only four states ”” Alaska, North Dakota, Texas, and Louisiana ”” have created enough jobs since the recovery to get back to where they were prior to the recession, according to economist Steven Frable of IHS Global Insight. All four of those states have benefited from an energy boom, and Louisiana was starting at a low level of employment after taking a major hit from Hurricane Katrina.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(USA Today) Stephen Prothero–A Mormon moment

On the final exam for an American religion class I taught this spring, I asked my Boston University students to offer Mitt Romney some unsolicited advice on how to talk to the American public about his Mormon faith.

He needs it. In many respects, Mormons have become quintessentially American, yet “gentiles” (as Mormons call the rest of us) remain wary. Evangelicals often view the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an unchristian “cult,” and many liberals are at least as uncomfortable with the idea of a Mormon president. What to do?

Most of my students told me that the former Massachusetts governor could not sidestep “TMT,” as his 2008 presidential team referred to “That Mormon Thing.” He should discuss his faith in a heartfelt manner. But he should steer clear of its controversial history and unusual beliefs and rituals. What is to be gained from addressing Mormons’ rejection of the Trinity, their baptisms of dead Holocaust victims, or their founder Joseph Smith (who also ran for president)? Romney should emphasize morality instead, my students said, underscoring the convergence of Mormonism and Christianity on “family values.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Mormons, Office of the President, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture