Daily Archives: June 4, 2012

(CNN Belief Blog) The Gospel of Stephen King

When the horror novelist Stephen King was once asked why he wrote such gross stories, he said he did it because he had the heart of a small boy ”“ which he kept in a jar on his desk.

With his beady eyes and I-just-killed-the-cat grin, King looks and sounds like a horror novelist. But when the Rev. Paul F.M. Zahl read several of King’s novels, he learned something new about the author: There’s a lot of faith behind his fright.

Zahl says some of the most stirring affirmations of Christian faith can be found in the chilling stories of King. The horror master has been preaching sermons to millions of readers for years, only most of King’s fans don’t know it, he says.

Read it all.

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

Uganda: Christians Honour Uganda's Martyrs

Despite a terrorism threat, tens of thousands of Christians visited Namugongo to honour 26 Ugandans who were killed because of their faith 126 years ago. Some of the pilgrims walked for hundreds of kilometres before reaching the shrines.

On the concrete floor next to Namugongo’s Catholic Martyrs shrine sits Regine. The old lady doesn’t know her exact age. For the last three nights she has been sleeping here, next to the church. Nobody accompanied Regine when she travelled across Uganda. “Last night it rained and we all got wet. I didn’t care about that. We have to endure some suffering to strengthen our faith. Just like the martyrs here did,” she says.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, History, Religion & Culture, Uganda

Uganda Religious leaders welcome plan to receive State funding

Religious leaders from the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox denominations have welcomed a proposal by the government to start funding the activities of the church to expand its role in social service delivery.

The clerics under the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) said the church needs state funding in critical areas such as health and education because their interventions in these sectors supplements government’s efforts to improve the livelihood of the population.

The Anglican archbishop, Henry Luke Orombi who is the UJCC chairman said during their annual assembly at Pope Paul memorial center in Kampala that if the church starts receiving State funding, it would make a sizeable contribution towards poverty alleviation and improving the standards of living among the populace.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Religion & Culture, Uganda

(NY Times Op-Ed) Spencer Fluhman–Why We Fear Mormons

Mockery of Mormonism comes easily for many Americans. Commentators have offered many reasons, but even they have found it difficult to turn their gaze from Mormon peculiarities. As a result, they have missed a critical function of American anti-Mormonism: the faith has been oddly reassuring to Americans. As a recent example, the Broadway hit “The Book of Mormon” lampoons the religion’s naïveté on racial issues, which is striking given that the most biting criticisms have focused on the show’s representations of Africans and blackness.

As a Mormon and a scholar of religious history, I am unsurprised by the juxtaposition of Mormon mocking and racial insensitivity. Anti-Mormonism has long masked America’s contradictions and soothed American self-doubt. In the 19th century, antagonists charged that Mormon men were tyrannical patriarchs, that Mormon women were virtual slaves and that Mormons diabolically blurred church and state. These accusations all contained some truth, though the selfsame accusers denied women the vote, bolstered racist patriarchy and enthroned mainstream Protestantism as something of a state religion.

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

Mormonism grows; devotion begins in youth

Trevar Dahl spends an hour before school each morning studying the Bible with seven other teens.

“It’s the best way to start the day, and it helps us with a pretty good knowledge of Scripture,” said Trevar, a 16-year-old junior at Cloverleaf High School near Lodi, Calif. “We attend classes for four years. We call it seminary.”

Seminary, or the study of religious history and Scripture among high school Students in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, includes courses on the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon and church doctrine, covenants and history. The program has been part of the Mormon tradition for 100 years and has grown from 70 students to nearly 370,000 in more than 140 countries.

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Posted in Uncategorized

(CT) New Research Reveals Why People Visit Church Websites

See what you make of the findings.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Parish Ministry

Kendall Harmon's Presentation on the 2012 proposed TEC Same Sex Rites and Christian Marriage

Listen to it all if you care to, and note there are links to a number of the handouts used.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Sermons & Teachings, Sexuality, TEC Parishes, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(USA Today Editorial) Violence in Syria defies quick answers

Unarmed U.N. monitors ”” a pathetically inadequate force of 300 in a nation of 23 million ”” have been unable to stop the violence, and a cease-fire that began in early April appears to be crumbling. Following the standard rogue-state script, Assad buys time and parries pressure by promising to restrain his forces, but never does.

Given Assad’s barbarity, and the growing regional instability caused by Syria’s violence, many in and out of Congress have demanded air strikes, militarily protected safe zones for Syrian refugees or, at the very least, arming the Syrian rebels.

But just as many, including President Obama, have been cautious, and for good reason. Just because a situation is awful doesn’t mean there’s a good way to fix it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Europe, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, Syria, Violence

Google offers a New Tool for Chinese Users

….starting today we’ll notify users in mainland China when they enter a keyword that may cause connection issues. By prompting people to revise their queries, we hope to reduce these disruptions and improve our user experience from mainland China. Of course, if users want to press ahead with their original queries they can carry on.

In order to figure out which keywords are causing problems, a team of engineers in the U.S. reviewed the 350,000 most popular search queries in China. In their research, they looked at multiple signals to identify the disruptive queries, and from there they identified specific terms at the root of the issue.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Science & Technology

Economist–As robots grow more autonomous, society needs to develop rules to manage them

As they become smarter and more widespread, autonomous machines are bound to end up making life-or-death decisions in unpredictable situations, thus assuming””or at least appearing to assume””moral agency. Weapons systems currently have human operators “in the loop”, but as they grow more sophisticated, it will be possible to shift to “on the loop” operation, with machines carrying out orders autonomously.

As that happens, they will be presented with ethical dilemmas. Should a drone fire on a house where a target is known to be hiding, which may also be sheltering civilians? Should a driverless car swerve to avoid pedestrians if that means hitting other vehicles or endangering its occupants? Should a robot involved in disaster recovery tell people the truth about what is happening if that risks causing a panic? Such questions have led to the emergence of the field of “machine ethics”, which aims to give machines the ability to make such choices appropriately””in other words, to tell right from wrong….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology

Three Months to Save the Euro: George Soros

Euro-zone governments have around three months to ensure the survival of the single currency, billionaire investor George Soros said in a speech on Saturday.

“We are at an inflection point. After the expiration of the three months’ window, the markets will continue to demand more but the authorities will not be able to meet their demands,” he warned in a speech at the Festival of Economics in Trento, Italy. (Read the text of his speech.)

The European Union is “like a bubble” ”“ not a financial bubble but a political bubble — that could pop as a result of the euro -zone crisis, Soros said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * 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, History, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Expert Issues a Cyberwar Warning

When Eugene Kaspersky, the founder of Europe’s largest antivirus company, discovered the Flame virus that is afflicting computers in Iran and the Middle East, he recognized it as a technologically sophisticated virus that only a government could create.

He also recognized that the virus, which he compares to the Stuxnet virus built by programmers employed by the United States and Israel, adds weight to his warnings of the grave dangers posed by governments that manufacture and release viruses on the Internet.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Science & Technology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Keep us, O Lord, from the vain strife of words, and grant us a constant profession of our faith. Preserve us in the way of truth, so that we may ever hold fast that which we professed when we were baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and may give glory to thee, our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, now and for evermore.

–Hilary of Poitiers (300-368)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

From the Morning Bible Readings

Paul an apostle–not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead–and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father; to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen. I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel–not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.

–Galatians 1:1-7

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Tiger Woods rallies to win Memorial

Watch it all–wow, that is some flop shot on 16.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Men, Sports

(CSM) Kate Otto–Is Facebook destroying our capacity for meaningful relationships?

…the universalization of a Facebook-powered world is also worrisome. For all the good that comes when we take control of our Facebook accounts and use them for proactive outreach and connection, just as much damage occurs when we allow our accounts to control us, pulling us further apart from the people who are very close by.

For me, and most others of my generation, Facebook strengthened my ability to forge countless “weak ties” at the expense of fewer, but stronger, relationships. Posting regular updates coached me to write rapidly for a faceless mass audience and craft my publicly promoted identity as if it were a brand.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(The Tennessean) In age of church suppers, gluttony is the forgotten sin

Jesus ate local.

He walked everywhere. He loved grilled fish dinners with friends. And even if drive-thrus existed in the first century, he wouldn’t have gulped down a value meal on his way to the office.

That’s the message Tennessee’s obesity fighters want pastors to convey to their flocks, captive audiences with a built-in support system ”” one another. And while the deadly sin of gluttony slipped out of church lingo decades ago, a gentler approach that emphasizes eating as a spiritual issue can work, they say.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(NY Times) Euro Zone Nears Moment of Truth on Staying Together

On consecutive days last week, two of the most powerful figures in Europe ”” Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, and Olli Rehn, the most senior economic official in Brussels ”” warned that the future of the euro zone was in doubt. In the words of Mr. Rehn, the union might well disintegrate unless policy makers took steps to bind the euro’s 17 nations closer together.

Coming as they did from two men at the very soul of the European project, the reprimands were a stark reminder of just how much the Spanish financial meltdown had shaken the confidence of the European brain trust, to say nothing of investors from New York to Beijing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * 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, Globalization, Greece, Politics in General, Portugal, Spain, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(Sunday Telegraph) Damian Thompson–Elizabeth the Christian Queen has helped keep the faith alive

Is Queen Elizabeth II the true Christian leader of our country? An odd question for a Catholic to ask, you might think, but consider the feebleness of senior bishops ”“ Anglican and Catholic ”“ during the 60 years of her reign. She has been served by great prime ministers, but no great Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Queen’s last few Christmas broadcasts demonstrate the intensity of her faith. She reminds Christians that the feast marks “the birth of Our Saviour”, the “Prince of Peace” who is “our source of light and life in both good times and bad”. In old age she has underlined this message more heavily than she once did ”“ not in an obtrusive way that would cause offence to non-Christians, but boldly enough to make some of us sit up from our post-lunch slumber and think: “She really believes what she says”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic