Monthly Archives: August 2012

(NY Times) Debating the struggle of modern parents–Selfish Parents or Selfish Critics?

Many parents today want so much for their children: play space in bars, wide berth for strollers, and tolerance for tantrums in restaurants and airplanes. Other people, with and without children, see much of this as selfish, an imposition without regard for others.

Are modern American parents self-absorbed? Or just doing what’s best for their children?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Marriage & Family

Robert George–Five Pillars of a Decent and Dynamic Society

A society that does not nurture respect the human person””beginning with the child in the womb, and including the mentally and physically impaired and the frail elderly””will sooner or later (probably sooner, rather than later) come to regard human beings as mere cogs in the larger social wheel whose dignity and well-being may legitimately be sacrificed for the sake of the collectivity…

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

An important look Back to October 2011–Ross Douthat on Mitt Romney's Inevitable Nomination

For the next three months, the political press will engage in an extended masquerade, designed to persuade credulous readers and excitable viewers that the Republican presidential nomination is actually up for grabs.

Last week the big story was Herman Cain’s rise to the top of the polls, and then Rick Perry’s combativeness at the Las Vegas debate. Next week, perhaps, it will be Newt Gingrich’s surprising resilience or Ron Paul’s potential strength in the early caucuses or the appeal of Perry’s flat-tax plan. Then there will come a debate in which Mitt Romney looks shabby instead of smooth, a poll that shows one of his rivals surging, a moment when all his many weaknesses are on every pundit’s lips.

Please do not listen to any of them. Ignore the Politico daily briefings, the Rasmussen tracking polls, the angst from conservative activists over Romney’s past deviations and present-day dishonesties. Please ignore me as well, should campaign fever inspire a column about the Santorum surge or the Huntsman scenario. Because barring an unprecedented suspension of the laws of American politics, Mitt Romney has this thing wrapped up.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, History, Media, Office of the President, Politics in General, Psychology

Smartphones See Accelerated Rise to Dominance in the global Cellphone Market

Driven by increased demand from developed regions for high-end models, along with an unexpectedly strong push from emerging economies for lower-cost products, smartphones are expected to rise to account for the majority of global cellphone shipments in 2013””two years earlier than previously predicted.

Smartphone shipments in 2013 are forecast to account for 54 percent of the total cellphone market, up from 46 percent in 2012 and 35 percent in 2011, according to an IHS iSuppli Wireless Communications Market Tracker Report from information and analytics provider IHS (NYSE: IHS). The year 2013 will mark the first time that smartphones will make up more than half of all cellphone shipments.

“This represents a major upgrade for the outlook compared to a year ago, when smartphones weren’t expected to take the lead until 2015,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS. “Over the past 12 months, smartphones have fallen in price, and a wider variety of models have become available, spurring sales of both low-end smartphones in regions like Asia-Pacific, as well as midrange to high-end phones in the United States and Europe. The solid expansion in both shipments and market share this year of smartphones will make them the leading type of mobile phone for the first time, and shipment growth in the double digits will continue for the next few years.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Globalization, Science & Technology

(ENS) Should confirmation be required?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Ezra Pound’s List of the 6 Types of Writers and 2 Rules for Forming an Opinion

I really enjoyed this–read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Poetry & Literature

Adam Davidson–The Euro Crisis Is Back From Vacation

In June, it seemed as if any day might bring about the collapse of the Greek economy and with it, the entire euro zone and its decade-old currency. Then in July and August, it seemed as if everyone was on vacation. Now they’re back ”” finance officials and political leaders have been flying all over Europe to meet with one another ”” and along with them the crisis that has been raging for the last two years. Here is a guide to the new season’s most intriguing (and terrifying) [seven] story lines….

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, Globalization, Politics in General, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Wednesday Mental Health Break–What Happened when some Dolphins Stranded Themselves on the Beach

This is just remarkable–watch it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Animals, Anthropology, Theology

(Guardian) Jon Henley–The village where people have dementia ”“ and fun

Hogewey’s 152 residents ”“ never, warns Van Zuthem, “patients” ”“ have all been classified by the Dutch NHS as suffering from severe or extreme dementia. Averaging 83 years of age, they are cared for by 250-odd full- and part-time staff (most of them qualified healthcare workers, the rest given special training), plus local volunteers. They live, six or seven to a house, plus one or two carers, in 23 different homes. Residents have their own spacious bedroom, but share the kitchen, lounge and dining room.

Two core principles governed Hogewey’s award-winning design and inform the care that’s given here, says Van Zuthem. First, it aims to relieve the anxiety, confusion and often considerable anger that people with dementia can feel by providing an environment that is safe, familiar and human; an almost-normal home where people are surrounded by things they recognise and by other people with backgrounds, interests and values similar to their own. Second, “maximising the quality of people’s lives. Keeping everyone active. Focusing on everything they can still do, rather than everything they can’t. Because when you have dementia, you’re ill, but there may really not be much else wrong with you.”

So Hogewey has 25 clubs, from folksong to baking, literature to bingo, painting to cycling.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Economy, Europe, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Psychology, The Netherlands

(AP) Religious beliefs at center of Amish attacks trial

A group of Amish men and women accused of hate crimes in hair-cutting attacks took action out of concern that members of their religion were straying from their beliefs, defense attorneys said Tuesday.

Attorneys for the defendants didn’t deny that the hair cuttings took place. Instead, they argued that the Amish are bound by different rules guided by their religion and that the government shouldn’t get involved in what amounted to a family or church dispute.

At the center of the trial, which opened this week in federal court, are the rules of a religion that distances itself from the outside world and yields to a collective order as opposed to the laws of society. “These are religious separatists,” said Ed Bryan, the attorney for the group’s accused ringleader.

Read it all.

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

John Guernsey's Sermon from this past Sunday–Praying for our Christian Leaders is Vital

You can find the general link here, and the specific audio link which will begin playing there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Spirituality/Prayer

Hurricane Isaac leaves 250,000 customers without power in southeast Louisiana

Hurricane Isaac’s winds and rain had left at least 250,000 residential and commercial customers in southeast Louisiana without electricity by 11 p.m. Tuesday. The number included customers of Entergy and Cleco.

Read it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.

Retired Episcopal Bishop Roger White RIP

White nurtured interfaith relationships at home and abroad. He served as the Episcopal Church’s liaison with the Russian Orthodox Church in the years before and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. At home, he worked closely with fellow bishops Rogness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Catholic Archbishop Rembert Weakland and Bishop Richard Sklba.

“The ecumenical and interfaith climate really blossomed in Milwaukee at the time,” Rogness said.

White worried and wrote about declining membership in the Episcopal Church and the waning influence of religion on American culture. His 1992 title, “New Millenium, New Church” co-written with the Rev. Richard Kew, was one of the church’s top-selling titles for a decade.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops

C.S. Lewis for John Bunyan Day

Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it. Nowadays most people hardly think of Prudence as one of the “virtues.” In fact, because Christ said we could only get into His world by being like children, many Christians have the idea that, provided you are “good,” it does not matter being a fool. But that is a misunderstanding. In the first place, most children show plenty of “prudence” about doing the things they are really interested in, and think them out quite sensibly. In the second place, as St. Paul points out, Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary, He told us to be not only “as harmless as doves,” but also “as wise as serpents.” He wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim. The fact that you are giving money to a charity does not mean that you need not try to find out whether that charity is a fraud or not. The fact that what you are thinking about is God Himself (for example, when you are praying) does not mean that you can be content with the same babyish ideas which you had when you were a five-year-old. It is, of course, quite true that God will not love you any the less, or have less use for you, if you happen to have been born with a very second-rate brain. He has room for people with very little sense, but He wants every one to use what sense they have. The proper motto is not “Be good, sweet maid, and let who can be clever,” but “Be good, sweet maid, and don’t forget that this involves being as clever as you can.” God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all. But, fortunately, it works the other way round. Anyone who is honestly trying to be a Christian will soon find his intelligence being sharpened: one of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself. That is why an uneducated believer like Bunyan was able to write a book that has astonished the whole world.

–C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (my emphasis)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Education, History, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of John Bunyan

God of peace, who didst call John Bunyan to be valiant for truth: Grant that as strangers and pilgrims we may at the last rejoice with all the faithful in thy heavenly city; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord our God, grant us grace to desire thee with our whole heart; that so desiring thee we may seek and find thee; and so finding thee may love thee, and loving thee may hate those sins from which thou hast redeemed us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Saint Anselm

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

After this Jesus went about in Galilee; he would not go about in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him. Now the Jews’ feast of Tabernacles was at hand. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples may see the works you are doing. For no man works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his brothers did not believe in him. Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil. Go to the feast yourselves; I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” So saying, he remained in Galilee. But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.

–John 7:1-13

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Pittsburgh Presbytery to vote on Plan Allowing Parishes To Depart Without Acrimony

Pittsburgh Presbytery is poised to vote on a plan that would allow congregations to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) with their buildings if they first engage in an open discernment process and negotiate a settlement with the presbytery.

About 170 people attended a discussion Tuesday night in Bethany Presbyterian Church, Bridgeville. The plan will be voted on Sept. 15. Four churches asked for such a policy: Mt. Lebanon United Presbyterian Church, Lebanon Presbyterian Church in West Mifflin, Bellefield Presbyterian Church in Oakland, and Round Hill Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth Borough.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Presbyterian, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Tim Keller–Why Conversion and Revival are Biblical

As I sat looking at my computer screen at the title I’d written for this article, I was somewhat bemused by the fact that a defense of conversion and revival was even necessary. But so it is. There are quarters of the church now questioning whether or not conversion, the new birth, giving oneself to Christ, etc., are topics that should even be raised. Conversion, and its corporate expression, revival, are thought to be manifestations of Western individualistic thinking. Better simply to call people to join the life of the Body of Christ by inviting them to be baptized and share in the community of believers.

While certainly acknowledging the taint of individualism which has infected the modern church, it seems to me undeniable that the scriptures have always used the language of “both”¦and” rather than “either…or” as regards individual conversion, revival and community life.

Just as a reminder to myself, I went through some key passages regarding this topic. I want to share them with you as a “pastoral preventative,” lest anyone lead you astray on this subject. Good writers and preachers, who I respect when they speak on other subjects such as the resurrection, have, I believe, taken a wrong turning in pitting corporate Body Life against revival and conversion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Ecclesiology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

IBM is now developing its supercomputer "Watson" for commercial applications

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) researchers spent four years developing Watson, the computer smart enough to beat the champions of the quiz show “Jeopardy!” Now they’re trying to figure out how to get those capabilities into the phone in your pocket.

Bernie Meyerson, IBM’s vice president of innovation, envisions a voice-activated Watson that answers questions, like a supercharged version of Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s Siri personal assistant. A farmer could stand in a field and ask his phone, “When should I plant my corn?” He would get a reply in seconds, based on location data, historical trends and scientific studies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Science & Technology

(Patheos) Greg Garrett–Why We Should Do Politics like Episcopalians

When we insist that everyone has to believe as we do, when we elevate every item of our faith and belief to essential status, we don’t do anyone any favors. It’s the kind of practice that makes Catholic bishops decree that if you don’t follow the church’s teachings on birth control, abortion, or other social issues””none of which are creedal or talked about by Jesus””you are outside the Church.

It’s the kind of practice that makes progressive Christians say that if you don’t agree with them on the environment, gay marriage, or social safety nets, you are unchristian.

And it is the kind of practice that makes Democrats say that if you are not wholeheartedly pro-choice, your beliefs are not welcome on the party platform.

Much better, it seems to me, is the practice suggested by Messrs. Hooker and Danforth””that of moderation and reconciliation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(BP) In the Himalayas: Carrying the Gospel to the 'roof of the world'

“We are facing more obstacles than we ever have before, but this is no surprise. This believer represents the very first person who wants to be baptized in this place. Satan’s not just going to give that up easily,” [John]Costa said.

For [Aaron] Juergens, that’s no reason to quit, but encouragement to persevere, even in sickness and freezing temperatures atop a mountain.

“I’m up there, wearing six jackets and three gloves and five socks and I really just kind of want to sit in a bed,” he said. “But then you think about those people (who haven’t heard yet). If we turn around, who is going to come next? I mean, how many people have turned around? The world is getting smaller. The day is coming when everybody is going to have no excuse whatsoever for not hearing. There’s no excuse for turning back.

“We keep going.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Missions, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, South America, Theology

(BBC) Mombasa riots after Kenyan Muslim cleric killed

Kenyan police have fired tear gas to disperse Muslim protesters who have looted shops and burned barricades for a second day in the coastal city of Mombasa.

The protests follow the drive-by shooting of radical Muslim preacher Aboud Rogo Mohammed on Monday.

The cleric had been accused by the UN and US of recruiting and funding Islamist fighters in Somalia.

One person was killed and churches attacked in riots on Monday.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Kenya, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths

(Nigerian Tribune) Nigerians Divided over Backroom Talks with Boko Haram

The Boko Haram sect has been a thorn in the flesh of all Nigerians. Many lives and properties have been lost in the course of their influx and the flow of innocent people’s blood has yet to cease. The federal government has indicated that a dialogue with this group would ease their attacks on Nigerians. Nigerian Tribune took the matter to the court of the Nigerian public through a poll. Of the 666 people who participated in the poll, 333 (50 per cent) stood against the opinion, through their votes, while 321 people (48.2 per cent) opined that it would be a reasonable decision. 12 people (1.8 per cent) voted indifferent.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Terrorism, Violence

(VOA) Nigerian Presidency Announces 'Backroom' Talks With Boko Haram

Nigeria’s government says it is in negotiations with Islamist militant group Boko Haram. Some analysts are skeptical the talks will end the violence blamed on the group in northern Nigeria.

There has been a lot of debate among Nigerians recently about the militant group known as Boko Haram. Are they, or are they not holding peace talks with the government?

On Sunday, the government emphatically said “Yes, they are.” Presidential spokesperson Reuben Abati told state-house reporters negotiations are taking place through “backroom channels,” not at a formal table in an air conditioned office.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Terrorism, Violence

R.A. Dickey–Worship on the mound

In your recently published autobiography, Wherever I Wind Up, you’re explicit about how God saved and changed your life. Journalists have interviewed you a lot over the past several months. What percentage of the interviewers have asked about your Christian faith? Probably 15 to 20 percent.

The subject didn’t come up in your NPR interview. I brought it up. They edited it out. I always look for opportunities to talk about my faith in a way that is congruent with the story or the question that they ask, because it is important to me that people know. Most of the time it will be edited out.

Your description of the knuckleball”””The pitch has a mind of its own. You either embrace it for what it is””a pitch that is reliant on an amalgam of forces both seen and unseen””or you allow it to drive you half out of your mind”””seems like a metaphor for the mysteries of God’s providence in the Christian life. To a certain extent it is, at least for me. An element of surrender has enabled me to get to the next place with the knuckleball. An element of surrender in my own life has helped me get to the next place in my faith and relationship to Christ. I didn’t necessarily draw the parallel intentionally, but as a Christian there were so many times in my life where I wanted to control things and I would hold on to them so tightly that God couldn’t get anywhere near them””or so I thought.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Men, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Sports, Theology

Water Missions International moves to a larger Site in North Charleston, South Carolina

Since its founding in 1998, Water Missions International has traveled all over the globe.

Now the nonprofit agency is traveling from West Ashley to North Charleston.

Water Missions, which provides sustainable safe water to people in developing countries and those hit by disasters, is moving its headquarters today to a new location near Virginia Avenue on the Old Navy Base.

“Water Missions International really shows what kind of world we live in,” said North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey. “It’s an agency that cares about people. It doesn’t care who the people are, but it cares about making their life better when tragedy strikes.

Read it all from the front page of yestserday’s local paper.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations

(WSJ) Same Doctor Visit, Double the Cost

After David Hubbard underwent a routine echocardiogram at his cardiologist’s office last year, he was surprised to learn that the heart scan cost his insurer $1,605. That was more than four times the $373 it paid when the 61-year-old optometrist from Reno, Nev., had the same procedure at the same office just six months earlier.

“Nothing had changed, it was the same equipment, the same room,” said Dr. Hubbard, who has a high-deductible health plan and had to pay about $1,000 of the larger bill out of his own pocket. “I was very upset.”

But something had changed: his cardiologist’s practice had been bought by Renown Health, a local hospital system. Dr. Hubbard was caught up in a structural shift that is sweeping through health care in the U.S.””hospitals are increasingly acquiring private physician practices.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance

(USA Today) Employers try new ways to cut health costs, study says

As health care costs continue to increase, employers are looking for ways to cut costs, such as reducing spouse and dependent coverage in 2013, says a study out today.

While the total cost of health care is predicted to rise 5.3%, to $11,507 per employee in 2013, the increase is slowing, says the new Towers Watson survey of 440 midsize and large companies. This year, in comparison, the cost is expected to increase 5.9%.

“Recently employers have been increasing employee premiums, although they can only push the envelope so far,” says Paul Fronstin, director of the Health Research Program at the Employee Benefit Research Institute. If healthy workers drop out of the plan, self-insured employers might lose money, he says.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family

David Neff–The Hymns That Haunt Us

Earlier this year, NPR told the story of Teresa MacBain, a United Methodist pastor who had stopped believing in God. In March, when she just couldn’t keep it to herself anymore, she told the American Atheists Convention that she was one of them.
Coming out as an atheist felt good. But when she got home to Tallahassee, Florida, she discovered that a video of her coming-out speech had gone viral. Her church and community shunned her.
I was saddened but not surprised. Many people attend seminary because they are seeking answers to serious questions about the faith. When they do pastoral care, those questions become sharper.
What really caught my attention about MacBain’s story was this: “I miss the music,” she told NPR. “Some of the hymns, I still catch myself singing them,” she said. “I mean, they’re beautiful pieces of music.”

Read it all.

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