Daily Archives: August 7, 2012

(USA Today) Tom Krattenmaker–Can faith help an Olympian?

Is it crazy for an Olympian to claim that God directs his training regimen? You’d think so from reactions to the much-publicized Christian piety of U.S. Olympic marathon contender Ryan Hall ”” his recent assertion, in particular, that God is his coach.

Commented one Huffington Post reader beneath an article on the role of faith in Hall’s training for this Sunday’s race: “I hope Ryan gets the medication he needs in a timely way.”

Thanks to Hall’s growing notoriety, and to public fascination with other young evangelical sports figures such as football icon Tim Tebow and basketball sensation Jeremy Lin, debates are breaking out anew whether an athlete can pray his way to a gold medal or championship. Let this skeptic suggest an answer that might surprise you….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Religion & Culture, Sports

Richard Polt on the Temptation to Try to Reduce the Human to the Subhuman

Wherever I turn, the popular media, scientists and even fellow philosophers are telling me that I’m a machine or a beast. My ethics can be illuminated by the behavior of termites. My brain is a sloppy computer with a flicker of consciousness and the illusion of free will. I’m anything but human.

While it would take more time and space than I have here to refute these views, I’d like to suggest why I stubbornly continue to believe that I’m a human being ”” something more than other animals, and essentially more than any computer.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Philosophy, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

Tariq Ramadan–The challenge of being Muslim in an age of globalisation

Being Muslim has become synonymous with pointed questions, with tension and mistrust, even with conflict. It has become a global phenomenon with profound consequences for inter-communal relations, political rhetoric and policies at the local, regional, national and international level.

Hardly a week goes by without the “Muslim question” being raised, through a local controversy, a regional conflict or a national debate, through violence, extremism or literalism, or through the rise to power of Islamist parties in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt (years after electoral victory in Palestine).

Islam, well beyond its extremist, literalist or political interpretations, has become an issue – the globalisation of information reinforces a worldwide collective state of mind that legitimises doubt, mistrust and even stigmatisation, while touching off defensive reactions that range from a sense of victimhood to uncontrolled aggression. In sum, these are hard times for Muslims, who must confront numerous challenges, both locally and on a global scale.

Read it all.

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

(BBC) Amazon U.K. selling more Kindle ebooks than print books

The UK’s biggest book retailer Amazon now sells more ebooks than hardbacks and paperbacks combined, the company has said.

For every 100 print books sold through the site, Amazon said it sold 114 titles for its Kindle e-reader device.

It added that the average Kindle owner bought up to four times more books than they did before owning the device.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Books, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Science & Technology

Canadians: 'We feel like we got robbed' in loss to U.S. team

The Canadian women’s soccer team feels “robbed” and “cheated” after what its coach described as two “bizarre” calls in a 4-3 U.S. victory in the Olympic semifinals.

Canadian players were upset about a second-half sequence in which Canada goalkeeper Erin McLeod corralled a loose ball, and the referee determined she held it for more than the allowed six seconds as she searched for a place to throw it. She was assessed a foul, and the U.S. was awarded an indirect free kick inside the penalty area.

U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe took the free kick and spiked it off Canadian Lauren Sesselmann’s arm, eliciting a handball call and a penalty kick, which Abby Wambach converted to tie the game 3-3 before extra time.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Canada, Sports, Women

Robert Shiller on Behavioral Economics

Nigel Warburton: So, if we bring psychology back into economics with the current crisis, what particular light would psychology shed on that? I mean you talked about people’s optimism is it that there’s a kind of herd mentality and the markets mirror that? Or is something else going on?

Robert Shiller: There’s a lot going on. It turns out that the human mind is very complicated. Economic theory likes to reduce human behaviour to a canonical form, the structure has been, ever since Samuelson wrote this a half century ago, that people want to maximise their consumption. All they want to do is consume goods; they don’t care about anyone else. There’s neither benevolence nor malevolence. All they care about is eating or getting goods and they want to smooth it, they described it in terms of so-called utility functions through their lifetime and that’s it. That is such an elegant simple model, but it’s too simple and if you look at what psychology shows, the mind is the product of human evolution and it has lots of different patterns of behaviour. The discoveries that psychologists make to economics are manifold.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Education, History, Psychology

Sir John Keegan RIP

Sir John Keegan, who has died aged 78, achieved an international reputation as a military historian, then discovered a talent for writing rapid analyses of international crises as the defence editor of The Daily Telegraph.

He had been on the teaching staff of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, for 25 years in 1986 when Max Hastings announced his recruitment to the paper the day he took over the editor’s chair. [John] Keegan proved an unrivalled asset as the Soviet empire crumbled and collapsed, the government demanded a “peace dividend” in the form of cutbacks to the Armed Forces and a series of military actions flared up in the Middle East and the Balkans.

Whatever the subject before him, Keegan wrote with close knowledge of the military arts and a personal acquaintance with many senior serving officers who had been his pupils; above all, he demonstrated a deep awareness of the human aspects of warfare, which was cruel, confusing and frightening, if occasionally glorious.

It was always with surprise that new acquaintances discovered that Keegan was no battle-hardened veteran. He was a gentle civilian who was deeply imbued with his Roman Catholic faith and had been crippled with tuberculosis since childhood.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, History, Parish Ministry

Plant Churches in the U.S. to reach the nations, NA Baptist Mission Board Conference panel says

The influx of foreign-born people into North America gives Southern Baptist churches a unique opportunity to reach the nations, a veteran International Mission Board worker said at the 2012 Send North America Conference.

Most churches, though, are failing to take advantage of the opportunity, he said at the conference sponsored by the North American Mission Board.

“We need to look at some other models and methods when we start churches among people groups,” IMB representative Bryan Galloway said during a conference breakout session on “Reaching the Nations in North America.” “We’re just not doing that.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Ecclesiology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Missions, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Soteriology, Theology

(NPR) Sikhs No Stranger To Violence In Recent Years

As Sikhism spread far and wide in the past century, it has been no stranger to discrimination and violence.

Authorities have yet to determine a motive for Sunday’s shooting in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek, in which an assailant entered a Sikh temple, known as a gurudwara, and gunned down six congregants and wounded three others before himself being killed by police. But many Sikh men keep their unshorn hair tightly wrapped by a turban, which gives them a distinct and recognizable appearance. As a result, increasingly since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Sikhs have been mistakenly identified ”“ and occasionally targeted ”“ as Muslims.

The New York-based Sikh Coalition was formed in the wake of such incidents, including one that occurred just days after the 2001 terrorist attacks in which the Sikh owner of a gas station in Mesa, Ariz., was shot and killed, reportedly because the assailant thought he was Muslim.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Inter-Faith Relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

(AFP) Nigeria church attack kills 19

Gunmen have opened fire on an evangelical church during a service in central Nigeria, killing at least 19 people in the latest such attack in the country, the military said on Tuesday.

“The attack was at 8:20 pm yesterday night. The attack was from unknown gunmen at the Deeper Life Church,” said Lt. Col. Gabriel Olorunyomi, head of the military’s Joint Task Force (JTF) in Kogi state.

“They were doing their normal Monday evening service. When we went there we discovered the church had been attacked. Instantly we saw 15 people dead, including the pastor,” he explained.

Read it all.

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

(SMH) Susan Greenfield–How digital culture is rewiring our brains

Our brains are superlatively evolved to adapt to our environment: a process known as neuroplasticity. The connections between our brain cells will be shaped, strengthened and refined by our individual experiences. It is this personalisation of the physical brain, driven by unique interactions with the external world, that arguably constitutes the biological basis of each mind, so what will happen to that mind if the external world changes in unprecedented ways, for example, with an all-pervasive digital technology?

A recent survey in the US showed that more than half of teenagers aged 13 to 17 spend more than 30 hours a week, outside school, using computers and other web-connected devices. If their environment is being transformed for so much of the time into a fast-paced and highly interactive two-dimensional space, the brain will adapt, for good or ill. Professor Michael Merzenich, of the University of California, San Francisco, gives a typical neuroscientific perspective[:]

”There is a massive and unprecedented difference in how [digital natives’] brains are plastically engaged in life compared with those of average individuals from earlier generations and there is little question that the operational characteristics of the average modern brain substantially differ,” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Psychology, Science & Technology, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Mason Neale

Grant unto us, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know thy presence and obey thy will; that, following the example of thy servant John Mason Neale, we may with integrity and courage accomplish what thou givest us to do, and endure what thou givest us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Almighty God, who by thy holy apostle hast called upon us to present our bodies to thee a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is our reasonable service: Graciously hear us, we beseech thee, O Lord, and grant that we may so dedicate ourselves wholly to thy service that henceforth we may live only to thy glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–From the Liturgy of the Catholic Apostolic Church

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at that gate of the temple which is called Beautiful to ask alms of those who entered the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s, astounded.

–Acts 3:1-11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

David Cameron: The world must 'never forget' Olympic Munich massacre

The world must “never forget” the terrorist attacks that killed Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, David Cameron has said.

On the 40th anniversary of the attack, the Prime Minister led tributes to the 11 men who lost their lives on “one of the darkest days in the history of the Olympic Games”.

He said Britain understands the terrible impact of terrorism as the London 2012 Olympics were announced the day before the bombings on July 7, 2005.

Read it all and then please take the time to read the whole speech.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Europe, Foreign Relations, Germany, History, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Sports, Terrorism, Violence

Bishop Ian Douglas, Communion Standing Committee Member, Undertakes Same Sex Marriages

From the Bishop of Connecticut
“priests in the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut may also officiate at the civil marriage of a same-sex couple”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Joanne McPortland–The Media is still so Tone-Deaf on Religion

“Sikhism is a religion that originated about 500 years ago in Italy [sic].”
~ CBS This Morning reporter on the shootings at a Wisconsin Sikh temple

I’ve been bemoaning the media’s inability to get Catholicism right for a very long time, but it struck me this morning that maybe there really isn’t a specifically anti-Catholic bias out there in journalism land. The media’s talent for being tone-deaf on religion appears to be wide-ranging and indiscriminate.

The reporting on the tragic shootings at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin yesterday make this tone-deafness very clear. Most news outlets managed to insult two religious traditions at once in their ham-handed attempts to describe the event. Few were as far off base as the CBS reporter who placed Sikhism’s origins in Italy instead of India (one of them-there I-countries being pretty much the same as any other when you’re talking about religion, I guess), but most provided no insight into the faith of the victims beyond the details that Sikh men wear colorful turbans and do not shave their beards, while many Sikh women wear head coverings””like, well, the YouKnowWhoiban. Wading into their mouths with both feet, nearly every reporter or writer quickly went on to make the point that Sikhs practice a peaceful religion. They’re not, in other words (or even in these exact words, which many reports used), “Muslims or other terrorists.”

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Posted in Uncategorized

Alex Morgan scores near the very end of the second overtime period to bring USA victory over Canada

Truly an amazing game.

Posted in Uncategorized

Completely Wild Olympic USA-Canada Women's Football (Soccer) Semi-Final

3-3 with just a few minutes left.

Posted in Uncategorized

Robert Samuelson–The social and economic reasons for Generation Squeezed

I worry about the future ”” not mine but that of my three children, all in their 20s. It is an axiom of American folklore that every generation should live better than its predecessors. But this is not a constitutional right or even an entitlement, and I am skeptical that today’s young will do so. Nor am I alone. A recent USA Today/Gallup poll finds that nearly 60 percent of Americans are also doubters. I meet many parents who fear the future that awaits their children.

The young (and I draw the line at 40 and under) face two threats to their living standards. The first is the adverse effect of the Great Recession on jobs and wages. Even if this fades with time, there’s the second threat: the costs of an aging America. It’s not just Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid ”” huge transfers from the young to the old ”” but also deferred maintenance on roads, bridges, water systems and power grids. Newsweek calls the young “generation screwed”; I prefer the milder “generation squeezed….”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, History, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Young Adults