Daily Archives: August 27, 2012

David Ewing Duncan–How Long Do You Want to Live?

Since 1900, the life expectancy of Americans has jumped to just shy of 80 from 47 years. This surge comes mostly from improved hygiene and nutrition, but also from new discoveries and interventions: everything from antibiotics and heart bypass surgery to cancer drugs that target and neutralize the impact of specific genetic mutations.

Now scientists studying the intricacies of DNA and other molecular bio-dynamics may be poised to offer even more dramatic boosts to longevity. This comes not from setting out explicitly to conquer aging, which remains controversial in mainstream science, but from researchers developing new drugs and therapies for such maladies of growing old as heart disease and diabetes.

“Aging is the major risk factor for most diseases,” says Felipe Sierra, director of the Division of Aging Biology at the National Institute on Aging. “The National Institutes of Health fund research into understanding the diseases of aging, not life extension, though this could be a side effect.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Stanley Hauerwas–Man of war: Why C.S. Lewis was not a pacifist

Many people are Christians because of the work of C.S. Lewis. With wit and wisdom, Lewis imaginatively exploded the hollow pretensions of the secular. Moreover, he helped many see, for the first time, the world in the light of fact that “it had really happened once.”

It is, therefore, not easy to criticize Lewis when he has such a devoted following. Yet I must write critically of Lewis because here I want to examine his views concerning violence and war. I am a pacifist. Lewis was anything but a pacifist. I want to show that his arguments against pacifism are inadequate, but I also that he provides imaginative resources for Christians to imagine a very different form of Christian nonviolence, a form unknown to Lewis, with which I hope he might have had some sympathy.

Before turning to Lewis’s arguments against pacifism, I think it important to set the context for his more formal reflections on war by calling attention to Lewis’s experience of war.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Books, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Leadership Journal) Gordon MacDonald–How to Spot a Transformed Christian

A Marine is a best-practice warrior who models the highest levels of what military training can accomplish.

The Marines are by no means the only people who take such transformative experiences seriously. Colleges and seminaries talk a lot about this process, each claiming that it turns out world class leaders. There are businesses (Starbucks comes to mind) that believe that their profitability depends on turning employees into best-practice sales representatives.

How about churches and their goal of making of devoted followers of Jesus? What does the difference look like there?

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Adult Education, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

In Eastern Pennsylvania, St. Mary's Episcopal Church names new pastor

Born and raised an Episcopalian, [Bruce] Baker, 71, became a married deacon in the Catholic Church in 1982. Following his first wife’s death in 1990, he was ordained a priest and served as executive director of an ecumenical retreat center in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

In 2006, he requested a leave of absence from his religious community and moved to Reading to study hospital chaplaincy at Reading Hospital and Medical Center. In 2007, he returned to the Episcopal Church and was married. Bishop Paul V. Marshall of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem received him as a priest of the Episcopal Church in 2008.

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

Nigeria's Obianuju Ekeocha writes an Open Letter to Melinda Gates

Even at a glance, anyone could see that the unlimited and easy availability of contraceptives in Africa would surely increase infidelity and sexual promiscuity, as sex is presented by this multi-billion dollar project as a casual pleasure sport that can indeed come with no strings ”“ or babies ”“ attached. Think of the exponential spread of HIV and other STDs as men and women with abundant access to contraceptives take up multiple, concurrent sex partners.

And of course there are bound to be inconsistencies and failures in the use of these drugs and devices, so health complications could result; one of which is unintended abortion. Add also other health risks such as cancer, blood clots, etc. Where Europe and America have their well-oiled health care system, a woman in Africa with a contraception-induced blood clot does not have access to 911 or an ambulance or a paramedic. No, she dies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family, Men, Nigeria, Sexuality, Women

(NYTBR) Hanna Rosin Reviews ”˜Sex and God at Yale,’ by Nathan Harden

The conservative movement loves an innocent. Better yet if he has attended an Ivy League college and witnessed the debauchery of the elites firsthand. For this particular position, Nathan Harden, the author of “Sex and God at Yale,” possesses impeccable credentials. He was home-schooled, was already married when he got to college and had worshiped the institution so blindly that he was bound to be disappointed.

Like many home-schoolers, Harden is a true American eccentric. He quit before he finished high school, got a G.E.D. and spent his interim years drifting: loading cow manure for the gardening department at Walmart, working as a baggage handler for United and as a lounge singer in Florida, and volunteering with a medical relief charity. Somewhere in there he found his true love and, almost on a whim, married. Harden’s accounts of his itinerant travels are in some ways the most entertaining parts of the book, although he takes pains to avoid seeming too world-weary so that when he arrives on campus he can be truly, deeply shocked.

Read it all noting the content may not be suitable for all blog readers.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Books, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Young Adults

(Inside Higher Ed) Saylor Foundation Majoring in Free Content

The Saylor Foundation has nearly finished creating a full suite of free, online courses in a dozen popular undergraduate majors. And the foundation is now offering a path to college credit for its offerings by partnering with two nontraditional players in higher education ”“ Excelsior College and StraighterLine.

The project started three years ago, when the foundation began hiring faculty members on a contract basis to build courses within their subject areas. The professors scoured the web for free Open Education Resources (OER), but also created video lectures and tests.

“I was able to develop my own material,” said Kevin Moquin, who created a business law course for Saylor. A former adjunct professor for a technical college and a for-profit institution, Moquin said the foundation gave him the “flexibility to adjust it as I needed.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Education, Science & Technology

How is 9000 Women Listening to Beth Moore's Bible teaching over two Days not a Major Local Story?

Ok, take a look at this.

That is but one photo of 9000 women from around greater Charleston and beyond at the North Charleston Coliseum this past weekend who came to hear Bible teacher Beth Moore.

Now explain something to me. How is this not a major story? Would you not want, say, to interview Beth Moore? To talk to some of the participants (who came from every Christian tradition imaginable)? To find out why people came and stood in line for hours just to get inside? To ask them what they learned? To talk to the (quite talented and influential) music team? To find out why the wife of a local Episcopal Church minister (yes, you read that correctly) was the local area coordinator for the event? My questions could go and on.

Instead we get three perfunctory announcements and that is all, like this–on August 18th. Not one story, no features, no interviews, no local angles–and all this in a city where faith is a major part of common life.

Anyone else think this is outrageous and sad? I do–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelicals, Media, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Women

John Flynn–Networking in an Online World

One of the latest contributions to the debate over the pros and cons of the Internet and social networking sites is the book “Networked: The New Social Operation System.”
Authors Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman are respectively the director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, and a professor of sociology at the University of Toronto.
Many people are concerned about the effects of the Internet on society, the authors acknowledged. In their opinion, however, it does not have an isolating effect. People are interacting with others, by using these new technologies.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Globalization, History, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

Albert Mohler–4 Responses to the Challenge of Same-Sex Unions

We are facing a true moral inversion ”” a system of moral understandings turned upside down. Where homosexuality was even recently condemned by the society, now it is considered a sin to believe that homosexuality is wrong in any way. A new sexual morality has replaced the old, and those who hold to the old morality are considered morally deficient. The new moral authorities have one central demand for the church: get with the new program.

This puts the true church, committed to the authority of God’s Word, in a very difficult cultural position. Put simply, we cannot join the larger culture in normalizing homosexuality and restructuring society to match this new morality. Recognizing same-sex unions and legalizing same-sex marriage is central to this project.

Liberal churches and denominations are joining the project, some more quickly and eagerly than others. The cultural pressure is formidable, and only churches that are truly committed to Scripture will withstand the pressure to accommodate themselves and their message to the new morality.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Indian Ocean Province re-elects Primate

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News

Kendall Harmon's Sermon on John 6–What Does it Really Mean to be a Disciple?

You may find the general link here; then you can choose to play them sermon audio directly there but note there is also a download option available.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sermons & Teachings, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle

O loving God, who willest that everyone should come to thee and be saved: We bless thy Holy Name for thy servants Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle, whose labors with and for those who are deaf we commemorate today; and we pray that thou wouldst continually move thy Church to respond in love to the needs of all people; through Jesus Christ, who opened the ears of the deaf, and who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of heaven to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity; in the habitations of thy glory and dominion, world without end.

–John Donne (1572-1631)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

–Psalm 1

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

ELCA working to meet needs of Syrian refugees in neighboring Jordan

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is responding to the needs of Syrian refugees in Jordan, where an estimated 150,000 Syrians — 39,600 of which are registered with the United Nations as refugees — have fled. As the conflict in Syria continues to worsen, some Syrians have also fled to Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey.

The Rev. Munib A. Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and president of The Lutheran World Federation, has been in conversation with Jordanian officials about how Lutherans can best be involved in addressing the needs of Syrian refugees. He is helping to identify ways in which his church, the ELCA and The Lutheran World Federation can deepen their participation in relief efforts.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Lebanon, Lutheran, Middle East, Other Churches, Politics in General, Poverty, Syria

(Youth Worker) As Adolescent Male Achievement Declines, Author Says, Get Outside!

There is bad news for boys in North America: They are being blown out of the water by girls in academic achievement; and psychologists say young men are becoming more socially awkward, making relationships with young women difficult.

Sidney Gale, a medical doctor and author of Unto the Breach, an outdoor adventures book for boys, is concerned…”We need to get boys out of their solitary bedrooms and into the sun,” Gale says. “It’s also a good idea to get them reading something other than tweets, texts and the like. They have intellect, and we should encourage them to use it.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Education, Marriage & Family, Men, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Teens / Youth, Women, Young Adults, Youth Ministry

Surgeon retires to spend time helping African women with breast cancer

Midway down a narrow second floor hallway at the Winship Cancer Institute, away from the hum of nurses ushering cancer patients into exam rooms, Dr. William Wood talks about the great need far beyond these walls and how his boyhood faith gave him a heart big enough to care.

It began, he said, as he listened to the medical missionaries who visited the church in which he grew up in suburban Chicago. He soaked up their every word, allowing them to transport him to that time when Jesus sent his disciples out to do what he did: preach the gospel and heal the sick.

At 72, the retired Emory surgeon, a mild-mannered doctor known for his contributions to cancer therapy, is still fulfilling that mission as he crisscrosses the globe lecturing about surgical oncology and teaching young doctors how to care for breast cancer patients in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Health & Medicine, Missions, Religion & Culture, Women

Stephen Moore on the contrasting approaches of Virginia and Maryland to Taxes, Spending and Budget

What’s the fiercest rivalry in American politics today? There’s Obama-Romney, of course, but try O’Malley-McDonnell””neighboring governors battling across the Potomac River over how best to resuscitate a moribund economy.

Martin O’Malley, Maryland’s liberal Democratic governor, is competing for jobs, businesses and tax dollars with Bob McDonnell, Virginia’s conservative Republican chief executive. Both are rising stars considered potential presidential hopefuls in 2016. Both are Irish Catholics””Mr. McDonnell playfully calls Mr. O’Malley “the big Irishman to our north”””and each leads his party’s association of governors. The two regularly spar on the Sunday talk shows, on the pages of Washington-area newspapers, and over the radio.

Each man seems obsessed with proving that his economic model has outperformed the other’s….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

(Der Spiegel) Racism and Xenophobia Still Prevalent in Germany

Christian Berntsen is nothing if not enthusiastic. An activist with Bunt statt Braun, a group dedicated to combating right-wing extremism in the northern German city of Rostock, Berntsen has been instrumental in helping plan and stage events dedicated to commemorating the xenophobic, 1992 assault on an asylum-seekers home in the city quarter of Lichtenhagen. The list of activities is long: films, podium discussions, international cooking courses in local schools and presentations by local and regional politicians of all stripes.

“The city is working hand-in-hand with us when it comes to the remembrance program,” Berntsen says ardently. “And the events have been extremely well received and well attended.”
The effort in Rostock is indeed impressive. The city has gone out of its way to ensure that the kind of hateful violence that flared up two decades ago does not make a reappearance. But elsewhere in Germany, particularly in the east, the situation offers decidedly less cause for optimism. There are, to be sure, myriad groups pursuing goals similar to Bunt statt Braun, but entire regions remain where foreigners are afraid to venture, towns dominated by neo-Nazi thugs and repeated attacks against those who look different. Twenty years after the despicable Rostock violence, Germany’s xenophobia problem remains daunting.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Germany, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Theology