Daily Archives: September 7, 2012

Philip Jenkins: How We Became Obsessed With Cults

Many lives were destroyed or thrown off track by the influence of such cults. But the problem was nowhere near the scale suggested by the media, religious leaders or even the U.S. government.

Cults had no great power to brainwash, as indicated by their embarrassingly poor retention rates. Most recruits stuck around for a year or two before drifting away, either gravitating to a new group or returning to normal life. This revolving-door effect makes solid statistics hard to come by, but the work of scholars such as J. Gordon Melton suggests that all sects combined were influencing a few hundred thousand people at any given time. “Moonie” membership in the U.S. crested at about 7,000 (as documented by Mr. Melton), before declining steeply in the 1980s.

The panic over cults resulted partly from savvy media manipulation by a variety of interest groups. Mainstream religious organizations played a role, as did networks of families who feared that they had lost their children. More sinister were so-called deprogrammers, self-appointed experts who would””for a hefty fee””kidnap cult members and reverse the “brainwashing.”

Read it all.

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

Anyone catch end of second set last night between Del Potro an Djokovich?

Unbelievable stuff.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Men, Sports

A NY Times Profile Article on the Royal Society

King Charles II granted the society a royal charter in 1662, and for centuries it hitched a ride on the back of Britain’s imperial ambitions. Explorers, scientific-minded military officers and colonial officials, and merchants ”” not just British ”” collected specimens, mapped unknown lands and recorded observations in every corner of the globe. And they shipped all of this, with accompanying essays, to the Royal Society.

The society no longer occupies that globe-dominating perch. The United States casts a much longer shadow, with billions of dollars spent on research and industrial might; American scientists dominate many disciplines. And other nations, not least China, are gaining.

But the Royal Society’s journals, particularly The Philosophical Transactions and The Proceedings of the Royal Society, remain vibrant. And British scientists often achieve a written elegance and synthesis of argument that sometimes outstrips their American counterparts.

Read it all (from the front page of this week’s Science Times) and check out the Society’s webpage for more.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., England / UK, History, Science & Technology

(WSJ) Economy Adds Fewer Jobs Than Expected in August

U.S. job growth slowed in August, a sign of a slack recovery that could mute any postconvention momentum for President Barack Obama and spur the Federal Reserve to take further steps in an effort to stimulate the economy.

U.S. payrolls increased by a seasonally adjusted 96,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said Friday. The politically important unemployment rate, obtained by a separate survey of U.S. households, fell to 8.1% from 8.3%.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires expected a gain of 125,000 in payrolls and an 8.3% jobless rate.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

(Reuters) Berlin clears ritual circumcisions ahead of new law

Berlin’s senate said doctors could legally circumcise infant boys for religious reasons in its region, given certain conditions, ending months of legal uncertainty after a court banned the practice this year.

The ruling in June by a district court in Cologne outraged Muslims and Jews and sparked an emotional debate in the country.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Germany, Health & Medicine, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Judaism, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin offers Reflections on the Church in Europe: From crisis to hope

“Today we are often in a situation in which we have to defend Catholic teaching within a cultural framework which is not of our creation and indeed may be hostile to our thought. This is especially the case when a culture becomes dominated by individualism. It is very difficult, for example, to defend the Catholic understanding of marriage and sexuality in a culture of individualism, when sexuality involves by its very nature the concept of mutuality and self giving. If we end up simply defending, there is the danger that we will end up being trapped within the categories of someone else’s culture and only present a negative vision of our teaching.

It is important at times to be against, but there is the more fundamental task of illustrating the real nature of our teaching. If sexuality is seen only in terms of individual rights, then any expression of sexuality, unless it is patently exploitative, will be acceptable. In today’s society we have to be able to illustrate the values of a vision of society which springs from our faith, but we have to be able to do so through rational argument”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Europe, Ireland, Other Churches, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Church Times) No sign of compromise over [C of E] women-bishops legislation

The House of Bishops will meet next Wednesday to discuss the next step in the legislation to allow women bishops. The response to a con­sultation in August suggests that opinion remains polarised.

The legisation, as it stands, con­tains Clause 5(1)(c), inserted by the Bishops before the July sessions of the General Synod in order to cater for traditionalist parishes. It stipulates that the Code of Practice should cover “the selection of male bishops or male priests the exercise of ministry by whom is consistent with the theological convictions as to the consecration or ordination of wo­men” of the PCC. The clause was so divisive that a vote on final approval of the legislation was post­poned until November…..

The steering committee proposed seven possible options in relation to the contentious clause…. A total of 120 submissions were received, it was announced on Wednesday. A third (41) were for simply deleting it; just under a third (35) were in favour of retaining it.

Read it all.

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

In Africa, Elephants Dying in Epic Frenzy as Ivory Fuels Wars and Profits

Africa is in the midst of an epic elephant slaughter. Conservation groups say poachers are wiping out tens of thousands of elephants a year, more than at any time in the previous two decades, with the underground ivory trade becoming increasingly militarized.

Like blood diamonds from Sierra Leone or plundered minerals from Congo, ivory, it seems, is the latest conflict resource in Africa, dragged out of remote battle zones, easily converted into cash and now fueling conflicts across the continent.

Some of Africa’s most notorious armed groups, including the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Shabab and Darfur’s janjaweed, are hunting down elephants and using the tusks to buy weapons and sustain their mayhem. Organized crime syndicates are linking up with them to move the ivory around the world, exploiting turbulent states, porous borders and corrupt officials from sub-Saharan Africa to China, law enforcement officials say.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Animals, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Republic of Congo, Theology

Historic Seminaries to Sign Mutual Covenant on 4 October, 2012, in Oxford, England

(Via email–KSH).

Responding to a need to preserve and promote theological training in the Catholic Tradition as Anglicanism has received it and giving tangible expression to St. Paul’s exhortation to be “united in mind and thought” (I Corinthians 1:10), Nashotah House Theological Seminary and St. Stephen’s House, Oxford will sign “Strengthening the Bonds of Affection: A Mutual Covenant for Ministry” in Oxford on the evening of 4 October 2012.
The Covenant, the first of its kind, pledges the efforts of both seminaries to the work of mutual ministry and prayer, including: calling for the adoption of a joint mission statement, a sharing of prayers, programs and seminarians and the creation of a mutual sabbatical structure. The signing and witnessing of “Strengthening the Bonds of Affection: A Mutual Covenant for Ministry” will take place at St. Stephen’s House in Oxford at six o’clock in the evening and will include a Solemn High Mass and reception afterwards.

“Both St. Stephen’s House and Nashotah House share a common and rich ancestry, emerging from the Catholic Revival of the nineteenth century,” said the Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr., Nashotah House Dean and President, “and by working together we can be a monumental blessing to our Church and to our world.” The Rev. Canon Robin Ward, Principal of St. Stephen’s House, considers the opportunity invaluable and historic, saying, “St. Stephen’s House and Nashotah House are the preeminent Anglo-Catholic seminaries serving the Anglican Communion today, and affirming our common heritage while seeking new ways to expand our vision together will plant seeds that, by God’s grace, will produce fruit – fifty, sixty and even a hundred fold.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Barbara Held Explores ”˜Humanity’s Dark Side: Evil, Destructive Experience, and Psychotherapy’

Barbara Held, Bowdoin’s Barry N. Wish Professor of Psychology and Social Studies, is co-editor of Humanity’s Dark Side: Evil, Destructive Experience, and Psychotherapy, which was just published by the American Psychological Association.

Held has also received the 2012 Joseph B. Gittler Award, which recognizes “the most scholarly contribution to the philosophical foundations of psychological knowledge, ” by the American Psychological Foundation, of the American Psychological Association.

Held’s book, which evolved from a symposium conceived by Held, is a compilation of essays by prominent writers on psychotherapy who offer disparate views regarding humanity’s “dark side,” defined as the capacity for destructiveness that ranges from the everyday little ways in which we hurt each other to atrocities such as genocide and slavery.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Books, Psychology, Theodicy, Theology

Sleep deprivation too common at college

“The average student is functioning with a clinical sleep disorder,” said LeeAnn Hamilton, assistant director of health promotion and preventive services at the University of Arizona.

Hamilton has conducted extensive research on campus and found that students get an average of 6.5 hours per night. Her researchers also found that sleep time and quality measurements declined over the course of the academic year, while anxiety, depression and conflict with family, friends and roommates all rose.

College health officials finally are realizing that healthy sleep habits are a solution for the health and academic struggles that college students face on a regular basis.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Health & Medicine, Young Adults

One Alaskan Episcopal Church Rector Writes and Gives thanks

I am writing this letter with heartfelt thanks and deep gratitude. As many of you know, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church’s roof suffered great damage in a violent windstorm last November.

On behalf of St. Peter’s parishioners and myself, I would like to offer my deepest gratitude and thanks to Phillip Zimmerman and his talented crew of outstanding roofers who worked diligently throughout the winter and spring to replace and insulate the church roof and repair the damage to the walls of the church which had been compromised by water and melting snow.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * General Interest, Episcopal Church (TEC), Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Parish Ministry

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Media, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops

A Prayer to Begin the Day

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

–Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

But I trust in thee, O LORD, I say, “Thou art my God.” My times are in thy hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors! Let thy face shine on thy servant; save me in thy steadfast love!

–Psalm 31:15-16

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

David Ferrer Gets Gets Past Janko Tipsarevic in 5 Sets at the US Open

Wow. 7-6 in the fifth, after having been down 4-1.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Men, Sports

Study shows widespread confusion and ignorance on the subject of membership in a parish

A new study from Grey Matter Research (Phoenix, Arizona) shows widespread confusion and ignorance regarding official membership in churches and other local places of worship.

The research was conducted among 441 American adults who attend a local church or place of worship once a month or more. The study asked people whether their place of worship offers “any kind of official membership in the organization, or not.” Among all worship-goers, 48% say such official membership is offered, 33% believe it is not, and 19% are not sure.

While some denominations and individual congregations have no official form of membership, most of the largest religious bodies do. All of the ten largest denominations in the U.S. (as measured by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies) measure some form of official membership: Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, United Methodist Church, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Assemblies of God, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., Lutheran Church ”“ Missouri Synod, Episcopal Church, and National Baptist Convention USA.

Even so, among people who attend one of these top ten denominations, just 44% say their church offers official membership, while 39% believe it does not, and 17% are unsure.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ecclesiology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Minneapolis Star-Tribune) Dan Olson–Don't treat marriage like wilderness preservation

To my ears, these arguments ring hollow. They sound eerily similar to arguments that business developers and foresters have used to encroach on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Most wilderness, they say, has been lost to human activity — so the BWCA must be changed. In our modern times, others say, wilderness is just a vestige of an earlier hunter-gatherer stage — the march of economic progress must go on.

Yet the fight for wilderness preservation continues, at both the legal and personal levels. The law continues to decree that guests in the BWCA honor strict codes of conduct — eschewing trash cans, motorized boating, cabins and electricity to preserve deep, but not obvious, cultural goods. The benefits for various species, biodiversity and the human soul are profound.

Like wilderness, the deep cultural goods of marriage have been the result of meticulous social and legal exclusion. Throughout history, marriage has involved time-honored renunciations — premarital abstinence; gender separation for much of adolescence and early adulthood; parental oversight, and lifelong fidelity, to name a few….

Read it all.

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