Daily Archives: September 30, 2012

(Globe and Mail) Leah Eichler–Not the end of men, but a cultural shift

….personal observation and a smattering of data belie the current reality and in the time since Ms. [Hanna] Rosin’s essay and the release this month of her book The End of Men: And The Rise of Women, I can’t help but wonder if about this claim of victory by authors such as Ms. Rosin and others is premature.

Women hold only 10 per cent of seats on boards of directors in Canada, and 16 per cent in the United States, according to a recent report by Catalyst. The number of female lead directors of Fortune 500 companies fell in 2011, even as Ms. Rosin was busy writing her book. How can women claim victory when the European Union is struggling with legislation to ensure 40 per cent of non-executive board seats are filled with women by 2020?

Social upheaval doesn’t occur overnight. of course, but I caution against believing that a matriarchy is definitively in the cards and that it’s just a matter of time before the power flip.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Books, Canada, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Men, Women

PBS' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–The UN and Muslim Protests

[BOB ABERNATHY]I want to explore that with Kim Lawton, managing editor of this program, and Haris Tarin, director of the Washington office of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Haris, how are you trying to persuade, how are American Muslims trying to persuade other Muslims around the world that putting any kind of limit on free speech is dangerous?

HARIS TARIN (Muslim Public Affairs Council): Well, I think the first way we’re trying to convince fellow Muslims of this is the fact that the idea of free speech is a foundational part of the Quran itself. We don’t only believe that in terms of Americans and our belief in the Constitution , but the Quran challenges folks to engage in dialogue and in discourse, challenges people of the same faith and various different faiths, as well. So it’s foundational to the text of Islam, we believe. The Quran actually records insults to the Prophet Muhammad himself and challenges people to engage in that discourse. So I think it’s foundational not only to the Constitution but to our sacred texts, as well.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

Journalist David Aikman wonders whether America will squander its spiritual heritage

[In his book “One Nation without God?” David] Aikman prefers to sketch the religious character of the colonial, Revolutionary, and early national periods, letting readers see the good and the bad, the religious and the worldly, and decide for themselves whether it all amounted to a “Christian nation.” Jamestown, the first enduring English colony, was clearly founded for business reasons, yet faith played a strong role there. The Pilgrims and Puritans, however, self-consciously created covenant-based societies, fully devoted to biblical principles in matters of both church and state. The Great Awakening reinvigorated the lagging Puritan ethos, setting the stage for a revolution that was religiously diverse, yet undergirded by powerful religious principles.

Aikman maintains that, despite the quote-bending contortions of popular Christian writers, key figures such as Franklin and Jefferson were Deists, not Christians. While rejecting many tenets of biblical orthodoxy, including the divinity of Christ, they affirmed belief in a Creator God who endowed his creatures with a range of rights and liberties. They were not, then, atheists or secularists, and they helped frame some of the essential religious principles that animated the Revolution. Among those principles were religious liberty, God’s providential role in history, and the need for moral virtue to sustain the republic.

Read it all.

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

Can U.S. Universities Stay on Top?

Both India and China have intense national testing programs to find the brightest students for their elite universities. The competition, the preparation and the national anxiety about the outcomes make the SAT testing programs in the U.S. seem like the minor leagues. The stakes are higher in China and India. The “chosen ones”””those who rank in the top 1%””get their choice of university, putting them on a path to fast-track careers, higher incomes and all the benefits of an upper-middle-class life.

The system doesn’t work so well for the other 99%. There are nearly 40 million university students in China and India. Most attend institutions that churn out students at low cost. Students complain that their education is “factory style” and “uninspired.” Employers complain that many graduates need remedial training before they are fully employable.

For now, the U.S. university system is still far ahead. But over the next decade, there will be a global competition to educate the next generation, and China and India have the potential to change the balance of power.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Education, Globalization, India, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

Wisdom from George Mueller [Müller] (1805-1898)

“The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord,” reads Psalm 37:23. On the margin of his Bible at this verse George Mueller had a notation, “And the stops…”

–quoted by yours truly in this morning’s sermon

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

(Gallup) When Americans Use Their Strengths More, They Stress Less

The more hours per day Americans get to use their strengths to do what they do best, the less likely they are to report experiencing worry, stress, anger, sadness, or physical pain “yesterday.” Fifty-two percent of Americans who use their strengths for zero to three hours a day are stressed, but this falls to 36% for Americans who use their strengths for 10 hours per day or more.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Psychology

Terry Mattingly: A Homeless man in Washington D.C. made an impression by making connections

The atmosphere on Capitol Hill’s brick sidewalks stays frosty year round as the power-walking professionals rush along in suits of wool-blend armor, their earphones in place, smartphones loaded and eyes focused dead ahead.

But things change at the corner of Second Street and Massachusetts Avenue NE. That’s where streams of pedestrians converge near Union Station, U.S. Senate office buildings, the Federal Judiciary Center, the Heritage Foundation and other buildings packed with prestige and power.

For the past decade, this was where the late Peter Bis kept his office, sitting on a blue plastic crate under an oak tree, sharing cigarettes, coffee and conspiracy theories with whoever passed by, greeting most of them by name. He was the friendly homeless man with his own website, business cards and a life story that ”” even when warped by schizophrenia ”” touched thousands.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

Leap of faith: Skeptics aside, in Lowcountry South Carolina Mormonism is on the rise

“Pastors continue to preach that we’re a cult. This stuff just grows in people’s minds,” said [Nathan] Hale, a Mount Pleasant father and business owner whose ancestry reaches back to the church’s pioneers. “It hasn’t changed.”

Even as the Charleston Stake, or group of churches, celebrates its 40th anniversary amid tremendous growth and on the eve of an election with a Mormon presidential candidate, Mormons remain an oddity to some and a sacrilegious sect to others ”” even among their Christian brethren.

Read it all.

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

(Andrew March) What’s Wrong With Blasphemy?

Suppose there had not been a single riot in response to the now infamous video “The Innocence of Muslims,” Not a single car burned, not a single embassy breached, not a single human being physically hurt. Would the makers of this risible little clip have done anything wrong? If so, to whom, and why?

These questions are now at the center of an international debate. President Obama himself touched on the issue in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, in which he directly addressed the violent reaction in the Muslim world to the “crude and disgusting video.” But does philosophy have anything to say to the view that many people have that there is something about this kind of speech itself ”” not just its harm to public order or its adding of insult to the injury of imperialism and war ”” that should not be uttered or produced?

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) No agreement at the Crown Nominations Commission

The Crown Nominations Commission (CNC), which met last week to choose a new Archbishop of Canterbury, has been unable to agree on the two names it submits to the Prime Minister. A short statement put out by the C of E communications department on Friday does not admit this as such, but this is the only reasonable interpretation of the phrase: “The work of the Commission continues.”

All meetings of the CNC are confidential, and it was a new departure this time to let it be known that a meeting was taking place. Church House staff were careful beforehand not to be drawn on whether this was the CNC’s final meeting, with good reason as it now appears.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Sunday Telegraph) Critics attack 'secrecy' of Archbishop selection

One of the country’s leading Anglican priests has attacked the “secrecy” surrounding the appointment of the next archbishop of Canterbury, amid claims that the committee making the choice has been unable to reach a decision.

Dr Giles Fraser, former canon chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, said there was “no good reason for secrecy. “[It] always looks like an Establishment stitch up,” he said. “We ought to have open elections.”

He spoke amid confusion over who will succeed Dr Rowan Williams as the leader of the Anglican church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(EN) An interview with Vaughan Roberts, Rector of Saint Ebbes, Oxford, about same-sex attraction

(The interview is conducted by Julian Hardyman, Senior Pastor of Eden Baptist Church, Cambridge–KSH).

Vaughan: The fact that a pastor struggles with image, lust, guilt, doubt, pride and keeping spiritually fresh is not exactly a revelation to anyone who knows their own heart and understands that Christian leaders are weak and sinful too; and the admission of an occasional struggle with depression causes no surprise these days. The fact that the other chapter is on homosexuality, however, has caused a small ripple of reaction and led some to ask why I wrote those words and what I meant by them….

Julian: Does the disclosure that same sex attraction is one of your personal battles mean you are defining yourself as a homosexual?
Vaughan: No, it doesn’t. It’s important to reiterate that I have acknowledged a struggle in all eight of the areas the book covers and not just in one. The brokenness of the fallen world afflicts us all in various ways. We will be conscious of different battles to varying degrees at different moments of a day and in different seasons of our lives. No one battle, of the many we face, however strongly, defines us, but our identity as Christians flows rather from our relationship with Christ.

All of us are sinners, and sexual sinners. But, if we have turned to Christ, we are new creations, redeemed from slavery to sin through our union with Christ in his death and raised with him by the Spirit to a new life of holiness, while we wait for a glorious future in his presence when he returns. These awesome realities define me and direct me to the kind of life I should live. In acknowledging that I know something of all eight battles covered in my book, therefore, I’m not making a revelation about my fundamental identity, other than that, like all Christians, I am a sinner saved by grace, called to live in the brokenness of a fallen world until Christ returns and brings all our battles to an end.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Books, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God our Father, let us find grace in thy sight so as to have grace to serve thee acceptably with reverence and godly fear; and further grace not to receive thy grace in vain, nor to neglect it and fall from it, but to stir it up and grow in it, and to persevere in it unto the end of our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.

–Psalm 66: 8-9

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(You're the Boss Blog) Why the Health Care Tax Credit Eludes Many Small Businesses

Estimates of the number of businesses eligible to take the tax credit have ranged from 1.4 million to 4 million companies, but in May, the Government Accountability Office reported that only 170,300 firms actually claimed the credit in 2010. Of these, only a small fraction, 17 percent, were able to claim the whole credit….

So why has the credit fallen short of expectations? The G.A.O. concluded that the credit was too small to sway business owners. Moreover, it said, claiming the credit is a task so complicated as to discourage many companies from trying.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The U.S. Government, Theology

Tobin Grant–The Story Behind One of the Most Ironic Religious Freedom Lawsuits Ever Filed

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is being sued for religious discrimination. On [this past] Monday, Safiya Ghori-Ahmad’s case against the USCIRF took another step closer to trial. It is now in the hands of a federal judge to decide whether to dismiss some of Ghori-Ahmad’s complaint or allow the entire religious discrimination case to go to trial.

Ghori-Ahmad’s case against the USCIRF goes back to 2009, but it literally took an act of Congress for it to become a federal lawsuit. Congress created the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in 1998 as a watchdog to investigate violations of religious liberty worldwide. But before last December, the USCIRF remained exempt from civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on religion. According to a lawsuit filed in June, the commission had a history of discrimination against Muslims, including retracting an employment offer to a researcher because of her Muslim faith and her work with a Muslim organization.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., House of Representatives, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture