Daily Archives: October 5, 2012

John Turner: A Glimpse at the Sacred Heart of Mormonism

On Sept. 23 in Brigham City, Utah, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dedicated its 139th temple. One might think the completion of a temple in Utah, the state’s 14th, would be a routine affair. But during a six-week open house, some 400,000 people flooded into tiny Brigham City (population 18,000), for an early look inside the new structure.

Perhaps the candidacy of Mitt Romney, who would be our nation’s first Mormon president, has piqued the interest of believers and nonbelievers alike. In any event, temple open houses provide a welcome chance to dispel a few of the myths surrounding the Church of Latter-day Saints and to better understand the faith and rituals of its more than 14 million members.

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

In Brazil, Google is in the middle of a battle over free speech

Here’s a quiz: Google received more than 1,900 requests from governments worldwide to remove content from its various services last year. Which country led the planet in this dubious category, with 418 such demands?

China? Iran? Syria?

No. It was democratic, pluralistic, economically vibrant Brazil.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Brazil, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, South America

Scott Yenor–Toward a Less Minimal Marriage

Elizabeth Brake’s Minimizing Marriage breaks new ground in the contemporary liberal critique of traditional arrangements. The object of her critique is what she calls amatonormativity””the belief that society should value two-person, amorous love relationships. Even same-sex marriage (SSM) advocates are too restrictive for Brake in that they would confer benefits on two people alone; SSM advocates are unwitting amatonormativists. Their defenses of marriage leave out “urban tribes, best friends, quirkyalones, polyamorists” and other diverse groups united by a common bond of caring. Brake argues for an almost complete disestablishment of marriage.

Brake’s argument for minimal marriage is both destructive and constructive. Rather than propose that we abolish marriage, Brake contends that we free ourselves of any demand that marriage have an approved form. Yet Brake’s minimal marriage does not abolish the function of marriage, though she thins out that function considerably. After attacking traditional normative beliefs about marriage, she constructs a new vision of marriage as an institution that fulfills, broadly speaking, the function of caring. States, in her view, should recognize and provide benefits to caring relationships.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology

(RNS) Poll: Most Americans don’t mind religious athletes

A poll conducted by Grey Matter Research and Consulting shows that 49 percent of Americans see athletes’ public expressions of faith favorably; 32 percent don’t care, and 19 percent take a more negative view.

More than 1,000 American adults were polled about public displays of religion among professional athletes. Participants were asked about specific religious actions commonly displayed by religious athletes, including prayer after games, speaking about faith in interviews and making religious signs, such as crossing oneself or pointing heavenward, on the field.

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

Feds charge 91 people in $429M Medicare fraud

A federal strike force has charged 91 people, including a hospital president, doctors and nurses, with Medicare fraud schemes in seven cities involving $429 million in false billings.

At a news conference Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder said the case reveals an alarming trend in criminal efforts to steal billions of taxpayer dollars for personal gain. Holder called the action one of the largest such law enforcement efforts of its kind.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Medicare, The U.S. Government

Researchers say pervasive college debt is only a symptom of the disease crippling higher education

At 20 years old, Anastaysia Thomas has dreams of traveling to new places and working as a world-class massage therapist. Her plan is as foolproof as anyone’s: get into a good school and work like crazy until things fall into place.

She juggles a full-time load of college classes and more than 30 hours a week waitressing at a local pub in Hampton, Va., working hard toward reaching her goals. But next fall, she will graduate with 80 percent of her tuition left to pay and no guarantee of a job.

This year – when the cost of attending a public college can top $20k a year, $50k for private universities – two out of three students graduated with college debt averaging $25,250. The total outstanding student loan debt in the country exceeds $1 trillion – more than Americans owe in credit card or car loan debt.

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Posted in Uncategorized

(Christian Century) Deborah Smith Douglas–Saved by fiction

Over the course of my life, I have taken on all manner of spiritual practices, from now-I-lay-me-down-to-sleep to centering prayer. I have prayed with the Psalms, with the rosary, with icons. I have picked up practices and put them down. Some still discipline and nourish my praying life.

But of all the spiritual disciplines I have ever attempted, the habit of steady reading has helped me most and carried me farthest. Of course, reading scripture has been indispensable. But reading fiction””classics of world literature, fairy tales and Greek myths, science fiction and detective novels””has done more to baptize my imagination, inform my faith and strengthen my courage than all the prayer techniques in the world.

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

(Church Times) Air over the CNC meeting remains smokeless

No further information is being released about the deliberations of the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) after it failed to agree two names to submit to the Prime Minister at its meeting last week.

The dates of the Commission’s three earlier meetings were released by the C of E’s communications department. On Wednesday, however, it was giving no details of when the Commission might be meeting again.

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

Cardinal Seán Brady Welcomes Appointment of New Anglican Prelate

Cardinal Brady expressed his joy following the news, saying that he looked forward to having Bishop Clark as “a fellow citizen in the Primatial City and to working with him.”

“I have known Bishop Richard Clarke for many years. In recent times we have served together on the Irish Inter-Church Committee. I have always found him to be a person of great wisdom, gentleness and kindness,” he said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Ireland, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Federal Reserve felt the need for economic stimulus outweighed risks, minutes show

Federal Reserve officials debated the risks of beginning an ambitious new stimulus policy before ultimately giving it a green light, according to minutes of the central bank’s September meeting released Thursday.

The minutes show officials concerned during their two-day meeting that without further action, the unemployment rate could remain stubbornly high. Officials were also troubled by signs of slowing growth abroad, including in China, and the possibility of a so-called fiscal cliff at home.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Federal Reserve, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

(ENS) Presiding bishop, House of Deputies president appoint triennial leaders

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

(NY Times) The Gospel According to Pinterest

“Keep Calm and Carry On?” Sorry, that was 2009.

Ever since the wartime British propaganda poster bearing those soothing words went viral a few years ago, ending up on iPhone cases and coffee mugs, design types have been searching for the next great hyperlinked homily.

Lately, the leading candidates are popping up in the most unlikely of places: Pinterest. The explosively popular image-sharing site has fallen under the spell of words ”” that is, quotes from the great minds that offer lessons to live by.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Media, Psychology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O thou who hast taught us that we are most truly free when we lose our wills in thine: Help us to attain to this liberty by continual surrender unto thee; that walking in the way which thou hast prepared for us, we may find our life in doing thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Gelasian Sacramentary

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

For the LORD will build up Zion, he will appear in his glory; he will regard the prayer of the destitute, and will not despise their supplication.

–Psalm 102:16-17

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(ENS) Earthquake-displaced Charleston congregation returns to historic home

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * General Interest, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Inter-Faith Relations, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Parish Ministry

Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s Master of Iraq Chaos, Still Vexes the U.S.

When a senior Iraqi intelligence official traveled to Tehran in the summer of 2007 to meet with the Iranian leadership, he quickly figured out who was in charge of Iran’s policy toward its neighbor to the west.

It was not the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was Qassim Suleimani, the shadowy commander of Iran’s paramilitary Quds Force, who calmly explained that he was the “sole authority for Iranian actions in Iraq,” according to an account the Iraqi official later provided to American officials in Baghdad.

A soft-spoken, gray-haired operative who carries himself with the confidence that comes from having the backing of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, General Suleimani is the antithesis of the bombastic Iranian president. Now a major general ”” the highest rank in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps ”” after a promotion last year, he has been the mastermind behind two central Iranian foreign policy initiatives, exerting and expanding Tehran’s influence in the internal politics of Iraq and providing military support for the rule of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Politics in General, Syria

(BBC) Foreign Secretary William Hague issues warning about global cybercrime danger

It has never been easier to become a cybercriminal, Foreign Secretary William Hague is to warn an international conference in Budapest.

He will tell delegates that cybercrime is “one of the greatest global and strategic challenges of our time.”

Mr Hague is highlighting the UK’s determination to be a world leader in cyber security – it is spending £2m setting up a cybercrime centre.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Hungary, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Science & Technology