Daily Archives: December 19, 2012

What is the Roman Catholic Church's Position on Prenuptial Agreements?

Q. Sometimes when couples marry they sign a prenuptial agreement. What is the Catholic Church’s official position on prenuptial agreements?

W.M., via e-mail

I am interested in what you think the answer is first–then you can take a look.

Posted in Uncategorized

(LA Times) The Top 10 YouTube videos of 2012

South Korean pop sensation Psy’s “Gangnam Style” has become the most-viewed YouTube video of all time, with the infectious music video approaching 1 billion views worldwide.

The wildfire popularity of the four-minute song and dance video, uploaded just six months ago, represents an inflection point for the online video site, as YouTube’s entertainment offerings expand beyond candid homemade videos such as “Charlie Bit My Finger” or such made-for-TV moments as Susan Boyle’s “I Dreamed a Dream” performance from the show “Britain’s Got Talent.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Blogging & the Internet, Globalization, Media, Science & Technology, South Korea

(AP) Google launches the Dead Sea Scrolls Online Library

More than six decades since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls – and thousands of years after they were written – Israel on Tuesday put 5,000 images of the ancient biblical artifacts online in a partnership with Google.

The digital library contains the Book of Deuteronomy, which includes the second listing of the Ten Commandments, and a portion of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, dated to the first century B.C.

Israeli officials said this is part of an attempt by the custodians of the celebrated manuscripts – often criticized for allowing them to be monopolized by small circles of scholars – to make them broadly available.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, History, Israel, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Holly Magnuson reviews "Real Church in a Social Network World" by Leonard Sweet

The title of this book may lead you to believe that this was going to be a “how-to” in utilizing Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets. However, it is really isn’t much about using social networks. What it is a strong reminder of how we as the church should be responding to those in this world. Facebook reports as of September 2012 1 billion users, never before have we’ve been so connected. Yet the author points out what people really want is relationship.

With excellent examples and imagery Mr. Sweet drives home that the media isn’t that important. What is important is developing relationships with people, demonstrating God’s love in tangible ways.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Montana High Court Affirms Marriage but Leaves Open Possible Further Cases

Plaintiffs are individuals from a variety of professional backgrounds who are in committed same-sex relationships. In 2010 they sued the State of Montana, complaining that they are unable to obtain protections and benefits that are available to similarly situated different-sex couples who marry under State law. Plaintiffs expressly do not challenge Montana law’s restriction of marriage to heterosexual couples, do not seek the opportunity to marry, and do not seek the designation of marriage for their relationships. They contend however that there is a “statutory structure” in Montana law that prohibits them from enjoying “significant relationship and family protections and obligations automatically provided to similarly-situated different-sex couples who marry…..”

You may find the whole ruling here (133 page pdf). For a couple of articles about it, check the Citizen link one here and the Huffington Post one there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Sexuality, State Government, Theology

(Houston Chronicle) Ariel Thomann on a Terrible part of American Exceptionalism

It is time, instead, to address one aspect of American exceptionalism of which I am not proud. We are the only advanced nation where medical bankruptcies are routine – as are deaths due to lack of access to proper health care.

And the worst part of the latter is the fact that mental health care is particularly unavailable to anyone who is not wealthy, or lucky enough to have mental health coverage through her or his insurance.

Persons with mental health problems need to be identified and helped….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance, Psychology, The U.S. Government, Theology

No Big Hits, but Bookshops Say They're Thriving

Last year, there was a clear winner among books for the holiday gift of choice: “Steve Jobs,” by Walter Isaacson. This year, despite a lineup of offerings from literary heavyweights, many of whom have commanded strong sales in the past, there has not been a breakout hit for the holiday season, booksellers say.

Books like Bob Woodward’s “Price of Politics,” Tom Wolfe’s “Back to Blood” and Salman Rushdie’s “Joseph Anton” have each sold well under 100,000 copies by the end of last week according to Nielsen Bookscan. (In contrast, the Jobs biography sold 379,000 copies in the first week after its release in October 2011.)

While Bookscan does not include e-books and covers only roughly 75 percent of retail outlets, this year’s figures provide a snapshot of the fragmented holiday sales picture as a whole: independent bookstores report that a range of books are moving nicely, but there are mixed numbers from Barnes & Noble, the nation’s largest book chain, and solid but not stellar growth in digital sales….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Books, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy

Benedict XVI on John the Baptist from this past Sunday–On The Fruits of Conversion

The Gospel for this Sunday of Advent again presents the figure of John the Baptist, and it depicts him speaking to the people who have come to him at the Jordan River to be baptized. Because John speaks to them with tough words, exhorting them to prepare themselves for the coming of the Messiah, some ask him, “What must we do?” (Luke 3:10, 12, 14). These dialogues are very interesting and show themselves to be of great contemporary relevance.

The first reply is addressed to the crowd in general. The Baptist says: “Whoever has 2 tunics, give 1 to someone who has none, and whoever has food to eat, do the same” (3:11). Here we can see a criterion of justice animated by charity. Justice demands that the imbalance between those who have more than enough and those who lack the necessities be overcome; charity moves us to be attentive to others and to meet their needs rather than looking for justifications to defend our interests. Justice and charity are not opposed but both are necessary and complete each other. “There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbor is indispensable” (“Deus caritas est,” 28).

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Advent, Anthropology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Thomas Frey–Eight Shocking Quotes from 2012 that will Redefine Our Future

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(SMH) Nicolle Flint–Women still can't have it all

An anniversary slipped by this year that cannot – and must not – go unremarked. It is a decade since Virginia Haussegger’s pivotal ”The sins of our feminist mothers” was published on this page. Haussegger’s opinion piece articulated the anger and frustration of a generation of women left childless as a result of their feminist mothers promoting the myth of ”having it all”: the career, the husband and the babies. The article hit a collective nerve. A book followed recording Haussegger’s personal account of feminism, career, relationships, health, and, ultimately biological childlessness.

The messages resonated with women of Haussegger’s generation and with mine. Wonder Woman: The Myth of Having It All was the talk of every woman in town.

Thanks to brave women like Haussegger, my generation received the message loud and clear to look after their reproductive health; to not delay pregnancy too long. We have been successfully reprogrammed to hear the biological clock ticking. Unfortunately, this is not a gentle while-away-the-hours-type ticking. Rather, it is a nuclear-bomb-is-about-to-explode-so-PANIC-NOW-style ticking. I sometimes wonder if this has done more harm than good; if, in fact, it would be better not to know.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Children, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Women

(Wash. Post) Kathleen Parker–Un-hitching the middle class

As politicians compete to prove who loves the middle class more, they’re missing the elephant and the donkey in the room.

The middle class needs not just tax breaks and jobs but also marriage.

This is the finding of a new University of Virginia and Institute for American Values report, “The State of Our Unions,” which tracks the decline of marriage among the nearly 60 percent of Americans who have high school but not college educations. This has far-reaching repercussions that are not only societal but economic as well. By one estimate cited in the report, which was written by five family scholars, the cost to taxpayers when stable families fail to form is about $112”‰billion annually ”” or more than $1”‰trillion per decade.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Theology

(Economist) It’s trendy to be a traditionalist in the Catholic church

Since the Second Vatican Council in 1962, the Roman Catholic church has striven to adapt to the modern world. But in the West””where many hoped a contemporary message would go down best””believers have left in droves. Sunday mass attendance in England and Wales has fallen by half from the 1.8m recorded in 1960; the average age of parishioners has risen from 37 in 1980 to 52 now. In America attendance has declined by over a third since 1960. Less than 5% of French Catholics attend regularly, and only 15% in Italy. Yet as the mainstream wanes, traditionalists wax.

Take the Latin mass, dumped by the Vatican in 1962 for liturgies in vernacular languages. In its most traditional form, the priest consecrates the bread and wine in a whisper with his back to the congregation: anathema to those who think openness is the spirit of the age. But Father John Zuhlsdorf, an American priest and blogger, says it challenges worshippers, unlike the cosy liberalism of the regular services. “It is not just a school assembly,” he says.

Others share his enthusiasm. The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, started in 1965, now has over 5,000 members.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Nigeria’s Blood Cries Out: Persecuted Nigerian Christians Seek Protection against Islamist Terror

A delegation of Nigerian Christians visited the Washington, DC offices of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) this past Wednesday, December 12, 2012. Led by Dr. Musa Asake, the general secretary of the ecumenical Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Nigerians were in the American capital in order to discuss persecution of Nigerian Christians by the Muslim terrorist group Boko Haram (BH, translated as “Western education is sin”). The delegation presented chilling accounts of life for Christians amidst Islamist terror and called for action lest the violence only grow, engulfing Nigeria.

Asake described BH’s murderous attacks on Christians in northern Nigeria, with the initial goal of eradicating a Christian presence there. The historic long-term Islamification of the once Christian Maghreb, meanwhile, shows just how far BH’s ambitions could reach. BH uses silent nighttime killings with knives as well as firearms to massacre Christians. Asake expressed the fear that “you cannot sleep with your eyes closed” in northern Nigeria. Churches there must now surround themselves with barriers in order to prevent vehicle-borne attacks. Moreover, now northern Nigeria’s “children see dead bodies,” a troubling assault on their innocence.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Make us, we beseech thee, O Lord our God, watchful and heedful in awaiting the coming of thy Son Christ our Lord; that when he shall come and knock, he shall find us not sleeping in sin, but awake and rejoicing in his praises; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Gelasian Sacramentary

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Mark 1:7-8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AP) Plans to rebuild Haiti's cathedral begin to form

Almost three years after an earthquake toppled the Roman Catholic and Episcopal cathedrals in Haiti’s capital, visions for their resurrection have started to take shape as officials from both churches begin considering proposals to rebuild them.

A six-member panel led by the dean of the University of Miami’s School of Architecture met this week in South Florida to choose the winner of a design competition that sought ideas for rebuilding the Notre Dame de l’Assomption Cathedral.

Meanwhile, Episcopal Church officials have selected a Virginia-based architectural firm to design a new Holy Trinity Cathedral.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Caribbean, Episcopal Church (TEC), Haiti, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Irish Times) Ireland's Four Archbishops say abortion proposal 'of utmost concern'

The Government’s announcement that a combination of legislation and regulations will be introduced to comply with the European Court of Human Rights ruling in the A, B and C case should be “of the utmost concern to all”, the four Catholic Archbishops of Ireland have said.

Minister for Health James Reilly presented a memorandum to this morning’s Cabinet meeting. The decision was taken to follow this route ”“ the fourth option from the expert group on abortion – rather than proposing guidelines, an option favoured by anti-abortion campaign groups.

Responding tonight to the announcement, the Archbishops said the proposal would “pave the way for the direct and intentional killing of unborn children. This can never be morally justified in any circumstances”.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Ireland, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

Christmas cheer for cathedrals: Nearly 1m pounds offered in funding ”“ but additional help needed

This week will be one of the busiest of the year for Church of England cathedrals as they prepare to welcome more than 100,000 people to their Christmas services. And this week 17 Church of England cathedrals have also learned that they will receive grants to help ensure they stay dry, safe and secure for the future. The grants add up to £952,000 and cover 21 key projects of repair, conservation and enhancement to the magnificent cathedrals under the Church of England’s stewardship.

A sum of £645,000 will be awarded from the Cathedral Fabric Repair Fund, a partnership between the Wolfson Foundation, the Pilgrim Trust and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England (CFCE), all organisations with long records of supporting England’s historic church buildings and their contents. Over the past three years the Fund has awarded more than £1.8 million for essential and urgent works to keep cathedrals weatherproof and watertight, including major re-roofing and stonework repairs at cathedrals such as Lincoln, Norwich and Durham.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

Archbishop Williams' ”˜Pause for Thought’ message ”“ ”˜Christmas is God’s small initiative'

Everyone seems to be amazed that the Pope is tweeting ”“ and there was a news story the other day about bishops in England using Twitter for their Christmas messages. The surprise reminds me of the way people pretend to be astonished when clergy admit to having heard the occasional rude word (never mind clergy actually using them”¦) or having watched a soap. It’s taken for granted that we’re far too unworldly for all this.

Even speaking as someone who struggles with any kind of technology, I don’t think it should be assumed that all my fellow clergy are or ought to be as dim as I am in this area. And I don’t buy into the panic that sometimes gets stirred up about social media and electronic communication. OK, we all know it can be poisonous and destructive at times. But there’s another side to it.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, --Social Networking, Archbishop of Canterbury, Blogging & the Internet, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology