Daily Archives: December 22, 2012

(NPR) The Connecticut School Killer's DNA Won't Explain His Crime

Ellen Wright Clayton, a specialist in law and genetics at Vanderbilt University, says there aren’t many possibilities. “The only thing they can be looking for here is to see whether the killer had certain genetic variants that may predispose to mental illness or to violence,” she says.

Scientists have spent decades studying these genetic variants. But can a person’s genes reveal why they commit mass murder?

“Absolutely not,” Clayton says. “Genetic variants do not explain criminal behavior.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology, Violence

Archbishop Williams' Thought for the Day: 'if all you have is a gun, everything is a target'

…there is one thing often said by defenders of the American gun laws that ought to make us think about wider questions. ”˜It’s not guns that kill, it’s people.’ Well, yes, in a sense. But it makes a difference to people what weapons are at hand for them to use ”“ and, even more, what happens to people in a climate where fear is rampant and the default response to frightening or unsettling situations or personal tensions is violence and the threat of violence. If all you have is a hammer, it’s sometimes said, everything looks like a nail. If all you have is a gun, everything looks like a target.

People use guns. But in a sense guns use people, too. When we have the technology for violence easily to hand, our choices are skewed and we are more vulnerable to being manipulated into violent action.

Perhaps that’s why, in a passage often heard in church around this time of year, the Bible imagines a world where swords are beaten into ploughshares.

Read or listen to it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, America/U.S.A., Archbishop of Canterbury, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Violence

(Christianity Today) A Well-Lit Pathway Out of Poverty

Brian Rants never thought his contribution to the world would be a $15 lamp. But for schoolchildren in Swaziland and earthquake survivors in Haiti, these solar lamps have made all the difference. Rants’s Denver-based company””Nokero, short for “no kerosene”””have allowed African students to read at night and increased safety for Haitian families living in tent cities. As vice president of marketing, Rants’s job is to get these lamps into the hands of millions of families in the developing world.

Since its founding in 2010, Nokero has sold over half a million solar lights and chargers in 120 countries, but Rants believes their work has just begun. With over a billion people worldwide still using kerosene as their primary fuel source, the need is vast. In a comprehensive study on the industry, The Economist lauded solar lights as the next big innovation for the world’s poor, noting that solar lighting is “falling in price, improving in quality and benefiting from new business models that make it more accessible and affordable to those at the bottom of the pyramid. And its spread is sustainable because it is being driven by market forces, not charity.”

Nokero’s lamps replace the need for kerosene lighting and eliminate the sweeping problems that accompany its use.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Living Church) Richard Mammana–Twenty Minutes with [Christ Church, New Haven's] Robert Hendrickson

What do you find most discouraging in trying to follow those models and goals?
I get discouraged when I see people who think that the way of the future in the Church is to abandon the past. I find it enormously discouraging to encounter the idea that progress somehow means perpetual revolution. I think that our programs here have shown me that people are yearning ”” deeply yearning ”” to touch something authentic. They don’t want one more place that “markets” to them.

And what makes you hopeful?
What makes me hopeful is the number of young people bringing so much energy into the church. When you come to Compline at Christ Church and see 150 young adults sitting there praying, engaged in adoration, you can’t help but be hopeful about the future of the Church.

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

The Archbishop of Canterbury's 2012 Ecumenical Letter to Churches

Spiritually, we must prepare ourselves for the journey, stripping away the trivial and comfortable habits that all of us develop in our practice of faith, and renewing our commitment to follow the Word Incarnate. And then we must work this out in action ”“ in our own willingness to be alongside the displaced, to work devotedly with all who defend the rights and dignities of those without land or livelihood, and to speak for them and serve them in whatever way we can. Our churches should not be places where we retreat into the relief and safety of being with people who are just like ourselves. They should be places where we meet the ”˜divine exile’ who invites us to follow him in bringing hope to the displaced and disinherited ”“ where we learn something of his own liberty to be at the service of all in need and pain.

May God lead us out beyond the gates of our comfort to be with Jesus; and may he keep us always awake to see the realities of disorder and suffering around us.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches

(FT) Bishop Justin Welby’s duties change the schedule of the banking commission

The interests of God and Mammon were reconciled in a seasonal spirit this week to accommodate the diary commitments of the parliamentary banking commission’s most intriguing member ”“ the future archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

It is understood that Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the commission looking at the future shape of the City, delayed his report for a day to allow the current bishop of Durham to attend a carol service.

Such is Bishop Welby’s importance to the work of the commission that Mr Tyrie was said to have been insistent that he be there for the finalising of the report into the culture and behaviour of the banks.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

Joseph Bottum–Tim Tebow’s faith helps him adjust to a tough season

It’s not hard to be a Christian while everything is going well ”” while grace flows all around, while providence sprinkles miracles along the path, while joy abounds and times are good. It’s easy to praise the Lord and feel his presence, to do his work, when you stand in the bright sunlight. But eventually the night cometh, the darkness and the shadows, when faith is more difficult and no man can work.

The quarterback Tim Tebow was always something of a young mystic ”” he was David, dancing in the joy of his youth before the Ark of the Lord ”” and amid all the hoopla of the overtime victories and sudden triumphs to which he led the Denver Broncos last season, he found himself professional football’s most vocal and visible Christian: praising the Lord, feeling his presence, and spreading his message.

Always well-mannered ”” “the politest interview in NFL history,” Sports Illustrated’s Peter King called him ”” he expressed nothing but confidence in his teammates and his coaches, nothing but a manifest belief in the hoariest of cliches about hard work and sportsmanship and inspiration, nothing but alleluias for the Lord who had so blessed him.

Then came a darker time for him….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sports

(America) Terrance Klein–Mary, The First Theologian

Benedict the theologian is versing us in the sole maxim history acknowledges: the only way to understand history is to question it. In this light, he helpfully resets the Christmas stories, back into their larger, resurrection frame: if this man rose from the dead, if death and sin have truly been conquered in his life, then we must know the origins of that life. We need to hear and to ponder. He asks:

[H]ow did Matthew and Luke come to know the story that they recount? What are their sources? As Joachim Gnilka rightly says, it is a evidently a matter of family traditions. Luke indicates from time to time that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is herself one of his sources, especially when he says in 2:31 that “his mother kept all these things in her heart” (cf. Also 2:19). Only she could report the event of the annunciation, for which there were no human witnesses.

Naturally modern “critical” exegesis will tend to dismiss such connections as naive. But why should there not have been a tradition of this kind, preserved in the most intimate circle and theologically elaborated at the same time? Why should Luke have invented the statement about Mary keeping the words and events in her heart, if there were no concrete grounds for saying so? Why should he have spoken of her “pondering” over the words (Lk 2:19; cf. 1:29) if nothing was known of this? (16)

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

A summary of the recent Church of England House of Bishops' decisions is published

A meeting of the House of Bishops was held at Lambeth Palace on 10-11 December 2012. Those matters reported below reflect the items discussed and decisions agreed upon.

The House considered the consequences of the 20 November General Synod vote on the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure. The House recognised and felt the profound and widespread sense of anger, grief and disappointment experienced by so many in the Church of England and beyond. The House considered that the present situation was unsustainable for all, whatever their convictions, and affirmed that the Church of England now had to resolve the issue through its own processes as a matter of great urgency. It was agreed that a statement from the House of Bishops on this issue would be released as soon as possible after the conclusion of the meeting.

The House expressed its gratitude and appreciation for the ministry of ordained women in the Church of England, and its sadness that recent events had left so many feeling undermined and undervalued….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(NY Times) A Profile of Kalle Lasn and Adbusters–The War Against Too Much of Everything

If you haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet, don’t bother.

Skip the mall and the neighborhood store, resist the urge to shop online and, by all means, don’t buy anything you don’t truly need.

So says Kalle Lasn, 70, maestro of the proudly radical magazine Adbusters, published in Vancouver, British Columbia. Mr. Lasn takes gleeful pleasure in lobbing provocations at global corporations ”” and his latest salvo is “Buy Nothing Christmas.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Media, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

We give thee humble and hearty thanks, O most merciful Father, for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men, for the blessings of this life and for the promise of everlasting happiness. And as we are bound, we especially thank thee for the mercies which we have received: for health and strength and the manifold enjoyments of our daily life; for the opportunities of learning, for the knowledge of thy will, for the means of serving thee in thy Church, and for the love thou hast revealed to us in thy Son, our Saviour; to whom with thee and the Holy Spirit be praise and glory for ever and ever.

–B. F. Westcott (1825-1901)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tibe”²ri-us Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Iturae”²a and Trachoni”²tis, and Lysa”²ni-as tetrarch of Abile”²ne, in the high-priesthood of Annas and Ca”²iaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechari”²ah in the wilderness; and he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be brought low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways shall be made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

He said therefore to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits that befit repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ”˜We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

–Luke 3:1-9

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Andrew Carey–Philip North a Victim of the Church’s in-fighting

If we needed any fur ther evidence of the Church of England’s susceptibility to the ”˜culture wars’ we need look no further than the withdrawal of Philip North from the bishopric of Whitby.

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

Advent Carols in Dresden

Read it all and please do not miss the picture.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Advent, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Europe, Germany, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Medford, Massachusetts Episcopal church sets up Blessing Station at Commuter Rail

On Wednesday, Dec. 19, during morning rush hour, a small team of us from Grace Episcopal Church in Medford, including the church’s Rector, the Rev. Noah H. Evans, stood at the West Medford Commuter Rail Station with a “Blessing Station.”

In an attempt to help bring peace and comfort during this darkest week of the year, they offered blessings and prayers to anyone who walked by.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Spirituality/Prayer