Daily Archives: April 6, 2013

(Chicago Tribune) Buddhism in the Midwest

Inside the main hall of the Drepung Gomang Institute, gilded statues of Buddha and brilliantly colored images of fierce deities adorn the altar. As the smell of incense wafts through the air, a Tibetan monk chants a sutra, his low tones weaving a soothing, meditative melody.

Dharamsala, India? Lhasa, Tibet? Some remote outpost in the Himalayas? Nope. It’s in a neighborhood of Louisville, Ky. This Tibetan Buddhist temple is one of a growing number of such centers that have found a surprisingly receptive home in the Midwest and parts of neighboring Kentucky.

Read it all.

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

(LA Times) At least five killed in Egyptian sectarian clashes

At least five people were killed Saturday in clashes between Muslims and Christians, raising new questions over whether President Mohamed Morsi’s Islamist-led government can calm sectarian tensions amid Egypt’s broader political unrest.

Violence between Muslims and Coptic Christians over the last year has been a troubling subplot, especially in the provinces, to the nation’s post-revolutionary political division and faltering economy. There were conflicting accounts over what ignited the latest fighting in Khousous, an impoverished town north of Cairo.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

(NPR) A great piece on unintended consequences, the Affordable Health Care Act +Breast Pumps

Yummy Mummy, a little boutique on New York’s Upper East Side, has suddenly become a health care provider/online superstore. The company has been hiring like crazy, and just opened an online call center and a warehouse in Illinois. Yummy Mummy even hired somebody to talk to customers’ health insurance companies.

And new moms now seem more likely to splurge on fancy new breast pumps. Caroline Shany, a Yummy Mummy customer, spent her own money to buy a breast pump for her first baby. She may buy another one now because insurance will pick up the tab.

“Why not?” she says.

Read or much better listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Philosophy, Politics in General

(Public Discourse) Carson Holloway–Justice Sotomayor and the Path to Polygamy

Opponents of same-sex marriage resist it because it amounts to redefining marriage, but also because it will invite future redefinitions. If we embrace same-sex marriage, they argue, society will have surrendered any reasonable grounds on which to continue forbidding polygamy, for example.

In truth, proponents of same-sex marriage have never offered a very good response to this concern. This problem was highlighted at the Supreme Court last week in oral argument over California’s Proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

Surprisingly, the polygamy problem that same-sex marriage presents was raised by an Obama appointee, the liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Sotomayor interrupted the presentation of anti-Prop 8 litigator Theodore Olson to pose the following question: If marriage is a fundamental right in the way proponents of same-sex marriage contend, “what state restrictions could ever exist,” for example, “with respect to the number of people . . . that could get married?”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Sexuality, State Government, The U.S. Government, Theology

North Carolina has the power to establish official religion, a resolution from 2 State Reps. says

Two Rowan County lawmakers drew nationwide attention Wednesday for pushing a resolution that says North Carolina and its counties and towns have the right to establish an official religion.

Republican state Reps. Carl Ford and Harry Warren filed the measure this week as Rowan commissioners gear up to fight a lawsuit that seeks to end their habit of opening meetings with specifically Christian prayers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Church/State Matters, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government

Lunch with the Financial Times: Michael Sandel

For a man who has been dubbed by the US media the world’s first “moral rock star”, it was a modest showing ”“ a mere 5,000 Indians had gathered to hear him. Compared with the 14,000 he had drawn to an open-air sports stadium in South Korea a few weeks before, or the 30m hits he has received for his online lectures in China alone, it was small chapattis. But the lecture, which Sandel staged as a kind of Socratic dialogue with his audience, held everyone spellbound.

Coming from solid middle class background and raised in Minnesota and Los Angeles, Sandel studied at Brandeis University and then got a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford, where he discovered his passion for moral philosophy. He never looked back. He has taught at Harvard for most of his adult life and lives with his wife and two sons in Brookline, Massachusetts, just outside Boston.

The philosopher made his reputation in 1982 with his debut book, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, a powerful critique of John Rawls’s “veil of ignorance”….

Read it all (also another link there).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy, Theology

(Washington Post) Michelle Boorstein–Pope Francis, keeping it real simple

At first, the detail seemed like a compelling if random tidbit: The new pope takes the bus.

Then similar stories kept proliferating after Pope Francis’s election last month. His first words as pope were to ask for a blessing before offering one. Hours after becoming pope he called to cancel his newspaper subscription back in Buenos Aires. He chose to live in a guesthouse rather than the sprawling papal apartments. On Holy Thursday, Francis washed the feet of incarcerated women and non-Catholics.

These acts are deemed heroic. Young Catholics by the millions are sharing images of Francis’s good deeds. Many fallen-away Catholics are saying the pope’s gestures of humility might bring them back to the Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

Archbishop Welby joins call on G8 to 'strike at causes of poverty'

With a focus on tax, trade and transparency, the religious leaders argue, the UK Presidency of the G8 has the potential to advance the MDG agenda in ways that strike at the underlying causes of poverty, in particular by ensuring the wealth created by developing countries is not lost through unfair tax practices, a lack of transparency or a failure to secure the benefits of trade for developing countries.

“Meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, is possible ”“ but only if governments do not waiver from the moral and political commitments made over a decade ago,” the letter stresses.

The Rt Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford, said: “With only 1000 days left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals set by the UN, it is imperative that the G8 Heads of Government set the pace. I shall be tweeting my support using #1000DaysToGo and hoping the flood of comments encourages governments not to waiver.”

Read it all.

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

Church of England–Gardening against the odds

The Bishop of Carlisle has praised the transforming power of a city centre church garden project that has won a national award this month for its work in turning around the lives of homeless people.

St John’s Church Gardens in Waterloo (Southwark Diocese) is run by St Mungo’s Putting Down Roots project and encourages homeless people to work in the grounds with qualified horticultural trainers. It is one of five sites across London tended by the group.

Bishop James Newcome, lead bishop on healthcare issues, visited the project as part of the national Gardening Against the Odds awards. He urged churches across the country to consider whether they could link up with similar charitable projects, using their land.

Read it all and there is a video for those interested.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Energy, Natural Resources

A Basketball Blowout and Its Celebration Raise Theological Questions

Grinnell’s coaches, in other words, kept their star guard on the floor and shooting, and kept up their full-court defensive pressure, against an opposing team they were leading by 50, then 60, then 70 points. A college that prides itself on its values ”” rigorous academic standards, commitment to the common good, historical involvement in the abolition and Social Gospel movements ”” inflicted a defeat so absolute that it borders on public humiliation.

Sporting tradition has always made allowances so the vanquished can save face. Youth leagues have a “slaughter rule” to halt lopsided games. Football quarterbacks with a big lead hand off the ball rather than passing it. Basketball teams run down the clock instead of running up the score. Coaches pull the starters and send in the bench warmers. Very little mitigation of that sort happened last November at Grinnell.

And beyond the question of athletic ethics, the rout has taken on an overtly religious cast. Jack Taylor, an evangelical Christian, attributed his achievement to divine intervention.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sports, Theology

Looking back–Between Two Worlds: An Interview with John R. W. Stott

Stott: I believe that to preach or to expound the scripture is to open up the inspired text with such faithfulness and sensitivity that God’s voice is heard and His people obey Him. I gave that definition at the Congress on Biblical Exposition and I stand by it, but let me expand a moment.

My definition deliberately includes several implications concerning the scripture. First, it is a uniquely inspired text. Second, the scripture must be opened up. It comes to us partially closed, with problems which must be opened up.

Beyond this, we must expound it with faithfulness and sensitivity. Faithfulness relates to the scripture itself. Sensitivity relates to the modern world. The preacher must give careful attention to both.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Lord Jesus, risen from the dead and alive for evermore: Stand in our midst today as in the upper room; show us thy hands and thy side; speak thy peace to our hearts and minds; and send us forth into the world as thy witnesses; for the glory of thy name.

–John R. W. Stott (1921-2011)

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I will extol thee, my God and King, and bless thy name for ever and ever. Every day I will bless thee, and praise thy name for ever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall laud thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of thy majesty, and on thy wondrous works, I will meditate.

–Psalm 145:1-5

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Post) Episcopal Minister Details Hundreds of Near-Death Experiences in New Book

An Episcopal pastor and former hospital chaplain has released a book titled Revealing Heaven: The Christian Case for Near-Death Experiences, which chronicles over 200 near-death experiences that people have shared with him. The accounts describe both heavenly and hellish experiences, some of which challenge conservative Christian beliefs.

The Rev. John W. Price, 74, who continues to serve at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, shared in an exclusive phone interview with The Christian Post that he has spoken to more than 237 people who have had near-death experiences, despite his initial reservations.

Ordained as a priest in 1965, Price admits that at the start of his career, he did not believe in near-death experiences at all, and even turned away the first couple of people who tried to share with him visions of what they went through. As he explains in Revealing Heaven, when he became a chaplain at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston and more people starting coming up to him with their stories, he started paying closer attention ”“ and his views began changing….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Episcopal Church (TEC), Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(ENS) Global religious leaders call on G8 to ”˜strike at causes of poverty’

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby are among 80 religious leaders who have written to the G8 heads of government urging them to keep promises on foreign aid and to “help to create an environment that encourages the conditions for inclusive, equitable and sustainable economic growth.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theology

Arizona Episcopal Bishop calls for immigration reform to include emphasis on family reunification

The Episcopal bishop for Arizona joined several religious and union leaders urging that family-unification policies be included in any comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Bishop Kirk Smith said that the family is the “chief social unit in society” and protecting and keeping immigrant families together should be paramount as federal lawmakers consider reform.

“This is one thing that we do all agree on, and that is support of the family, because we consider that to be an imperative that’s given to us by our religion and by our God,” Smith said on a conference call with the other officials.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Immigration, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, TEC Bishops, Theology

Oxford University Scientists Show a 3-D printer can build material like synthetic tissues

A custom-built programmable 3D printer can create materials with several of the properties of living tissues, Oxford University scientists have demonstrated.

The new type of material consists of thousands of connected water droplets, encapsulated within lipid films, which can perform some of the functions of the cells inside our bodies. These printed ‘droplet networks’ could be the building blocks of a new kind of technology for delivering drugs to places where they are needed and potentially one day replacing or interfacing with damaged human tissues. Because droplet networks are entirely synthetic, have no genome and do not replicate, they avoid some of the problems associated with other approaches to creating artificial tissues ”“ such as those that use stem cells.

Read it all and watch the video also.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

An ENS Article on the Ongoing Legal toing and Froing in South Carolina

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Holy Week, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

(RNS) Poll: Americans love the Bible but don’t read it much

More than half of Americans think the Bible has too little influence on a culture they see in moral decline, yet only one in five Americans read the Bible on a regular basis, according to a new survey.

More than three-quarters of Americans (77 percent) think the nation’s morality is headed downhill, according to a new survey from American Bible Society.

The survey showed the Bible is still firmly rooted in American soil: 88 percent of respondents said they own a Bible, 80 percent think the Bible is sacred, 61 percent wish they read the Bible more, and the average household has 4.4 Bibles.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture