Daily Archives: May 7, 2013

(Telegraph) Loneliness 'time bomb' warning fuelled by baby-boomer divorces

Research published as part of David Cameron’s plan to measure the nation’s “happiness” indicates that almost seven million members of the baby-boomer generation and above admit feeling lonely.

Among people over 80, the proportion rises to almost half, including a large minority who admit they feel lonely much of the time.

But campaign groups warned that the study suggests that the generation now approaching retirement will prove to be a “loneliness time bomb”.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Middle Age, Psychology, Theology

([London] Times) Musical pews as Church of England numbers remain stable

The Church of England has lost thousands of worshippers in two of its top dioceses, according to statistics due to be released today.

The Durham diocese, former home to the present Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Canterbury diocese, from which Dr Rowan Williams has just retired, were among the three biggest losers in the Church’s latest membership tally.

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

(Charisma Magazine) Phil Cooke–Is the Church Losing Its Voice in a Media-Driven World?

My team at Cooke Pictures gets hired when a church, ministry or nonprofit organization is losing its voice. Perhaps you’ve experienced a similar situation: Despite doing great work in the community””like building homeless shelters, drug treatment centers or food banks””your ministry still lives hand to mouth. Or, as a pastor who has had a genuine calling, you’ve built a great team, invested your life in the vision with powerful preaching, teaching or ministry, but the spark never happens; growth never takes off. Or it just suddenly stops.

I see it happen all too often: media ministries that just can’t seem to grow beyond a local broadcast; churches that hit an attendance plateau; benevolent outreaches that can’t seem to break through a certain level of fundraising. In most cases, these efforts are led by qualified, sincere men and women, and almost all have a strong vision for excellence. They spend money on capital campaigns, media equipment, church-growth consultants, marketing, TV or radio time, advertising, social media campaigns and more, but they just seem trapped and unable to grow beyond a certain point….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

Taking another Look at Friday's Jobs Report, by the Most Accurate Measure, U-6, unemployment went up

(Please note that you may find an earlier discussion of the importance of U-6 as a measure of the real labor market situation in this blog post and discussion from Februaryl–KSH).

Voluntary plus involuntary part-time employment rose by a whopping 441,000 jobs. Take away part-time jobs and there is not all that much to brag about. Indeed, full-time employment fell once again, this month by 148,000.

Read it all and there is another article there. For the table of all six employment/unemployment measures, you may go there.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

(NY Times Op-Ed) Andrew Cherlin–In the Season of Marriage, a Question. Why Bother?

Its surprising how many people still marry. As everyone knows, it’s a risky proposition; the divorce rate, though down from its peak of one in two marriages in the early 1980s, remains substantial. Besides, you can have a perfectly respectable life these days without marrying.

When the Pew Research Center asked a sample of Americans in 2010 what they thought about the “growing variety in the types of family arrangements that people live in,” 34 percent responded that it was a good thing, and 32 percent said it made no difference. Having a child outside of marriage has also become common. According to a report by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, 47 percent of American women who give birth in their 20s are unmarried at the time.

And still, demographers project that at least 80 percent of Americans will marry at some point in their lives.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Middle Age, Psychology, Sociology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology, Young Adults

(NPR) Meg Wolitzer loves Anthony Marra's Debut Novel "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena"

How do you write an absorbing novel about unspeakable things? It’s always a tricky business, and an editor I know once described the dilemma this way: “A reader needs to want to go there.” What “there” means is the self-contained world of the book. And what would make a reader want to go deeply into a world of hopelessness and seemingly perpetual war, a world of torture and intimidation and exploding land mines? There are many answers. One of the most obvious, of course, is the language. If it’s powerful enough, it can make you want to “go there.” But if it’s all about churning violence and inhumanity, will you really be compelled to stay there, fully present and not looking away, until the last page?

I was thinking about all of this as I read ”” and stayed in ”” Anthony Marra’s amazing first novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. The story, which takes place in Chechnya, moving back and forth in time over recent history, includes some tough scenes, such as descriptions of torture and amputation. There’s a terrifying, Wild West lawlessness at work. But it’s exactly that ”” and the brilliant writing ”” that kept me committed to that world and the people in it. In fact, the people also kept me there. The main characters are vivid and real and stuck, and I guess I wanted to be stuck along with them.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Books, Europe, Russia

(Independent) Religion should be new 'reality TV' claims Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

Religion should be incorporated into “reality” television shows in order to increase understanding of other faiths, the Archbishop of Canterbury has claimed.

The Most Rev Justin Welby, who was enthroned in March, warned of “dangerous” consequences if religion disappeared from television schedules. Broadcasters who force religion to the margins are helping to “cultivate ignorance”, the Archbishop said.

He praised the ITV documentary series, Strictly Kosher, which featured an internet-dating Rabbi and a flamboyant fashion boutique owner based in Manchester’s orthodox Jewish community, for “stitching” religion into everyday life.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Scotsman) Rowan Williams urges Church of Scotland not to split over same-sex partnered Clergy

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has urged evangelical congregations within the Church of Scotland not to “walk away” over the ordination of [noncelibate] gay ministers.

Speaking on the eve of a visit to Scotland as the new chairman of Christian Aid, Williams said he understood some congregations might threaten to break away if the Kirk’s ­General Assembly votes to allow the ordination of gay ministers later this month, but warned against such a divisive move.

“The impulse to walk away, while deeply understandable, is not a very constructive one,” he said. “The things which bind Christians together are almost always more profound and significant for themselves and the world than the things that divide them. When you do walk away from other Christians you are in effect saying well, either I can do without you or I’ve got nothing to learn from you. That can’t be good for us. You may disagree, you may think somebody else is tacitly perverse, but you might want to hang in there with them.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Scotland, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(FT) US says China is stepping up cyber war

Beijing is engaged in systematic cyber spying on the US military and private businesses to acquire technology to boost military modernisation and strengthen its capacity in any regional crisis, according to the Pentagon.

In its annual report to Congress on the People’s Liberation Army, the Pentagon gives new emphasis to the threat of cyber-espionage from China, an issue that has been the subject of top-level complaints to Beijing by Washington.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Blogging & the Internet, China, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government

(CNS) Elderly face danger of 'covert euthanasia,' Pope Francis says in book

While the fight to preserve life is often centered on abortion and capital punishment, the future Pope Francis also warned against a more subtle form of disregard for human dignity: what he called “covert euthanasia.”

“In this consumerist, hedonist and narcissistic society, we are accustomed to the idea that there are people that are disposable,” among them, the elderly, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio said in a recently published book.

Citing examples of intentional neglect, the future pope said: “I believe that today there is covert euthanasia: Our social security pays up until a certain amount of treatment and then says ‘May God help you.'”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord, who hast given us thy Word for a light to shine upon our path: Grant us so to meditate upon that Word and to follow its teaching, that we may find in it the light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Saint Jerome

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.

–James 1:16-20

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Methodist Bishop Martin McLee Responds to the NY Times Same-Sex Marriage Story

Beloved New York Annual Conference:

Many of you may have read the recently published article in The New York Times that centered on same sex marriage and The United Methodist Church. The confidentiality requirements of the complaint process prevent me from discussing the case in detail. However, as is the case on many issues confronting the church today, there are multiple perspectives associated with human sexuality.

There is also a multiplicity of other concerns that we are confronted with as a body of Christian believers. Immigration reform, gun violence, poverty and the challenges within our criminal justice system are but a few of the significant issues on the local and national landscape.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(USA Today) Lisa Mogilanski–Why I'm uncomfortable with the hookup culture

I don’t mean to suggest that we had romance “right” in the days of chastity belts and arranged marriages. But I feel as though we all sort of know how romance ought to play out. Hookup culture is an unnavigable mush of vague intentions and desires, and that’s true even on nights when people don’t go home with novel odors and difficulty urinating.

We can try to dress it up as being freeing or equalizing the genders, but I fear it only leaves us equally impoverished.

C.S. Lewis said that “friendship is born at the moment one person says to another: “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.” Maybe I’m naive and idealistic, but I prefer the narrative in which emotional and physical love come as a package, one experienced with a very small subset of the population. I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only one.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Theology, Young Adults

(ABC Aus.) Benjamin Myers–Loving Falstaff: Shakespeare and the moral vision of comedy

What Falstaff represents is nothing more or less than life: life itself, life as such, the sheer indomitable fact of being alive. That is why Falstaff is so fat – he is larger than life, more human and more alive than ordinary mortals. When Hal points out that the grave gapes for Falstaff “thrice wider than for other men,” it is true symbolically as well as literally. No ordinary grave could hold Jack Falstaff, for he is no ordinary mortal. He is large, he contains multitudes. When old Falstaff condescendingly tells the Lord Chief Justice, “You that are old consider not the capacities of us that are young,” we feel the truth of it in our very bones. Falstaff’s body might be “blasted with antiquity,” as the Chief Justice replies, yet nobody is younger than he. He is young because he is youthfulness itself, the very energy and drive of life.

Nonetheless, in the final scene, a scene that has scandalised generations of playgoers and critics, Hal banishes his friend Jack Falstaff. Our minds recoil from the thought of it – even though, objectively speaking, Falstaff deserves everything he gets. It is not just that we like Falstaff and want things to turn out well for him. It is that this rejection of Falstaff seems like a rejection of life – an incomprehensible, nonsensical act. As Falstaff himself has intimated, to reject him is to reject everything: “Banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.”

But perhaps the point of this difficult scene is just to show that Falstaff can be rejected. For all his irresistible charm, it is still possible to turn him away. The significance of the last scene is that it makes comedy more vivid by revealing its limits.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, History, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays, Theology

Archbishop Sentamu To Pay Tribute To Beveridge At Northumberland Church

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, will preach at the 900-year-old Church of St Aidan, Thockrington, Northumberland, in a service of Evening Worship at 4.00pm on Sunday 12 May 2013. At the service he will give thanks for the life of Lord Beveridge who was buried in the churchyard fifty years ago in 1963.

Also present will be Lord Beveridge’s two surviving step-grandsons, Mr George Gwilt and Mr David Burn, who serves as Lay Chair of Thockrington’s Parochial Church Council and as a Churchwarden of the neighbouring church of St Giles, Birtley.

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

Andy Crouch–How Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are taking a risk to create creative technology

In a white-walled room tucked behind the garage in one of those unremarkable houses, Sonny Vu sits at a folding-leg table, the kind you might see in a church basement. He’s convincing a banker he doesn’t need any money.

The banker is dressed in northern California business attire””tailored suit, no tie, a nice watch peeking out from beneath his sleeve. Vu is dressed in a black knit T-shirt, jeans, and indoor flip-flops. He opens a MacBook Pro and talks through a presentation about the company he founded, Misfit Wearables.

There’s no watch on Vu’s wrist. Instead he wears a thin wristband that holds a tapered, dark-gray aluminum disk about the size of a quarter. This is Misfit’s first product, Shine. It’s a device that attracted 127 online articles about Misfit in the tech press, everywhere from Wired to Mashable to TechCrunch”””without anyone knowing what it did,” Vu says, grinning. He pops it out of its holder and sets it on the screen of his iPhone. “This has been tracking my activity for the past week. I just set it here, and it uploads all my data. No cable, no Bluetooth,” he explains as tiny lights blink around the circumference of the disk.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Economy, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(LA Times) Sarah Chayes–CIA buys trouble in Afghanistan

In a time when the whetted and arbitrary deficit-reduction knife is cutting bone out of critical U.S. government programs, the image of shopping bags stuffed with CIA cash handed off on a monthly basis to Afghan President Hamid Karzai ”” who reigns over one of the most corrupt governments on the planet ”” has outraged many Americans.

The New York Times, which revealed the years of payoffs this week, noted that “there is little evidence the payments bought the influence the CIA sought.”

In fact, regular cash handouts of this type may do the opposite. They may well have enabled Karzai’s frequent and theatrical outbursts against U.S. officials and policies, not to mention his collusion with some of his country’s most corrupt and abusive officials. Such payoffs signal to Karzai ”” or other leaders like him ”” that he enjoys the unwavering support of the CIA, no matter what he does or says, and embolden him to thumb his nose at the United States whenever he feels like it.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Economy, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, The U.S. Government, War in Afghanistan

Ephraim Radner reviews Candida Moss' book entitled "The Myth of Persecution"

So here’s the pitch: Conservatives in America think that traditional Christians are “persecuted” for their positions against abortion and homosexual marriage, but this is only a latter-day expression of an early Christian “myth” that relies on fraud to demonize opponents and stoke the fires of intolerance.

That is the book in a nutshell. Those who know some Christian history will learn little here except, perhaps, something about the continuing intellectual dead ends of historical criticism.

Moss has written several well-received volumes and articles on issues related to discipleship and martyrdom in the early Church, but here she is seemingly excited by what are hardly new discoveries: that accounts of Christian martyrdom in the early Church made use of non-Christian literary forms; that many legends grew up around martyrs, saints’ lives, and the details of their memorials; that Christians of the past communicated in the forms of their non-Christian neighbors and culture. She wants us to think that these realities ipso facto turn martyrdom in the early Church into a fabrication, a “myth,” a “fraud.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Church History