Daily Archives: May 28, 2013

Jeff Haanen–Two Urban Manifestos for Evangelical Christians

“The city,” says Harvard economist Edward Glaeser, “is humanity’s greatest invention.”

Not everybody agrees with Glaeser’s glowing assessment, but judging by recent population trends, most do. Every day 180,000 people move into cities, and in 2011, for the first time in world history, the majority of the world’s population became urban. It’s estimated that in 2050, 86.2 percent of the population of developed countries will reside in cities. As magnets for talent, engines of innovation, and centers of culture, cities have eclipsed the nation-state as the primary sculptors of modern life.

Following tightly on the heels of urbanologists like Edward Glaeser, Richard Florida, and Joel Kotkin, evangelicals have recognized a golden opportunity. Two new books””Stephen T. Um and Justin Buzzard’s Why Cities Matter: To God, the Culture, and the Church (Crossway) and Jon M. Dennis’s Christ and City: Why the Greatest Need of the City Is the Greatest News of All (Crossway)””herald both the unprecedented importance and unmistakable biblical significance of the city. But only Why Cities Matter strikes the right balance between social analysis and ministry focus, encouraging readers not just to live in the city but also to engage its people and culture with the gospel.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Evangelicals, Globalization, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(RNS) Lacking recognition, Italy’s Muslims face an uncertain future

Steps from the immense colonnade of St. Peter’s Square, Sarwar Jahan stood next to his souvenir stand. A dark, clean-shaven man wearing a navy blue jacket and a black knit cap, Jahan is one of the legions of peddlers selling trinkets of the new Pope Francis to tourists and pilgrims.

Like many of his fellow street merchants, Jahan is neither a Catholic nor a natural-born Italian. He’s a Muslim who moved to Rome from Bangladesh in search of work.

In a country dominated by Roman Catholics, Muslims make up Italy’s second-largest religious group. A Pew study estimated that more than 1.5 million Muslims live in Italy, a number projected to double by 2030.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Islam, Italy, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Economist) Why does Kenya lead the world in mobile money?

Paying for a taxi ride using your mobile phone is easier in Nairobi than it is in New York, thanks to Kenya’s world-leading mobile-money system, M-PESA. Launched in 2007 by Safaricom, the country’s largest mobile-network operator, it is now used by over 17m Kenyans, equivalent to more than two-thirds of the adult population; around 25% of the country’s gross national product flows through it. M-PESA lets people transfer cash using their phones, and is by far the most successful scheme of its type on earth. Why does Kenya lead the world in mobile money?

M-PESA was originally designed as a system to allow microfinance-loan repayments to be made by phone, reducing the costs associated with handling cash and thus making possible lower interest rates. But after pilot testing it was broadened to become a general money-transfer scheme. Once you have signed up, you pay money into the system by handing cash to one of Safaricom’s 40,000 agents (typically in a corner shop selling airtime), who credits the money to your M-PESA account. You withdraw money by visiting another agent, who checks that you have sufficient funds before debiting your account and handing over the cash. You can also transfer money to others using a menu on your phone. Cash can thus be sent one place to another more quickly, safely and easily than taking bundles of in person, or asking others to carry it for you. This is particularly useful in a country where many workers in cities send money back home to their families in rural villages. Electronic transfers save people time, freeing them to do other, more productive things instead.

Dozens of mobile-money systems have been launched, so why has Kenya’s been the most successful?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Kenya, Science & Technology

(NBC Today Video) Mom fights to save sons from same fatal disease

Both of Jenn McNary’s sons suffer a deadly disease known as Duschene muscular dystrophy. But while one son qualified for a drug that has given him new life, the other didn’t ”“ and his condition is slowly deteriorating. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

(CSM) Report blames Pakistan politicians, security for anti-Christian riots

A series of violent riots against Pakistani Christians in the past decade has concerned human rights watchers and religious minorities in Pakistan.

The latest deadly incident, which took place just two months ago, raised questions about what, if anything, can be done to prevent such violence.

The March incident when a Muslim mob burned down a Christian neighborhood in Lahore, echoed a similar incident in the rural town of Gojra four years earlier. Nine people were killed when rioters torched two Christian neighborhoods over rumors the Christians had celebrated a wedding by showering the groom with pages torn from the Quran. Despite hundreds of arrests, no one was tried for the riots, and relatives of those killed have now fled Pakistan.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Pakistan, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Greenville News) Three Upstate South Carolina Veterans given their final rest

A law passed last year by the South Carolina General Assembly gives veterans’ organizations the right to receive the unclaimed remains of veterans from funeral homes and coroner’s offices and to bury them in a national cemetery.

South Carolina has three: Beaufort, Florence and Fort Jackson in Columbia. Neal, LeMaster and Gray, along with three other veterans whose remains were in storage in Richland County, will be buried on June 6 at Fort Jackson with full military honors.

“They served their country. They came home. They were different,” said Larry Truax, who spearheaded the bill.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(AP) Liz Sidoti–America is a Nation of coexisting, Conflicted Values

Every American president has faced the same central questions: What is the appropriate relationship between security and liberty? When should the scales tip one way or the other? We have never found a universal answer, which says as much about the enormous challenge our elected leaders accept as it does about who we are and what we value.

Presidents often do what they insist needs to be done to protect their people ”” and gamble that they’ll be forgiven for the inevitable erosion of rights. Congress and the public typically fall in line, particularly in the post-9/11 world. And the nation moves on until the next situation flares.

In general, both presidents and their people inherently believe in America’s ability to remain true to its identity and not let others define it, as long as it abides by the country’s founding principles. The trouble, or perhaps the gift, is that the framers of our Constitution made sure to include leeway in the ability for leaders to tip the security-vs.-liberty scales when the situation demands.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology

A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of John Calvin

Sovereign and holy God, who didst bring John Calvin from a study of legal systems to understand the godliness of thy divine laws as revealed in Scripture: Fill us with a like zeal to teach and preach thy Word, that the whole world may come to know thy Son Jesus Christ, the true Word and Wisdom; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, ever one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, the God of all goodness and of all grace, who art worthy of a greater love than we can either give or understand: Fill our hearts, we beseech thee, with such love toward thee that nothing may seem too hard for us to do or to suffer, in obedience to thy will; and grant that thus loving thee, we may become daily more like unto thee, and finally obtain the crown of life which thou hast promised to those that love thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–B. F. Westcott (1825-1901)

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents

–Luke 15:1-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Soldiers Place US Flags in Arlington Cemetery for Memorial Day 2013

Watch it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, History, Parish Ministry

A Litany from The Book of Worship for United States Forces (1974)

Leader: Let us give thanks to God for the land of our birth with all its chartered liberties. For all the wonder of our country’s story:


Leader: For leaders in nation and state, and for those who in days past and in these present times have labored for the commonwealth:

Leader: For those who in all times and places have been true and brave, and in the world’s common ways have lived upright lives and ministered to their fellows:


Leader: For those who served their country in its hour of need, and especially for those who gave even their lives in that service:


Leader: O almighty God and most merciful Father, as we remember these your servants, remembering with gratitude their courage and strength, we hold before you those who mourn them. Look upon your bereaved servants with your mercy. As this day brings them memories of those they have lost awhile, may it also bring your consolation and the assurance that their loved ones are alive now and forever in your living presence.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

Music For Memorial Day (III): Michael Ball sings "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" from Les Miserables

Watch and listen to it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, Music, Parish Ministry, Theatre/Drama/Plays

(AP) Americans Mark Memorial Day 2013 in Photos

Check them all out (12 in total).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, Parish Ministry

A Movie Scene for Memorial Day 2013 from Mr. Holland's Opus

Watch it all–KSH.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Young Adults