Daily Archives: November 9, 2013

(PewRC) Quebec considers new restrictions on wearing religious symbols, clothing

Quebec’s governing party introduced legislation Thursday that would ban public employees from wearing “overt and conspicuous” religious garb, such as headscarves, yarmulkes, large crosses and turbans.

The so-called “Charter of Values” also would require all Canadians living in the province of Quebec to have their faces uncovered when they receive state-funded services, including health care and education. Several other countries have considered restrictions on religious attire, including France, which has banned full veils in public places and headscarves in schools.

The Quebec proposal already has sparked protests and political opposition. Much of the public debate over the charter has focused on the measure’s potential impact on immigrants and their religious beliefs and practices.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Orlando Sentinel) Mormon church-owned company buys huge swath of Florida land

The Mormon church stands to own nearly 2 percent of Florida by completing a deal to buy most of the real estate of the St. Joe Co. for more than a half-billion dollars.

The megapurchase was announced jointly Thursday by a corporate representative of church, which owns the nearly 295,000-acre Deseret Ranches in Central Florida, and by the real-estate and timber business, which has built several communities along the Panhandle coast.

According to the announcement, a church entity, AgReserves Inc., will buy 382,834 acres ”“ the majority of St. Joe’s timberlands ”“ in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties for $565 million.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Mormons, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Chelsea Scrape by with a Tie Against West Bromich Albion Due to a Horrible Referee Call

Is there anything worse in sports than a game being decided near or at the very end on a bad call by the referee?

Makes the heart sad.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Men, Sports

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Legislative Prayer

“This case is about Christians aggressively imposing themselves upon their fellow citizens with the power of government,” says plaintiff lawyer Douglas Laycock. But defense attorney Tom Hungar warned that the case could lead to “government regulating the theological content of prayers, prescribing what is orthodox and what is not in religion.”

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(WS) Andrew Ferguson–Everything you know about Matthew Shepard is wrong

Beginning as a self-described amateur journalist (the best kind), [Stephen Jimenez]…studied Shepard’s murder off and on for 13 years, conducted hundreds of interviews with sources on and off the record, and pored over a public record many thousands of pages long. His comprehensive account corrects the approved version in small matters and large. Shepard was not tied to the rail fence as if crucified, for example, and it’s still not clear, even after Jimenez’s exhaustive reporting, how this piece of misinformation became common knowledge””beyond the obvious explanation that reporters thought the detail was, as the saying goes, too good to check.

More surprisingly, Jimenez concludes that Shepard’s death had nothing to do with homophobia. It was instead the horrific result of a drug deal gone wrong. Indeed, in The Book of Matt, Jimenez offers lots of circumstantial evidence that Shepard and one of his murderers, a violent and drug-addled bit of tumbleweed called Aaron McKinney, were rival dealers in crystal meth. Several named witnesses told Jimenez that the two even had a sexual relationship.

“I knew in writing the book that it would stir up a lot of questions, a lot of conversation,” Jimenez said on the phone, “and it has!”

Read it all.

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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Politics in General, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology

(ACNS) Anglican is first woman, African WCC moderator

In one of their first decisions as the Central Committee for the World Council of Churches, the newly installed 150-member committee made history Friday by electing Dr Agnes Abuom of Nairobi, from the Anglican Church of Kenya, as the moderator of the highest WCC governing body.

Abuom, who was elected unanimously to the position, is the first woman and the first African in the position in the 65-year history of the WCC.

Two vice-moderators were elected, United Methodist Church Bishop Mary Ann Swenson from the USA and Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, Ecumenical Relations, Globalization, Kenya

South Carolina schools see best report card ratings, graduation rates since 2009

Chalk it up to South Carolina notching its best on-time graduation rate ever and higher test scores in most subjects and grades.

Report cards for South Carolina’s schools and districts look better this year than they have since 2009, which was the first year it gave the PASS test to third- through eighth-graders.

Neil Robinson, chairman of the state Education Oversight Committee, called the 2.6 percentage point jump in the state’s graduation rate to 77.5 percent “phenomenal,” and he pointed to the majority of schools statewide that were rated “good” or “excellent” as a sea change compared with when that figure hovered at 32 percent.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Education

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God of love, who hast given us a new commandment through thine only begotten Son, that we should love one another even as thou didst love us, the unworthy and the wandering, and gavest him for our life and salvation: We pray thee to give to us thy servants, in all time of our life on earth, a mind forgetful of past ill-will, a pure conscience, and a heart to love our brethren; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

–Matthew 14:19-21

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Chic. Tribune) Michael Robbins reviews 'Thomas Aquinas: A Portrait' by Denys Turner of Yale

Turner, a professor of theology at Yale, has written a fine, idiosyncratic introduction to the saint and his mind that emphasizes what he calls Thomas’ materialism ”” by which he certainly does not mean the currently fashionable and conceptually impoverished notion that nothing but matter exists. Rather, Thomas set himself against the prevailing Platonic-Augustinian “excessively spiritual account of human nature” that seemed to him to neglect our situatedness in the world ”” this world, here, with tomatoes and sisters and backaches. For Plato and his medieval Christian epigones, a soul was a different kind of substance from the body; we still tend to think of soul in these terms, whether we believe in it or not. Thomas denies that a soul is a “thing” that one “has” at all. It is rather the “substantial form,” in the Aristotelian sense, of the body ”” what accounts for its being alive in the way it is. Following Aristotle and Avicenna, Thomas rejects substance dualism, arguing that human beings are “wholly animal,” not part animal and part spiritual, like a Prius ”” the soul is not “in” the body, but is one with it as form, as act and potency are one.

I can’t do justice to Turner’s subtle explication of Thomas’ “Aristotelian physical anthropology” ”” and of his controversial God-centric theology in the “Summa theologiae”; his “Five Ways”; his conception of friendship and the Trinity and the Eucharist; and much else ”” in a brief review. Despite a few missteps in the prose ”” and a surprising overreliance upon lazy tropes of the terrorists-bad-CIA-good variety ”” Turner’s introduction is full of grace notes, such as his decision to contrast Thomas’ sense of “abstraction” with Locke’s empiricism, in order to flesh out the argument that the intellect “cannot be a material agent” (today’s pop neuroscientists would do well to consult the “Summa” on this point). And Turner deftly demonstrates why Thomas’ Third Way ”” the argument for God’s existence from necessity ”” does not commit the basic logical fallacy that many modern philosophers have contended it does.

Read it all.

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

(Wash. Post On Faith Blog) Addie Zierman–5 churchy phrases that are scaring off millennials

You’ve heard us say that we like Jesus but not the church, and it’s not because we’re trying to be difficult. It’s because the Jesus we read about enters into the pain of humanity where so often the church people seem to want to float above it.

In the end, it’s not really about what churches say or don’t say. What millennials want is to be seen. Understood. Loved. It’s what everyone wants, really. And for this generation of journeyers? Choosing honesty over cliché is a really great place to start.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

(CT Editorial) Pep Talks for Successful Living–don’t we need something more from our churches?

The problem is that preachers and teachers of such messages are not telling us the whole truth. They are not giving us a full understanding of the Good News.

Proverbs is only half of wisdom. The other half is found in the Book of Job. And Ecclesiastes. And Jesus at Golgotha. The other part of wisdom””the deeper wisdom””centers on the folly of the Cross.

Not the Cross as a mere rest stop on the way to Resurrection. Not suffering as a means to an end. Not hardship that builds character and makes us better. That’s more Proverbs wisdom and is true as far as it goes. That’s the theology of glory””if we do this and that, and endure this and that with the right attitude, all will be well.

The theology of the Cross says that God is most deeply met in the suffering itself, not just on the other side of it. Forgiveness of sins is not found after the Cross, but in, with, and under the Cross. This is the “wisdom of the cross” (1 Cor. 1”“2) that is folly to the world.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Adult Education, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Do not Take Yourself too Seriously Department–Pretendatrin Drug Ad Parody

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Health & Medicine, Humor / Trivia