Daily Archives: January 10, 2014

(WSJ Op-ed) Robert Rector: How the War on Poverty Was Lost

Do higher living standards for the poor mean that the war on poverty has succeeded? No. To judge the effort, consider LBJ’s original aim. He sought to give poor Americans “opportunity not doles,” planning to shrink welfare dependence not expand it. In his vision, the war on poverty would strengthen poor Americans’ capacity to support themselves, transforming “taxeaters” into “taxpayers.” It would attack not just the symptoms of poverty but, more important, remove the causes.

By that standard, the war on poverty has been a catastrophe. The root “causes” of poverty have not shrunk but expanded as family structure disintegrated and labor-force participation among men dropped. A large segment of the population is now less capable of self-sufficiency than when the war on poverty began.

The collapse of marriage in low-income communities has played a substantial role in the declining capacity for self-support. In 1963, 6% of American children were born out of wedlock. Today the number stands at 41%. As benefits swelled, welfare increasingly served as a substitute for a bread-winning husband in the home.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, House of Representatives, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Politics in General, Poverty, Senate, The U.S. Government, Theology

(IBD) Flying camera copters ready for their closeup

The rise of affordable flying video cameras is creating one-upmanship among amateur and professional videographers seeking spectacular cinematic shots.

Several manufacturers of remote-controlled drones designed to carry camcorders wowed the crowds at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. They included DJI, Parrot and Yuneec Technology.

“It’s a big and growing market,” said D. Andrew Knight, a representative for New York City-based retailer B&H Photo Video, which sells DJI Phantom quadcopters.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Photos/Photography, Science & Technology

(UMR) Opinions differ among United Methodists on a moratorium for church trials

It was an expensive media spectacle. A United Methodist pastor had presided at the marriage ceremony of his gay son and his partner, and several years later was brought before a jury of his peers to answer for his disobedience to the laws of the United Methodist Church. As the broader society wrestled with the legality of same-sex marriage, the teachings and the means of addressing conflict in the UMC were put on display, to the satisfaction of some and the horror of others.

The question of the value of public church trials has been under the microscope in recent weeks in the wake of Frank Schaefer’s trial, conviction, and defrocking; the decision by the Council of Bishops to ask two of their own to file formal charges against Bishop Melvin Talbert for his presiding at a celebration of marriage service for two gay men in Alabama; and the increasing number of United Methodist clergy who are ignoring the UM Book of Discipline’s provisions forbidding UM clergy from participating in services celebrating the union of gay couples. There have been calls by church leaders and advocates for a moratorium on church trials related to gay marriage. And today, an advocacy group working to end “heterosexist policies and practices” in the UMC issued a statement expressing their opposition to such a moratorium, suggesting that a moratorium would allow the church to ignore same-sex concerns rather than moving to repeal what they believe are “discriminatory laws.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Birmingham, Alabama, Episcopal Cathedral tabletop history is 'amazing'

“Witnesses to the Light: An Adventure into God’s Workmanship Past, Present and Future,” was written and compiled by the Rev. John Harper, who was interim dean of Cathedral Church of the Advent in 2004-05.

“It took me two and a half years,” Harper said. “It has been a labor of love. It has been a joy from the very beginning. Anytime you start to do something for the Lord, it works that way.”

The 290-page book, nine by 12 inches with full-color photography, documents every window in the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama. It also features every priest who served as dean or rector, and explanations for the needlepoint artwork and designs in the wood such as the altar shields.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Art, Books, Church History, Parish Ministry, Photos/Photography, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Guardian) Mary Shelley letters discovered in Essex archive

Perhaps most touching is her pride in her son, also called Percy and the only one of her children with Shelley to survive infancy. “Percy is growing up a very fine young man & developing tastes & talents that would remind you of his father ”“ though he has not that touch that at once made Shelley angelic & unfortunate.” After her son goes to Cambridge, she writes, “he is getting all that we could wish ”“ he is getting very liberal ”“ & has so much character & talent ”“ though still shy ”“ that I have every hope for his future happiness”.

His sweet nature “repays me for how many years of sadness”, she writes later, though she also admits: “I am mortified he is not taller.”

Her own worsening health hampers the communication in later years. “Today I have been down stairs & taken an airing for the first time ”“ I hope I shall have no relapse,” she writes to Eliza in 1846. “This note looks blotty and invalidy ”“ indeed my drive has tired me.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Books, England / UK, History

(CSM) The Awful Vermont situation remins us that Heroin has moved to the countryside

Governor [Peter] Shumlin hauled out his own list of grim statistics. In Vermont, treatment for opiate abuse has risen 770 percent since 2000. In just the past year, treatment for heroin addiction has risen a dramatic 40 percent, and deaths from heroin overdoses have doubled. Nearly 80 percent of those jailed in Vermont, he said, are now or have been drug addicts.

Perhaps even more sobering were the stories he told of lives ruined by drug addiction. One Vermont teen started using Oxycontin in the 10th grade and was soon addicted to a $500-a-day habit. He stole $20,000 in farm equipment from his own family to pay for his drugs. And not long ago another young man, an undergraduate at the University of Vermont who was a science major and member of the school’s ski team, died of a heroin overdose. Because the quality and potency of each batch of black-market heroin varies widely, even those who think they are cautious users can accidentally and suddenly overdose at any time.

Both stories sought to shatter perceptions that heroin addiction is a problem only for large urban areas. In fact, Vermont represents a particularly lucrative market for heroin dealers, the governor said, who find that they can sell a bag of heroin that would fetch $6 on the streets of New York City for $30 or more there. Each Vermont addict yields five times the income from the same amount of “product.”

Read it all and you call find the full text of Governor Peter Shumlin’s 2014 State of the State Address there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Poverty, State Government

(Church Times) Draft ”˜baptism lite’ criticised

The text is currently being piloted in 450 parishes. It was developed by the Liturgical Commission after the Synod approved a motion from Liverpool diocese asking for an alternative text in “accessible language”.

A note attached to the text, which was published on Sunday, says that “Clergy frequently find themselves conducting baptisms for families who have little contact with the Church. . . For the majority of those attending on such occasions, the existing provision can seem complex and inaccessible.”

The note states that the Commission had sought to “express the primacy of God’s welcoming grace, while retaining the solemnity of the promises to turn away from evil and towards Christ”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Baptism, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Soteriology, Theology

([London] Times) Rise in Muslim birthrate as families ”˜feel British’

Almost a tenth of babies and toddlers in England and Wales are Muslim, a breakdown of census figures shows.

The percentage of Muslims among the under-fives is almost twice as high as in the general population. In an indication of the extent to which birthrate is changing the UK’s religious demographic, fewer than one in 200 over-85s are Muslim.

One expert said it was foreseeable that Muslims who worshipped would outnumber practising Christians. “It’s not inconceivable,” said David Voas, Professor of Population Studies at the University of Essex.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, England / UK, Islam, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Friday Morning Mental Health Break–A Polar Bear Cubs' First Steps in Toronto

Enjoy it all (hat tip: BC).

Posted in * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Animals, Canada

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Laud

Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, that, like thy servant William Laud, we may live in thy fear, die in thy favor, and rest in thy peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who by the leadings of thy providence didst bring wise men from far to give homage to Jesus, born to be King of all: Help us, who by various ways are led to Christ, humbly and thankfully to adore him with our gifts, and as our costliest treasure to present before him ourselves for his honour and service, now and always.

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

–John 10:7-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Reuters) U.S. officials worry over South Sudan violence, may cut aid

South Sudan risks losing hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid if its government and rebel leaders do not end a wave of violence in the fledgling democracy formed with Washington’s strong support, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

Three weeks of fighting, often along ethnic lines, is ringing alarm bells in Washington over the prospect that the conflict could spiral into full-blown civil war, spawning atrocities or making South Sudan the world’s next failed state.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Sudan, Theology, Violence

”˜No plans’ to remove the devil from Church of Ireland baptisms, following CofE lead

The Church of Ireland has “no current plans” to follow the example of Anglican church leaders in England and introduce a devil-free version of the traditional baptism service.

In the new wording, currently being-road tested in 400 parishes across the water, parents and godparents are being asked if they “reject evil, and all its many forms, and all empty promises”. In the traditional version, they are asked if they “reject the devil and all rebellion against God”.

The move follows a motion brought to the church’s General Synod from the a group of clergy in Liverpool, who sought to alter the baptism service to include “culturally appropriate and accessible language”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Baptism, Church of England (CoE), Church of Ireland, Sacramental Theology, Theology

(CC) Philip Jenkins–Alec Reid, a profile of an Irish peacemaker

The Catholic priest was carrying an ultra-secret document that could mark a breakthrough in one of the world’s bloodiest conflicts. En route to deliver it, though, a humanitarian crisis forced him to stop: he tried, unsuccessfully, to prevent a mob from murdering an unarmed soldier. After giving the soldier last rites, he continued to carry his potent message””although he had to change the envelope, which had become soaked with blood.

Such a heroic story sounds almost as if it comes from a Catholic suspense novel, but it really did happen””in Belfast in 1988. The priest in question was Alec Reid of the Redemptorist Order, who died in November at the age of 82.

Although little known in North America, in Ireland itself he is lauded for his critical role in ending the decades-long struggle be­tween the (Catho­lic) Pro­visional Irish Repub­lican Army and the British government. His mighty example of Christian peacemaking cries out to be remembered.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ireland, Religion & Culture, Violence