Daily Archives: February 9, 2014

Adam Sternberg–A call for cultural libertarianism, while examining guilt and pleasure

I’d advocate for an even bigger imaginative leap: one that acknowledges the wide spectrum of pleasures that books (and TV, movies, music, theater, what have you) can offer us and then ”” and here’s the radical part ”” doesn’t immediately insist that these pleasures must also be sorted into a moral hierarchy. (This pleasure: good; that pleasure: bad; this one: in the middle.) Can we instead envision a world in which the person struggling through (but enjoying!) “Remembrance of Things Past” and the person tearing through (and enjoying!) “Gone Girl” can coexist on the same strip of sand, beach chairs side by side, each feeling pleasure in her solitary rapt world and neither one needing to cloak that pleasure behind the brown-paper wrapper of guilt?

I’m not a libertarian, politically speaking ”” I’m Canadian, which puts me slightly to the left of Communist. But increasingly I find myself attracted to a notion I’ll call cultural libertarianism, which might be best summed up in that old saying “Whatever floats your boat.” Which is to say, I’m less and less inclined to drop the hammer on someone who’s sitting in the corner, contentedly reading Dan Brown. Does this mean I’m obliged to acknowledge and celebrate the artistry of Dan Brown? Of course not. For me, personally, Dan Brown doesn’t do it; he leaves my boat unfloated. If you’re interested, I’m happy to share my reasons. But I’m not going to suggest that your enjoyment of Dan Brown is somehow degraded or embarrassing or shameful. I’ve not only lost my fervor to wage a holy crusade against people who enjoy Dan Brown; I’ve lost my faith in the kind of critical crusaders who do.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy, Psychology, Theology

A McAfee School of Theology Prof. reflects on a recent trip to Iran

[ Robert Nash]… participated in a delegation of American scholars to Iran led by Conscience International founder James Jennings.

The purpose was to meet with Iranian counterparts to discuss a wide range of topics and to make arrangements for future academic exchanges. The visit was made possible by recent diplomatic breakthroughs between Iran’s more moderate government and the United States.

Nash said he arrived home Jan. 26 encouraged that there are government and university officials in Iran who seem inclined to build on improved relations with the United States.

“I was surprised at the number of officials in the Iranian government that were trained and educated in American universities, with PhDs from places like UCLA, Boston University, Notre Dame ”” one after another,” he said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Baptists, Inter-Faith Relations, Iran, Middle East, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Post-Gazette) Human trafficking: some stories of modern-day slavery in the Pittsburgh Area

“I think there is a perception that human trafficking is something that happens in large, urban centers or on the coast,” said Elizabeth Miller, chief of adolescent medicine at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

But she often sees girls and women with mental health issues, like post-traumatic stress disorder, along with those who need treatment for physical issues like sexually transmitted diseases, malnutrition and other health consequences of trafficking. “This is really uncomfortable stuff, to think that there are young people in our community where adults who should be taking care of them are exploiting them — using them sexually.”

Dr. Miller and other local experts will be discussing the issue in depth tomorrow at an open house, sponsored by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Trafficking Coalition at the Andy Warhol Museum. The event comes just weeks after a federal grand jury indicted a man and a woman for sex trafficking of a 16-year-old, and a month after Moon police plucked the 17-year-old girl from the multistate group of four adults who now face charges of promoting prostitution.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Mental Illness, Psychology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence, Women, Young Adults

Rock Hill minister wanted to be a nun; became Episcopal priest instead

Growing up, Janice Melbourne wanted to be a nun. Instead she became a priest.

Her lifelong journey of discovery began with her birth in Tehran, Iran, where her father was a U.S. foreign service officer. The journey now has come to Rock Hill, where the Rev. Janice Melbourne Chalaron is the rector at the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour.

Her journey of faith began in a “marginally Methodist” family that went to church twice a year, attending Catholic Mass in Helsinki, followed by a return to the Methodist church, then an introduction to the Episcopal church through her husband, Pierre Chalaron.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Telegraph) Christopher Howse–The mermaid on the Exeter Cathedral roof

A lovely book has just come out, about some of the most lively and beautiful medieval sculpture in Britain. It is by Alex Woodcock, a stonemason, who has also published scholarly work on the art.

His new book (Impress Books, £9.99), illustrated in colour, is called Of Sirens and Centaurs. The odd thing is that there are, I’d argue, no sirens in it. Let me explain.

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

(W Post) Pope Francis faces church divided over doctrine, global poll of R. Catholics finds

Most Catholics worldwide disagree with church teachings on divorce, abortion and contraception and are split on whether women and married men should become priests, according to a large new poll released Sunday and commissioned by the U.S. Spanish-language network Univision. On the topic of gay marriage, two-thirds of Catholics polled agree with church leaders.

Overall, however, the poll of more than 12,000 Catholics in 12 countries reveals a church dramatically divided: Between the developing world in Africa and Asia, which hews closely to doctrine on these issues, and Western countries in Europe, North America and parts of Latin America, which strongly support practices that the church teaches are immoral.

The widespread disagreement with Catholic doctrine on abortion and contraception and the hemispheric chasm lay bare the challenge for Pope Francis’s year-old papacy and the unity it has engendered.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Oxford announces honorary degrees for 2014; TEC Presiding Bishop Among recipients

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

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Education, England / UK, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Theology

(FT) Are Humans really as unique as we like to think? Stephen Cave considers the evidence

You might think that we humans are special: no other species has, for example, landed on the moon, or invented the iPad. But then, I personally haven’t done those things either. So if such achievements are what makes us human then I must be relegated to the beasts, except in so far as I can catch a little reflected glory from true humans such as Neil Armstrong or Steve Jobs.

Fortunately, there are other, more inclusive, ideas around about what makes us human. Not long ago, most people (in the west) were happy with the account found in the Bible: we are made in the image of God ”“ end of argument. But the theory of evolution tells a different story, one in which humans slowly emerged as a twig on the tree of life. The problem with this explanation is that it is much more difficult to say exactly what makes us so different from all the other twigs.

Indeed, in the light of new research into animal intelligence, some scientists have concluded that there simply is no profound difference between us and other species. This is the stance taken in new books by Henry Gee, palaeontology editor of the leading scientific journal Nature, and by animal behaviour expert Marc Bekoff. But other scientists of equal eminence argue the opposite: that new research is finally making the profound difference between humans and animals clear ”“ and two of them, the psychologists Michael Tomasello and Thomas Suddendorf, have written new books purporting to tell us exactly what it is.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Science & Technology, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Lord, because being compassed with infirmities we oftentimes sin and ask for pardon: Help us to forgive as we would be forgiven; neither mentioning old offences committed against us, nor dwelling upon them in thought, nor being influenced by them in heart; but loving our brother freely, as thou freely lovest us; for Christ’s sake.

–Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.

–Mark 10:14-16

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Laura Leonard–For God and Country: Christian Athletes to Watch in Sochi

It’s as dependable as the Olympic Flame. Every two years the world’s best athletes convene in a single city to compete for the honor of their countries, their families, and, for some, their God.

The games stay the same””give or take your Ski Halfpipe, Women’s Ski Jumping, or Team Figure Skating, all making their debuts in Sochi””but every Olympic season we welcome a new set of athletes into our homes via Bob Costas and his personality pieces engineered to invest us more deeply in their pursuit of gold. For two weeks these athletes become household names, securing a few more weeks if they win gold, and their stories become the backdrop of our lives until the last lights go out in the Olympic Village.

It’s nice to find fellow Christians among the 230 men and women who make up the 2014 Team USA delegation to Sochi, Russia. We don’t root for them because they’re on “Team Jesus,” but all the same it’s nice to see people at the peak of their field, on the world’s biggest athletic stage, turn the credit back to the One who gave us bodies to run and jump and spin on ice and imaginations to push the limits of those bodies to run faster, jump higher, and spin faster than we ever thought possible.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Globalization, Religion & Culture, Russia, Sports

President of the House of Deputies at Executive Council: Opening Remarks

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Executive Council, House of Deputies President

TEC Presiding Bishop at Executive Council: Opening Remarks

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Executive Council, Presiding Bishop

(Telegraph) Is America losing faith? Atheism on the rise but still in the shadows

The Virginia Tech group contains a broad spectrum, from life-long atheists who grew up in sceptical families to home-schooled Baptists, evangelical Catholics and even a young man who was brought up in a Dominionist cult dedicated to establishing a Theocracy in America.

Caroline – not her real name – is a graduate research chemist who is about to hit the job market and is afraid that her atheism will be held against her.

“I’m more concerned about getting a job than losing one,” she said. “I know they Google you and while I can’t hide my atheism, I don’t really want to advertise it.

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

([London] Times) First ever Anglican Bishop of Leeds will lead new “super” diocese

Bishop Baines will finish working as Bishop of Bradford when the diocese ceases to exist on Easter Day. Along with the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds and the Diocese of Wakefield, the Bradford diocese is being “restructured” into the new Diocese of Leeds in West Yorkshire and the Dales.

The diocese will be the largest geographically in the country.

Unusually, because the three cathedrals will remain as centres of the Church’s mission, Bishop Nick will have three enthronements. He will be enthroned in Bradford, Ripon and Wakefield cathedrals on three separate dates in the summer. He told The Times that the rationalisation of the three dioceses was not about cost cutting but about enhancing the Church’s mission. There will be no redundancies, he said. The appointment of two new area bishops is among his priorities.

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