Daily Archives: March 25, 2014

(NYT) In new economic divide, the poor smoke more

When smoking first swept the United States in the early decades of the 20th century, it took hold among the well-to-do. Cigarettes were high-society symbols of elegance and class, puffed by doctors and movie stars. By the 1960s, smoking had exploded, helped by the distribution of cigarettes to soldiers in World War II. Half of all men and a third of women smoked.

But as evidence of smoking’s deadly consequences has accumulated, the broad patterns of use by class have shifted: Smoking, the leading cause of preventable death in the country, is now increasingly a habit of the poor and the working class.

While previous data established that pattern, a new analysis of federal smoking data released on Monday shows that the disparity is increasing. The national smoking rate has declined steadily, but there is a deep geographic divide. In the affluent suburbs of Washington, only about one in 10 people smoke, according to the analysis, by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. But in impoverished places like this ”” Clay County, in eastern Kentucky ”” nearly four in 10 do.

Read it all (from the front page of the paper copy of today’s New York Times).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance, Poverty

(Vat. Radio) President of Pont. Council for the Family presents 8th World Meeting for Families

The starting point and the guide for this journey is the one given to us by Pope Francis: “the beauty of the family and of marriage, the grandeur of a reality that is both simple and profound, a combination of joy, hope, burdens and suffering, just like the rest of life.” We will seek to deepen our understanding of the theology of the family and of the pastoral care that we must exercise in today’s world.” “All this we will do,” confirmed Pope Francis, “in depth and without tripping into that ”˜casuistry’ that would inevitably diminish the value of our work.” The Holy Father emphasized that in today’s world the family is looked down on and treated badly and that what we are called on to do is make known how beautiful, and true and good it is to create a family, to be a family in today’s world, and how the world, and the future of all human kind, cannot do without the family. Our task is to show the world God’s shining plan for families, to help married couples live out that plan with joy, and to be there for them with a shepherd’s care that is wise, brave and full of love” (Pope Francis’ Opening Discourse to the Special Consistory on the Family, February twentieth, 2014)

This is what we will do as we look toward the Meeting in Philadelphia: we will be there for all the families of the world with a shepherd’s care that is “wise,” and “brave” and “full of love.” Wisdom in understanding what families face today, bravery in taking on today’s many and complex problems; and love in helping to resolve those problems in the light of the Gospel of the Family and of Life. We will deal with many issues in our wise, brave and loving work together: theology of the family, married spirituality and holiness, ecclesiology and pastoral care for families, the family in contemporary culture, immigration and the family, the family and ecumenism.

Read it all.

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

(LA Times) Religious case at Supreme Court could affect Obamacare and much more

A challenge to part of President Obama’s healthcare law that hits the Supreme Court on Tuesday could lead to one of the most significant religious freedom rulings in the high court’s history.

Four years ago, in their controversial Citizens United decision, the justices ruled that corporations had full free-speech rights in election campaigns. Now, they’re being asked to decide whether for-profit companies are entitled to religious liberties.

At issue in Tuesday’s oral argument before the court is a regulation under the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide workers a health plan that covers the full range of contraceptives, including morning-after pills and intrauterine devices, or IUDs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(BBC) Women's harrowing tale of escape from Boko Haram

Two women who were abducted by Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria have given a rare account of life as captives of the Islamist militants.

“They asked me if I am Christian or Muslim. I said I am Christian,” said 23-year-old Liatu, as she recalled her ordeal in the hands of Boko Haram.

“On the 11th day [in captivity], they brought a man to me and said that he liked me and I should convert to Islam so that he can marry me.”

She was stopped at a roadblock set up last year by the Islamist militant group. She said any Muslims employed by the government were killed on the spot, as Boko Haram had earlier warned them to leave their work.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology, Violence, Women

(NYT) General Motors Misled Grieving Families on a Lethal Flaw

It was nearly five years ago that any doubts were laid to rest among engineers at General Motors about a dangerous and faulty ignition switch. At a meeting on May 15, 2009, they learned that data in the black boxes of Chevrolet Cobalts confirmed a potentially fatal defect existed in hundreds of thousands of cars.

But in the months and years that followed, as a trove of internal documents and studies mounted, G.M. told the families of accident victims and other customers that it did not have enough evidence of any defect in their cars, interviews, letters and legal documents show. Last month, G.M. recalled 1.6 million Cobalts and other small cars, saying that if the switch was bumped or weighed down it could shut off the engine’s power and disable air bags.

In one case, G.M. threatened to come after the family of an accident victim for reimbursement of legal fees if the family did not withdraw its lawsuit. In another instance, it dismissed a family with a terse, formulaic letter, saying there was no basis for claims.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Theology, Travel

(The State) In South Carolina, Explaining the penalty phase of the health insurance mandate

….with less than 10 days left in the 2014 window to apply for coverage with policies through the federal marketplace, lots of people still don’t understand the penalties. Who pays? Who doesn’t? How do you pay? How do you avoid paying?

Toni McKinnon of Columbia stopped by Richland Library’s main branch on Assembly Street last week to find out about the health insurance marketplace because she was worried about having to pay a penalty.

“When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you can’t afford insurance,” McKinnon said, “and you sure can’t afford to pay some kind of penalty.”

She left the library slightly confused and very disappointed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

(FT) The United States loses its edge as a jobs powerhouse

The US is losing its edge as an employment powerhouse, where most people have a job or are looking for one, after its labour participation rate fell behind the UK’s.

The diverging trends between the US and the UK come as central bankers in both countries try to understand the dynamics in their respective labour markets, a critical factor in how long they should keep interest rates at record lows.

The labour force participation rate ”“ the proportion of adults who are either working or looking for work ”“ started to decline in the US in 2000 and has plunged since 2008 from 66 to 63 per cent.

Read it all (if necessary another link Read it all).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Theology

(BBC) St Luke's 'bombed out' Church in Liverpool could be sold

A shell of a church in Liverpool struck by a bomb in World War Two could be sold, according to the city’s mayor.

Talks about the future of St Luke’s Church, which was destroyed by a bomb in 1941, were ongoing Joe Anderson said.

He added it would only be sold if the buyer protected it as a tribute to those who died in World War Two.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, England / UK, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

Archbishop Justin Welby chairs first meeting of new evangelism task group

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is chairing the first meeting of the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group at Lambeth Palace today.

The group, which comprises about a dozen experts and practitioners in evangelism, has been set up following a debate on intentional evangelism at the General Synod in November. It intends to encourage and equip every church and Christian proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

During its inaugural meeting, the group will consider how it can bring influence to bear on the church in the short, medium and long term. It will also discuss the group’s future structure and work. It is expected that the group will meet five times during its first 12 months.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast of the Annunciation

We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts; that we who have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Eternal God, who through thy Son our Lord hast promised a blessing upon those who hear thy Word and faithfully keep it: Open our ears, we humbly beseech thee, to hear what thou sayest, and enlighten our minds, that what we hear we may understand, and understanding may carry into good effect by thy bounteous prompting; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Euchologium Anglicanum

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,

things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders which he has wrought.

He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children;

that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,

so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments….

–Psalm 78:2-7

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) About 36% of all Web traffic is fake, the product of computers hijacked by viruses

Billions of dollars are flowing into online advertising. But marketers also are confronting an uncomfortable reality: rampant fraud.

About 36% of all Web traffic is considered fake, the product of computers hijacked by viruses and programmed to visit sites, according to estimates cited recently by the Interactive Advertising Bureau trade group.

So-called bot traffic cheats advertisers because marketers typically pay for ads whenever they are loaded in response to users visiting Web pages””regardless of whether the users are actual people.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Science & Technology, Theology

GAFCON Chairman’s Lent Pastoral letter

…GAFCON came into being as a rescue mission for a Communion threatened by rebellion against the biblical gospel and during Lent we should learn from Daniel and intercede for God’s mercy as we see so much spiritual desolation.

I believe we are seeing such prayers being answered. GAFCON sponsored the Anglican Church in North America after our first conference in Jerusalem and we endorsed the Anglican Mission in England last year here in Nairobi. Now, at its Annual Convention last week, the Diocese of South Carolina has aligned itself with the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and, as a step on the journey, accepted provisional oversight through the Global South group of primates. Once again we see that the radical liberalism of western churches requires Provinces from elsewhere to authenticate and recognize those who are being marginalized, as our Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans has done and is doing.

The presence of leaders from the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) at the South Carolina Convention was a sign of hope for the future. As a false unity that is based merely on institutional history breaks down, a new unity is emerging which finds its inspiration in the great historic truths of Anglican faith. GAFCON is a movement for unity, both within its fellowship and with other orthodox groupings. Orthodox Anglicans should expect to find themselves converging as they share a common allegiance to the gospel and GAFCON’s Jerusalem Statement and Declaration, a clear and contemporary statement of faithful Anglican believing, is a key contribution to building this godly unity.

The need for repentance, without which we cannot have true unity, is obscured when the authority and clarity of Scripture come into question. Sadly, this is the inevitable result of the Continuing Indaba project. By assuming that all differences are matters of context and interpretation, it becomes a way of affirming a false gospel. Much of its funding comes through the Episcopal Church of the United Sates.

We see here the repetition of a subtle and ancient strategy. In the Garden of Eden, the serpent says to Eve ”˜Did God really say”¦’ (Genesis 3:1) and the consequences are tragic. By grace, we have been rescued from the power of death and sin. So how then can we once more set ourselves above its truth, we who are a made a new creation through hearing and obeying the Word of God?

I do therefore need to make an important clarification. Contrary to the claim made on the website of the London Anglican Communion office that there is a Kenyan ”˜Resource Hub’ for Continuing Indaba, neither the Anglican Church of Kenya nor any of its learning institutions are participants in this project. We are strongly committed to the work of reconciliation within the Church and within civil society, but the gospel ministry of reconciliation is given to us by God and must not therefore compromise the Word of God.

Read it all

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

(RNS) Leonard Sweet on how to make faith fun

RNS: You describe the ways Christians try to work harder to please God. Is this the same challenge the Pharisees faced?

LS: The church today says the same thing the Pharisees did: “Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you . .. . more work.” Actually, these are Jesus’ words, but he promised tranquility, not toil. To become a disciple of Jesus in today’s church is almost to be sentenced to hard labor, so far are we removed from the Hebrew understanding of life as Shabbat Shalom. It’s time to trade in our hard hats or pin stripes for a pinata ”¦ with some confetti thrown in.

In the earliest creation story, the first time we meet God, God is down and dirty”“playing in the dirt, making mud pies, getting God’s hands dirty and wet, fashioning us in the divine image for the sheer pleasure of our company. Creation is not God at work, but God at play. Labor enters the story with the fall, and we prefer work to play because there is an out-of-control and surprise element to play.

We need to learn to play at life again. All beauty, artistry, excellence comes out of a play paradigm, not a work paradigm. When you work at something, whether it be life or relationships, sports or art, you’re forcing something to be rigid and mechanical that should be natural and pleasurable. We make it harder than it needs to be. Being the church doesn’t require us to earn God’s favor through deeds and acts. All we need to do is worship God in joy and pleasure. This is our nature. This is who we were meant to be.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Humor / Trivia, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture