Daily Archives: June 26, 2014

(Vatican Insider) Meriam is free, safe and awaiting travel documents to leave Sudan

Meriam Yeya Ibrahim Ishag, the 26-year-old Christian woman whose death sentence for apostasy was revoked, has been released and was taken from Khartoum airport to a safe place while she waits for her travel documents to be sent through. This is according to Antonella Napoli, president of Italian s for Darfur, who posted a message on the association’s Facebook page.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sudan

USA Make Knockout Stage at World Cup 2014

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Brazil, Europe, Germany, Globalization, South America, Sports

(Post-Gazette) Anglicans assemble at Saint Vincent

Archbishop-elect Foley Beach of the Diocese of the South, whom fellow bishops selected earlier this week, saluted founding Archbishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, whom he will succeed upon completion of the latter’s five-year term at the end of the assembly Saturday.

“Archbishop Duncan’s shoes are very big, and my feet are not that big,” Bishop Beach said. “I’m counting on Jesus to fill the gap.”

He said the denomination, with new congregations and many participants who joined without ever participating in the Episcopal Church, is seeking to move forward beyond the years of conflicts that preceded the ACNA’s founding.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(Wired) Cloud Computing Could Do More to Save the Planet Than Electric Cars

Many will tell you that we can save the planet by switching from gas-guzzling automobiles to electric cars. But Zack Rosen says there’s a better way. He’ll tell you the impact would be greater if we just switched from virtual machines to Linux containers.

Virtual machines are those things that let anyone run software on the massive cloud computing services offered up by the likes of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Rather than setting up its own computer servers, a startup like Netflix or Pinterest can build almost its entire operation atop virtual servers running in the cloud”“pieces of software that work much like a real machine. But Rosen believes we can seriously reduce the world’s energy consumption if we swap these virtual machines for containers, a suddenly red-hot cloud computing technology that fits neatly into the open source Linux operating system, the OS of choice on the modern web. Among other things, containers can run large software applications in significantly more efficient ways.

Citing multiple studies on power used by cars and data centers, Rosen estimates that, with so much of our software running on cloud services and other operations that use virtual machines, we have a better chance of saving the planet if we just embrace containers. “They’re an order of magnitude more efficient,” says Rosen, whose company, Pantheon, has long used containers to run its online service, a kind of website publishing platform. “I think you can say”“with an absolute straight face”“that the containerization of software applications in the age of the cloud will save more CO2 emissions than electric cars.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Science & Technology, Theology

(Terry Mattingly) Sobering words define a young Roman Catholic priest after he was gunned down at 28

….what Father Kenneth Walker preached about, in a sermon captured on video that has gone viral on the Internet in the days after he was gunned down, at 28 years of age, by a burglar at Mother of Mercy Mission parish near downtown Phoenix. He talked about forgiveness and the need for people living in a sinful, broken and violent world to realize that they may not have much time remaining to get right with God.

“God is all merciful, but he is also perfectly just,” he said. “He will not prevent something from happening, if we bring it about by our own choosing. Nevertheless, God gives time and opportunity to repent before he lets the consequences fall upon us.”

The Bible and church history are full of cases in which God warns people to flee wickedness, he said. In some cases, saints and martyrs suffered and died while God gave a wayward land more time to repent.

“We are in a similar situation today, since we are now living in a world that is increasingly rejecting Christ and casting him out of the public forum,” said Walker. “We have grown far too attached to our own knowledge, our technology and our worldly pleasures ”” such that we have forgotten God and what he has done for us.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Violence

(CT) How Jimmy Fallon Made Comedy Fun Again

Even we Christians seem to have sidelined joy in entertainment to explore the bleaker side of reality. We find ourselves praising sad standups for what they can teach us about our faith. We binge-watch shows like Breaking Bad, House of Cards, and Mad Men for the way their broken characters and their brutal worlds will reveal the dark side of human nature. Yes, we’ve seen how recent heavy dramas can show us the real weight of sin and the moral consequences of our decisions, but these kinds of programs can’t become our only tv obsessions.

Just as we proclaim a God of grace and justice, of love and law, Christians need balance in our pop culture engagement. So do our neighbors. We need the light of the funny, silly, and joyful to glow in the dark. Shiny-happy shows don’t tell the full truth, but neither do shows that punch us in the face. We’ve spent enough time embracing suffering and being skeptical of joy and happiness. All the more so if, as C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”

Fallon’s spirit is no shtick. His joy has been there all along. As a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1998 to 2004, he notoriously broke character, holding back laughter in the background of a sketch or cracking a smile in the middle of a punch line. His critics cite these incidents as weaknesses. I think they prove how much he likes his job.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, History, Humor / Trivia, Movies & Television, Other Churches, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Young Adults

(PA) Church groups welcomed the Supreme Court "right-to-die" ruling

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said: “This is good news for the many vulnerable people who would have been at risk if the attempt to weaken the law on euthanasia and assisted suicide had been allowed by the Supreme Court. The murder law is there to set the highest priority on the importance and value of life and to protect it.

“While we have immense compassion for the Nicklinsons, Paul Lamb and ‘Martin’, their individual requests to end their lives by medical intervention would have been disproportionate to the safety of many. We have to remember that these cases, together with the many others that have been brought in the past decade, are used as part of a campaign to soften public opinion and apply pressure on parliament to legalise euthanasia. We must remember that hard cases make bad law.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(C of E) Statement on Supreme Court judgement

Revd Dr Brendan McCarthy, National Adviser: Medical Ethics and Health and Social Care Policy for the Archbishops’ Council, said….”We remain convinced that the current law and the DPP guidelines for its application provide a compassionate framework within which difficult cases can be assessed while continuing to ensure that many vulnerable individuals are given much needed protection from coercion or abuse….”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(BBC) Campaigners lose assisted suicide/dying case at UK Supreme Court

Campaigners have lost their appeal at the UK Supreme Court over the right to die – but the judges said Parliament should now act.

Justices ruled against Paul Lamb and Jane Nicklinson by seven to two.

A third man, Martin, lost his attempt to have the current prosecution guidance on assisted suicide clarified.

But five justices concluded they had the power to declare the current law breaches the right to a private life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Theology

Andrew Symes at the ACNA Assembly

The 2014 ACNA assembly meets at the St Vincent College complex in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Wooded hills and green meadows surround the town; the weather is hot and humid with frequent afternoon showers. The atmosphere is one of real hope and optimism: ACNA has grown to nearly 500 congregations in 5 years. The theme of the Conference is “Thy Kingdom Come: Conversion, Compassion, Courage”. Preaching at the opening Eucharist, outgoing Archbishop Robert Duncan spoke on this from the Gospel reading of Matthew 10 on God’s agenda to supplant the Kingdoms of the world with his own rule which Jesus has inaugurated. This Kingdom, a visible alternative to a broken world, comes about as people turn from sin through repentance and faith in Christ, devote their lives to compassionate service, and have courage to confront evil.

The service itself was impressive but of course much more liturgical than would be found in most evangelical Anglican churches in England…

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)

Archbishop Justin Welby's Lecture on the future of banking standards

There have been a number of what I am going to rather rudely describe as – am I? I always get into trouble when I do this – challenges, I am not going to be so rude, challenges in the regulatory system and across the process. I want to pick up on three or four particularly. First of all, leverage and capital adequacy. Leverage is the very quick and dirty calculation of the amount of equity there is to the amount of debt there is in a bank. At one point in one of the major banks, RBS in early 2008, it had 2% of capital to 98% of debt. That means you make a very small mistake and you are bust; if you make a big mistake, you are very, very, very bust.

Lehman was geared at 1% to 99% when it failed. The Banking Standards Commission recommended 4%. The banking industry pushed very hard and the Government settled on 3%.

Many of us on the Banking Standards Commission felt that was too low and continue to feel it is too low. Pressure from the banking industry in the European system within the Eurozone has overturned the recommendations in the Liikanen Report and again there has been a push back on the level of leverage. Banks in the UK at the moment are running at around 3.5%-4%. In the States they are talking about aiming for 5%-6%. The economic impact of that is obviously to restrict the banks’ appetite for lending. They have to have more capital. They can either do it by raising more capital, which is quite difficult, or by reducing their loan book. Those are the only two ways in which you do it. Reducing your loan book, if you have a fixed amount of capital that you have to have, you may as well make the most you can from it so necessarily you lend to the high-risk/high-return clients and particularly mortgages get squeezed. It is a conundrum.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

Another Huge Day for USA Soccer/Football

This would be the first time in history that we would have made it to the knock out stage in two consecutive World Cups.

I confess to being worried about the Portugal Ghana game, because Portugal has not had a good World Cup and they know they cannot go through unless they win big. So if the Ghana Portgual game to the second half scoreless the conerns is that Portugal loses their incentive and Ghana can then do even better.

All this is beside the point if USA ties or beats Germany–but that is a tall order!! –KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Globalization, Men, Sports

(Reuters) District of Columbia approves 'yoga tax' as part of budget

The District of Columbia Council on Tuesday approved a “yoga tax” on gymnasiums and yoga classes that has angered fitness buffs in the U.S. capital.

The Democratic-controlled council voted 12-1 to give final approval to a $10.6 billion budget for 2015 that included a sales tax on gyms, yoga studios and other athletic businesses, a spokeswoman for Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said.

The budget also includes a substantial income tax cut that would be offset by expanding the existing 5.75 percent sales tax to such services as tanning salons, health clubs, car washes and bowling alleys. The move is expected to raise $5 million a year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., City Government, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Taxes, Theology

(ABC Aus.) Stanley Hauerwas–Can Democracy be Christian? Reflections on How To (Not) Be a Political

For Niebuhr, Christians have a stake in democratic societies because, given the realism that the Christian understanding of sin requires, Christians know “that a healthy society must seek to achieve the greatest possible equilibrium of power, the greatest possible centers of power, the greatest possible social checks of the administration of power, and the greatest possible inner moral check on human ambition, as well as the most effective use of forms of power in which consent and coercion are compounded.” Democracies at their best are, therefore, able to achieve unity of purpose within the conditions of freedom and to maintain freedom within the framework of order.

It is particularly important to note that for Niebuhr democracy is a system of government that does not require the governed to be virtuous. Rather, it is a form of social organization that limits self-interested men from pursuing their interests in a manner that does not destroy community. Of course, a too-consistent pessimism concerning our ability to transcend our interests can lead to absolutist political theories. So Niebuhr is not suggesting that democracies can survive without some sense of justice. Rather he is reminding us that, as he puts it in what is probably his most famous epigram, “man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”

The task of social Christianity, for Niebuhr, is not to advocate particular solutions for economic or social ills, but to produce people of modesty about what can be accomplished given our sinful condition. It is equally important that same modesty be applied to the church, which is no less under the power of sin. In fact, from Niebuhr’s point of view, the sins of the church may even be more destructive given the temptation to identify religious politics with the politics of God.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Wales Online) Rowan Williams' anguish as an Archbishop leading a Dividing Communion

When asked if the church’s discipline on homosexuality needs to change, he tells the author: “Let me just say that I think the present situation doesn’t look very sustainable.”

However, on gay marriage he says: “I have no problem with legal parity for same-sex couples. But I’m not sure it’s an appropriate use of the state’s power to change a social institution.

“It felt as though we were being bundled into redefining a word without sufficient time to reflect.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Books, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Wales