Daily Archives: July 15, 2014

Janet Yellen Tells Congress That Federal Reserve Will Continue to Help Economy

Ms. Yellen, in downplaying concerns about financial stability, said the economic recovery remained incomplete and the Fed’s help was necessary.

“Too many Americans remain unemployed, inflation remains below our longer-run objective and not all of the necessary financial reform initiatives have been completed,” Ms. Yellen told the Senate Banking Committee.

Ms. Yellen’s testimony is likely to reinforce a sense of complacency among investors who regard the Fed as convinced of its forecast and committed to its policy course. She reiterated the Fed’s view that the economy will continue to grow at a moderate pace, and that the Fed is in no hurry to start increasing short-term interest rates.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Federal Reserve, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

(Telegraph) Michael Nazir-Ali–Lord Carey’s judgment on assisted dying is un-Christian

I yield to no one in my respect for Lord Carey and for the good things he has said and done, but I am simply amazed at his arguments (or lack of them) in support of Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill for the terminally ill. Lord Carey says that he has changed his mind after encountering the cases of Tony Nicklinson and Paul Lamb, who had severe paralysis but were not terminally ill. In what way do these cases support a Bill specifically for those with a life expectancy of six months or less?

The majority of those who are terminally ill want what Dr Peter Saunders, of the Christian Medical Fellowship, calls “assisted living” rather than “assisted dying”. This is what the Christian-inspired hospice movement seeks to do, enabling those nearing the end of their lives to prepare for a peaceful and good death. The fact that good hospice care is based on a postcode lottery is what should shame us, rather than not having our own answer to Dignitas in Switzerland.

Instead of concocting expensive ways of getting rid of those at their most vulnerable, I strongly believe we should be making sure that good hospice care is evenly available across the length and breadth of the country.

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

St. Andrews – TSM-Ridley

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(BBC) One in three Alzheimer's cases preventable, says research

One in three cases of Alzheimer’s disease worldwide is preventable, according to research from the University of Cambridge.

The main risk factors for the disease are a lack of exercise, smoking, depression and poor education, it says.

Previous research from 2011 put the estimate at one in two cases, but this new study takes into account overlapping risk factors.

Alzheimer’s Research UK said age was still the biggest risk factor.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(AP) Atheist To Open New York Town Meeting After Supreme Court OKs Prayers

An atheist is set to deliver the invocation in a western New York community whose town board won a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding its right to open meetings with a prayer.

Dan Courtney, 52, a mechanical engineer, said he asked the town of Greece right after the 5-4 decision in May for an opportunity to deliver the “non-theist” message.

The court’s conservative majority declared the prayers in line with national traditions and said the content is not significant as long as the prayers don’t denigrate non-Christians or try to win converts. The town argued persons of any faith were welcome to give the invocation.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, City Government, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life

Tuesday Food for Thought from Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue

‘It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the Dark Ages. None the less certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead—often not recognising fully what they were doing—was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct [one characterized by moral incoherence and unsettlable moral disputes in the modern world], we ought to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict.’

–Alasdair MacIntyre After Virtue (1981), pp. 244-245

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, History, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Theology

(AP) In Seattle, delivering legal marijuana illegally

William “Jackrabbit” Large pulls his SUV onto the side of a downtown Seattle street, parking behind an Amazon Fresh delivery truck and carrying a product the online retailer doesn’t offer: marijuana.

The thin, bespectacled Large is a delivery man for Winterlife, a Seattle company that is among a group of new businesses pushing the limits of Washington state’s recreational pot industry by offering to bring marijuana to almost any doorstep.

“It’s an opportunity that should not be missed,” Large says with the kind of fast-talking voice meant for radio.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, State Government, Theology

(BP) Nigerian Anglican Primate says Boko Haram's Islamic motives are being 'ignored'

The United States and other western nations have ignored the religious motivation of the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram and must understand the theological dynamics in Nigeria in order to curb terrorism in the western African country, the archbishop of Nigeria’s Anglican Church told Baptist Press.

For a long time, “the United States did not come out to say anything about Boko Haram,” Nicholas Okoh, primate of the Church of Nigeria, said in an interview. “They kept talking about economic problems, [saying] that Boko Haram is fighting because of economic problems. That is not true … The United States deliberately ignored the fundamental issues of religious ideology.”

Based in northeast Nigeria, Boko Haram has killed an estimated 10,000 people since 2002 with an escalation in murders recently. In April the group received wide media coverage for kidnapping 273 schoolgirls, 219 of whom remain missing and may be enslaved as wives of Muslim men. Loosely translated, the phrase Boko Haram means “Western education is sinful.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Defense, National Security, Military, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Economist) Managing Mammon–A shake-up of finances at the Vatican Bank

…as a result of reforms initiated by Pope Benedict XVI and pursued vigorously by Francis, the outlines are emerging of a more transparent, rational system. Cardinal Pell, a no-nonsense Australian appointed in February to head a new secretariat for the economy, announced two main changes.

The first concerns the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA). Less well-known than the IOR, APSA generates most of the cash to pay for the Vatican’s administration. It has two sections. One oversees the property left to the Vatican after the occupation and eradication of the Papal State during Italy’s unification in the 19th century. The other section invests the papal “nest-egg”: the cash Italy’s fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, gave the papacy in 1929 to compensate it for the loss of its territories. The first section is to be hived off into Cardinal Pell’s “finance ministry”; the second will become, in effect, the Vatican’s central bank.

The big change at the IOR is that it has a new board and a new president””the third in 26 months (for nine of which the post was vacant).

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(Vanguard) Boko Haram Invades Borno Villages

Gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram sect yesterday invaded the Dille Village in Askira-Uba Local Government Area of Borno State, killing five civilians and setting ablaze three churches including the Church of Brethern in Nigeria, EYN, as well as shops and residential buildings.

Unconfirmed reports revealed that unspecified number of the attackers were also killed by military fighter jets that arrived the scene of the incident and bombed them.

This was even as the Nigerian Army High Command yesterday declared that the battle against Boko Haram and terrorism will be defeated though it urged the citizenry to be patient as the development was a new phenomenon whereas the army is a conventionally trained force.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Jeffrey Bishop–The Hard Work of Dying: Refusing the False Logic of Physician-Assisted Death

As the social apparatuses and laws of post-Christian cultures continue to develop in ways opposed to Christianity, Christian churches faithful to the hope of the Christian message will have to create alternative structures of care for those who are dying. Rather than relying on for-profit hospices and state-funded apparatuses that participate in the utilitarian logic of assisted death, they will once again have to create hospices engaged in the Christian tradition of hospitality.

The narrative of Resurrection is opposed to the logic of assisted death. The hope of the Resurrection is not one of fanciful longing for reversal of physical death. Rather, the Christian narrative is one that claims that even the least of these can find hope, meaning and a life worth living in death’s darkest hour, and that death does not have the final word in the hard work of dying.

The work animated by the Christian message is what created health care in the West, and it is what should animate Christian care of the dying against the logic of assisted death in the regnant social structures of modern health care.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Time) A ”˜High’ From Marijuana Is Really the Opposite In Your Brain

A new study suggests marijuana blunts the brain’s reaction to dopamine, making users less responsive to the chemical responsible for feelings of reward and pleasure.

In the study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS), the researchers studied the brains of 24 marijuana abusers””that is, people who smoked multiple times a day””and how they reacted to methylphenidate, a stimulant often used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Using personality tests and brain imaging, the researchers found the pot users had blunted behavioral, cardiovascular, and brain responses to methylphenidate compared to control participants. Marijuana abusers scored lower on tests of positive emotional activity and higher on negative emotional reactions.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

(Terry Mattingly) Pain, hope and schisms in the long Anglican wars

Anglicans seem to be hopeful about their flocks in the United States, even if the warring factions in their Communion keep moving further and further apart.

That was a common theme in two upbeat recent sermons preached by leaders in the progressive and orthodox Anglican bodies now competing in the marketplace of American religion.

In the first sermon, Father Cameron Partridge became the first openly transgender priest to preach at Washington National Cathedral. The June 22 liturgy was part of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride month….

Two days later, an archbishop on the other side of this doctrinal divide [Robert Duncan] spoke for the American Anglicans who believe they have been punished for their defense of 2,000 years of Christian orthodoxy on matters of marriage, family and sexuality.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Trial Day Five: Diocese of SC v. The Episcopal Church's new diocese in SC

Day Five for the Diocese of SC v. The Episcopal Church (TEC) began with a slight hiccup. To speed up the testimony of the 36 witnesses, Judge Diane Goodstein Friday asked attorneys for both sides to meet over the weekend to go over testimony that could be stipulated.

When attorneys for the plaintiff told Goodstein that the two parties had agreed that proposed stipulates would include the facts the witnesses would testify to in lieu of live testimony, attorney Tom Tisdale, who represents the rump group that now goes by The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), tried to qualify stipulation, effectively diverging from what the plaintiffs had agreed to. Judge Goodstein told the defendants that , “Stipulations”¦they are agreements. I’m hearing from you we don’t have a Stipulation.” She told both parties she would give them 10 minutes to huddle and determine if they had agreement to stipulations.

When they returned from their meeting, both sides had agreed to all the facts that the witnesses would testify to, but also agreed that any conclusions of law would be the sole province of the court.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord, whose way is perfect: Help us, we pray thee, always to trust in thy goodness; that walking with thee in faith, and following thee in all simplicity, we may possess quiet and contented minds, and cast all our care on thee, because thou carest for us; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Christina Rossetti

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

O LORD, I love the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy glory dwells.

–Psalm 26:8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

[Lent & Beyond] Prayer for South Carolina Monday July 14th

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina and the Diocese of South Carolina are in trial before Her Honor Judge Diane Goodstein.

James 3:17 (ESV)
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

Our Father in heaven,
We humbly beseech You to grant Judge Goodstein the wisdom from above during the proceedings and in her analysis and judgment of this case. Amen.

Please pray it all if you wish and there are more prayers from Lent and Beyond for South Carolina here. We are grateful to Lent and Beyond for these wonderful prayers.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(The State) Police chaplains saluted for aid at opening of international conference in Columbia, SC

Assistance from chaplains is an invaluable part of law enforcement, police and political leaders said Monday.

Ministers provide “comfort, encouragement, solace, confession” during stressful times for police officers and crime victims, U.S. Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole told 375 chaplains gathered in downtown Columbia.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(NYT) Even on Nantucket, a Funeral Home Is a Luxury

The hole at the cemetery was dug. The flowers had arrived, family and friends had gathered, food was ready for the reception. All that was missing was the deceased. Doris Davis could not make her own funeral.

Ms. Davis, 92, was born here, died here and wanted to be buried here. But the island’s only funeral home had closed in January. Since then, the bodies of the dead have had to be shipped by ferry, a two-and-a-half hour ride across Nantucket Sound, to be embalmed at a funeral home on the Cape Cod mainland and then brought back by ferry for burial.

But on Feb. 14, the day of Ms. Davis’s funeral, New England was digging out from a huge snowstorm and bracing for the next. Foul weather forced the cancellation of the ferry that was to bring Ms. Davis home. Her body spent almost a month on the mainland at the funeral home, but suspended in what her daughter called a heartbreaking limbo.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Theology

(BBC) Egypt proposes Israel-Gaza ceasefire

Egypt has proposed a ceasefire to end a week of cross-border fire between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The initiative, announced by the foreign ministry, urges a ceasefire starting on Tuesday morning followed by a series of meetings in Cairo with high-level delegations from both sides.

It comes ahead of an urgent meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Israel, Middle East, Politics in General, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, Theology, Violence