Daily Archives: September 26, 2014

David Brooks on the Simple Importance of Friendship

Finally, people behave better if they know their friends are observing. Friendship is based, in part, on common tastes and interests, but it is also based on mutual admiration and reciprocity. People tend to want to live up to their friends’ high regard. People don’t have close friendships in any hope of selfish gain, but simply for the pleasure itself of feeling known and respected.

It’s also true that friendship is not in great shape in America today. In 1985, people tended to have about three really close friends, according to the General Social Survey. By 2004, according to research done at Duke University and the University of Arizona, they were reporting they had only two close confidants. The number of people who say they have no close confidants at all has tripled over that time.

People seem to have a harder time building friendships across class lines. As society becomes more unequal and segmented, invitations come to people on the basis of their job status. Middle-aged people have particular problems nurturing friendships and building new ones. They are so busy with work and kids that friendship gets squeezed out.

So..[if I could live in a] fantasy world in which I have $500 million, I’d try to set up places that would cultivate friendships.

Read it all.

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

(Weekly Standard) 1 in 4 Americans 25-54 Not Working

“There are 124.5 million Americans in their prime working years (ages 25”“54). Nearly one-quarter of this group””28.9 million people, or 23.2 percent of the total””is not currently employed. They either became so discouraged that they left the labor force entirely, or they are in the labor force but unemployed. This group of non-employed individuals is more than 3.5 million larger than before the recession began in 2007,” writes the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee.

“Those attempting to minimize the startling figures about America’s vanishing workforce””workplace participation overall is near a four-decade low””will say an aging population is to blame. But in fact, while the workforce overall has shrunk nearly 10 million since 2009, the cohort of workers in the labor force ages 55 to 64 has actually increased over that same period, with many delaying retirement due to poor economic conditions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Young Adults

(Gallup) World Faces Shortage in Purpose Well-Being

Fewer than one in five adults worldwide can be considered thriving — or strong and consistent — in levels of purpose well-being, as measured by the inaugural Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index in 2013. Residents living in the Americas are the most likely to be thriving in this element (37%), while those in Asia and the Middle East and North Africa are the least likely (13%).

The Global Well-Being Index measures each of the five elements of well-being — purpose, social, financial, community, and physical – through Gallup’s World Poll. Purpose well-being, which is defined as people liking what they do each day and being motivated to achieve their goals, was the lowest performing element of the five elements of well-being. Global results of how people fare in 135 countries and areas in this element, as well as the four other elements, have been compiled in the State of Global Well-Being report.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Economy, Globalization, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Psychology, Sociology, Theology

(WSJ) Francis Rocca–The Pope and the Divorce Question

For better or worse, change is not coming next month. This year’s synod is supposed to prepare the agenda for another, larger synod in October next year. That second gathering will then make recommendations to the pope, with whom the final decision on any change will lie.

Pope Francis could choose to leave the work of mercy in this area to a commission he established last month for the purpose of simplifying and streamlining the marriage-annulment process. The pope has suggested that as many as half of all Catholic marriages are actually invalid, “because people get married lacking maturity, they get married without realizing that it is a lifelong commitment, they get married because society tells them they have to get married.”

Focusing on reform of the annulment process could be appealing to a leader who, for all his innovations, has declared himself a “son of the church” on moral teaching. As the pope has said regarding contraception, “the question is not whether to change the doctrine, but to go deeper and make sure that pastoral care takes account of situations and of what each person is able to do.”

Read it all.

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

(Tablet) Nigerian RC bishops urge Government to take on Boko Haram

In an article in this week’s The Tablet, Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme, half of whose diocese in northern Adamawa state is now under the control of Boko Haram, spoke of the appalling conditions for those Catholics who remained.

“We have our members who have been killed, those who have been abducted, among whom are men and women as well as children. There are those who are forced into marrying Boko Haram members, some have no houses to lay their heads. Also many have no food to eat nor do they have clothes to wear,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Lifesite News) Suicide Tourism: Belgian Media Promotes Couple Euthanasia

Consider also the reasons given by Francis and Anne which are partly personal fears and partly about a false altruism. Not wanting to ”˜watch the slow decline of a partner’; fear of going to a nursing home; ”˜too many people on this earth’- making more pension money available for others; not wanting to ”˜dig into our savings’ and not being able to do the things they could at an earlier age. Add this to John Paul’s clear point that he didn’t want to look after them, and it’s almost a ”˜perfect storm’ of lack of imagination, lack of a willingness to care and to look towards other alternatives.

There is also an insidious cultural side to this affair evident in the reporting at Moustique. There is no alternate voice here; no suggestion that promoting this story might have a deleterious effect upon others. No help lines promoted, no questioning in any constructive way. The social question, as always, is about the cart and the horse ”“ is the media effectively pushing the issue or is it, as it may claim, simply reflecting the vox populi?

This is not a ”˜celebration of choice’; far from it. It is a rationalization devoid of humanity and created, in the first instance by the legal possibility of euthanasia. It is then abetted by whatever it is in that family and that society that confirmed and supported the kind of dysfunction that allowed the children to confirm and assist instead of saying a clear, No, and offering every alternate support, no matter what the cost.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Belgium, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Media, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Suicide, Theology

(NYT) Fighting the Health Care System for a Simple Request: To Die at Home

Craning his neck, he sought the eyes of his daughter, Maureen Stefanides, who had promised to get him out of this place. “I want to go home, to my books and my music,” he said, his voice whispery but intense.

He was still her handsome father, the song-and-dance man of her childhood, with a full head of wavy hair and blue eyes that lit up when he talked. But he was gaunt now, warped like a weathered plank, perhaps by late effects of an old stroke, certainly by muscle atrophy and bad circulation in his legs.

Now she was determined to fulfill her father’s dearest wish, the wish so common among frail, elderly people: to die at home.

But it seemed as if all the forces of the health care system were against her ”” hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, insurance companies, and the shifting crosscurrents of public health care spending.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry

New Bishop of Guildford announced

The Queen has given her approval for Rt Revd Andrew Watson to become the Bishop of Guildford.

The 53 year old will move from his current position as Bishop of Aston in the Diocese of Birmingham.

Speaking about the move he said: “There will be future opportunities to thank everyone – but our six years in Birmingham have been wonderful.

“We’ve hugely appreciated the warmth and generosity of so many people across the Diocese, the rich multi-cultural nature of so many of our congregations (a real taste of heaven on earth on occasions), the quality of so much of the discipleship we’ve encountered, and the privilege of working with such able and supportive colleagues.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Rumours of life in Wales counter report, says bishop

Attendance in the Church in Wales has fallen in each of the measured categories in 2013, the Bishop of Bangor, the Rt Revd Andrew John, reported.

Average Sunday attendance had fallen to 37,235 in the Province – a fall of four per cent for the over-18s, and three per cent for the under-18s. Easter communicants were down ten per cent to 50,639 and Christmas communicants had fallen six per cent to 52,387. The biggest fall was in the number of confirmations: down 18 per cent to 1201.

“The trend is down across the board. There is no set of figures here that indicates a rise in physical numbers in any single category,” Bishop John said. “The report puts it bleakly. . . There are no positive indicators. Every single field shows decline compared with the previous year, and in some cases that decline is significant.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Wales, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Sociology

Lancelot Andrewes for his Feast Day–Defiled by the 1st Adam…by the 2nd cleansed and set right

This sure is matter of love; but came there any good to us by it? There did. For our conception being the root as it were, the very groundsill of our nature; that He might go to the root and repair of our nature from the very foundation, thither He went; that what had been there defiled and decayed by the first Adam, might by the Second be cleansed and set right again. That had our conception been stained, by Him therefore, primum ante omnia,to be restored again. He was not idle all the time He was an embyro all the nine months He was in the womb; but then and there He even ate out the core of corruption that cleft to our nature and us, and made both us and it an unpleasing object in the sight of God.

And what came of this? We who were abhorred by God, filii irae was our title, were by this means made beloved in Him. He cannot, we may be sure, account evil of that nature, that is now become the nature of His own SonNHis now no less than ours. Nay farther, given this privilege to the children of such as are in Him, though but of one parent believing, that they are not as the seed of two infidels, but are in a degree holy, eo ipso; and have a farther right to the laver of regeneration, to sanctify them throughout by the renewing of the Holy Ghost. This honour is to us by the dishonour of Him; this the good by Christ an embyro.

–From a sermon preached before King James, at Whitehall, on Sunday, the Twenty-fifth of December, 1614

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Lancelot Andrewes

Almighty God, who gavest thy servant Lancelot Andrewes the gift of thy holy Spirit and made him a man of prayer and a faithful pastor of thy people: Perfect in us what is lacking of thy gifts, of faith, to increase it, of hope, to establish it, of love, to kindle it, that we may live in the life of thy grace and glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Most merciful Lord, who hast taught us that the pure in heart shall see God: Cleanse our hearts from all impurity; give us such hatred of all that is evil, and such love of all that is beautiful and good, that we may be delivered from temptation, and become a strength to others who are tempted; for the glory of thy name.

A Book of Prayers for Students

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the sabbath; and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authority. And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon; and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ah! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” And reports of him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

–Luke 4:31-37

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Kentucky churches being turned into mosques

The growing trend of former church buildings being turned into mosques and Islamic centers has reached Kentucky’s largest city where even some once-thriving Southern Baptist facilities are now occupied by Muslims.

“On a trip to England a few years ago, I recall seeing dozens of churches that had become mosques and wondering how it could happen there; now it’s happening here,” said Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

Todd Robertson, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Louisville, said the religious makeup of the Bible Belt is rapidly changing with declining membership in many Christian congregations and growing participation in Islam and other religions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Baptists, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Islam, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Budweiser is just brilliant at making adorable animal advertisements

Watch it all–adorable.

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