Daily Archives: September 28, 2014

(Post-Gazette) Ebola, the scorecard The virus is winning as the world plays catch up

It’s nine months into the biggest Ebola outbreak in history, and the situation is going from bad to worse. The outbreak simmered slowly in West Africa from December, when the first case was retrospectively documented, through March, when it was first recognized by international authorities. Now, terms like “exponential spread” are being thrown around.

Already, the number of cases (about 5,800 as of Sept. 22) and deaths (2,800) has dwarfed the numbers from every reported Ebola outbreak in history. And the case count is doubling every three weeks. Here’s where we stand….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Globalization, Guinea, Health & Medicine, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone

(Economist) America and Islamic State: Mission relaunched

For more than three years, Barack Obama has been trying to avoid getting into a fight in Syria. But this week, with great tracts of the Middle East under the jihadist’s knife, he at last faced up to the inevitable. On September 23rd America led air strikes in Syria against both the warriors of Islamic State (IS) and a little-known al-Qaeda cell, called the Khorasan group, which it claimed was about to attack the West. A president who has always seen his main mission as nation-building at home is now using military force in six countries””Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

The Syrian operation is an essential counterpart to America’s attacks against IS in Iraq. Preventing the group from carving out a caliphate means, at the very least, ensuring that neither of these two countries affords it a haven (see article). But more than the future of IS is at stake in the streets of Raqqa and Mosul. Mr Obama’s attempt to deal with the jihadists is also a test of America’s commitment to global security. It is a test that he has been failing until now.

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

(Local Paper) Violent lessons for young feed cycle of domestic abuse

Tommy Montgomery was 9 years old when he watched his hard-drinking, abusive father stab his mother to death in their Charleston home, plunging a knife into her body 38 times. Her screams and the blood-soaked images from that day haunted him for years, stealing his sleep, filling him with anxiety and fueling hallucinations that churned in his brain.

Montgomery dropped out of school, cycled through low-paying jobs and turned to drugs and drink to chase away his demons. In the end, he unleashed his bottled-up rage on others, just like his father had done.

Nine months after he was accused of choking his wife in March 2009, Montgomery killed a church music director in North Charleston, stabbing him 92 times. Then, DNA testing revealed he was responsible for slitting the throat of a woman in a Charleston park three years earlier, police said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, State Government, Theology, Violence

SIM Calls for a Week of Prayer for Ebola Crisis (Sept 29 – Oct 5) and launches #PraytoendEbola

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For more info: PraytoendEbola website and #PraytoendEbola and Pray to End Ebola on Facebook. Lent & Beyond is posting daily Ebola Crisis Prayers.

SIM, a Christian mission organization which has been on the frontlines of the fight against Ebola in West Africa has called for a special week of intercessory prayer, urging Christians around the world to join together in prayer against the Ebola outbreak that is ravaging West Africa. Here is an excerpt from their exhortation to prayer:

[blockquote]The fight against Ebola in West Africa has been going on since the beginning of 2014. As the final quarter of the year approaches, the spread of this deadly disease is escalating out of control. The infection rate and death toll continue to rise; hundreds of health workers serving on the front lines to fight the disease have been taken by it; and the resources brought to bear still pale in comparison to the desperate needs. What seems to us to be a desperate situation is not impossible for God. May our prayers be heard and used by God to accomplish the impossible.

Therefore, as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, let us join together around the world for a full week of focused prayer beginning September 29 through October 5. Our desire is for prayers to be raised continually on behalf of those infected and affected by the Ebola virus, for the sick and dying, for the courageous health workers, for grieving families, for pastors trying to serve their churches and communities, for government officials and decision makers who formulate policies and responses, for protection for those working in educating communities, and for all those waking up each day to the devastation of Ebola.

Though we are troubled, we do not despair. Though we grieve, we are not without great hope. For two millennia, the Church has prioritized the sick and marginalized. We are called to do no less today.[/blockquote]
[blockquote]May the God who answers prayer, the God to whom we pray, the God who walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death so that we may fear no evil, may this God turn His face towards us and by His power and wisdom guiding all those involved, bring an end to the spread of Ebola. May He bring many who live without the knowledge of Jesus into relationship with Him. Updated prayer requests and other resources can be found at www.praytoendEbola.org . [/blockquote]

Please read the full details at the PraytoendEbola website. Please note if you scroll down to the bottom of the home page of the Pray to End Ebola website, there is a place to sign up for regular prayer updates via email. There will also be updates on Twitter: #PraytoendEbola. Lent & Beyond is posting daily Ebola prayers using the Ebola Crisis Prayers tag.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Spirituality/Prayer

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to U.S. builds on positive feelings between Indians+Americans

While Madison Square Garden’s sold-out shows usually include headliners like Bruce Springsteen, Madonna or Arcade Fire, Sunday’s reception for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to draw an equally massive crowd of nearly 20,000 Indian Americans. Modi’s appearance at the midtown Manhattan entertainment venue is part of his first trip to the U.S. as leader of the world’s largest democracy and comes at a time when people of both countries continue to see each other in a largely positive light.

In India, a majority of the public (55%) has a favorable view of the U. S., including 30% with a very positive outlook, according to a Pew Research survey conducted last spring. Only 16% see the U.S. unfavorably, while 29% offer no opinion. These high ratings are essentially unchanged from late last year, when 56% of the Indian public gave the U.S. positive marks.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Theology

(NPR) A Prominent Muslim Sheik Issues Fatwa Against ISIS Violence

In a speech before the U.N. General Assembly laying out a blueprint for the global battle against the group that calls itself the Islamic State, President Obama called on the world to take a stand against religious extremism. “The ideology of ISIL or al-Qaida or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed and confronted and refuted in the light of day,” Obama said.

Then he singled out one organization and one man leading that charge: the new Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and Sheik Abdullah bin Bayyah. Describing the group’s purpose, the sheik said, “We must declare war on war so the outcome will be peace upon peace.”

Bin Bayyah, 79, is a prominent Muslim cleric and, as a respected religious scholar, has issued edicts to explain why groups such as the so-called Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, are misguided and should reverse course.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech in the House of Lords debate on Iraq

“But in the here and now, there is justification for the use of armed force on humanitarian grounds, to enable oppressed victims to find safe space. ISIL ”“ and for that matter Boko Haram and others ”“ have as their strategy to change the facts on the ground so as to render completely absurd any chance of helping the targets of their cruelty.

“It is clear from talking this week with Christian and other leaders across the region that they want support. The solidarity in the region is added to by the important statement from the Grand Imam of al-Azhar on Wednesday.

“The action proposed today is right, but we must not rely on a short-term solution on a narrow front to a global, ideological, religious, holistic and trans-generational challenge. We must demonstrate that there is a positive vision far greater and more compelling than the evil of ISIL and its global clones. Such a vision offers us and the world hope, an assurance of success in this struggle, not the endless threat of darkness.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Riverside Church's leader the Rev. Amy Butler

LAWTON: Butler says she wants to develop a church setting where she and her congregation members can wrestle together with difficult questions.

BUTLER: What does the Bible mean in our day and age? Does it mean anything? Or does God exist? Questions like that that people are wondering. And then to get to a personal level: I am in pain, my child is sick, where is God in all of this? I need to ask those questions, and I need to have a safe place where I can just say I don’t know the answers.

LAWTON: She’s open about her own struggles, including a painful divorce and the challenges of being a single mother to three children, ages 20, 17, and 16.

BUTLER: I want to be in a community of people who see me as a real person who is asking these questions, who is living through points of pain and fear and questioning just like they are.

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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, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sake didst endure the cross, and hast bidden us to follow thee: Take away from us all fear, all coldness of heart, all unwillingness to suffer; that we, glorying in thy cross, may glory also that thou hast called us to bear it with thee; for thy name’s sake.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

“Plead with your mother, plead””
for she is not my wife,
and I am not her husband””
that she put away her harlotry from her face,
and her adultery from between her breasts;
lest I strip her naked
and make her as in the day she was born,
and make her like a wilderness,
and set her like a parched land,
and slay her with thirst.
Upon her children also I will have no pity,
because they are children of harlotry.
For their mother has played the harlot;
she that conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, ”˜I will go after my lovers,
who give me my bread and my water,
my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’
Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns;
and I will build a wall against her,
so that she cannot find her paths.
She shall pursue her lovers,
but not overtake them;
and she shall seek them,
but shall not find them.
Then she shall say, ”˜I will go
and return to my first husband,
for it was better with me then than now.’
And she did not know
that it was I who gave her
the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and who lavished upon her silver
and gold which they used for Ba”²al.
Therefore I will take back
my grain in its time,
and my wine in its season;
and I will take away my wool and my flax,
which were to cover her nakedness.
Now I will uncover her lewdness
in the sight of her lovers,
and no one shall rescue her out of my hand.
And I will put an end to all her mirth,
her feasts, her new moons, her sabbaths,
and all her appointed feasts.
And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees,
of which she said,
”˜These are my hire,
which my lovers have given me.’
I will make them a forest,
and the beasts of the field shall devour them.
And I will punish her for the feast days of the Ba”²als
when she burned incense to them
and decked herself with her ring and jewelry,
and went after her lovers,
and forgot me, says the Lord.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.

–Hosea 2:2-14

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

William Hague warns of Islamist terror plots as RAF flies first combat mission

William Hague today warned of a “mushrooming” threat from Islamist terrorism as two Tornado strike aircraft carried out the RAF’s first combat mission over Iraq since Parliament backed military action.

The jets took off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus armed with Paveway laser-guided bombs and full authority to attack ground targets in Iraq. Accompanied by one Voyager tanker aircraft, the Tornados returned safely to their base.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said they were not called upon to drop any bombs during this sortie, adding: “The intelligence gathered by the Tornados’ highly sophisticated surveillance equipment will be invaluable to the Iraqi authorities and their coalition partners.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Reuters) ISIS defies air strikes by shelling Syrian Kurdish town

New U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State fighters failed to stop them from pressing their assault on a strategic Syrian town near the Turkish border on Saturday, hitting it with shell fire for the first time.

The U.S. Central Command (Centcom) said the air strikes destroyed an IS building and two armed vehicles near the border town of Kobani, which the insurgents have been besieging for the past 10 days.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Middle East, Politics in General, Syria, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

"Last week there was no communion in Nineveh for the first time in 2,000 years"

Christians in the Nineveh region of northern Iraq are unable to celebrate communion for the first time in two millennia, after Islamic State militants captured the area and took over the churches.

Canon Andrew White, vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq, told the Telegraph that Isil have set up offices in the churches and have replaced crosses with the militant group’s black flag.

“Last week there was no communion in Nineveh for the first time in 2,000 years,” he said. “All [the churches] are closed, all their people have run away. It is so sad.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Communiqué of the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue

The Commission discussed at length the draft of an agreed statement on the theological presuppositions of the Christian understanding of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God. At its next meeting it intends to consider the practical implications and the ethical questions, of pressing concern in today’s world, that follow from these presuppositions.

As in previous meetings, daily prayer and worship strengthened and grounded the work of the Commission, both in the Anglican Cathedral of St George, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

An ecumenical reception hosted by Bishop Suheil provided an opportunity for fellowship with local Christian leaders. The Commission visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and met members of the Christian community, with whom it prayed for peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land and in the whole world.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Reports & Communiques, Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Theology