Monthly Archives: November 2014

An NPR piece on what Happens when the "monster" of Marijuana comes to Uruguay

Foreigners are dreaming big, but the locals seem a bit overwhelmed with all the interest in a new law that was passed legalizing marijuana in the last year.

The law allows Uruguayans to register to grow their own weed, or join growing clubs ”” cooperatives of up to 45 people ”” for personal consumption.

Under President Jose Mujica’s maverick leadership, Uruguay went further than any country in the world: The government will plant, cultivate and ultimately distribute marijuana, too.

Mujica says decades of failed drug war policies necessitated a radical new approach to curb drug violence and addiction. If the government sells dope, the idea goes, the criminals can’t. But the reality has proven complicated, and some advocates say the government has bitten off more than it can chew.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, South America, Theology, Uruguay

(BBC) Ebola outbreak: West Africa death toll nears 7,000

The number of people killed by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has risen to 6,928, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says.

The toll has increased by over 1,000 since the WHO’s last report on Wednesday, but it includes unreported deaths from earlier in the outbreak.

Experts say the infection rate is more significant that the death toll, as it reflects how the virus is spreading.

Infection rates are decreasing in Liberia, but are high in Sierra Leone.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Guinea, Health & Medicine, Liberia, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Sierra Leone, Theology

Rod Dreher–Architect Philip Bess on faith, reason, and urban design

Bess has long served as an unlikely apostle to New Urbanists and conservatives alike, neither of whom seem to get the other. He tells New Urbanists that building good neighborhoods is a necessary condition for building good communities, but not a sufficient one: they must integrate their architectural vision with a broader vision of the good life. To put it in an Augustinian way, you can’t build a city fit for man without a vision of the city of God.

“Urbanism is about human flourishing, and human flourishing requires virtues, which are character dispositions that lead toward certain goods. People aren’t passive receivers of urbanism,” he says. “New Urbanists do a lot of things right, but good urbanism is more than bioswales”””environmentally friendly alternatives to storm sewers””“bike lanes, good coffee, and olive oil.”

Yet the bigger challenge, from Bess’s point of view, is to convince conservatives that New Urbanism is something they should embrace. In a 2005 address presenting New Urbanism to the right, Bess made the familiar Aristotelian claim that “the best life for human beings is the life of moral and intellectual excellence lived in community with others.” The built environment is an indispensible foundation for that.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Architecture, Education, History, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT Ltr from the Middle east) Jerusalem, the Holy City of Separation

Havdalah, the set of blessings that ends the Jewish Sabbath, means separation. The text talks about separating light from darkness, the day of rest from the six days of work, the holy from the ordinary, Israel from “the nations.” That last one stems from the controversial biblical concept of Jews as God’s chosen people, and is a reminder of the rough reality now playing out in this holy city.

After a torturous week that included a Palestinian terror attack on a synagogue and the attendant Israeli crackdown, about 200 people gathered Saturday night at Jerusalem’s renovated First Station complex for Havdalah and a pluralistic prayer for peace. Pluralism in this case meant among Jews ”” the rabbis up front included Reform and Orthodox, women and men, the descendants of Eastern Europe known as Ashkenazim and of those expelled from Spain, Sephardim.

The overwhelmingly Ashkenazi audience delighted when Rabbi David Menachem, whose grandfather came to Israel from Iraq, asked permission to chant Havdalah in “a Sephardi tune ”” a Jerusalem tune.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Local paper) The tradition of camp meetings in South Carolina

…in South Carolina, there’s a centuries-old tradition of spending an entire week immersed in family, food, fellowship and faith. At five autumnal “camp meetings” in rural Dorchester County, Christians gather in primitive cabins, universally called “tents,” encircling a central tabernacle.

Asked to describe camp meeting, longtime attendees (and because tents are inherited, there are no other kind of attendees) reliably demur. “You have to experience it,” says Smith’s boss, Barry Stephens, a Mount Pleasant Realtor who remembers riding his stick horse around Indian Field Methodist Campground. Now, there are so many children at play in the grassy expanse created by 99 huddled-together tents that Stephens’ young son wears a T-shirt emblazoned with his tent’s number so he’ll be returned safely if he strays too far.

Leisure has become central to camp meetings.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Children, Church History, History, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(NBC) Pastor's Stint On The Street Opens Eyes to Plight of Homeless

The pastor of a Sacramento megachurch had already raised the money he sought for a program to provide food and shelter to the homeless. But Rick Cole, who began the fundraiser with a stunt where he would live on the streets, couldn’t leave after only a few days. So, he spent the next two weeks living life as the homeless do ”” and the experience opened his eyes.

“I’ve walked past people that stay in some of the places of homelessness. And really almost not even noticed them, not considered their plight and what’s going on in their life. Now I was living among them,” Cole told NBC News.

Unrecognized by his new neighbors, the 57-year-old pastor spent his days looking for food and worrying about where he’d sleep at night. He didn’t preach he didn’t proselytize. He just listened. “I think I began to experience how people ignore others. I became the one ignored. People walked by me like I didn’t exist.”

Read it all or watch the video.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Poverty, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT) More Pastors Embrace Talk of Mental Ills

The pastor’s phone rang in the midnight darkness. A man’s voice rasped: “My wife left me and I’ve got a shotgun in my mouth. Give me one reason why I shouldn’t pull the trigger.”

The Rev. Matt Brogli, a Southern Baptist pastor scarcely six months into his first job, was unnerved. Gamely, he prayed with the anonymous caller, trying out “every platitude I could possibly think of.”

Eventually the stranger assured Mr. Brogli that he would be all right. But the young pastor was shaken.

“I was in over my head,” he recalled. “I thought being a pastor meant giving sermons, loving my congregation, doing marriages and funerals, and some marital counseling.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Mental Illness, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Richard Baxter

Keep us, O Lord, while we tarry on this earth, in a serious seeking after thee, and in an affectionate walking with thee, every day of our lives; that when thou comest, we may be found not hiding our talent, nor serving the flesh, nor yet asleep with our lamp unfurnished, but waiting and longing for our Lord, our glorious God for ever and ever.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzzi”²ah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezeki”²ah, kings of Judah.

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
for the Lord has spoken:
“Sons have I reared and brought up,
but they have rebelled against me.
The ox knows its owner,
and the ass its master’s crib;
but Israel does not know,
my people does not understand.”

Ah, sinful nation,
a people laden with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers,
sons who deal corruptly!
They have forsaken the Lord,
they have despised the Holy One of Israel,
they are utterly estranged.
Why will you still be smitten,
that you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick,
and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even to the head,
there is no soundness in it,
but bruises and sores
and bleeding wounds;
they are not pressed out, or bound up,
or softened with oil.

Your country lies desolate,
your cities are burned with fire;
in your very presence
aliens devour your land;
it is desolate, as overthrown by aliens.
And the daughter of Zion is left
like a booth in a vineyard,
like a lodge in a cucumber field,
like a besieged city.

If the Lord of hosts
had not left us a few survivors,
we should have been like Sodom,
and become like Gomor”²rah.

–Isaiah 1:1-9

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer from Henry Alford at the end of the Church’s year

O Lord Jesus, with whom we have passed another Christian year, following thee from thy birth in our flesh to thy sufferings and triumph, and listening to the utterances and counsels of thy Spirit: Even thus would we also end this year of grace, and stand complete in thee our Righteousness; humbly beseeching thee that we may evermore continue in thy faith and abide in thy love; who liveth and reigneth with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

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

(Reuters) Exclusive: U.S. CEOs threaten to pull tacit Obamacare support over 'wellness' spat

Leading U.S. CEOs, angered by the Obama administration’s challenge to certain “workplace wellness” programs, are threatening to side with anti-Obamacare forces unless the government backs off, according to people familiar with the matter.

Major U.S. corporations have broadly supported President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform despite concerns over several of its elements, largely because it included provisions encouraging the wellness programs.

The programs aim to control healthcare costs by reducing smoking, obesity, hypertension and other risk factors that can lead to expensive illnesses. A bipartisan provision in the 2010 healthcare reform law allows employers to reward workers who participate and penalize those who don’t.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, The U.S. Government, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby concludes global Anglican tour in Scotland

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, concluded a two-day visit to the Scottish Episcopal Church last night – bringing to a close his 37 visits to every Province of the Anglican Communion.

Archbishop Justin and his wife, Caroline, were hosted by the Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Scottish Episcopal Church

(Quad City Times) Illinois Supreme Court rejects the Episcopal Church's appeal in Quincy Case

Local Anglican priests gave parishioners an extra helping of good news during Thanksgiving Day services.

The Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a petition by the Episcopal Church to review a lower court ruling that decided contested money and property tied to a 2008 split rightfully belonged to the Quincy Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America, the Rev. Thomas Janikowski, public relations director, said Friday.

He shared the news with parishioners at Trinity Anglican Church in Rock Island, where he’s rector, during his Thanksgiving homily and said he saw several “moist eyes” in people grateful to learn the case finally may be over, he said…

The Supreme Court’s denial was a disappointing decision, according to Episcopal Bishop Jeffrey D. Lee, of the Chicago Diocese, which the former Quincy Episcopal Diocese realigned itself with in 2013.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology

(Ntl Post) Black Chicago high school and their white Canadian football coach offer hope

…against this backdrop of racial discord and ongoing black despair, in a place where hope can be hard to find for a young black man, Jamal Brown is part of a new story, a small but promising case study of possibility: It is about his black inner-city high school football team and their white Canadian football coach.

“This is the most positive story that is out there,” says Joe Winslow, a black man born and raised on the South Side, and an assistant with the Wendell Phillips Wildcats. “This is what can happen when people come together.

“This is a white head coach in a black neighbourhood ”” and it ain’t predominantly black ”” it’s black, where there are still gangs running certain neighbourhoods and running certain blocks, and where there are still kids getting jumped because they are wearing Phillips hoodies.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Canada, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Sports, Teens / Youth, Theology

(WSJ) Veterans Seek Help for PTSD Decades After War

Nightmares of a friend dying beside him in a bunker years ago now waken Donald Vitkus. “There is stuff that you carry from the war,” the 71-year-old Vietnam veteran said.

Mr. Vitkus spends his days in and out of therapy at a residential rehabilitation center filled with mostly older veterans, working on his memory while trying to gain control over disturbing recollections and the emotions they surface.

He is one of hundreds of thousands of aging Vietnam veterans who late in life are now seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder””a mix of flashbacks, depression and sleeplessness springing from a war that ended four decades ago.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(BBC Radio 4 Today) Should readings from the Koran feature in the next Coronation?

The former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, has said readings from the Koran should feature in the next Coronation, when Prince Charles succeeds to the Throne.

In a debate on the role of religion in British public life, Lord Harries, now an independent peer, praised what he called “the hospitality” shown in a service last year at Bristol Cathedral.

However, Douglas Murray, author and associate editor of The Spectator, disagreed saying: “A lot of people will think this is an example of Anglican leaders not having faith in their own faith.”

Listen to it all (6 minutes).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

Christian Century Editors–The Refugee crisis caused by the wars+violence in Iraq+Syria

In November a third American was beheaded by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has taken control of parts of those two countries. Peter Kassig was captured in Syria, where he was working as a volunteer medical assistant, trying to address what a top United Nations official has called “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era.”

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as many as 13.6 million people have been displaced by the conflict in Iraq and by civil war in Syria. Over 3 million Syrian refugees are now encamped in the neighboring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Nearly 2 million Iraqis have been displaced this year.

The refugees put a huge burden on their host countries. Lebanon, a country of 4 million, has over 1 million registered refugees. With winter approaching, these refugees face bleak prospects. Their plight is exacerbated, the UNHCR claims, by an underfunded relief effort, which faces a shortfall of $58 million. The charity Oxfam charges the United States with negligence in supporting refugee efforts, claiming that it has contributed only 60 percent of its fair share.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

A 2009 Church Times Interview with Baroness P D James

My love for the Prayer Book began in very early childhood, before I could read – when I could only listen to it. Of course, it was the only book used then. Later, when I could read, during long, boring sermons I would read it and specially loved the instructions – for instance, those to priests for giving holy communion in time of pestilence. That conjured up pictures in my childish mind of the priest walking with the sacred vessels through the almost deserted village, almost certainly to become ill himself; or the prayers for when in danger on the sea, knowing that they would have been read by everyone on board, and the ship would almost certainly founder.

There is so much history, romance, and great beauty in it. And the prayers like the General Thanks­giving and the prayers after com­mun­ion are so superb that they meet my need in praying much better than my own words do, and I still use them in private prayer.

I enjoy services in other denom­inations, like those of the Reformed Church, or going to a Roman Catholic mass with a friend – but what is essential to me is an atmos­phere of devotion and concentration on God. If there’s a great deal of happy-clappy singing and an­nounce­ments of birthdays, and so on, I can see that it binds people together, but I don’t personally find it’s useful to me. I want silence, so I can concentrate on God – not just talking to him and giving him a list of my requirements.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Poetry & Literature, Theology

(LN) Chinese mom ”˜asked’ to return bonuses from 1-child policy after applying for 2nd child

A woman in China’s central province of Henan has reportedly been “asked” to return the money she received for being compliant with the country’s One Child Policy, after she applied for a permit to have a second child.

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) official newspaper, the People’s Daily, said that a woman surnamed Chen was told by local authorities in the city of Zhengzhou that “if (she) wants to have two children, (she) must refund the one-child monies that she had previously enjoyed.”

Reggie Littlejohn, founder and president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, said that China’s One Child Policy is enforced not only through coercion, such as forced abortion and involuntary sterilization, but also through incentives, such as the “Parents of One Child Honor Certificate,” which entitles parents of only one child to receive benefits until the child reaches age 14.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Children, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Theology

(PS) Martin Feldstein–The Geopolitical Impact of Cheaper Oil

Although Saudi Arabia and several of the Gulf states are also major oil exporters, they differ from other producers in two important ways. First, their cost of extracting oil is extremely low, which means that they will be able to produce profitably at the current price ”“ or even at a much lower price. Second, their enormous financial reserves allow them to finance their domestic and international activities for an extended period of time, as they seek to transform their economies to reduce their dependence on oil revenue.

A further decline in the price of oil could have major geopolitical repercussions. A price of $60 a barrel would create severe problems for Russia in particular. President Vladimir Putin would no longer be able to maintain the transfer programs that currently sustain his popular support. There would be similar consequences in Iran and Venezuela.

It is not clear whether these countries’ current regimes could survive a substantial and sustained future decline in oil prices. By contrast, it is obvious that oil-importing countries would benefit greatly ”“ as they already are.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Theology

(NYT) Despite Aid Push, Ebola Is Raging in Sierra Leone

Military choppers thunder over the slums. Nearly a thousand British soldiers are on the scene, ferrying supplies and hammering together new Ebola clinics. Crates of food and medicine are flowing into the port, and planeloads of experts seem to arrive every day ”” Ugandan doctors, Chinese epidemiologists, Australian logisticians, even an ambulance specialist from London.

But none of it was reaching Isatu Sesay, a sick teenager. She flipped on her left side, then her right, writhing on a foam mattress, moaning, grimacing, mumbling and squinching her eyes in agony as if she were being stabbed. Her family and neighbors called an Ebola hotline more than 35 times, desperate for an ambulance.

For three days straight, Isatu’s mother did not leave her post on the porch, face gaunt, arms slack, eyes fixed up the road toward the capital, Freetown, where the Ebola command center was less than 45 minutes away.

Read it all.

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

(WSJ) Gregory Cootsona–C.S. Lewis and the Crises of Belief

Lewis grappled with crisis and struggle, and he came down on the side of faith. It was his honesty and intellectual rigor in describing his trials that help make him so compelling.

The crises that Lewis faced were substantial””his mother’s death when he was 9; being sent to a series of boarding schools that he detested; fighting and being wounded in World War I; living through the Great Depression and World War II; caring for his alcoholic brother; and, finally, the death of his wife, Joy.

How did he work through those crises? His son-in-law, Douglas Gresham, comments on Lewis’s response to Joy’s death, “He did what he always did under extreme stress. He sat down at his desk, and looking into himself and carefully observing what was happening deep in his mind where we keep our inmost secrets, he picked up his pen and an old exercise book and began to write.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Apologetics, Church History, Theology

(Church Times) FGM expert brings tears to MEPs’ eyes describing the suffering in Congo

Members of the European Parliament listened in tears on Wednesday as this year’s winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, Dr Denis Mukwege, outlined a catalogue of sexual violence and abuse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Dr Mukwege was presented with the award “in recognition of his on-going efforts to restore the physical and psychological integrity of thousands of women and girls who are victims of sexual abuse by rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

He has spent the past 15 years working with women who are the victims of a planned and continuing campaign of sexual violence. He is now seen as a leading international expert in repairing women’s mutilated reproductive organs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Republic of Congo, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence, Women

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who didst wonderfully deliver thy people out of Egypt and didst bring them into their own land: Deliver us, we beseech thee, from the tyranny of sin, and bring us into that land where the Prince of Peace reigneth, and the lives of men proclaim thy righteousness; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–L. E. H. Stephens-Hodge

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

–Philippians 2:1-11

Posted in Uncategorized

(Aleteia) Steven Mosher–Why the Crackdown? Christians Now Outnumber Communists in China

There are now an estimated 100 million plus Christians in the world’s most populous country, with Catholics alone accounting for about 12 million of this number. Many of these are new converts who, eager to fulfill the Great Commission, are busy evangelizing their fellow Chinese citizens. The Chinese Communist Party has been doing some recruiting of its own in recent years, opening its ranks to intellectuals, business owners, and other previously suspect classes ”“ even capitalists! Still, the 86.7 million formal members of this decaying “faith” ”“ most of whom are Communists in name only ”“ are now outnumbered by a growing and vibrant Chinese Christianity.

For China’s leaders, who vastly prefer that the Chinese people believe there is no god but the Party (and remember: they are the Party), this is an intolerable situation. This latest wave of persecution is their answer. The good news is that Catholicism in China is on the rise nonetheless.

Let me share with you the many hopeful faces of the Catholic faith that I saw on a recent trip to China.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, China, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

A Wonderful (if lacking) NY Times obituary on PD James which is well worth your time

She was born Phyllis Dorothy James on Aug. 3, 1920, in Oxford, the eldest of three children of Dorothy and Sidney James, a civil servant who did not believe in inflicting too much education on his daughter. The family settled in Cambridge when she was 11, and before she left the Cambridge High School for Girls, at 16, she already knew that she wanted to be a writer and that mysterious death intrigued her.

“When I first heard that Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall,” she was fond of saying, “I immediately wondered: Did he fall ”” or was he pushed?” But a marriage to Ernest C. B. White, a medical student, and World War II halted her plans for a writing career.

Ms. James gave birth to the first of her two daughters in 1942, during a bombing blitz. She served as a Red Cross nurse during the war. When her husband returned from military service with a mental disability, marked by bouts of violence, that kept him confined to hospitals, Ms. James was forced to support her family. She went to work for the National Health Service and attended classes in hospital administration.

It took her three years to write her first mystery novel, “Cover Her Face,” by working in the early morning, hours before going to her hospital job. She was 42 when it was published in Britain in 1962. (Like many of her books, it was published in the United States later.) The realistic hospital settings of three early novels, “A Mind to Murder” (1963), “Shroud for a Nightingale” (1971) and “The Black Tower” (1975), owe much to her 19 years of administrative experience with the National Health Service.

Read it all.

Update: Terry Mattingly has rightly noted the Times missed pursuing her serious faith as part of the story.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Books, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Poetry & Literature, Theology, Women

(NBC) Is Black Friday Madness America's Latest Export

Black Friday in the U.S.: like a regular weekend at the malls, only a little more so. Black Friday overseas: like Black Friday used to be in the U.S., including the shoving and fistfights.

Call it America’s latest export.

As Americans hunkered down on their couches to score Black Friday bargains online, shoppers in other parts of the world took part in what had been a uniquely American experience: Risking life and limb for dirt-cheap sweaters and discounted TVs.

British police officers were called to stores across the country on Friday to quell surging crowds and fights over deals. Retailers had adopted American-style Black Friday discounts to get a jump on the Christmas shopping season, according to Reuters. Even Brazil got in on the act, with stores offering Black Friday deals.

Read it all.

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

(ABC Nightline) Strangers Donate Kidneys to Keep Country's Longest Donor Chain Going

It’s Sunday afternoon, and Dr. Jayme Locke, director of the Incompatible Kidney Transplant Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center, is preparing for a marathon.

“We are going to be doing 14 operations this week,” she said, checking in on her patients.

Sprinkled among the rooms up on the eighth floor are patients waiting to receive the gift of life — a new kidney. Also among the patients are the living donors bearing those gifts, people who are willingly giving up one of their two kidneys to help a stranger.

“We are anxious, all of us are, to hear the story of our recipient,” said Pastor Derek Lambert, one of the donors. “I don’t know if this is perhaps a young mother who’s feared leaving her kids, or a young man who is unable to provide for the needs of his family and this would give these types of individuals a new lease on life.”

Read it all or watch the video.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology

The Mayflower Compact, 1620

In the name of God, Amen.

We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, king, defender of the faith etc.:

Having undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia;

Do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and of one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation, and furtherance of the ends aforesaid;

And by virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the eleventh of November, in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620.

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