Daily Archives: November 16, 2014

(Reuters) Russia plans alternative version of 'Wikipedia'

Russia plans to create its own “Wikipedia” to ensure its citizens have access to more “detailed and reliable” information about their country, the presidential library said on Friday.

Citing Western threats, the Kremlin has asserted more control over the Internet this year in what critics call moves to censor the web, and has introduced more pro-Kremlin content similar to closely controlled state media such as television.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia assembled and written by Internet users around the world, has pages dedicated to nearly every region or major city within Russia’s 11 time zones, but the Kremlin library said this was not good enough.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Media, Russia, Science & Technology, Theology

[Auburn Football Player] Philip Lutzenkirchen and his legacy

Watch it all–used in the second sermon this morning by yours truly–KSH.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Alcohol/Drinking, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Sports, Theology, Young Adults

(Third Culture) Peter Chin–There is No Such Thing As Convenient Christianity

The United States has perfected the art of convenience. For instance, if we don’t want to get out of our car to order food, no problem. We invented the drive-thru, the most iconic of American institutions, where we can sit in the comfort of our car and order food from an unintelligible talking box as we inhale carbon monoxide from the car in front of us. Convenience has become so omnipresent in American society that it is no longer an amenity but a necessity, even a right. When we are robbed of our convenience, we react as if we are being robbed of our property or life.

Rather than standing against this cultural phenomenon, the church often conforms to it. In an admirable but terribly misguided attempt to reach all people, we succumb to our culture’s veneration of convenience. We cram a Sunday service, that blessed celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ, into a single hour or even less. We go to great lengths to minimize any possible inconvenience to church attendees, and in so doing, we communicate to our people that convenience possesses great value. And American Christians have internalized this notion so completely that nowadays people are downright miffed when church goes beyond its time limits, and they have to miss kickoff or tee time or brunch as a result. Convenience has become king, but not just in American society””in American churches as well.

Yet by its nature, Christianity is inconvenient. The story of the Good Samaritan reminds us what true ministry looks like: it requires that we selflessly sacrifice our time, our safety, our money, and, yes, even our convenience, to serve those who are in need. And what more perfect illustration of inconvenience is there than the Incarnation, that God would leave the perfection of heaven to become a man and walk with us through the mess of our lives, even submitting to the most terrible “inconvenience” of all: the crucifixion. Convenience is nothing less than a heresy that runs contrary to some of the most fundamental aspects of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)

(IBT) 3 Teenage American Girls Who Tried To Join ISIS Were A Textbook Case Of Online Recruitment

How were the teens radicalized? Multiple signs seem to point to social media.

In addition to following online jihadists from around the world, the teens followed the Twitter account “Jihadi News,” which is the same account followed by Martin Rouleau. Rouleau, 25, drove his car into two Canadian soldiers in Quebec last month, killing one, and then committed suicide. They also followed the account “Women of Islam,” which encourages women to make sacrifices for the sake of jihad, and they followed an account under the name “Sara,” where YouTube jihadi lectures would be constantly tweeted.

“The process they underwent– from use of social media, radicalization, recruitment online, even through the actual travel route to join the Islamic State — all follow the exact same pattern shared by several hundred Westerners,” wrote Katz, who has called the girls’ attempted trip a “case study.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

Britain's ex-chief rabbi Jonathans Sacks on the situation in North Africa and the Middle East

Today, though, the Middle East and parts of Asia and Africa are undergoing a seismic shift in precisely the opposite direction. People are de-secularising. They feel betrayed by secular nationalist governments that failed to deliver prosperity and national pride. They consider the national boundaries imposed by colonial powers to be artificial and obsolete. They are uninspired by the secular culture of the West with its maximum of choice and minimum of meaning. And they have come to believe that salvation lies in a return to the Islam that that bestrode the narrow world like a colossus for the better part of a thousand years.

And though their faith is hostile to modernity, they sometimes understand modernity better than its own creators in the West. They know that because of the Internet, YouTube and the social media, communication, indeed politics itself, has gone global, and they also know that the great monotheisms are the most powerful global communities in the world, far broader and deeper in their reach than any nation state. And the religious radicals are offering young people the chance to fight and die for their faith, winning glory on earth and immortality in heaven. They have started recruiting in the West and they have only just begun.

But when ancient theologies are used for modern political ends, they speak a very dangerous language indeed. So for example, Hamas and Hizbollah, both self-defined as religious movements, refuse to recognise the legitimacy of the state of Israel within any boundaries whatsoever and seek only its complete destruction.

The Islamists also know that the only way they can win the sympathy of the West is by demonising Israel.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Israel, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Muslim Initiatives Against Extremism

HODA ELSHISHTAWY (Muslim Public Affairs Council): Our biggest problem as Muslims and what we’re facing right now is extremism. We need to nip it in the bud. And that is through creating these healthy communities–and not just here in America but all around the world, so that Muslims can talk about these issues in an open environment and really take back our faith.

[KIM] LAWTON: But it’s been a controversial prospect. Some Muslims fear new projects to combat extremism will imply that the problem is bigger than it really is. And other Muslim voices are pushing for even more internal critique.

ZUHDI JASSER (American Islamic Forum for Democracy): The pathway to get there does involve airing dirty laundry, does involve open public acknowledgement that we have core interpretations, not the scripture, but interpretations of the scripture, that need to be modernized and are used by radicals.

LAWTON: Earlier this year, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, MPAC, released its Safe Spaces Initiative, which the group describes as a toolkit to help mosques and local community centers combat violent extremism. MPAC national policy analyst Hoda Elshishtawy says they recommend a multistep process which starts with holistic projects to help prevent extremism from ever taking hold.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Charles Kingsley

Lift up our hearts, we beseech thee, O Christ, above the false show of things, above fear, above laziness, above selfishness and covetousness, above custom and fashion, up to the everlasting truth and order that thou art; that so we may live joyfully and freely, in faithful trust that thou art our Saviour, our example, and our friend, both now and for evermore.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.

–Psalm 66: 8-9

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

'Stand Up For Heroes': Marine, Paralyzed in War, Walks Again

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

A Guardian Article exploring Evangleical Christians and Mental Health

Carlos Whittaker, a prominent evangelical writer and musician, was singing worship songs on stage in 2005 when he suddenly felt like he was having a heart attack and that he would soon die. An audience of 2,000 people watched, and the band played on, as Whittaker left the stage, not knowing that he was having a panic attack.

Though some people still tell Whittaker that his anxiety could be improved if he would just make his faith stronger and pray more, evangelical leaders and grassroots activists are orchestrating a shift in the way the community approaches mental health issues.

“This has nothing to with whether I believe in Jesus,” Whittaker told the Guardian. “This does not have anything to do with whether or not I am reading my Bible or how hard I am praying. I can pray 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and I’m still going to have to take that little white pill every single day.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Music, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(SHNS) Two clashing orthodox views of the past and future in Billy Graham and Metropolitan Hilarion

When two global religious leaders embrace one another, someone is sure to turn the encounter into a photo opportunity.

The photo-op on Nov. 7 was symbolic and, for many, historic. The elder statesman was the Rev. Billy Graham, and rather than an evangelical superstar, the man who met with him at his North Carolina mountain home was Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev. This visit was linked to a Hilarion address to a Charlotte gathering of Protestant and Orthodox leaders, organized by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

After generations of work with organizations such as the Episcopal Church and the World Council of Churches, the archbishop said many Orthodox leaders now realize that — on issues of sex, marriage, family life and moral theology — some of their ecumenical partners will be found in evangelical pulpits and pews.

“In today’s pluralistic world, the processes of liberalization have swept over some Christian communities. Many churches have diverted from biblical teaching … even if this attitude is not endorsed by the majority of these communities’ members,” said Hilarion, who is the Moscow Patriarchate’s chief ecumenical officer.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Evangelicals, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology