Daily Archives: January 9, 2015

(WSJ) Colleges Turn to Personality Assessments to Find Successful Students

Gabby Toro Rosa was a strong student in high school but she was lousy at standardized tests, killing her chances at some colleges. Then she heard that DePaul University here was willing to accept a series of short essays in lieu of test scores.

The questions were designed to elicit responses that would gauge traits such as perseverance, adaptability and discipline. They rely on the premise that certain personality types are more likely to succeed at college than others.

“I am very ambitious, and that’s hard to learn, so when you do have it, it sets you apart from other people,” said Ms. Toro Rosa, who is 20 years old and from San Juan, Puerto Rico. She was accepted and is now a junior at DePaul with a grade-point average of 3.63.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Episcopal Bishop to be charged with manslaughter in death of cyclist Thomas Palermo

Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook will be charged with manslaughter in the fatal crash that killed cyclist Thomas Palermo, new state’s attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced Friday morning.
lRelated Episcopal leaders awaiting details of case involving bishop involved in fatal accident

Cook will face charges of leaving the scene of a fatal accident; driving under the influence and causing an accident due to texting while driving. Both the manslaughter and leaving the scene charge carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

A warrant will be issued for Cook’s arrest, prosecutors said.

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Update: the diocese of Maryland has issued a statement on today’s news.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Alcohol/Drinking, Alcoholism, Death / Burial / Funerals, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sports, TEC Bishops, Theology, Travel, Urban/City Life and Issues

Archbishop Mouneer Anis: A New Spirit for a New Year

As I was preparing for the All Saints Cathedral Christmas Eve Service, I received a gift””a box of candies from a neighbor. The neighbor, a Muslim, had sent a box of “halawet el mouled,” sweets traditionally given on the birthday of the Prophet Muhammed, which falls close to Christmas this year. The next day, my neighbor came in person to wish me a Merry Christmas.

The Christmas services of the Cathedral are attended by a number of representatives from various government agencies and other religious groups. On Christmas Eve, we welcomed a representative from President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and his cabinet, a representative from Pope Tawadrous II of the Coptic Orthodox Church and from the Grand Imam. The Governor of Cairo and the Minister of Local Development attended personally. This year, though, the imam of the local mosque, just one blocks away, sent a request. He, too, wanted to wish the church Merry Christmas.

On Christmas Day, the imam and eleven worshipers from the mosque came to the offices of the diocese. The group stated that it is important to recover the spirit of unity that characterized centuries of Muslim-Christian relationships in Egypt, which has long been a religiously diverse society. “We must put our hands together for the future of our beloved country, Egypt,” one of the visitors said. I responded by saying that when I hear the call for prayer, Allahu Akbar, “God is great,” I am reminded of two things: I am challenged to pray regularly, and I remember that God is great. Christians, too, believe that Allahu Akbar. And if we all believe that God is great, we can let God be God, and refrain from judging others. The imam left me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and an invitation to visit them at the mosque.

Later that evening, when I went to celebrate Christmas at St. Mark’s Pro-Cathedral in Alexandria, I encountered a group of fifteen Muslim young people who attended the service in order to share the joy of Christmas with their Christian friends.
In the media, we often hear only the stories of clashes between religious groups, violence done to one another, tensions that erupt into aggression. But we also experience stories of grace, friendship, and kindness. Following many tumultuous years, I am encouraged to see so many signs of a new spirit among Muslims and Christians in Cairo, and throughout Egypt. As we celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace, I invite you to pray with me for peace in the Middle East, remembering that God is great, and He is with us.

May the Lord bless you!


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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Archbishop Mouneer Anis: A Christmas Eve Surprise

On January 6, as Egypt’s Coptic Christian community celebrated Christmas Eve at St. Mark Cathedral in Cairo, and while the Pope and other clergy were chanting the liturgy, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arrived to congratulate the community. This was a very joyful surprise to me and the thousands of Christians who had gathered in the cathedral. The crowds responded to the surprise visit with joyful cheers. They had never expected the president to attend the Christmas celebration. In fact, this was the first visit in history of an Egyptian president to the cathedral during a service.

President Sisi, who had returned from Kuwait just two hours earlier, had decided to greet Christians as they were celebrating Christmas Eve. By this surprise visit, he also sent a message to all Egyptians, Christians and Muslims, that he is determined to achieve equality between all religious communities in Egypt. The gesture demonstrated brilliantly that President Sisi acts on his word without hesitation or fear of criticism from extremists, and set a new precedent for Muslim leaders in the Middle East of respect and care for all religious communities. The visit brought new hope and encouragement to Christians after decades of marginalization.

During the visit, President Sisi gave Christmas wishes to the Pope and the crowds. He also said that Egyptians must love one another with sincere hearts. “In the past,” he added, “we made a great civilization, and together we are capable of resuming that role. We can teach the world about the spirit of love and tolerance.” The crowds responded with loud shouts: “we are one hand. We love you, Sisi.”

The visit lasted for a few minutes; however, I think it will have a much longer and greater impact on the national unity of the people of Egypt…

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew's Christmas Proclamation

It is with great sorrow and deep regret that the Ecumenical Patriarchate follows the ongoing and increasing waves of violence and brutality, which continue to plague various regions of our planet and especially the entire Middle East, and in particular the native Christians there, often in the name of religion. We will never cease to declare to all from this Sacred Center of Orthodoxy ”“ to our brother Primates of the Orthodox and other Christian Churches, the leaders and representatives of other religions, the heads of state and every person of good will everywhere, but above all to our fellow human beings that, whether motivated or not by others, place their own lives at risk in order to deprive others of their lives; for they, too, are created by God ”“ that there can be no form of true and genuine religiosity or spirituality without love toward the human person. Any ideological, social or religious expression that either despises humanity created in the image of God or else teaches and permits the death of our fellow human beings, especially in the savage and primitive ways that we see, surely has nothing to do with the God of love.

Dear brothers and sisters, as we turn our attention to the situation prevailing in our world today, we condemn the tragic events stemming from hatred of other religions and enmity toward people, which we witness so frighteningly close to us as we hear and see the terror so readily through social media. In response, we offer as the only powerful antidote to contemporary violence the “ultimate poverty” of God, which always acts as love and which surprised the wise men and the entire world. This is the mystical power of God, the mystical power of the Orthodox Church, and the mystical power of the Christian faith. This is the power that conquers and overcomes every form of violence and evil through love.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Orthodox Church, Other Churches

(RNS) Atheist parents take on Christian ”˜Good News Club’ with ”˜Better News Club’

A group of atheists in Rochester, N.Y., has bad news for the Good News Club, a Christian after-school club for children.

The group, consisting of atheists, humanists and skeptics, announced its own after-school program: a Young Skeptics club featuring science, logic and learning activities.

Young Skeptics is being sponsored by a volunteer-led group calling itself “The Better News Club.” Its members come from the Atheist Community of Rochester ”” the same group that offered the first atheist invocation before a town meeting in Greece, N.Y., after the Supreme Court ruled in May that public meetings could begin with sectarian prayers.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

(FT) Britain at risk of Paris-style attacks, warns MI5

Syrian-based terrorists are planning attacks in the UK similar to the one that killed 12 people at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Britain’s domestic security chief has warned.

Andrew Parker, director-general of MI5, said there had been more than 20 Syrian-linked terror plots against western targets in the past 14 months.

In one of the starkest assessments from any western counterterror chief since the Syrian civil war broke out, Mr Parker said on Thursday evening that organisations including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis, were actively plotting attacks in the UK.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Terrorism, Theology

(Church Times) Plans grow to put WiFi in every church

The Church of England’s Buildings Division has backed a plan to fit all of the C of E’s 16,000 churches with WiFi internet access.

The director of the Cathedral and Churches Buildings Division, Janet Gough, said in a statement on Tuesday that the Church was ideally placed to build up a national network.

“We will be talking with those involved to explore how to build on the existing projects, such as the diocese of Norwich’s WiSpire programme, and the provision of free WiFi for all visitors at individual cathedrals such as Chester, Canterbury, Ely, and Liverpool, to link up and expand WiFi coverage countrywide.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(NYT) Apps Everywhere, but No Unifying Link

Navigating the Internet used to mean painstakingly typing the exact address you wanted into your computer. The web browser and the search engine simplified that, giving us the Internet we take for granted today.

Now, across Silicon Valley, companies from tiny start-ups to titans like Google and Facebook are trying to bring the same simplicity to smartphones by teaching apps to talk to one another.

Unlike web pages, mobile apps do not have links. They do not have web addresses. They live in worlds by themselves, largely cut off from one another and the broader Internet. And so it is much harder to share the information found on them.

It is not just a matter of consumer convenience. For Google and Facebook, and any company that has built its business on the web, it is a matter of controlling the next entryway to the Internet ”” the mobile device.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(NPR) Andrae Crouch, 'Father Of Modern Gospel,' Dies

Legendary gospel singer, composer and producer Andrae Crouch died Thursday at the age of 72, his publicists announced Thursday night. He had been hospitalized in the Los Angeles area since Jan. 3 following a heart attack.

The seven-time Grammy winner was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1998. His songs were recorded by Elvis Presley and Paul Simon, he collaborated with Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Elton John, Quincy Jones and Diana Ross, and he was a backup singer on several Michael Jackson songs.

Some of Crouch’s most beloved songs were “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” and “Soon and Very Soon,” which was sung at a memorial following Jackson’s death, reports KPCC.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Music, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(CSM) Will Europe's populist surge hamper post-Hebdo healing?

The terrorist attack in France that targeted a satirical weekly, killing 12 people, has seen an outpouring of solidarity, both in France and around the world, in defense of shared values of free speech and tolerance.

But at the same time, the attack has given new fodder to Europe’s burgeoning populist movements ”“ in a way that could prevent mainstream leaders from easing the tensions in their countries magnified by the assault on the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Rising resentments across Europe call for leaders to act inclusively against Islamophobia, experts say. But the Continent’s populist swing, already eating away at support for mainstream parties, could extract a greater political cost than European leaders are willing to make.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(BBC) Channel Islands and Winchester diocese split details released

The Diocese of Winchester retains oversight of Church of England legal matters in the Channel Islands, despite the islands splitting from it.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, ended a 500-year-old relationship when he moved the from Winchester to his own diocese in 2014.

Details of the interim arrangement have now been released.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Bishop Alan Smith's address on breaking the cycle of deprivation

For some years I worked in two parts of the West Midlands””wonderful places to live and work; I have many friends there still””but they were both characterised as areas that had extremely low aspirations. It was one thing to change the school but if the child went home and was told repeatedly, “Actually, that sort of thing does not make any difference to us. You are wasting your time”, all the work was undone. There needs to be a profound social and cultural change in the family as well.

That was one of the things that struck me when I was reading the comments in the interim report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility, which reported back in 2012. It summarised its conclusions into seven “key truths”. I will pick out just the first four, which show precisely this connection. The first key truth was:

“The point of greatest leverage for social mobility is what happens between ages 0 and 3, primarily in the home”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who didst manifest thy only begotten Son to the Gentiles, and hast commanded thy Church to preach the gospel to every creature: Bless all thy servants who are labouring for thee in distant lands. Have compassion upon the heathen and upon all who know thee not, and lead them by thy Holy Spirit to him who is the light of the world, even the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Robert Nelson

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber.

–Psalm 121:1-3

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Bloomberg) Dartmouth Gives Students a Lesson — Don’t Cheat in Ethics Class

Dartmouth College accused 64 students of cheating in a sports ethics class last semester, the latest in a string of cases of academic dishonesty involving athletes at elite U.S. colleges.

Students used a hand-held device known as a clicker to answer questions for classmates who were absent, according to Randall Balmer, who teaches the class, “Sports, Ethics and Religion.”

“I feel pretty burned by the whole thing,” Balmer, chairman of Dartmouth’s religion department, said in a telephone interview. “I’ve never faced anything on this scale before.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Sports, Young Adults

An Absolutely Must not Miss 60 minutes segment on a Harlem Middle Aged Choir

A show opened in New York recently that didn’t get a whole lot of attention, but it features some of the most powerful singing voices you’ve never heard. You haven’t heard them because for most of the performers, this is their first time on the stage. They’ve been singing their whole lives — in church, in amateur groups, in the shower — but like so many who had dreams of making it big, life somehow got in the way.

The show was created by a theater producer and former disc jockey named Vy Higginsen, who has made it her mission to preserve a special part of American culture: African-American music, both gospel and popular music like soul and R&B. She found a pool of untapped talent, men and women in what she calls their “second half of life” just waiting for their chance to shine.

Read (or better watch) it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Christology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Music, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Soteriology, Theology

(Spiritual Friendship) Wesley Hill–Does Your Church *Like* Gay People?

But last Sunday, sitting and trying to be unobtrusive on the back row of the circle of chairs at House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver and watching the eclectic crowd gathering around the central altar, I thought of another thing I might say to pastors and churches about offering a welcome.

Apart from any specific programming or practice that a church might implement in order to be more hospitable to LGBT people, I think I’d suggest that churches would simply do well to ask themselves: Do we want””do we really want””queer people walking through our doors and sitting in our pews and sharing in our post-service potlucks? Are we asking about how to welcome them because we feel that we must, or is it that we really do want these people among us because they’re our neighbors and friends?

I watched Nadia on Sunday walking around the room greeting people who were there. I saw her giving long, tight hugs, high fives, and warm smiles to dozens of folks, lingering to talk with them and (it appeared) hear their stories and concerns from the past week. I watched her during the ten-minute interlude after her sermon, as she cradled one of the infants of the congregation on the edge of the room. And my main impression was, This woman just likes this ragtag bunch of people here. She liked them. She was happy to be with that crew. And they, in turn, seemed happy to be in her company. They seemed to want to talk a bit longer with her, and they didn’t resist those hugs and high fives at all.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology