Daily Archives: January 16, 2015

(AI Livewire Blog) The story behind the Nigeria satellite images

What are the key findings?

In the words of your researcher: “Of all Boko Haram assaults analyzed by Amnesty International, this is the largest and most destructive yet.”
The scale of the destruction suggests a much higher death toll than given by the Nigerian government of 150 people. Some reports claimed that up to 2,000 people might have been killed in last weeks attack.
Over 3,700 structures in the two neighboring towns Baga and Doron Baga were damaged or completely destroyed. The damage and destruction stems from fire.

The destruction is likely higher than visible in the current satellite images. It proved difficult to delineate and confirm individual structures in some densely packed areas and under tree canopies. Additionally, the current analysis only covered two towns””other towns and villages in the area might have been affected as well.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Media, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Alleged Rape Trial of Vanderbilt Football Players Involves defense blaming Campus Culture

The defense will argue the young men are not guilty of rape, but rather of making a mistake. Batey’s lawyer Worrick Robinson claims that college culture put his client in this situation.

“It was a culture that encouraged sexual promiscuity but not, not just alone, it was also a culture of alcohol, and alcohol consumption. Alcohol that changed him, changed others, and changed several people on the morning of June 23, 2013,” Robinson said.

The trial comes on the heels of a national debate about the prevalence of rapes on college campuses. Roughly 97,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date-rape each year, according to the National institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Read it all from ABC Nightline.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Alcohol/Drinking, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Men, Sexuality, Theology, Violence, Women, Young Adults

(Telegraph) Cristina Odone–Europe is becoming a no God zone

Two years ago, I wrote No God Zone, an e-book predicting that strident secularism would push religion out of public life in the West. I had under-estimated the dangers to people of faith ”“ the enemies come from two sides, not one. Secularists once sought only a separation between Church and State; today they want to purge all signs of religion from all public space: the staff at Charlie Hebdo said they did not want to hear the bells of Notre Dame mourning their colleagues’ murders. Salman Rushdie weighed in, saying religion, as a “maedieval form of unreason”, is the enemy. Meanwhile, extremists have no truck with the moderates in their own religion ”“ and only vicious hatred for outsiders.

Squashed between these Scylla and Charybdis, the devout cannot survive ”“ unless the state steps in, determined to keep alive our precious religious heritage.

If we in the West want to save the little shop with the sweet-scented challa loaves, the faith school with its uniformed pupils, the pealing of church bells, and yes, the veil, we must act now. We must protect outward signs of religious observance. At present, in Europe, this means posting police and soldiers outside Jewish schools and pursuing the perpetrators of anti-Semitic attacks. Already, many synagogues are surrounded by local volunteers trained by the Community Security Trust who protect the faithful marking the Sabbath.

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Posted in Uncategorized

(Local Paper) South Carolina’s poor roads costing Charleston-area drivers $1,168/year

Crumbling roads like the ones Gould encounters are found statewide, as well as many congested thoroughfares, according to a report released Thursday from The Road Information Program, or TRIP, a national nonprofit organization. Those conditions make the roads unsafe and cost state drivers $3 billion each year in lost time and additional operating, fuel and crash-related costs. The report said nearly half the state’s roads are in poor condition.

In the Charleston area, the report found poor road conditions cost motorists, on average, $1,168 per year: $294 in additional vehicle operating costs, $647 for fuel and lost time on congested roads and $227 in crash-related costs.

Gould said he has lost a lot of time commuting on congested roads, especially during rush hours. He avoids driving on Maybank Highway because of traffic snarls there, especially at the intersection with River Road.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Politics in General, State Government, Theology, Travel

(TLC's Covenant) Jeff Boldt–The baggage of evangelicals on the Canterbury trail

In addition to personal hurt, the baggage accumulated here, again, might result in the “baby” of holiness getting thrown out with the “bathwater” of legalism. If the ex-fundamentalist does not become a New Atheist ”” the inverted modernist equivalent of the rationalizing fundamentalist ”” he might drift in the Anglican direction. Here he will decide whether to let John Spong usher him through the dusty halls of a bygone Protestant liberalism back towards Dawkins et. al. or, via the “Canterbury Trail,” he will head towards the more romantic tradition of Anglo-Catholicism. The temptation then is to construct an Anglican identity that is more concerned with “not being fundamentalist” than with being Christian. So ex-fundamentalists are largely reacting against pride and legalism, while ex-evangelicals are reacting against the spiritual emptiness of faddish evangelicalism. But, of course, there are degrees of mixture between the two.

In closing, I want to say that although this new generation of Canterbury Trail Anglicans has a lot to offer the Anglican and Episcopal churches which we now inhabit ”” especially in our greater desire for unity than many a Boomer who busies himself with ecclesial marketing, lawsuits, or even doctrinal and moral “purity” ”” we also carry a lot of baggage. Not having “stayed put” in those places where we originally received the faith, we struggle here too in this Anglican place to practice what we have come to preach. Here we counsel the local “cradle” Anglican evangelical not to throw overboard the riches of the tradition in order to fill the pews. But we also need to be reminded that without mission, evangelism, and, yes, conversion, the tradition simply becomes liturgical histrionics, much to the annoyance of the local Anglican evangelical. Finally, the new Canterbury Trail Anglicans need to be more than “not fundamentalists” or “not-Southern-Baptists.” Not only would such an attitude contradict the ecumenical spirit, not only does this tempt us to throw out the legitimate orthodoxies held by those we react against, but, contrary to the spirit of humility, it also tempts us to “via media” pride, as if we somehow have got it all together. Truth, humility, and unity are a package.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anglican Identity, Anthropology, Canada, Christology, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Soteriology, Theology

A Baltimore Sun editorial on Maryland Bishop accused in hit-and-run death–Freedom for sale

We didn’t question a Baltimore district court judge when she said she couldn’t trust Heather Cook’s judgment if released from jail pending trial. After all, the Episcopal bishop is charged with being a repeat drunk driver who recklessly took the life of a bicyclist on Roland Avenue last month, then left the scene. But we do wonder why Judge Nicole Pastore Klein allowed Bishop Cook bail at all, even one as high as $2.5 million. Does Ms. Cook suddenly become trustworthy if she wins the lottery?

Judge Klein took a gamble on the public’s behalf and lost. Bishop Cook, whose attorney earlier in the week said she couldn’t afford release, posted bail today through Fred Frank Bail Bonds, according to court records.

The scenario underscores why a recommendation submitted last month to legislative leaders proposing that the state’s asset-based bail system be “completely eliminated” should be given swift and thorough consideration. Whether defendants are incarcerated before trial should be based on the likelihood they’ll return to court and won’t harm the public rather than on their ability to afford release.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Alcohol/Drinking, Alcoholism, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, TEC Bishops, Theology

(Wash Post) For Jews across France, the oldest question returns: Stay put or leave?

Soon after four Jewish men were killed in a hostage-taking siege at a kosher market in Paris last week, the Israeli leadership leapt to offer refuge.

“To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, I would like to say that Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray; the state of Israel is your home,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised address.

If a new wave of French Jews move to Israel, they will join what was a record 7,000 compatriots who made the journey last year. But that movement is already rekindling debate among Jews, who ask: Is it better for French Jews to come to Israel or stay home and insist that French society, including the country’s swelling Muslim population, accommodate them?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, France, History, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(WSJ) Rob Moll–Gathering the Faithful, No Church Required–worshipers find other places to meet

The expansion of congregations suggests that the drop in religious affiliation is not as dramatic as it seems, and that a stealthy revival might even be coming. The growth may not yet offset disaffiliation, but it is part of the American religious pattern. Early colonists included the highly religious Puritans. But their children and grandchildren strayed, even forcing churches to loosen qualifications if they were to keep members.

In the century that followed, Methodists and Baptists began spreading Christianity largely through small groups, or “bands,” as the Methodists called them. They used nontraditional gathering places, including open fields, to bring their message to the masses. By 1850, 34% of Americans were church members, and by 1900 half were, according to Mr. Stark. By the early 1990s, nearly two-thirds of Americans were members of a congregation.

Fewer new churches these days are going up with drywall and spackling, but members are probably still stacking chairs and warming coffee on Sunday morning.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Pew R) 5 facts about the Muslim population in Europe

1 Germany and France have the largest Muslim populations among European Union member countries. As of 2010, there were 4.8 million Muslims in Germany (5.8% of the country’s population) and 4.7 million Muslims in France (7.5%). In Europe overall, however, Russia’s population of 14 million Muslims (10%) is the largest on the continent.

2 The Muslim share of Europe’s total population has been increasing steadily….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, History, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Boko Haram crisis: Chad sends troops to help Cameroon

Cameroon says Chad will send a large contingent of troops to help it fight incursions from the Nigeria-based militant Islamist group, Boko Haram.

The announcement came a day after Chad said it would “actively support” its neighbour against the militants.

No detail was given about how many troops would be sent, or when.

On Tuesday, Cameroon said it had killed 143 Boko Haram militants who attacked one of its army bases at Kolofata near the Nigerian border.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Cameroon, Chad, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Nigeria, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(AP) Duke University Cancels Muslim Prayer Call Plan

Duke University has canceled its plan to use the tower of its chapel for a weekly, amplified call to prayer for Muslims.

In a release Thursday, the university said Muslims will instead gather on the quadrangle before heading into a room in the chapel for their weekly prayer service.

“Duke remains committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming campus for all of its students,” spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said. “However, it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

(Church Times) Report proposes big drive to attract new priests

The annual number of candidates for ministry needs to increase by 50 per cent within five years, according to a report by a task group looking at ministerial education in the Church of England.

The report, Resourcing Ministerial Education, one of a series published this week as part of the Archbishops’ programme for renewal and reform of the C of E, calls for “a cohort of candidates for ministry who are younger, more diverse, and with a wider range of gifts to serve God’s mission”.

To achieve this, it proposes an eight-fold increase in training programmes that helps those under 30 to explore vocations, from the present 30 participants a year to 250. At the other end of the age scale, it suggests dropping the national selection process for candidates over the age of 50.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(FT) Economy faces ”˜headwind’, says IMF's Christine Lagarde

Cheaper oil prices and a resurgent US economy are unlikely to be enough to pull the global economy out of a growth pattern that is “too low, too brittle and too lopsided”, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said on Thursday.

Despite what ought to be the benefits for many economies from sharp falls in oil prices, which has more than halved since the summer, and the strengthening US recovery, the world still faces “a very strong headwind”, seven years on from the financial crisis.

Speaking in Washington, Ms Lagarde said: “The oil price and US growth are not a cure for deep-seated weaknesses elsewhere.

“Too many countries are still weighed down by the legacies of the financial crisis, including high debt and high unemployment. Too many companies and households keep cutting back on investment and consumption today because they are concerned about low growth in the future.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

A Prayer to begin the Day from Edward Hawkins

O Blessed Jesus, who by the shining of a star didst manifest thyself to them that sought thee: Show thy heavenly light to us, and give us grace to follow until we find thee; finding, to rejoice in thee; and rejoicing, to present to thee ourselves, our souls and bodies, for thy service for evermore: for thine honour and glory.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved….Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore

Psalm 16: 7-8;11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(RNS) Condemnation swift in Muslim nations over new Charlie Hebdo cover

Condemnation of the new edition of Charlie Hebdo was swift and often fierce Wednesday (Jan. 14) in many majority-Muslim nations after the cover featured a drawing of the Prophet Muhammad with a tear in his eye.

“You’re putting the lives of others at risk when you’re taunting bloodthirsty and mad terrorists,” said Hamad Alfarhan, 29, a Kuwaiti doctor. “I hope this doesn’t trigger more attacks. The world is already mourning the losses of many lives under the name of religion.”

Wednesday’s 16-page issue of the satirical publication featured a cartoon on its cover depicting the prophet holding a sign that says, “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) ”” the slogan adopted in support of the weekly after last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris. The headline above the prophet’s head reads, “All is forgiven.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, France, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

Bishop of Norwich Graham James–'Diminished sympathies curb our curiosity'

Good morning. The British Museum opened its doors on this day in 1759, the first national public museum in the world. Sir Hans Sloane had gathered 71,000 artefacts from many parts of the world and these formed the core of the collection. 5,000 visitors a year to begin with has grown to six million annually now. As success stories go, the British Museum is hard to beat.

I must have been eleven when I first went there. I recall being surprised that not everything in the British Museum came from Britain. My juvenile and literal mind needed broadening. Fortunately my education provided windows onto different cultures and histories. At places like the British Museum many of us realise how much we have to learn from countries we’ve never visited, people we’ve never met and things which happened long before we were born.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Bishop James Newcome–Why the C of E, As a Matter of Principle, Is Opposed to Assisted Suicide

Following interventions by a few high profile Christians, some people are suggesting that the Church of England’s position on the ‘Assisted Dying Bill’ lacks clarity. For once, nothing could be further from the truth. In February 2012 the current law was debated by General Synod, a representative body made up of bishops, clergy and lay people. No member of Synod voted against a resolution to support the law as it stands. It is relatively unusual to find an issue which attracts such an overwhelming consensus of opinion. This is one such issue, and the reasons for that massive level of agreement were well rehearsed.

Foremost among them is the view – shared by many people of other faiths and none – that every person’s life has an intrinsic value regardless of circumstance. Whatever they themselves or other people may think of their ‘value’ to society, and despite any apparent lack of productivity or usefulness, nothing can alter their essential significance as human beings. To agree that some of us are more valuable than others when it comes to being alive would be to cross an ethical Rubicon. Until now, our society has regarded this as self-evident. That is why we have ‘suicide watch’ in prisons; and why we try to stop people killing themselves by jumping off bridges or cliffs or high buildings. It is why doctors undertake to give only ‘beneficial’ treatment to their patients, and why we attach so much importance to human rights legislation.

Then there is our fundamental responsibility as a ‘civilised’ society to care for and protect the most vulnerable among us.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

Bp Sutton writes a Pastoral Letter to the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Diocese of Maryland is in deep pain. Words barely express the depth of our shock and despair over the events and revelations of the past two weeks in the aftermath of the tragic collision involving Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook, which resulted in the death of a cyclist, Thomas Palermo, on Saturday, December 27. She is now in jail, facing charges of manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in a death, driving under the influence of alcohol, and texting while driving.

There are still too many questions for which there are no easy answers, and we are filled with anger, bitterness, pain and tears. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Palermo family in their bereavement and for ourselves as a diocese in mourning. And we continue to pray for our sister Heather in this time of her tremendous grief and sorrow, knowing the Episcopal Church’s “Title IV” disciplinary process is underway to consider consequences for her actions as well as review the process that resulted in her election.

But what now? What do we do with our grief?

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Alcohol/Drinking, Alcoholism, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, Theology

(Bloomberg) Switzerland Ambushes the Global Economy

The Swiss National Bank’s shock move today to stop intervening in the foreign exchange market all but guarantees the European Central Bank will finally introduce quantitative easing when it meets Jan. 22. Switzerland is surrendering before a wave of post-QE money fleeing the euro threatens to make a mockery of its currency policy. It’s also capitulating as slumping oil brings global deflation ever closer.

t’s an astonishing U-turn. Just two days ago SNB Vice President Jean-Pierre Danthine told Swiss broadcaster RTS that “we’re convinced that the cap on the franc must remain the pillar of our monetary policy.” He added, though, that it was “very possible” that QE would make defending the threshold more difficult. It seems highly probable that the ECB has winked about its policy intentions to its Swiss counterparts.

The ensuing whipsaw in the currency market is unprecedented. The franc immediately appreciated almost 30 percent against the currencies of the Group of Ten industrialized nations, and surged to a record against the euro…:

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Globalization, Stock Market, Switzerland, The Banking System/Sector, Theology