Daily Archives: May 19, 2015

(Telegraph) Boys who smoke cannabis ”˜are four inches shorter’

Boys who smoke cannabis before puberty could be stunting their growth by more than four inches, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that youngsters who were addicted to the drug were far shorter than their non-smoking peers.

And they also discovered that rather than being a relaxing pass time, smoking dope actually makes the body more stressed in the long term.

“Marijuana use may provoke a stress response that stimulates onset of puberty but suppresses growth rate,” said study leader Dr Syed Shakeel Raza Rizvi, of the Agriculture University Rawalpindi in Pakistan.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Men, Teens / Youth, Theology

William Smith on the PCA–reflecting on the performance of the monkeys in my old circus

….perhaps the day has arrived in the PCA when progressives need not worry about any negative connotations of the term “progressive.” However, it might still be proper to ask, “Towards what are the progressives asking their church to progress? If we follow the path of progress or get swept along by its tide, what will be left behind and where will we end up?” (Or, for real traditionalists, “where up will we end?”)

Dr. Chapell places the label “Traditionalists” on those who are “highly committed to Confessional fidelity and are often worried about perceived doctrinal drift.” Is there a more pejorative term in America, where you buy your laundry detergent because it is “new and improved,” than the term “traditional”? Not even conservatives want to be traditionalists unless they are appealing to “traditional values” (as in “family” or , peculiarly in Mississippi, “traditional Mississippi values” – wink, wink, hint, hint, get it?). Americans fought a great War for Independence so we wouldn’t have to be traditional like those stuffy old British. The last thing a true American wants to be is a stick-in-the-mud old fuddy-duddy traditionalist.

In the churches it’s the old and soon to pass from the scene folks who attend the “traditional” service, which may not be traditional at all but a service in which gospel hymns are sung with a song leader rather than praise and worship songs with a praise team. The cool kids flock to the contemporary service, where they will not be turned off by robes, minsters leading worship, and too much Scripture and prayer – until that comes to feel like it is traditional in which case they may join Rachel Held Evans who likes her doctrine and morals progressive but her liturgy sort of traditional in The Episcopal Church.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church History, Evangelicals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(B+C) Timothy Larsen reviews Richard Zoglin's new biography of Bob Hope

My initial reaction to the claim in the subtitle of this celebrity biography was incredulity, but Richard Zoglin has convinced me that Bob Hope (1903-2003) can fittingly be referred to as the most successful entertainer of the 20th century. This place of preeminence is secured by the heights of popularity that he achieved, the number of decades during which his star power continued to shine so brightly, and his triumphing in seemingly every possible form of mass entertainment.

That last point is particularly compelling. Hope rose to success in vaudeville, and then conquered Broadway, before proceeding to the #1 spot in radio, film, and television””holding in the top ten in all three across decades. And the half is yet untold. Hope was a singer and recording artist; on Broadway, he stole the show with “I Can’t Get Started,” and in his first film he did the same with “Thanks for the Memory,” which became his theme song. His initial vaudeville success was as a dancer.

Hope eventually became the most successful live performer going, often setting all-time attendance records for the cities he visited. He had a regular newspaper column, and his I Never Left Home””believe it or not””was the bestselling nonfiction book of 1944. A cultural ambassador during the Cold War, he did historic shows in Russia and China. (During the Iran hostage crisis, he seriously proposed doing his 1980 Christmas special from Tehran.) Hope was considered the greatest emcee in the business””hosting the Academy Awards an astonishing 19 times””and, to bury the lede, he was “the most popular comedian in American history.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, History, Movies & Television, Theology

Al Mohler–The Eclipse of Religious Liberty and the Threat of a New Dark Age

Speaking thirty years ago, Attorney General Meese warned that “there are ideas which have gained influence in some parts of our society, particularly in some important and sophisticated areas that are opposed to religious freedom and freedom in general. In some areas there are some people that have espoused a hostility to religion that must be recognized for what it is, and expressly countered.”

Those were prophetic words, prescient in their clarity and foresight. The ideas of which Mr. Meese warned have only gained ground in the last thirty years, and now with astounding velocity. A revolution in morality now seeks not only to subvert marriage, but also to redefine it, and thus to undermine an essential foundation of human dignity, flourishing, and freedom.

Religious liberty is under direct threat. Just days ago the Solicitor General of the United States served notice before the Supreme Court that the liberties of religious institutions will be an open and unavoidable question. Already, religious liberty is threatened by a new moral regime that exalts erotic liberty and personal autonomy and openly argues that religious liberties must give way to the new morality, its redefinition of marriage, and its demand for coercive moral, cultural, and legal sovereignty.

A new moral and legal order is ascendant in America, and this new order is only possible, in the arena of American law and jurisprudence, if the original intent and the very words of the Constitution of the United States are twisted beyond recognition.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, History, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Philosophy, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Secularism, Sexuality, Theology

(NYT) Boko Haram Militants Raped Hundreds of Female Captives

Hundreds of women and girls captured by Boko Haram have been raped, many repeatedly, in what officials and relief workers describe as a deliberate strategy to dominate rural residents and possibly even create a new generation of Islamist militants in Nigeria.

In interviews, the women described being locked in houses by the dozen, at the beck and call of fighters who forced them to have sex, sometimes with the specific goal of impregnating them.

“They married me,” said Hamsatu, 25, a young woman in a black-and-purple head scarf, looking down at the ground. She said she was four months pregnant, that the father was a Boko Haram member and that she had been forced to have sex with other militants who took control of her town.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Theology, Violence, Women

(WSJ) ISIS Solidifies Foothold in Libya

Islamic State leaders in Syria have sent money, trainers and fighters to Libya in increasing numbers, raising new concerns for the U.S. that the militant group is gaining traction in its attempts to broaden its reach and expand its influence.

In recent months, U.S. military officials said, Islamic State has solidified its foothold in Libya as it searches for ways to capitalize on rising popularity among extremist groups around the world.

“ISIL now has an operational presence in Libya, and they have aspirations to make Libya their African hub,” said one U.S. military official, using an acronym for the group. “Libya is part of their terror map now.”

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

(Wash. Post) Fertility medicine’s ”˜huge problem’: What to do with embryos left on ice?

The Lobleins are among thousands of couples and individuals in the United States grappling with difficult choices regarding their stored genetic material. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that more than 600,000 frozen embryos are stored nationwide, in addition to countless more cryo-preserved eggs and sperm.

The issue made for dramatic headlines recently as “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara was hit with a lawsuit by her ex-fiance, who wants custody of their two fertilized embryos to use for a potential pregnancy. But for most people who have used assisted reproductive technologies, the question of what to do with frozen eggs, sperm and embryos plays out in a much more private, if no less wrenching, manner.

“Having embryos in limbo is a huge problem for our field,” says Eric Widra, medical director at Shady Grove Fertility Center, which has locations throughout the Washington area. “Parents are apprehensive or conflicted and don’t know what to do.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Men, Science & Technology, Theology, Women

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Dunstan

O God of truth and beauty, who didst richly endow thy Bishop Dunstan with skill in music and the working of metals, and with gifts of administration and reforming zeal: Teach us, we beseech thee, to see in thee the source of all our talents, and move us to offer them for the adornment of worship and the advancement of true religion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Leonine Sacramentary

Almighty and merciful God, into whose gracious presence we ascend, not by the frailty of the flesh but by the activity of the soul: Make us ever by thy inspiration to seek after the courts of the heavenly city, whither our Saviour Christ hath ascended, and by thy mercy confidently to enter them, both now and hereafter; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.

–Luke 10:1-3

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin: ”˜I encourage everyone to vote and to reflect carefully’

As a bishop I have strong views on marriage based on my religious convictions. I have, however, no wish to stuff my religious views down other people’s throats, but I also have a right to express my views in the reasoned language of social ethics. In airing my views in public debate, I do not expect to be listened to on the basis of dogmatic utterance, but on the reasonableness of my argument.

I write then primarily as a citizen of Ireland. I have no affiliation with any group of No campaigners. Some such groups will quote me, but I know how short-lived such affirmation can be. I have said that I intend to vote No, yet there are those of the ecclesiastical right-wing who accuse me of being in favour of a Yes vote, since I do not engage in direct condemnation of gay and lesbian men and women.

My position is that of Pope Francis, who, in the debates around same-sex marriage in Argentina, made it very clear that he was against legalising same-sex marriage, yet he was consistent in telling people not to make judgments on any individual. I know the manner with which the Irish Church treated gay and lesbian people in the past ”“ and in some cases still today ”“ and that fact cannot be overlooked.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Ireland, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

(W Post) Teacher assails practice of giving passing grades to failing students

Caleb Stewart Rossiter, a college professor and policy analyst, decided to try teaching math in the D.C. schools. He was given a pre-calculus class with 38 seniors at H.D. Woodson High School. When he discovered that half of them could not handle even second-grade problems, he sought out the teachers who had awarded the passing grades of D in Algebra II, a course that they needed to take his high-level class.

There are many bewildering stories like this in Rossiter’s new book, “Ain’t Nobody Be Learnin’ Nothin’: The Fraud and the Fix for High-Poverty Schools,” the best account of public education in the nation’s capital I have ever read. It will take me three columns to do justice to his revelations about what is being done to the District’s most distracted and least productive students.

Teachers will tell you it is a no-no to ask other teachers why they committed grading malpractice. Rossiter didn’t care. Three of the five teachers he sought had left the high-turnover D.C. system, but the two he found were so candid I still can’t get their words out of my mind.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

(C of E) Launch of national conversation about Death and Dying

The Church of England is launching a new national resource to help churches get people talking about death and dying.

GraveTalk, provides resources for a café space in which churches provide a relaxed environment for people to explore questions about death and dying, funerals and loss. It is being launched during Dying Awareness week (May 17-23), run by the Dying Matters coalition, and made up of more than 30,000 members including the Church of England.

GraveTalk, is being launched nationally at a giant café in Portsmouth Cathedral between 2pm and 9pm, tomorrow, May 19. The resources include a pack of 52 questions about life, death, society, funerals, and grief to help people start, and has been piloted in more than 100 parishes, is available at a dedicated website www.gravetalk.org

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(GR) Julia Duin-Note to journalists: When reporting on charismatics, please try to get details right

The article brought up more questions than it answered and let stand some amazing assertions by Bill Leonard, a church historian on the “moderate” or progressive side of Southern Baptist life. The church history professor said the reason behind the change is that the Southern Baptists are having so much competition with Pentecostals on the world mission field that they felt they needed to give in this one point.

Really? So the Baptists are so behind on their soul winning among non-whites that they made the calculated decision to dump a decision they got a lot of grief on in 2005 and 2006? Leonard is a very good source, but I would have liked more data to back that one up ”“ another point of view.

Moreover, the link RNS provided to the IMB web site didn’t say that at all. What it did reveal is that divorced people are also being allowed to be long-term missionaries. Christianity Today revealed some other rule changes with the IMB, such as parents of teens being allowed to be missionaries. Before, it was thought that having a teen-ager on a mission post was too challenging for a family.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media, Religion & Culture

(Christian Today) Church of England investment bonanza boosts expansion hopes

The Church of England has achieved growth on its investments far above inflation, meaning it has enough funds to finance ambitious plans for expansion by paying for dozens and possibly hundreds more clergy across the nation.

The profits in 2014 mean that the Church Commissioners have more than made up the disastrous losses of the late 1980s and 1990s and that here is enough cash to pay for the growth vision of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

The portfolio is now worth a record £6.7 billion, meaning plans approved by the General Synod to release an extra £100 million to pay for more clergy can be easily afforded.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, Theology