Daily Archives: May 27, 2015

(RNS) TV and Internet? Meh. What Pope Francis really misses are pizza outings.

Pope Francis told an Argentine newspaper that he never watches TV or logs on to the Internet. Perhaps not surprisingly, he sleeps well.

Speaking to the newspaper La Voz Del Pueblo, the pope reflected on the little over two years since he was thrust into the global limelight.

He said the swift transition from being archbishop of Buenos Aires to leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics was somewhat of a shock.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Movies & Television, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(AP via local paper) High-cost, skimpy health insurance next big campaign issue for Democrats

A different health care issue has emerged for Democrats, in sync with the party’s pitch to workers and middle-class voters ahead of next year’s elections.

It’s not the uninsured, but rather the problem of high out-of-pocket costs for people already covered.

Democrats call it “underinsurance.”

Read it all.

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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Senate, Theology

(TGC) Garrett Kell–The Pattern Among Fallen Pastors

During my time in seminary I took a leadership course taught by the late, great Howard Hendricks. As we studied the life of David, Hendricks shared a study he conducted with a group of men in full-time ministry who had fallen into a morally disqualifying sin.

At the time, I had only been a Christian for a few years, but unfortunately the subject was all too relevant. During my early days I had witnessed several men whom I loved and respected fall into serious sinful compromise. At one point in those days, the falls came so frequently I felt as if I was on the spiritual beach of Normandy watching buddies’ lives get blown apart all around me.

The study examined 246 men in full-time ministry who experienced moral failure within a two-year period. As far as Hendricks could discern, these full-time clergy were born-again followers of Jesus. Though they shared a common salvation, these men also shared a common feat of devastation; they had all, within 24 months of each other, been involved in an adulterous relationship.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Profile of R. Catholic priest+biker Lou Vallone

“The diocese wasn’t overwhelmingly pleased with it,” he said. “I’m not sure of whether it was a perceptual issue or whether [the bishop] figured he invested 12 years of education in me and didn’t want to lose it too quick in a motorcycle accident. But the diocese has never been completely at ease with my being a biker.”

His parishioners, he says, believe otherwise. The pastor often cites his motorcycle experiences in his homilies, attempting to convey the Scriptures so that they will relate in the modern world.

“I tell them weather reports are very important to motorcycle riders. If you’re going to be out for a couple of hours, you can’t just look out the window. What’s it going to be like two hours from now when I come back? There’s a 50 percent chance of rain, but if it rains, you get 100 percent wet,” he said.

“So the Lord tells you, ”˜not the day nor the hour.’ You know, the odds may be 50 percent that you’re not going to get caught doing something wrong. But if you get caught doing something wrong, you’re 100 percent guilty.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Travel, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Express) Last resting place of real Alice In Wonderland is to get a makeover

Alice Hargreaves, nee Liddell died in 1934 aged 82 and is buried at Lyndhurst, Hants.

She inspired the author ”“ a friend of her family ”“ to write about a girl who fell down a rabbit hole to entertain her and her sisters when she was a child.

The book, which has since been published in more than 170 languages and adapted for the big screen, first came about on a rowing trip they all took together.

Ann Rogers, warden at St Michael and All Angels Church where the grave is, said: “We get lots of visitors to see Alice’s grave – every day there’s a family struggling to find it in the church grounds….”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Children, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture

(C of E Blog) Canon Sandra Millar–Dying Matters

Just over a year ago Lichfield diocese agreed to pilot a fresh approach. 60 people, lay and ordained, gathered one morning in Stafford to think about how to get people talking about death, dying and funerals. They went away to try out a new concept: GraveTalk, with 35 parishes setting up café-style events. Each event involves setting up a space to look like a café, where refreshments are served. People gather in small groups at tables. Conversations are started through a pack of 52 specially written questions covering a wide range of topics, ranging from attitudes to death to personal experiences.

There are no answers, just a space to talk. Facilitators, lay or ordained, make sure the event is running smoothly ”“ and there is always ”˜tea and cake’. The trial was researched in partnership with the University of Staffordshire, and the results were overwhelmingly positive: when we make the time and the space, people will talk.

One vicar who piloted GraveTalk said:

“I gave it to them and I went and made coffee while they started discussing it. And I just couldn’t shut them up. When I came to draw them to a conclusion, they wanted to carry on. They thought it was absolutely brilliant. I was really surprised.”

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

(WSJ) A New Push Ties Cost of Drugs to How Well They Work

Express Scripts Holding Co. , a large manager of prescription-drug benefits for U.S. employers and insurers, is seeking deals with pharmaceutical companies that would set pricing for some cancer drugs based on how well they work.

The effort is part of a growing push for so-called pay-for-performance deals amid complaints about the rising price of medications, some of which cost more than $100,000 per patient a year.

Some insurers and prescription-benefit managers are pushing back by arguing that they should pay less when drugs don’t work well in certain patients. Drug companies are countering with pricing models of their own, such as offering free doses during a trial period.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Theology

(NPR) Md. Episcopal Diocese Chooses Replacement For Defrocked Bishop

After the accident, it was revealed that leaders from the Diocese of Maryland knew Cook had been arrested for a previous DUI before she was hired as the assistant bishop. They failed to pass that information on to the committee that appointed her.

MONTAGNE: Now, the diocese has appointed a new assistant bishop, who is a recovering alcoholic. Chilton Knudsen has made addiction counseling a key part of her ministry. She took a break from a conference on clergy addiction to talk to us and said her selection was no accident.

CHILTON KNUDSEN: Renee, I’m confident that the Diocese of Maryland came looking for me because they know I’m a publicly acknowledged person in recovery. And so as an ordained person and a recovering person, I have a little palette of skills that I think are uniquely helpful in a situation like the diocese of Maryland has now.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Alcohol/Drinking, Alcoholism, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, Theology

Roman Catholic Church leaders respond to Irish referendum outcome

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has said he appreciates how the passing of the marriage referendum leaves gay and lesbian men and women feeling and he paid tribute to the “immense effort” that went in to the referendum campaign.

Speaking to RTE News, the Archbishop said he appreciated the efforts particularly of the No side.

“It was a principled vote. People, I hope, will respect that,” he commented.

He said it was very clear that if the referendum was an affirmation of the views of young people that the Church has “a huge task in front of it” to find the language to be able to talk to and get its message across to young people, not just on this issue but in general.

“I think the Church needs to do a reality check, right across the board, to look at the things it is doing well and to look at the areas that we really have drifted away completely from young people.”

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

(W Post) U.S. indicts world soccer officials in alleged $150 million FIFA bribery scandal

The Justice Department unsealed a 47 count indictment early Wednesday charging 14 world soccer figures, including officials of FIFA, with racketeering, bribery, money laundering and fraud. Four of the accused have already pleaded guilty.

The announcement in a press release followed a round-up of officials of FIFA, the world soccer federation, at a swanky Zurich hotel where they were assembling for an important meeting.

“The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Sports, Switzerland, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from James Ferguson

Almighty God, who fillest all things with thy boundless presence, yet makest thy chosen dwelling-place in the soul of man: Come thou, a gracious and willing Guest, and take thine abode in our hearts; that all unholy thoughts and desires within us be cast out, and thy holy presence be to us comfort, light and love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word; but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

–2 Corinthians 2:14-17

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Nigeria's Boko Haram 'increases' suicide attacks

The UN children’s agency says there has been an “alarming” increase in the number of suicide attacks in northern Nigeria, with many of them involving women and children.

There had been 27 attacks so far this year, compared with 26 for the whole of last year, Unicef said in a statement.

Three-quarters of the attacks were carried out by female bombers, some as young as seven, it added.

Militant Islamist group Boko Haram is waging an insurgency in Nigeria.

Read it all.

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

(WSJ) Criminals Stole Taxpayer Data Via IRS Web Service

The Internal Revenue Service said identity thieves used its online services to obtain prior-year tax return information for about 100,000 U.S. households, a major setback for the agency that is charged with safeguarding taxpayers’ privacy.

The IRS said criminals used stolen Social Security numbers and other specific data acquired from elsewhere to gain unauthorized access to the tax agency accounts. About 100,000 more attempts were unsuccessful, the agency said.

Thieves used the information from prior years’ returns to help them file for fraudulent refunds, the IRS said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, Science & Technology, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

The Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of Ireland on the Result of the Irish Vote

The archbishops and bishops of the Church of Ireland wish to affirm that the people of the Republic of Ireland, in deciding by referendum to alter the State’s legal definition of marriage, have of course acted fully within their rights.

The Church of Ireland, however, defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and the result of this referendum does not alter this.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of Ireland, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ireland, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

Statement by Core Issues Trust on the Irish Referendum on Same-Sex Marriage

Core Issues Trust offers its gratitude to the many thousands of citizens who voted against changing the Irish Constitution to replace marriage as the union between one man and one woman for life, with a new concept which takes no account of the sex of the marriage partners.

The Irish Government’s poll has enabled simple majoritarianism to usher in a radically new model of marriage based on the lowest possible construct: love while it lasts. Denying that all marriage is thereby redefined, the government has eliminated the very foundation of marriage based on natural male-female complementarity, a complementarity self-evident in human anatomy, physiology (procreative capacity), and even psychology. Now, instead of having sexual unions in which the extremes of each sex are moderated and the gaps filled, we will see the institution of marriage deteriorate even further as the extremes of each sex reshape marriage to be far more accommodating to non-monogamous behaviour and rapid dissolutions. The integrity of the sexes, male and female, will be further dishonoured as people are praised by the state for treating their sex half in relation to their own sex rather than as half of a whole sexual spectrum of male and female, as though two half-males make a whole male or two half-females make a whole female.
In addition, with the elimination of a male-female prerequisite for sexual unions, there no longer remains a logical reason to deny adult-consensual polyamorous unions or even incestuous unions (particularly incestuous unions where procreation is minimized or eliminated). For the limitation of two persons to a sexual union is predicated on the duality of the sexes, male and female; and the principle of embodied otherness upon which incest may be rejected absolutely is discarded in the embrace of the excessive sameness of same-sex sexual unions. The Irish Government in our view has also sacrificed innocent children to the demands of individuals who prioritise their “right” above the right of children to be raised by their natural parents.

We note also that this momentous change has taken place in the vacuum ”“ evident in Irish society and in all our islands and beyond ”“ following the collapse of a faithful Christian witness in Western civilisation: both Catholic and Protestant. Together we have failed to reflect the fruits of repentance and holiness of life in the sanctity of marriage and we are guilty in this fact.

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

Barna–Network, Cable, Streaming: What Americans Are Watching in 2015

he medium of television is””like newspapers, magazines and books””undergoing massive disruption.

The average number of cable stations Americans receive ballooned from 129 in 2008 to 189 in 2013, an increase of one-third in just five years.(1) During the same five-year period, Netflix introduced subscription-based Internet streaming of both TV shows and movies, a service that has multiplied to include more than 60 million subscribers around the globe.(2)

What effects, if any, have these seismic shifts had on the TV audience? Barna Group surveyed a nationally representative panel of U.S. adults on their viewing habits and preferences.

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