Daily Archives: June 4, 2015

(CNBC) New retirement age is not 65, not 80, not 95: It's higher

Human life has reached an inflection point””one that matters a great deal for those planning for retirement.

One hundred years ago, the average lifespan was about 42. That’s now doubled. People are living longer and trying to stretch their income to make ends meet and stay ahead of inflation, but that’s not the inflection point financial advisors are really concerned about””that’s just the everyday blocking and tackling on behalf of client portfolios. The emerging challenge goes way beyond that.

Scientists have found the mechanisms that govern aging and are already doing experiments in rats on how to reverse it. They’ve found species that do not die of old age, such as the jellyfish Turritopsis.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Science & Technology, Social Security, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Barna) What Are the Least Churched Cities in the U.S.?

The U.S. has a reputation for being exceptionally religious””and it is true that, historically speaking, churchgoing has played an outsized role in American identity. Still, millions of Americans have little to no connection to local congregations.

Currently, about four in 10 U.S. adults qualify as “unchurched” under Barna’s definition (38%). Unchurched adults have not attended a church service, except for a holiday or special occasion, at any time within the past six months.

Churched and unchurched adults are not evenly distributed across the country. Church attendance varies widely from city to city and region to region. Many cities outpace the overall U.S. population when it comes to church avoidance.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sociology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Mere Orthodoxy) Matthew Lee Anderson–Why I am Opposed to Same-sex Marriage

The husband and wife’s resolute commitment to the irreplaceability of each other with respect to their union””their fides””with all its joyous, self-imposed, exacting rigor establishes a moral environment wherein the child has the security of knowing that their identity and personhood has its foundation within the exclusive devotion between just two people. The child’s life and origin begins in the secret, hidden mystery of love between the man and the woman whose shape is made public in their vows of marriage.

To be clear, my point is a moral one and not about biology per se. But what’s true at the moral level is also true biologically: if either member of the union were replaced, the DNA of the child would obviously come from a different pool. To the extent that matters for the determination of a child’s life””and it clearly matters some””that would be enough to indicate that there is something about being begotten from just those two parents and no others that matters to the child’s future….

If my argument is right, gay marriage is not a revolution; it is simply the final stage of the erosion of eros….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishops bring together congregation in North Charleston SC to address police shootings

Four Methodist bishops. Four denominations. One place. One cause.

“They have sensed the need for leadership and have come to give unity to families across the state who have been impacted by officer-involved shootings,” said The Rev. Dr. Robert Kennedy, pastor of St. Peters African Methodist Episcopal Church in North Charleston.

ennedy stood Wednesday night at the head of his North Charleston church, packed with hundreds, and introduced The Rt. Rev. Richard Franklin Norris, presiding bishop of the Seventh Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; The Rt. Rev. Kenneth Monroe, presiding bishop of the South Atlantic Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; The Rt. Rev. James B. Walker, presiding bishop of the Seventh Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; and the Rt. Rev. Lewis Jonathan Holston, presiding bishop of the S.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church.

“We come tonight to make a plea for liberty for minorities who are not always treated fairly,” he said, adding that while there are good cops, there are also those who make poor decisions on the job and something needs to be done.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Methodist, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(Gallup) Majority in U.S. Still Say Moral Values Getting Worse

Most Americans (72%) continue to believe the state of moral values in the U.S. is “getting worse,” while 22% say it is “getting better.” Large majorities have said the state of moral values in the U.S. is declining since Gallup started asking this question annually in 2002.

Americans were slightly less pessimistic about the direction of the country’s morals in 2002 and 2003, when two-thirds (67%) said it was getting worse. Pessimism peaked between 2006 and 2008, when more than four in five Americans thought the state of moral values was declining.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Sociology, Theology

(NC Register) Flannery O’Connor Chosen for New Postage Stamp

Award-winning American author and devout Catholic Flannery O’Connor will appear on a new postage stamp this summer, the U.S. Postal Service announced last week. The stamp is decorated with peacock feathers, a tribute to the family peacock farm in Georgia, where O’Connor did much of her writing.

Famous for her Southern-Gothic fiction style, O’Connor’s best-known works include her first novel, Wise Blood, and many short stories, such as A Good Man Is Hard to Find. A collection of her works, The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor, won the 1972 National Book Award for fiction and was named the Best of the National Book Awards, 1950-2008, by a public vote.

The “forever” stamp for 3-ounce packages will be available June 5.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Other Churches, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Women

(FaithStreet) Kevin Palau–An Unlikely Church-State Partnership in Portland

We started by approaching Portland’s mayor, Sam Adams, the first openly gay mayor of a major American city, with a simple question: How can we, as the Body of Christ, best serve the city?

To be sure, my dad, Luis Palau, was the first worldwide evangelist Adams had ever hosted. In that first meeting, Adams was impressively open to us, not showing a hint of defensiveness. He sensed our sincerity and commitment ”” and was also sincerely concerned with the needs of the city.

Assured there were no strings attached ”” and feeling he had nothing to lose ”” he started the conversation by naming his biggest concerns: hunger, homelessness, healthcare, the environment, and public schools. So began a partnership, CityServe, between the city and a band of churches.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

The President of Methodist Church of Ireland responds to same-sex marriage vote

I ask now that grace be extended mutually between those who disagree on this issue. It is clear that prejudice, largely born out of ignorance and fear, exists against members of the LGBT community, but this does not mean that those who voted No in the referendum want to endorse inequality, restrict freedom or maintain intolerance. I strongly urge Methodist families, small groups and larger fellowships to be safe places where LGBT people feel accepted and loved, able to share their stories freely and be involved in the life of the church.
At the same time the referendum result is not compatible with what the Methodist Church in Ireland recognises as the basis of Christian marriage. Our understanding is that marriage is between a man and a woman and so in the context of weddings within Methodist churches our practice remains that no minister has the authority to conduct the marriage of same-sex partners.
As the government of the Republic of Ireland seeks to frame legislation in response to the result of the referendum I call on it to ensure that church and other faith bodies will not be compelled by law to act contrary to their definition of marriage and I expect the government to engage with the Methodist Church and other churches and faith communities to this end.

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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, Ireland, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Anglican Ink) Irish church divided over same-sex marriage vote

The Most Rev. John Neill, the archbishop of Dublin from 2002 to 2011, told The Irish Times “the understanding of marriage in the church has evolved, putting partnership first before procreation”, in which context “there is less of a problem about same-sex marriage”. A Yes result would not affect the church’s teaching on marriage and it could continue “to order [its] own affairs,” he said. But he hoped church thinking would evolve “to take account of this distinction.”

He further stated “we now recognise that there are many different types of unions and I don’t see why they cannot have the protection and status of marriage”. He was also “quite happy this wouldn’t affect the status of children.”

However, the Bishop of the United Dioceses of Meath and Kildare, the Most Rev. Patricia Storey said in a pastoral letter to her clergy it was the effect on children and the family that led her to cast a No vote.

“I believe that civil partnerships give gay people clear civil rights and recognition as people committed to one another, and I fully endorse this. However, I do not think that this requires the redefinition of marriage to uphold it, and I do not believe that marriage should be redefined,” she wrote.

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John XXIII

Lord of all truth and peace, who didst raise up thy bishop John to be servant of the servants of God and bestowed on him wisdom to call for the work of renewing your Church: Grant that, following his example, we may reach out to other Christians to clasp them with the love of your Son, and labor throughout the nations of the world to kindle a desire for justice and peace; through Jesus Christ, who is alive and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Book of Common Order

Almighty God, most blessed and most holy, before the brightness of whose presence the angels veil their faces: With lowly reverence and adoring love we acknowledge thine infinite glory, and worship thee, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, eternal Trinity. Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto our God, for ever and ever.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ”˜Vindicate me against my adversary.’ For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, ”˜Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

–Luke 18:1-8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Anglican Unscripted 182 – Marriage

With thanks to Kevin Kallsen and Allan Haley at Anglican TV

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

(VOA) Nigeria Leadership Change Could Boost US Role in Boko Haram Fight

An online video posted this week purportedly shows Boko Haram fighters using the logo “Islamic State in West Africa.”

In the video, a militant accuses countries fighting Boko Haram of lying about the extent of their success in pushing back the group.

The video comes just days after newly inaugurated President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to make fighting Boko Haram a top priority, an issue that he discussed with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who attended the inauguration last Friday.

It is that change in leadership last week that analysts say could breathe new life into US. efforts to assist the country in fighting Boko Haram, by giving the countries a chance to reset relations that had become strained under former President Goodluck Jonathan.

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

(NYT Op-ed) Molly Worthen–Wanted: A Theology of Atheism

Today, nonbelievers often seem inclined to describe atheism and secular humanism as an “identity” whose claimants should focus on winning cultural acceptance rather than intellectual debates. Here, they are taking their cues from the civil rights movement, particularly the rhetoric of gay liberation. Some organizations, for example, declared April 23 the first “Openly Secular Day,” “a celebration of secular people opening up about their secular worldview, and an opportunity for theistic allies to show their support for secular friends and family.”

“Many atheists are still in the closet,” said Nichelle Reed of Sunday Assembly. Nonbelievers like her hope that if they emphasize good works over grand argument, they can convince the bigots that atheists are decent human beings. Kelly Damerow, the interim executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, said that there is little discussion of moral philosophy among the activists she works with. “We get it. We know we’re good to each other,” she told me. “We would rather show people that we’re good.”

In the short term, this is a smart strategy. The language of tolerance and personal identity has particular appeal to millennials, who account for 40 percent of the atheist and agnostic population, according to the Pew Research Center’s latest study. August E. Brunsman IV, who directs the Secular Student Alliance, said that “nowadays you’re seeing a whole lot of people for whom it’s more important that they’re understood and valued by fellow citizens, not seen as being too weird.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Atheism, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(ESPN) Djokovic outplays King of Clay Nadal in every aspect

Wednesday’s 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 quarterfinal beatdown at the hands of Novak Djokovic was far less surprising. Nadal has been struggling on clay for the first time in his career, while Djokovic is playing the best tennis of his life.

“It’s a special thing, it’s a special match,” Djokovic said looking happy but weary. “Playing against Rafa on a court he has lost only once, it’s not easy to execute the plan you prepared for the match. But I did that. It’s definitely a big win. It’s a match I will remember for a long time.”

The funny/sad thing? Nadal — the ultimate fighter — almost seemed to quit in the ragged third set. The match ended with a double fault. Nadal, who has one of the most feared forehands in the game, had exactly three forehand winners. Djokovic had 20 more. The match required 2 hours, 26 minutes, but it felt much, much faster.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, France, Men, Sports

(World) In China will an old translation of the Bible revolutionize the church?

In 1874, a group of Chinese and Western language scholars commissioned by the American Bible Society completed the first translation of the Bible into colloquial Chinese, allowing everyday Chinese people to read and understand the Word of God. Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, a Jewish convert and Episcopal bishop of Shanghai, worked for 11 years to transform the elegance of the Old Testament Hebrew into Chinese; and for the next 40 years, the text became the standard Bible for the Chinese.

Yet today, most Chinese Christians have never read this Jingwei Version Bible or even know of its existence, as few copies survived the missionary martyrdoms and Bible burnings in the early 20th century and the Cultural Revolution in the ’70s. In its place, the 1919 Chinese Union Version gained popularity and is now the only Bible version the Chinese government allows, rolling hot off the presses of the government-controlled Amity Press in Nanjing, China.

The Union Bible, used by the tens of millions of Christians in China, is a literal translation of the English Revised text, and also relies heavily on the earlier Jingwei Bible with about 80 percent of the text remaining the same.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Books, China, History, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture