Daily Archives: August 10, 2015
Prelate with government ties says campaign damages religious freedom
Archbishop Paul Kwong of the Anglican Church in Hong Kong has called on China’s central government to halt the cross-removal campaign in Zhejiang.
The archbishop told the Chinese diocesan weekly Echo that he felt “sad and sorry” over news reports about physical clashes and the burning of crosses that have accompanied the campaign. More than 1,200 crosses in Zhejiang have been removed and several churches demolished since late 2013 under a controversial “illegal structures” provision many believe is being misused to target Christians.
“Placing a cross on top of a Church is a common practice in Christianity. If the Zhejiang authorities think there is a safety concern to have an oversized cross, it only needs to order the church to change for a smaller one,” said the archbishop in the report published on Aug. 9.
So why would the smarter, more far-seeing leaders of the IRG see the deal as a good one? Certainly there are some attractive features from an Iranian perspective. There is the good news about the progressive dismantling of limits on Iran’s nuclear program. here are the cumbersome and weak inspection procedures that allow Iranian negotiators plenty of wiggle room for incremental cheats. There is the delicious reality that the drive to negotiate the deal has weakened the core alliances that are the heart of America’s strategic position in the Middle East. And there’s more: the prospect of an end to the conventional weapons embargo, the windfall gains from unfreezing assets and the boost to Iran’s economy that will come with the end of the sanctions.
But the real reason the deal is a gift to Iran isn’t in the language of the deal itself; it’s the path the deal opens up for Iran in the region. At a time of unprecedented crisis among Iran’s Sunni Arab rivals, the nuclear deal offers Iran a historic opportunity to aim for the hegemony of the Persian Gulf and to achieve the kind of world power that Shi’a religious enthusiasts and Persian nationalists believe is their due. God Himself, Iranian hardliners can tell the Supreme Leader, has opened this door for Iran; it is his duty and his destiny to walk through it.
So what’s Iran’s path? Simple, unfortunately. If Iran ratifies the deal, confines its cheating initially to the margins and then opportunistically pursues an agenda of regional expansion it can move towards the glittering prize that has dazzled Iranian nationalists since the time of the Shah: effective control over the oil resources of the Persian Gulf.
….one of the risks of the Assisted Dying debate is that it detracts from the debate about how to improve the experience of the living. Not everyone will think that being ”˜an old lady hobbling up the road with a trolley’ is an unbearable loss of dignity, as Pharaoh did.
In his book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Atul Gawande argues that:
”˜Certainly suffering at the end of life is sometimes unavoidable and unbearable, and helping people end their misery may be necessary. Given the opportunity, I would support laws to provide these kinds of prescriptions to people. About half don’t even use their prescription. They are reassured just to know they have this control if they need it. But we damage entire societies if we let providing this capability divert us from improving the lives of the ill. Assisted living is far harder than assisted death, but its possibilities are far greater, as well.’
Campaigners against assisted dying may disagree with Gawande’s support for prescriptions of medication that would allow a patient to end their lives if things become unbearable. What if life is physically bearable but painful as a result of an illness or disability, but emotionally overwhelming because someone fears being a burden on their family?
As far back as 1919, in philosophy’s most generous tribute to the “responsibility” of journalism, Max Weber ignored the reporter’s role entirely; for him it was the political journalist, the promoter of causes, who deserved our admiration and was so ungratefully rewarded. If getting the story right is the reporter’s aim, the editorial staff have their own priorities; the “comment” column or staged interview is better suited to the purposes of routinising, while even the headlines, those sacred pillars of “shock,” may be confected of press-officers’ and PR hand-outs, plans, reports, draft speeches circulated in advance, notices of engagements, statistical projections, contested scientific claims, the insipid flavour of the whole drowned out with the pungent spices of speculation. What we look to the media for is the construction of the world of the moment, and reporting on realities may have only tangential relevance to that.
If “new every morning” is the tempo of divine grace and the tempo of our personal responsibilities, it is because the morning is a time when one can look back intelligently and look forward hopefully. It is the tempo of practical reason. The media’s “new every morning” (quickly becoming “new every moment”) is, one may dare to say, in flat contradiction to that daily offer of grace. It serves rather to fix our perception upon the momentary now, preventing retrospection, discouraging deliberation, holding us spellbound in a suppositious world of the present which, like hell itself, has lost its future and its past.
When Elizabeth Esther looked into Vacation Bible School at the church closest to her home in Orange County, California, she was disappointed to discover it cost $40 per kid””too much for her big family.
The Catholic mom and blogger instead found a free program and then tweeted her gratitude: “A BIG THANK YOU to all the churches out there offering free VBS for kids this summer! As a mom of five, it makes ALL the difference!”
While most congregations offer VBS at no cost, organizers can easily become overwhelmed by demand. Not only are fewer programs available for a growing number of unchurched families””about 1 in 6 churches offering VBS in the ’90s dropped it by 2012, according to Barna Research””parents now regularly enroll kids in multiple Vacation Bible Schools each summer. That puts more pressure on churches to do something unique from the congregration up the street.
Especially in cities with a booming VBS circuit, a nominal fee ($5”“$25) can discourage no-shows, and a bit more ($30”“$75) can offset the price of food and new materials. Churches that charge typically offer scholarship options and discounts for families enrolling multiple kids.
A year after tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians fled communities overtaken by Islamic State militants, their lives are on hold in exile: They won’t go back to Iraq, saying it’s not safe for Christians, but as refugees they’re barred from working in temporary asylum countries such as Jordan. Expectations of quick resettlement to the West have been dashed.
“We’ve lost hope in everything,” said Hinda Ablahat, a 67-year-old widow who lives with dozens of fellow refugees in plywood cubicles set up in a church compound in downtown Amman, the capital of Jordan. “We’ve been sitting here for a year and nothing’s happened.”
About 7,000 Christians from northern Iraq have found refuge in Jordan, including about 2,000 living in church-sponsored shelters.
An open Bible rested comfortably in the hands of Eva Smith, its pages worn and fixed on the words of First Peter.
“Tend the flock of God which is among you,” she read aloud.
It was those words that led the 78-year-old North Charleston woman to take on a position 15 years ago as head chaplain at the Charleston County jail. And it’s those words that continue to guide her ”” a source of strength that allows her to endure.
“If I must say something, it’s that God loves his people no matter what they do,” she said. “It’s up to the people to accept his word.”
Read it all from the local paper.
Almighty God, who didst call thy deacon Laurence to serve thee with deeds of love, and didst give him the crown of martyrdom: Grant, we beseech thee, that we, following his example, may fulfil thy commandments by defending and supporting the poor, and by loving thee with all our hearts, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst drive forth from the temple those who profaned the holy place, saying to them, My house shall be called the house of prayer: Make us so to love the habitation of thy house and the place where thy honour dwelleth, that with humility and godly fear we may draw near to worship thee; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. And when they came to him, he said to them:
“You yourselves know how I lived among you all the time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which befell me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance to God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, bound in the Spirit, not knowing what shall befall me there; except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that all you among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom will see my face no more. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities, and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by so toiling one must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, ”˜It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
And when he had spoken thus, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And they all wept and embraced Paul and kissed him, sorrowing most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they should see his face no more. And they brought him to the ship.
Jake Arrieta pitched four-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Chicago Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 2-0 on Sunday for a four-game sweep of the defending world champions.
Arrieta also tripled and scored in the second as the Cubs won for the 10th time in 11 games. Chicago’s first four-game sweep of San Francisco since June 1977 increased its lead for the second NL wild card to 3 1/2 games over the reeling Giants.
Casting for Recovery provides an opportunity for women whose lives have been affected by breast cancer the chance to heal and learn how to live again.
The everyday normalcy of this St. Louis suburb as well as evidence of its surreal burst into the national spotlight were both on display Sunday morning, the first anniversary of the fatal shooting of the black unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a white Ferguson police officer.
Outside the police station, concrete barricades blocked the entrance, and television news reporters had set up cameras across the street. But as cars whizzed past a sign advertising Sunday brunch at a local restaurant, there were no protesters in sight, and no noticeable police presence.
At least since Aristotle, Western cultures have defined the people that comprise them by drawing a line between humans and machines on the one hand, and humans and other living things, such as plants and animals, on the other. “It needs twenty years to lead man from the plant state in which he is within his mother’s womb, and the pure animal state which is the lot of his early childhood,” wrote Voltaire, “to the state when the maturity of the reason begins to appear.”
Now, however, advances in artificial intelligence, cybernetics, and genomics are blurring the outlines of the once-cozy categories of human, animal, and machine. Under the loose and shifting rubrics of “transhumanism” and “posthumanism,” a growing number of artists, philosophers, and self-modifying “biohackers” are looking to redefine the boundaries of the self.
Such innovations cast doubt on the legitimacy of the distinctions we have used to frame ourselves for centuries. To argue for or against human uniqueness, one must first claim that we can know what makes us us, our quiddity. But if science suggests that there is no such thing, then human uniqueness can’t be either true or false, but only beside the point.
Read it all from Sally Davies in Nautilus.
— Charleston photos (@charlestonphoto) August 9, 2015
Liberal arts has not been killed by parental or student philistinism, or the cupidity of today’s educational institutions whose excessive costs have made the liberal arts into an unattainable luxury. In too many ways the liberal arts have died not by murder but by suicide.
To restore the liberal arts, those of us who teach should begin by thinking about students. Almost all of them have serious questions about major issues, and all of them are looking for answers. What is right? What is love? What do I owe others? What do others owe me? In too many places these are not questions for examination but issues for indoctrination. Instead of guiding young men and women by encouraging them to read history, biography, philosophy and literature, we’d rather debunk the past, deconstruct the authors and dethrone our finest minds and statesmen.
But why would any student spend tens of thousands of dollars and, rather than see the world in all its aspects, instead spend his time being indoctrinated and immersed in the prejudices of the current culture and the opinions of his tendentious professors? The job of teachers is to liberate minds, not capture them.