Daily Archives: September 2, 2015

Data reveals Charleston SC outpaces nation, Southeast peers in alcohol consumption

Charleston has always been known as a drinking city, but newly available statistics show exactly how much alcohol is behind the reputation: Its consumption levels far exceed the national average, contributing to a situation that public health researchers describe as worrisome.

But the numbers that trouble researchers are also deeply reflective of Charleston’s history and culture, which is currently being promoted on an unprecedented global scale. To better understand the incipient clash between a centuries-long tradition of private drinking and rabid public interest in the city that spawned it, The Post and Courier is taking a two-part look at the state of local alcohol consumption, starting with this review of relevant data.

According to statistics compiled independently by the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute and the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Education, Charleston’s alcohol consumption patterns are oddly upper Midwestern in nature. The city’s imbibing habits most closely mirror those of places such as Milwaukee, where nearly half of the population claims German ancestry and enough snow falls every year to bury an average fourth-grader.

Read it all from the local paper.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Alcohol/Drinking, History, Urban/City Life and Issues

(F Th) Surviving on satire of the terrible new sexual ethic–Reinhard Marx, Agony Uncle

Dear Muddled:

Don’t be so hard on yourself. As the editors of the traditions gathered together under the name “Jeremiah” wrote: “The heart is perverse above all things, and unsearchable, who can know it?” Pascal, though only a Frenchman, expressed a similar sentiment when he said, “The heart has its reasons that reason knows not.” What these authors, separated by centuries, agree upon is this: you cannot control whom you love.

The important thing is that we find a way for you to feel welcome in the Church in your clandestine extramarital relationship with Magdalena. Is it right to call a committed, though unorthodox, loving relationship adultery? I think not. So enjoy the blessings of love (and love!) and do not let small-hearted naysayers keep you from communion!

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology, Women

([London] Times) CIA drone programme targets key Isis figures

A British jihadist who was a leading recruiter for Isis is believed to have been killed by a new clandestine drone programme designed to take out high-value targets in Syria.

Junaid Hussain, 21, from Birmingham, died when a drone hit the Isis-held city of Raqqa on Tuesday. He was third on an American list of Isis targets and is said to have played a key role as an instigator of lone-wolf attacks in Britain, Europe and the US.

He was jailed for six months in 2012 over a computer hack that gained access to Tony Blair’s address book.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Syria, Terrorism, Violence

(BBC) New Ebola death confirmed in Sierra Leone

A woman who recently died in northern Sierra Leone has tested positive for Ebola.

It comes as a setback to the country’s effort to eradicate the deadly disease.

Sierra Leone was celebrating last week when it discharged its last known Ebola patient from hospital.

News of the new case means the country is no longer Ebola-free. High-risk contacts of the woman have been identified, isolated and will now be watched for symptoms.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Health & Medicine, Sierra Leone

Christine Hardman to be Twelfth Bishop of Newcastle

The Venerable Christine Elizabeth Hardman, aged 64, holds a B.Sc (Econ) from the University of London and trained for ordination on the St Albans Ministerial Training Scheme. She later studied for a Master’s degree in Applied Theology from Westminster College, Oxford. She became a Deaconess in 1984 and was ordained Deacon in 1987, serving as Curate at St John the Baptist, Markyate Street in the Diocese of St Albans. She took up the role of Tutor and Course Director on the St Albans Ministerial Training Scheme from 1988-1996. During this period the Scheme merged with the Oxford Ministry Course and she became its Director of Mission Studies.

Christine was ordained Priest in 1994 and became Vicar of Holy Trinity and Christ the King, Stevenage in 1996 and also Rural Dean of Stevenage in 1999. She served as Archdeacon of Lewisham and Greenwich from 2001 to 2012.

In 2012 Christine became Assistant Priest at Southwark Cathedral and received the Bishop’s Permission to Officiate in the Diocese of St Albans where she has been acting Warden of Readers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(CC) David Wood–Scientists welcome: A challenge for congregations

By and large mainline congregations have situated themselves outside the debates over religion and science, leaving it to the young earth creationists and the militant atheists to fight it out. Unfortunately, the rationale for disengagement from that shrill debate has resulted in a disengagement from science altogether. The congregations that claim they are at peace with science do little to articulate why or how that is possible. An alternative narrative to that of hostility between religion and science remains ambiguous and inarticulate within the church and in the public imagination.

While in England recently I had the opportunity to visit the site of the historic Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, founded in 1874. It was at this site that J. J. Thomson discovered the electron (1897), Ernest Rutherford split the atom (1932), and Francis Crick and James Watson identified the structure of DNA (1953). Twenty-nine researchers associated with the Caven­dish Laboratory have won Nobel prizes.

Our tour guide pointed out the words carved in Latin across the top of the great wooden doors: “Magna opera Domini esquisira in ornnes coluntares ejrts.” It was a quote from Psalm 111:2, “Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.” Our guide went on to note that when the lab was relocated in the 1970s to West Cambridge, the faculty insisted that the new doors be inscribed with the same words””in English.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(ABC Aus) Oliver O'Donovan: Moral Discernment in an Unintelligible Present

The idea of history turns on the reconciliation of good and time: the progress of time does not reduce the goods of nature to meaninglessness and vanity, but allows of a succession with its own meaning, congruent to nature but not identical with it. It is possible to underestimate the theoretical demands of such a reconciliation, which is what a variety of historicisms – spinning the logic of history out of nature or thrusting a logic of history over the top of nature – have done. Every such purely historical meaning turns out to be unmeaningful. It cannot yield the “love of one’s own” to which Grant gave such great weight.

But if a reconciliation cannot be accomplished by immanent dialectic or nihilist decree, it may be disclosed to us by God, as promise. The difference between “my people” and “other people” depends on a special and particular gift, a narrative identity, and a narrative identity is a temporal meaning that is only to be received as a gift, not discovered as a truth of nature or imposed as a fiat of will.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

(NRO) Wesley Smith responds to George Will's Bad Arguments for Assisted Suicide

…once society generally accepts the dark premise that killing is an acceptable way to end suffering”“we haven’t yet”“there is no way to effectively constrain euthanasia inflation.

This isn’t a “slippery slope” argument but determinable from facts on the ground. Thus, in addition to the physically ill and dying, doctors in Belgium and the Netherlands kill the mentally ill, the healthy elderly “tired of life,” and in Belgium, even engage in joint killings of married couples that fear widowhood and/or dependency.

Switzerland’s legal suicide clinics have facilitated the deaths of people who are not sick for existential reasons. Recently, an elderly Italian woman received assisted suicide because she was in despair over her loss of beauty. The first her family knew that she was dead was when the suicide clinic mailed the family her ashes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology

(W Post Op-ed) George Will Argues for Assisted Suicide

The American Medical Association remains opposed to physician assistance in dying; the California Medical Association has moved from opposition to neutrality. Litigation has been unsuccessful in seeking judicial affirmation of a right that California’s legislature should establish. Legislation to do this has been authored by Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, chair of the Democratic caucus.

There are reasons for wariness. An illness’s six-month trajectory can be uncertain. A right to die can become a felt obligation, particularly among bewildered persons tangled in the toils of medical technologies, or persons with meager family resources. And as a reason for ending life, mental suffering itself calls into question the existence of the requisite decisional competence.

Today’s culture of casual death (see the Planned Parenthood videos) should deepen worries about a slippery slope from physician-assisted dying to a further diminution of life’s sanctity. Life, however, is inevitably lived on multiple slippery slopes: Taxation could become confiscation, police could become instruments of oppression, public education could become indoctrination, etc. Everywhere and always, civilization depends on the drawing of intelligent distinctions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology

(Telegraph) Should humans fear the rise of the machine?

Within the space of a couple of decades, a robot may be writing this article. It will probably be delivering your post. And if it isn’t driving your car, you’ll need to get with the times.

In the last half a decade, artificial intelligence (AI) has moved from a pipedream, or the domain of science fiction, to a reality that is certain to have a profound impact on our lives.

Not only is AI certain to make millions of jobs that exist today obsolete, it will also force us to ask major questions, about privacy, laws and ethics.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Martyrs of New Guinea

Almighty God, we remember before thee this day the blessed martyrs of New Guinea, who, following the example of their Savior, laid down their lives for their friends; and we pray thee that we, who honor their memory, may imitate their loyalty and faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Saint Benedict

O gracious and holy Father, give us wisdom to perceive thee, diligence to seek thee, patience to wait for thee, eyes to behold thee, a heart to meditate upon thee, and a life to proclaim thee; through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

–Psalm 38:21-22

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(MSF) Democratic Republic of Congo: Katanga Measles Epidemic Keeps Worsening

A growing measles epidemic in the province of Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo, has sickened more than 20,000 people and killed 300 people this year, according to official figures, while resources to combat the outbreak are still lacking, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warned today.

More than 20 of Katanga’s 68 health districts are now affected””up from 10 districts in June””but the Congolese government has still not made an official declaration of the epidemic, which may have delayed a timely response.

“Every day we discover new deaths related to measles that have not been accounted for,” said Augustin Ngoyi, MSF coordinator of the response. “In a village of 500 inhabitants two hours’ drive from Kabalo, more than 30 children under 5 years of age have died in the last two months. Their little graves are still visible in the cemetery. This represents one third of this age group in the community.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Health & Medicine, Republic of Congo

(FT) Martin Wolf–China risks an economic discontinuity

There are at least three reasons why China’s growth might suffer a discontinuity: the current pattern is unsustainable; the debt overhang is large; and dealing with these challenges creates the risks of a sharp collapse in demand.

The most important fact about China’s current pattern of growth is its dependence on investment as a source of supply and demand (see charts). Since 2011 additional capital has been the sole source of extra output, with the contribution of growth of “total factor productivity” (measuring the change in output per unit of inputs) near zero. Moreover, the incremental capital output ratio, a measure of the contribution of investment to growth, has soared as returns on investment have tumbled.

The International Monetary Fund argues: “Without reforms, growth would gradually fall to around 5 per cent with steeply increasing debt.” But such a path would be unsustainable, not least because debts are already at such a high level. Thus “total social financing” ”” a broad credit measure ”” jumped from 120 per cent of GDP in 2008 to 193 per cent in 2014. The government can manage this overhang. But it must not let the build-up restart. The credit-dependent part of investment has to shrink.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Theology

(RNS) The Ashley Madison hack ensnares R C Sproul Jr and points him toward grace

According a faculty biography, he’s the father of eight children, is rector of theology and chair of philosophy and theology at Reformation Bible College. He’s also a teaching fellow for Ligonier Ministries, an outreach ministry. It was founded by Robert Charles Sproul, his father, who is also chancellor of Reformation College. Sproul Jr.’s college biography also describes him as delighting in teaching “the fullness and the glory of the gospel truth that Jesus changes everything.”

Or rather, he was a professor. He was a fellow. He alerted both institutions and, in accordance with church discipline, is now suspended from both roles.

Unlike other Christians, who maintain all of us are born into sin, his sin ”” or rather prospective thought about maybe sinning ”” was outed. And yet, R.C. Sproul Jr., is still teaching a Christian lesson.

This is what he posted on his blog today. It’s titled, “Judgment and Grace.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality, Theology