Daily Archives: October 5, 2015

(CNN) South Carolina flooding: How to help

Deadly flooding has engulfed parts of South Carolina, forcing people from their homes. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has activated the National Guard to help with flood rescues, and charitable organizations are responding.

Impact Your World has gathered ways for people to help in these efforts.

Ӣ The Salvation Army is assisting communities along the East Coast by providing food, water and shelter to flood victims.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * South Carolina, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Weather

(CT) The Christian Case for Not Giving Up on the World's Most Fragile State

South Sudan is the kind of place where a sermon anecdote about gunfire draws hearty laughter. The sound of a firearm is such an everyday occurrence that South Sudanese only question whether it came from a pistol, an AK-47, or an M-16. “Many people right now are praying, ”˜Thank you God for not making me South Sudanese,’ ” says the pastor.

Listening near the back of the sanctuary in Juba is Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision. He is visiting the world’s newest and most fragile state in his quest to revive the compassion American Christians had for Sudan years ago. The South gained independence from the Muslim-dominated North in 2011 with the solid backing of evangelicals. But two years later, a political power struggle engulfed the Christian-majority nation in bloody conflict.

“It’s a hard sales pitch,” he told Christianity Today as he stood among 50 mothers with malnourished children at a clinic. He said South Sudan is a perfect example of how enormously difficult it is to fulfill both the Great Commission and Great Commandment amid chronic conflict and violence.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Religion & Culture, Sudan, Theology, Violence

8 Nobel winners describe what it was like to find out the news

Here is one from Carol Greider (Co-Recipient, 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine):

I don’t usually do the laundry so early in the morning, but I was already up, and there was all this laundry staring at me. I was supposed to later meet two women friends to take our morning spin class. People had speculated that sometime in the next five years, something like this might happen. And last year people said, “Maybe, it will be,” and it wasn’t. Reuters had made this prediction that we might get it this time. But I really didn’t have any idea. Maybe it would never happen. There are important fundamental discoveries that never get prizes.

After I got the call, I sent my friend an e-mail: “I’m sorry I can’t spin right now. I’ve won the Nobel Prize.”

Read them all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Psychology, Science & Technology

(AP) Pope urges prejudices be put aside at start of family synod

Pope Francis on Monday told a contentious gathering of the world’s bishops on family issues to put aside their personal prejudices and have the courage and humility to be guided by God.

Francis told 270 cardinals, bishops and priests that the three-week synod isn’t a parliament where negotiations, plea bargains or compromises take place. Rather, he said, it’s a sacred, protected space where God shows the way for the good of the church.

The bishops are debating how the church can better care for Catholic families at a time when marriage rates are falling, divorce is common and civil unions are on the rise. The main sticking points include how the church should welcome gays and divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Economist) A liberal Muslim and a non-believer in search of common ground

Maajid Nawaz…and his favourite interlocutor Sam Harris are at first sight an unlikely pair, but they are doing their best to find common ground and get their act together. Mr Nawaz is a British-born Muslim who went through a radical fundamentalist phase and was imprisoned in Egypt; two years after his release in 2006 he co-founded Quilliam, a London-based research institution which describes itself as an anti-extremism think-tank. Mr Harris is a well-known atheist public intellectual in the United States.

A short but intensive dialogue between them is being published this week as a slim volume by Harvard University Press, and we can expect to hear a lot more from them, on talk-shows and in the more cerebral parts of the print media, over the coming months. Their conversation sprang out of an initially abrasive encounter after a debate in 2010, when Mr Harris put it to Mr Nawaz that liberal-minded Muslims were engaged in a near-impossible task: proving that their faith was really a religion of peace when the tenets and scriptures of the faith suggested otherwise.

That is still, broadly speaking, what Mr Harris thinks. He sees the elaboration of a peaceful and tolerant understanding of Islam as a praiseworthy enterprise, and one that only Muslims can undertake, but he is politely sceptical of their chances of succeeding. Mr Nawaz’s reply is a measured one. He says that Islam is neither a religion of peace nor a religion of war. It is simply a religion, and one that has been subject to many different interpretations over the centuries, and is still refracted in lots of different ways.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Lowcountry South Carolina Flood victims take stock after devastating rains

David Glover was watching Clemson beat Notre Dame when the dam broke.

Not even 150 sandbags, piled high against the back wall of his house, could keep hours of relentless rainfall from spilling inside. The tide rose. Church Creek flooded. In a mad panic, Glover and his son started carrying everything they could to the kitchen on the second floor, including his favorite game day recliner.

By Sunday afternoon, there was no distinguishing where his yard ended and the creek began. A few sand bags floated above what was once his driveway. Glover crossed his arms as he surveyed the damage from the side of the road.

“I’ve been here 18 years. We’ve never had water like this,” he said. “Thank God I’ve got insurance.”

Read it all.

Posted in * General Interest, * South Carolina, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Weather

A London Times Leader: An independent review ordered by the C of E is essential and welcome

It is now public knowledge that prominent figures, notably the television personality Jimmy Savile and the Liberal MP Cyril Smith, took advantage of their celebrity to abuse children. It was also public knowledge at the time that they were committing these appalling acts; yet those who knew chose to protect the information, and those who merely suspected were given no official encouragement to investigate.

An independent inquiry into historical sex abuse is being led by Justice Lowell Goddard, who has already said that it may last till 2020. That is not her fault, given the scale of the task, but it is scant consolation for the victims whose lives have been ruined and psyches scarred. Archbishop Welby is right to take the initiative in the Ball case and in doing so has signalled a huge change in the way that the clerical establishment approaches these matters.

The Church of England remains the established church and an integral part of the life of the nation, even in an age of secularism and pluralism. The notion that it provided cover for crimes against the vulnerable by the sexually rapacious and that the perpetrators gained the protection of their posts is abhorrent. It must be aired and investigated.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Men, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(BBC) Archbishop Welby orders Church review into retired bishop Peter Ball abuse case

The Church of England said the review, which will be published next year, will examine its co-operation with the police and other statutory agencies and the extent to which it shared information.
It will also consider whether it properly assessed the possible risk that Ball posed to others and whether it responded adequately to the concerns of survivors.
The Archbishop of Canterbury in 1993, George Carey, now Lord Carey, was aware of the case at the time and has denied interfering in it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Men, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

The Catholic Life of the C of E: A further response to the statement by the bishops of The Society

How do we live together in love and charity? Honesty and open debate must be part of that. I hope these further thoughts will be accepted in a spirit of the deepest possible love for my brothers and sisters who cannot yet receive the ordination of women. I will do everything I can to ensure that we can disagree well and live together in our church with our differences.

Some provisos:
I am not an academic theologian, it is over 20 years since I studied academic theology. I have never studied academic theology beyond undergraduate level.
My apologies for talking of women as ”˜them’ in this piece, I can’t see a better or more straightforward way of using language. This piece is about, I hope, getting everything on the table, including that type of language.
The recent statement by the bishops of The Society of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda makes several (31) references to the idea of validity and sacramental assurance.
With all humility, as a Catholic Christian, I think the logic of the Society bishops’ argument is flawed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(FC) Why Sweden Is Shifting To A 6-Hour Workday

The eight-hour workday hasn’t changed much since Henry Ford first experimented with it for factory workers. Now, Americans work slightly longer””an average 8.7 hours””though more time goes into email, meetings, and Facebook than whatever our official job duties actually are. Is it time to rethink how many hours we spend at the office?

In Sweden, the six-hour workday is becoming common.

“I think the eight-hour workday is not as effective as one would think,” says Linus Feldt, CEO of Stockholm-based app developer Filimundus. “To stay focused on a specific work task for eight hours is a huge challenge. . . . In order to cope, we mix in things and pauses to make the workday more endurable. At the same time, we are having it hard to manage our private life outside of work. We want to spend more time with our families, we want to learn new things or exercise more. I wanted to see if there could be a way to mix these things.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Health & Medicine, History, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Sweden, Theology

World Bank: Extreme poverty 'to fall below 10%'

The World Bank has said that for the first time less than 10% of the world’s population will be living in extreme poverty by the end of 2015.
The bank said it was using a new income figure of $1.90 per day to define extreme poverty, up from $1.25.
It forecasts the proportion of the world’s population in this category to fall from 12.8% in 2012 to 9.6%.
However, it said the “growing concentration of global poverty in sub-Saharan Africa is of great concern”.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, Personal Finance, Poverty

A Prayer to Begin the Day from John Calvin

O Lord, heavenly Father, in whom is the fullness of light and wisdom: Enlighten our minds by thy Holy Spirit, and give us grace to receive thy Word with reverence and humility, without which no man can understand thy truth; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–John Calvin (1509-1564)

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Praise the LORD! O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever! Who can utter the mighty doings of the LORD, or show forth all his praise? Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!

–Psalm 106:1-3

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Economist) War in the Muslim world: Putin dares, Obama dithers

Both Kunduz and Russia’s bombing are symptoms of the same phenomenon: the vacuum created by Barack Obama’s attempt to stand back from the wars of the Muslim world. America’s president told the UN General Assembly this week that his country had learned it “cannot by itself impose stability on a foreign land”; others, Iran and Russia included, should help in Syria. Mr Obama is not entirely wrong. But his proposition hides many dangers: that America throws up its hands; that regional powers, sensing American disengagement, will be sucked into a free-for-all; and that Russia’s intervention will make a bloody war bloodier still. Unless Mr Obama changes course, expect more deaths, refugees and extremism.

Having seen the mess that George W. Bush made of his “war on terror”, especially in Iraq, Mr Obama is understandably wary. American intervention can indeed make a bad situation worse, as odious leaders are replaced by chaos and endless war saps America’s strength and standing. But America’s absence can make things even more grim. At some point, extremism will fester and force the superpower to intervene anyway.

That is the story in the Middle East. In Iraq Mr Obama withdrew troops in 2011. In Syria he did not act to stop Mr Assad from wholesale killing, even after he used poison gas. But when IS jihadists emerged from the chaos, declared a caliphate in swathes of Iraq and Syria, and began to cut off the heads of their Western prisoners, Mr Obama felt obliged to step back in””desultorily.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Middle East, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Violence

(CNN) In South Carolina, 'it's a historic flood,' emergency official says

As teams from multiple agencies try to save people from their cars on flooded streets across South Carolina, officials are struggling just to keep count, the state’s emergency management spokesman told CNN on Sunday.

“It’s a historic flood the likes of which we haven’t seen,” Eric Rousey said. Most of the rescue operations are being staged in Dorchester and Charleston, where at least 30,000 people are without power. Emergency officials said there were about 140 water rescues in Dorchester overnight.

In Charleston, people paddled kayaks and canoes down city thoroughfares, as more than 6 inches of rain fell in downtown on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service Twitter account.

On Saturday, about 11½ inches of rain had fallen in the city, the weather service said. That’s an inch more than the all-time daily highest amount of rain in the area, recorded in September 1998.

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Posted in * General Interest, * South Carolina, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Weather

The 2015 Nigerian Anglican Communique


The Standing Committee unanimously resolved to continue to maintain the orthodox biblical stand on this matter. It also calls on her members to defend the orthodox biblical teaching on marriage and family. On its part, the Federal Government is further enjoined to continue to resist the foreign pressure to make it rescind its stand on same-sex marriage.


While the Anglican Communion continues to be impaired by revisionist theologies of some Anglican Provinces, the Standing Committee calls the leadership of the Anglican Communion to repentance and renewed faith in Christ as expressed in the bible, the articles of religion and the Jerusalem Declaration, and further reaffirms our commitment on these as the basis of our relationship with other parts of the communion.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria

A CT Editorial–In Guns We Trust: Fear and idolatry are our real gun problem

Let’s debate less and dialogue more. Most Americans, whatever their stance on gun control, want less violence, fewer family accidents, less gun-related crime. However, minds often are clamped shut against the other side’s proposals and statistics. Instead of using research to club opponents, let’s take seriously the whole range of inquiry. Some of the research is surprising, much of it is sobering, and some is even heartening. The wisest strategies will come only from a willingness to evaluate complexity.

Let’s learn from what works. The much-publicized (and much-imitated) Project Exile in Richmond, Virginia, has won endorsement from both the NRA and gun-control advocates. There the authorities have strictly enforced existing gun laws, including the mandatory five-year federal prison term for using an illegal gun. They have confronted the public with these policies through an attention-getting ad campaign. The result has been a dramatic decrease in gun-related crime. Focusing on enforcement is both good policy and good theology because it reflects the high value we place on human life, our respect for the rule of law, and a realistic view of guns.

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

(CC) Philip Jenkins–The Adventist adaptation

In the mid-20th century, Seventh-day Adventists stood on the far fringe of the North American religious spectrum. Some evangelicals even challenged their Christian credentials, worried by what was seen as their excessive veneration for Ellen White and her writings. By the late 1950s, the church celebrated the fact that it had surpassed the milestone of a million adherents, the vast majority of whom were in the United States. No scholar of religion picked the church as destined for any major growth spurt.

How shortsighted such secular prophets were. Sixty years later, Adventists constitute a global church that plausibly claims 18 million members, only 7 percent of whom live in the United States. The transformation is in fact even greater than these rough figures suggest, as so many Ad­ventists within the United States have ethnic roots in Africa or the Caribbean. Most of this change has occurred since about 1980.

The SDA Church includes some 75,000 churches spread over 200 countries. Latin America and the Caribbean account for almost 6 million believers, almost a third of the church’s strength. Brazil is the country with the largest number of SDA members. Growth in Africa has also been spectacular. The church’s East-Central Africa division reports 2.5 million members worshiping in 11,000 churches.

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