Monthly Archives: May 2019

(EF) Leonardo De Chirico–Deciphering Vatican II: A new book especially helpful for evangelicals

What are the implications of such a “paradigm change” occurring at Vatican II for evangelicals? Massive! Here are three tentative ones.

1. For the time being, Rome will not have an “oppositional” posture in relating to non-Catholics but will always try to find commonalities, underline unity, stress fellowship, and embrace evangelicals as much as possible. Evangelicals need to be aware that if they want to be faithful to the gospel, they need to be “counter-cultural” and talk of gospel distinctives, biblical separation, and convenantal allegiance to the Triune God over idols. Biblical truth always needs to confront and refute error, even when it comes from a traditional institution like the Roman Catholic Church.

2. Even after Vatican II, Rome is not commited to the biblical gospel but is dedicated to the all-embracing gospel of “analogy” and “participation” that is translated into Rome’s ecumenism, mariology, ecclesiology, inter-religious dialogue, mission, etc. Pope Francis may not even use the language of “analogy” and “participation”, but his message of “unity” and “mercy” is steeped in it. Evangelicals need to become more acquainted with the ground motives of present-day Roman Catholicism if they want to understand where Rome stands. The words used may be the same (gospel, grace, faith, conversion, etc.), but their meaning is different because Rome uses them within the theological framework of Thomistic “analogy” and “participation”.

3. Rome changes according to her pattern, which implies degrees of renewal always in the context of substantial continuity with its well-established self-understanding. Evangelicals need to learn to understand the Roman Catholic dynamics of change if they want to account for both continuity and discontinuity in present-day Rome. The Catholic Church may even talk about the need for a “reformation”, but it will always be below the standards of biblical reformation and always in a way that protects the institution. For all these reasons, Guarino’s book on Vatican II is particularly helpful for evangelical readers.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Evangelicals, Roman Catholic, Theology

(DM) British couples shun church ceremonies in favour of Instagram-friendly ‘farmyard weddings’ – with the number of barn nuptials doubling in 5 years

There are dozens of decisions to be made when planning a wedding including the cake, flowers, dress and all-important venue.

However it seems that British couples are opting to step away from the traditional church location and are instead embracing ‘farmyard weddings’ for their nuptials.

Couples are also shunning rooftops and glitzy urban hotels in favour of Instagram-friendly venues – complete with bridal wellies and glamping guests.

New research by John Lewis revealed the number of ceremonies held in barns or on farms has doubled in five years, accounting for one in eight weddings, compared to one in 15 in 2014.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(PR FactTank) Many Americans see religious discrimination in U.S. – especially against Muslims

While ideas about religious liberty and tolerance are central to America’s founding and national story, different religious groups – including Catholics, Jews and Mormons – have suffered discrimination in the United States at various points in history. Today, Americans say some religious groups continue to be discriminated against and disadvantaged, according to an analysis of recent Pew Research Center surveys.

Most American adults (82%) say Muslims are subject to at least some discrimination in the U.S. today, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in March – including a majority (56%) who say Muslims are discriminated against a lot.

Among U.S. Muslims themselves, many say they have experienced specific instances of discrimination, including being treated with suspicion, singled out by airport security or called offensive names, according to a 2017 survey of Muslim Americans.

In this year’s survey, roughly two-thirds of Americans (64%) also say Jews face at least some discrimination in the U.S., up 20 percentage points from the last time this question was asked in 2016. More say Jews face some discrimination than a lot (39% vs. 24%).

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Islam, Religion & Culture, Sociology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Lydia of Thyatira

Eternal God, who gives good gifts to all people, and who teaches us to have the same spirit of generosity: Give unto us, we pray thee, hearts that are always open to hear thy word, that following the example of thy servant Lydia, we may show hospitality to all who are in any need or trouble, through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of South India

O Lord Jesus Christ, who hast gone to the Father to prepare a place for us: Grant us so to live in communion with thee here on earth, that hereafter we may enjoy the fullness of thy presence; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him.

–Romans 12:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CT) Greg Johnson–I Used to Hide My Shame. Now I Take Shelter Under the Gospel.

At age 11 the realization hit me. The fact was that I felt toward other guys the way they felt toward girls. 1984 was a terrible time to realize you’re gay. As the year progressed, around 1
So I’ve lived my life as a unicorn in a field of horses, constantly hoping that no one notices the horn. Years ago I was teaching a group of seminarians who were learning to preach, and one of the students mentioned in a sermon illustration how “nobody wants to be an Average Joe.” I was dumbfounded. I’ve never wanted anything more than to be an Average Joe. I’m inundated with invitations for me and my spouse. I have to decide which friend’s phone number to put on the back of my diabetic ID bracelet. When I welcome people to my fantastic little condo with my Saarinen table and Corbusier chairs, I compulsively mention that my undergrad was in architecture. It’s an instinctive strategy to obfuscate their gaydar.

In the late 1990s, I sought out a pastor I respected, and I opened up with him about wanting to share my story with my church. I was fatigued from a lifetime of trying to hide my shame. “Do not do it!” he thundered. “If your church knew, they would never be able to accept you.” I was still young and impressionable, and I accepted his voice as the voice of God. For decades, I’ve had Christian leaders asking me to please not share my Christian testimony, despite my thorough agreement with the church’s historic teaching on sexuality. Even the language of same-sex attraction—which many believers have found helpful as a way to disassociate themselves from assumptions about being gay—feels to many others like a tool of concealment, as though I were laboring to minimize the ongoing reality of sexual orientations that in practice seldom change.

I’m thankful that a campus minister named Bill loved me. He didn’t try to fix me, control me, or ship me off to a conversion therapy camp. He loved me, welcomed me into his home, sat with me, and invested so many hours in me. He was the first person to suggest I pray about going to seminary.

Jesus hasn’t made me straight. But he covers over my shame. Jesus really loves gay people.

The gospel doesn’t erase this part of my story so much as it redeems it. My sexual orientation doesn’t define me. It’s not the most important or most interesting thing about me. It is the backdrop for that, the backdrop for the story of Jesus who rescued me.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Young Adults, Youth Ministry

The Gafcon Chairman’s May 2019 Letter

Firstly, we elected the Most Rev. Laurent Mbanda, Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church of Rwanda as the deputy chairman. Archbishop Mbanda is a tremendous man of God who has a proven track record of leadership in the cause of Jesus Christ. He replaces Archbishop Stanley Ntagali who has served with humility and grace; a powerful example of Christian leadership to us all.

Secondly, we recognised a new extra provincial diocese for faithful Anglicans in New Zealand. I was privileged to meet many of their leaders on a trip there just before the Primates Council meeting, and I thank God for their courage and vision in taking this historic step to secure the future of Anglican witness in New Zealand. Just this past week, these leaders held their first Synod that approved their Constitution and Canons, and elected the Rev. Jay Behan, vicar of St. Stephen’s, Christchurch, as their first bishop. His consecration is scheduled for October. Pray for him as he continues to lead!

Thirdly, we endorsed the formation of a tenth network to help us share the burdens of the Suffering Church, a reality brought home to us recently by the terrible loss of life caused by the Easter Sunday attacks on three churches in Sri Lanka. Coming out of our G19 Gathering in Dubai, this network will help us all serve the Lord with these sisters and brothers living in challenging contexts.

Fourthly, we announced a Global Bishops Conference to run from 8th-14th June 2020. This gathering, to be held in Kigali, Rwanda, has been made necessary by the fact that the 2020 Lambeth Conference is being conducted in violation of its own previous resolutions, especially Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Conference, which reaffirmed the biblical teaching on marriage and human sexuality. We will gather for excellent Bible teaching, worship, training, fellowship and counsel together regarding the challenges facing our sheep.

Read it all.

Posted in GAFCON, Rwanda

(WSJ) Barton Swaim–A New Take on the Apostle Paul–More than 500 years after the Reformation, some Protestants reconsider ‘works’

As the New Perspective on Paul gained acceptance among a significant number of divinity faculty and seminarians in Anglophone institutions in the 1990s and early 2000s, adherents of the traditional Protestant view pushed back. The traditionalists point out that Paul sometimes uses “law” in ways that can’t possibly denote mere cultural boundary markers. There is some evidence, too, that Second Temple Judaism at various times and places lent itself to precisely the kind of credit-and-debit legalism the Protestant reformers saw, or thought they saw, in Catholicism. Don’t all religions, at least sometimes?

My own suspicion is that the New Perspective achieved popularity mainly because young Protestant ministers would rather talk about inclusion and breaking barriers than about the guilt of sin and the pointlessness of trying to erase it by a regimen of good deeds. That’s understandable. But surely the older message hasn’t lost its relevance.

Even in this permissive, materialist age, people go to extraordinary lengths to atone for their guilt. Consider the vast numbers of Americans who spend their days maniacally trying to prove their upright status in the eyes of secular deities—conspicuously announcing their support for enlightened causes, loudly denouncing bigotry and xenophobia, proclaiming their sympathy with the marginalized and their loyalty to ethically manufactured products. How delightful it might be to hear that salvation is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should virtue-signal.

Read it all.

Posted in Soteriology, Theology: Scripture

The Latest Issue of the Newspaper of the Diocese of South Carolina is Published

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Adult Education, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained

Archbishop Richard Clarke’s Presidential Address to the Church of Ireland General Synod

In a realm of bio–technology that already exists, we could all be equipped with sensors within our bodies that could communicate with a central database as to the details of the state of our health, even if we had not visited a doctor for years. We know that the days of driving ourselves are probably limited. A self–driving vehicle – which with sophisticated satellite navigation can recognise exactly what is going on around it – might be a great deal safer than any other mode of transport. Certainly it will not get tired at the wheel, drive at absurd speeds, drive under the influence of drink or drugs, or suffer from road rage. We could give many other examples of what is now becoming possible and will soon become commonplace. All of which means that, as time goes on, we humans will be become of less “use” for what happens around us every day. It is estimated that, in the developed world, at least one–third of current employment options will probably have gone within a very short time, perhaps a decade or little longer. In the longer term, even those functions we might regard as needing the human touch or human ingenuity will be done for the most part by clever machines, connected to extremely clever self–learning computers.

This, of course, raises many questions – economic, social and political – but not least of these, for all of us, is the most existential question of all: “What is it to be a human being?” Most of us find much of our identity – our value – in what we do, or even perhaps what we used to do. If more and more people become – in economic or even societal terms – use–less (without any obvious usefulness in any utilitarian sense), what and where is their identity? What is it to be a human person, if we are of no definable use to society? Interestingly, even those without religious faith see this as a crucial question for humankind. The Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari, who has written extensively on what the future may hold for us, spends a number of weeks each year on what you and I might think of as “a retreat” – pondering and thinking about what it is to be human, although he is entirely secular in outlook and belief.

As Christian disciples, we too have to set ourselves – anew – to think through constantly about what we really are as human persons, why we are set on Earth. The question of the psalmist in Psalm 8, who asks: “What is it to be a human person, that God might be mindful of us?” This is now a question that has to be reduced to its bare bones.

God does not evaluate us in terms of our usefulness. Through grace, we each have an infinite and unique value in the eyes of God, and the call of God in Christ to us is to convey that truth to those who do not see this, or who have never had the opportunity to see it. But it is a truth we can only convey in how we love and in how we live, and in what we believe to be crucial to human living on this Earth – how we care for others (including those who are, in human terms, no “use” to us), and how we care for the creation that God has given to us to protect. We are reminded of this within the Anglican Five Marks of Mission where we are called to respond to human need by loving service and called to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and to sustain and renew the life of the Earth. For the mission of the Church is the mission of Christ.

Read it all(emphasis mine).

Posted in Church of Ireland

(ESPN) A Terrific story on the Boston Red Sox Groundskeeper and his Service Dog for Mental Health Awareness Month

Posted in Animals, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Sports, Travel

(LSE BR) Basil Cayli reviews ‘How Violence Shapes Religion: Belief and Conflict in the Middle East and Africa’ by Ziya Meral

The relationship between violence and religion is highly complex. Reductive analyses and explanations produce destructive outcomes. In How Violence Shapes Religion: Belief and Conflict in the Middle East and Africa, author Ziya Meral avoids popular explanations and refutes instrumentalism to offer the reader a systematic comparison that uncovers the complicated relationship between violence and religion. The book conveys the argument that violence shapes religion at different levels and religion influences the situation before the use of violence, its legitimisation in the course of violent attacks and its aftermath in a post-conflict era. As a result, what we see through these multidimensional interactions ‘is not an outcome of an intrinsic clash between imagined civilizations, but a very real case of self-fulfilled prophecies that create new fault lines across the world’ (176).

The author’s personal, academic and professional curiosity directed him towards showing the complexities in the multifaceted relationship between violence and religion (5). Meral argues that exposing these helps us to better understand the grim realities that lead to violence in different societies, where religion is perceived as a formidable social, political and cultural force. For this reason, Meral’s principal argument is based on two cases: Nigeria and Egypt. The meticulous analyses of violence in these two nation states reveal the dynamics of the relationship between religion and violent conflict in today’s world.

The author asks two key questions: 1) ‘Do religions in general, if not particularly Islam, cause such conflicts?’; and (2) ‘Are we really witnessing an escalation to extremes at a planetary level between followers of the world’s two largest religions, Islam and Christianity, showing itself in local conflicts between Muslim and Christian communities?’ (20). The book employs a comparative approach and analyses these questions within a political science theoretical framework. The multiplicity of ethno-religious communities in Nigeria on the one hand, and the disruptions of violence on the other, make the country an interesting case to study. The comparison of Nigeria with Egypt increases the originality of the book because an overwhelming majority of the population observe Islam in Egypt, whereas Muslims make up almost half of the population of Nigeria and are concentrated in the northern part of the country. Violence between Christian and Muslim communities is prevalent in Nigeria, while Egypt has millions of Christians who are frequently subject to discrimination and violence.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Egypt, Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Violence

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Alcuin

Almighty God, who in a rude and barbarous age didst raise up thy deacon Alcuin to rekindle the light of learning: Illumine our minds, we pray thee, that amid the uncertainties and confusions of our own time we may show forth thine eternal truth, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from New Every Morning

O God our Father, whose law is a law of liberty: Grant us wisdom to use aright the freedom which thou hast given us, by surrendering ourselves to thy service; knowing that, when we are thy willing bondsmen, then only are we truly free; for Jesus Christ’s sake.

–New Every Morning (The Prayer Book Of The Daily Broadcast Service) [BBC, 1900]

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfil the ministry which you have received in the Lord.”

–Colossians 4:17

Posted in Theology: Scripture

A Riveting and Heartbreaking NPR Piece on Police Suicide Featuring the widows of four officers

SIMON: We met with a group of four women from different parts of America who share a solemn sorrow. Each was married to a police officer who took his life.

Kristen Clifford’s husband was Officer Steven Clifford of the Nassau County, N.Y., police. They had just gotten a puppy. They looked forward to having children. One day in May 2017, he wasn’t responding to her text messages, so she drove home.

KRISTEN CLIFFORD: And I went inside, and I saw a bunch of notes, his police identification, his driver’s license, everything laid out very neatly, methodically. And I ran down the hallway to our bedroom, and the door was closed. And there was a note on it that said, I did it. Do not enter. Call 911.

SIMON: Melissa Swailes was married to Officer David Swailes of the Los Angeles Police Department. They had four sons. David Swailes had symptoms of post-traumatic stress from his time in the U.S. Navy. On their youngest son’s second birthday, Melissa Swailes came home and found her husband behind their bathroom door.

MELISSA SWAILES: I remember just screaming over and over, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.

SIMON: Erin Gibson was married to Sergeant Clinton Gibson of the Liberty Lake, Wash., police. They were high school sweethearts. They had four children.

ERIN GIBSON: It didn’t even register in my mind that Clint was dead. Nothing made sense after that, so…

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Psychology, Suicide, Theology, Violence

Sunday Food for Thought from an Epitaph

From there:

Remember me as you pass by,
As you are now, so once was I,
As I am now, so you must be,
Prepare for death and follow me.

(Shared by yours truly in a talk to high school graduating seniors this morning).

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals

Eleanor Parker–An Anglo-Saxon Hymn to St Dunstan

Hail Dunstan, star and shining adornment of bishops, true light of the English nation and leader preceding it on its path to God.

You are the greatest hope of your people, and also an innermost sweetness, breathing the honey-sweet fragrance of life-giving balms.

In you, Father, we trust, we to whom nothing is more pleasing than you are. To you we stretch out our hands, to you we pour out our prayers.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Thomas Becon

O Lord, we most humbly beseech thee to give us grace not only to be hearers of the Word, but also doers of the same; not only to love, but also to live thy gospel; not only to profess, but also to practise thy blessed commandments, unto the honour of thy holy name.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!

–Psalm 24:7-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(ACNS) Archbishop Ian Ernest of Mauritius appointed Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome

Archbishop Ian Ernest, the Bishop of Mauritius and former Primate of the Anglican Church of the Indian Ocean, is to become the Archbishop of Canterbury’s next Personal Representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. He will take up his new role towards the end of the year following an official Papal Visit to Mauritius by Pope France in September.

In his current role, Archbishop Ian has worked closely with his Roman Catholic counterpart, the Bishop of Port Louis, Cardinal Maurice Piat. The two have written joint statements on environmental and social issues and have delivered joint Christmas messages for Mauritian television.

The two co-lead one of the top schools on the Mauritian island of Rodrigues, the ecumenical Rodrigues College, which was formed in 1973 by the merger of St Louis Roman Catholic School and St Barnabas Anglican School. When Archbishop Ian’s mandate as Archbishop and Primate of the Indian Ocean was renewed in 2012, he invited a Roman Catholic priest to preach the sermon.

“I feel deeply honoured and humbled by this appointment”, Archbishop Ian said. “It is a calling from God which I accept with all humility. I will try my best to honour this calling and to honour the office.

“I look forward to working in close collaboration with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Board of Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Indian Ocean

([London] Times) Pope Francis is interviewed by the Archbishop of Canterbury

A groundbreaking video message by the Pope has been recorded by the Archbishop of Canterbury on his personal mobile phone during private talks in the Vatican.

It is the first time an Anglican archbishop has interviewed a pope, and marks an extraordinary warming of relations between the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches as well as the personal friendship between the two church leaders, who have met five times. In the video, to be broadcast to a rally of Christians in Trafalgar Square next month, the Pope expresses his support for a campaign, launched four years ago by the Most Rev Justin Welby and John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, to mark the 11 days between Ascension Day and Pentecost as a time of intensive prayer for Christians across the world.

The campaign, called Thy Kingdom Come, will focus on empowering Christians to be witnesses for their faith. It offers themes that they can explore on each of the 11 days. These include the person of Jesus, thanks, being sorry, offering, praying for someone, help, celebration and silence. The days of prayer will be marked in 114 countries, with much of the material being distributed online. Resources will be published in seven languages on various websites. About 65 Christian denominations, including Roman Catholics, Orthodox, evangelicals, Pentecostals, Baptists and the Salvation Army, have agreed to take part.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

(NYT Op-ed) David Brooks–The Rise of the Haphazard Self: How working-class men detach from work, family and church

Their private lives are as loosely attached as their economic lives. Many of the men expressed the desire to be good fathers to their children — to be more emotionally expressive around their kids than their own fathers had been with them. But they expressed no similar commitment to the women who had given birth to those children. Some found out they were fathers only years after their children were born.

“Nearly all the men we spoke to viewed the father-child tie as central while the partner relationship was more peripheral,” Edin and her colleagues write. Naturally, if the men are unwilling to commit to being in a full family unit, the role they actually end up playing in their children’s lives is much more minimal than the role they really want.

The men are also loosely attached to churches. Most say they are spiritual or religious. But their conception of faith is so individualized that there is nobody else they could practice it with. They pray but tend to have contempt for organized religion and do not want to tie themselves down to any specific community.

“I treat church just like I treat my girlfriends,” one man said. “I’ll stick around for a while and then I’ll go on to the next one.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Daily Prayer

Teach us thy wisdom, O Lord Christ,
To lay up our treasures
not upon earth, but in heaven;
To set our hearts
not on things which pass away,
but on things which abide for ever.

—-Daily Prayer, Eric Milner-White and G. W. Briggs, eds. (London: Penguin Books 1959 edition of the 1941 original)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

–Colossians 3:12-17

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Perspective from the Pages of History–Methodism in Oxford in 1758

Posted in Church History, England / UK, Methodist, Religion & Culture

The Parish Newsletter of Christ Saint Paul’s Yonges Island SC for this week

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Teens / Youth, Youth Ministry

(1st Things) Josh Hawley–The Big Tech Threat

My thesis is that the evidence strongly suggests there is something deeply troubling, maybe even deeply wrong, with the entire social media economy. My thesis is that it does not represent a source of strength for America’s tomorrow, but is rather a source of peril. Consider for a moment the basic business model of the dominant social media platforms. You are familiar with them. You might think of it as akin to financial arbitrage. Maybe we’ll call it attention arbitrage. Users’ attention is bought by tech giants and then immediately sold to advertisers for the highest price.

Now arbitrage opportunities, as those of you familiar with markets know, are supposed to close. The market eventually determines that something is off. So how is it that this attention arbitrage in the social media market is preserved and renewed over and over again? That’s where things get really scary, because it’s preserved by hijacking users’ neural circuitry to prevent rational decision-making about what to click and how to spend time. Or, to simplify that a little bit, it’s preserved through addiction.

Social media only works as a business model if it consumes users’ time and attention day after day after day. It needs to replace the various activities we did perfectly well without social media, for the entire known history of the human race, with itself. It needs to replace those activities with time spent on social media. Addiction is actually the point. That’s what social media shareholders are investing in: the addiction of users.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stock Market

David Ould–Why the Folau Case is Important for Everyone

Through all these ill-defined arguments and slogans we began to see something else emerge – the shouting down of those who disagreed. For many who were campaigning it was outrageous that anybody could even consider voting “no”. It wasn’t seen as a matter of conscience but as a moral failing to think that heterosexual and homosexual relationships were somehow different, even if those who voted “no” didn’t want to make statements about morality themselves, they just didn’t think that these two types of relationship were exactly the same. But the “yes” campaign was always a campaign about morality; the rhetoric of “second class citizens” and the reliable “love is love” were moral claims and the change in the Marriage act was really about having the State itself make a moral claim. It was, ultimately, about achieving state-enforced moral equivalence.

And it was achieved, by changing the law governing the most fundamental social building block we have. Once the law was changed then it was only going to be a matter of time before the progressive activists took this to be a mandate to look for the same enforcement of sexual morality in other areas of our common life.

And so we arrive at today’s decision. What is remarkable about the position that Folau finds himself in is that it was entirely because others wanted to make the morality of sex an issue. Last year when Folau first upset people it was because he was asked a direct question about homosexuals. He didn’t raise the issue but it was forced upon.

This year’s incident is just the same. Consider the dynamic of what actually happened. Folau posted a “warning” that a variety of different “sinful” behaviours would land someone in hell. Yes he referred to homosexuals but he also listed out a whole heap of other behaviours and positions as well. But Rugby Australia didn’t pick him up on any of those. He didn’t discriminate against one particular group (you might even say that he was broadly inclusive in the scope of those included in the “warning”). Instead it was Rugby Australia who made sexual morality the issue. Of all the possible choices presented to them by Folau’s post they picked that one. Much of the media have fallen into line too. I can’t count the number of times this past week that I’ve heard or read about Folau’s “homophobic tweet” but no mention of his “kleptophobia” or the like.

A prominent employer decided to make moral disapproval of homosexuality something punishable. Just as we had warned would happen back during the marriage debate.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sports, Theology, Theology: Scripture