Category : Anthropology

(Tablet) Rowan Williams Admits Failings Over C Of E Child Abuse

The Church of England was “naive and uncritical” when in came to abuses of power by clergy, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.

On day eight of a three-week hearing on the Anglican church as part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), Lord Williams of Oystermouth said that a mindset in which the authority of an ordained minister was thought to be “beyond criticism” was a “definitely a problem” when it came to preventing abuse.

“So much of this turns on how we understand the exercise of power in the Church, in which we have often been in the past — myself included — naïve and uncritical,” he admitted. “It did take us an unconscionably long time for us to really focus on the need of the complainant and the proper care,” he told the inquiry.

He added that this “top down model of authority” leaves “little mental or spiritual space for a victim to speak out in the confidence that they will be heard”.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(Patheos) Chris Gehrz–The Stevens Point Pathway: How the Liberal Arts Will Die at Christian Colleges

In my experience, most college professors pay little attention to what’s happening in higher education beyond their own discipline or institution. So last week it was remarkable how many colleagues came up and asked me, “What happened at UW-Stevens Point?”

They were referring to one of the 26 campuses in the University of Wisconsin system, which announced last Monday that it was planning to address a $4.5 budget deficit by a combination of two strategies: “adding or expanding 16 programs in areas with high-demand career paths as a way to maintain and increase enrollment” and “shifting resources from programs where fewer students are enrolled,” to the point of cutting several majors.

What will grow? Business programs like marketing, management, and finance, and STEM programs like chemical engineering, computer information systems, and aquaculture/aquaponics.

What will go away? Virtually every art, humanity, and social science major that isn’t directly connected to a professional “pathway.” Not just the languages (French, German, and Spanish at UWSP) and fine arts (art and music literature) programs that have been the first to go when smaller schools make such cuts. Stevens Point students would no longer be able to major in English, philosophy, political science, sociology, or history….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology, Young Adults

(CEN) Abuse survivor calls for senior Anglican bishops to resign over failures

[Matthew] Ineson points out that in the statement by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team ‘it is claimed that the Archbishop did not fail to act on any disclosure made, because the responsibility to respond and act lay with the diocesan bishop, namely Steven Croft’.

“The National Safeguarding Team are clearly stating here that Steven Croft should have acted,”he adds.

He points out that his alleged perpetrator, Trevor Devamanikkan,was charged in May 2017 with six serious charges of sexual abuse against Ineson. However, he committed suicide before the case could come to court.

“Steven Croft has admitted on several occasions that I disclosed my abuse to him in the media over the past 16 months. I have pursued the complaint against Steven Croft’s failures several times with the Church, who have blocked any attempt at investigation into his failures.

“The National Safeguarding Team now acknowledge those failures and I call on Steven Croft to resign with immediate effect,” said Ineson.

He also calls on Archbishop Sentamu to resign with immediate effect ‘for failing to act on my disclosure to him’.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(1st Things) George Weigel–Parsing the “T”

About five years ago, a friend took her son with her when she went to a beauty shop to get her hair cut. The hairdresser was snipping away and the boy was engrossed in reading on his Kindle when another mother came into the shop with her daughter in tow. The daughter was carrying an American Girl doll, and the mother announced to the entire beauty shop, “We’re here to get the doll’s hair cut. We’re transgendering her!”

Fortunately, my friend’s son, a big-time reader, missed all this. But if her seven-year old had asked, “Mommy, what’s ‘transgendering’?,” what, my friend asked me, was she supposed to say?

What, indeed?

Many people seem tongue-tied when it comes to the “T” in “LGBT.” The virtue-signaling mother in that beauty shop notwithstanding, there’s an intuitive understanding that we’re dealing here with real psychological distress—“gender dysphoria,” in the technical vocabulary—and that this and similar problems ought not be political ping-pong balls, because lives are at stake. Unfortunately, that reticence to discuss the “T” storm inside the broader “LGBT” tsunami leaves the field to partisans of “gender reassignment” in all its forms, which now include prescribing puberty-blocking drugs to pre-pubescent children who claim to be something other than what they are. Moreover, nine states, the District of Columbia, and thirty-three local jurisdictions have laws banning mental health professionals from offering “conversion therapies” to minors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Uncategorized

(Christian Today) Rowan Williams: How theology helps us understand ‘Being Human’

[We] are in a cultural and work environment where it seems that individualist assumptions prevail, assumptions about control, assumptions about unavoidable conflict, assumptions about there being always a private area into which we can retreat and shut the doors…If we live in an uncooperative environment, if we’ve developed uncooperative selves, the field is not lost. Something can be reclaimed. But it can be reclaimed only by a careful, systematic challenge to those assumptions about what the human is that so imprison us – a challenge to our (in the broader sense) educational philosophies. That’s a challenge that needs clarity about what a person is and isn’t; clarity about the difference between the person and the mere individual; clarity about the capacity of human agents to do what my sources describe as transcending the merely natural, transcending the simple list of things that happen to be true about me.

Such clarity is not easily available either for a simply materialist view of human life – the human individual as a machine… – or for a purely spiritualist view of human life – human identity is just the sovereign iron will that lives somewhere in here and imposes itself on the world out there. Somewhere in between is an understanding of human identity, human personality, as fascinatingly and inescapably a hybrid reality: material, embedded in the material world, subject to the passage of time, and yet mysteriously able to respond to its environment so as to make a different environment; able to go beyond the agenda that is set, to reshape what is around; above all, committed to receiving and giving, to being dependent as well as independent, because that’s what relation is. I am neither a machine nor a self-contained soul. I’m a person because I am spoken to, I’m attended to, and I’m spoken and attended and loved into actual existence. Which takes us back to the question of human dignity and the sacred, and to that pervasive, mysterious, nagging sense that there is always something about the other person that’s to do with what I can’t see and that can’t be mastered.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Books, Theology

(Wash Post) In Oregon, pushing for assisted suicide for patients with degenerative diseases

Relatively modest drives are afoot in Washington state and California, where organizations have launched education campaigns on how people can fill out instructions for future caregivers to withhold food and drink, thereby carrying out an option that is legal to anybody: death by starvation and dehydration. (It is often referred to as the “voluntarily stopping eating and drinking” method.)

The boldest bid is taking place in Quebec. Prompted by a 2017 murder case involving the apparent “mercy killing” of a 60-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s by her husband — who smothered her with a pillow — the provincial government is studying the possibility of legalizing euthanasia for Alzheimer’s patients. Unlike medically assisted suicide, a medical doctor would administer the fatal dose via injection. A survey in September found that 91 percent of the Canadian province’s medical caregivers support the idea.

“The process that could lead to [legislative] changes has already begun,” said Marie-Claude Lacasse, a spokeswoman for the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services.

Somewhere between these points is Oregon, where several lawmakers are trying to push the right-to-die envelope.

Under the current law, eligible patients can obtain prescriptions for lethal barbiturates. Qualified patients must be diagnosed with a terminal illness, have a prognosis of six or fewer months to live, and self-ingest the drug. The vast majority — more than 70 percent, according to the Oregon Health Authority — have cancer; most others have either heart disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Telegraph) Teach pupils the value of abstinence and celibacy, says Church of England

Pupils should be taught about the value of abstinence and celibacy as part of their sex education lessons, the Church of England has said.

In its submission to the Government’s overhaul of sex and relationships education the church also said that its lessons will also focus on “the Christian understanding of marriage as the context for sexual relationships”.

In a blog the Church’s chief education officer, the Rev Nigel Genders, says that relationships and sex education in schools should teach students about “healthy relationships and lifestyle choices”.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology

(Atlantic) People Don’t Actually Know Themselves Very Well

Sixteen rigorous studies of thousands of people at work have shown that people’s coworkers are better than they are at recognizing how their personality will affect their job performance. As a social scientist, if I want to get a read on your personality, I could ask you to fill out a survey on how stable, dependable, friendly, outgoing, and curious you are. But I would be much better off asking your coworkers to rate you on those same traits: They’re often more than twice as accurate. They can see things that you can’t or won’t—and these studies reveal that whatever you know about yourself that your coworkers don’t is basically irrelevant to your job performance.

Humans’ blind spots are predictable: There are certain types of traits where people can’t see themselves clearly, but others where they can. The psychologist Simine Vazire asked people to rate themselves and four friends on a bunch of traits, ranging from emotional stability and intelligence to creativity and assertiveness. Then, to see if they had predicted their own personalities better than their friends had, they took a bunch of tests that measured these traits.

The good news: You have some unique insight into your emotional stability. In the study, people outperformed their friends at predicting how anxious they’d look and sound when giving a speech about how they felt about their bodies. But they did no better than their friends (or than strangers who had met them just eight minutes earlier) at forecasting how assertive they’d be in a group discussion. And when they tried to predict their performance on an IQ test and a creativity test, they were less accurate than their friends.

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Posted in Anthropology, Psychology, Theology, Uncategorized

(BBC) Abingdon vicar who ‘spiritually abused’ boy gets two-year ban

A Church of England vicar who “spiritually abused” a boy has been banned from ministry for two years.

The Reverend Timothy Davis is understood to be the first priest to have been convicted of such abuse by the Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal.

Mr Davis, of Christ Church, Abingdon, held two-hour private prayer sessions in the teenager’s bedroom after moving in with his family in 2013.

He also told his victim his girlfriend was “evil” and a “bad seed”.

Mr Davis lived with the family, who were members of his congregation, for six months after meeting the boy during a mentoring programme.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Church Times) Survivors tell IICSA hearing of child abuse by Church of England clerics

Harrowing details of child sex abuse carried out by Church of England clerics were described at a public hearing conducted by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA), on Tuesday.

Two witnesses, both survivors of clerical sex abuse when they were children, were questioned by the Counsel to the Anglican investigation, Fiona Scolding QC.

The first witness, known only as AN-A15, a woman, confirmed that she had been sexually abused at the age of nine by Canon Gordon Rideout, who was the army chaplain and a commissioned officer on the army base where her father, a sergeant, was stationed. Rideout was jailed for ten years in 2013 for 36 separate counts of sex abuses against 16 children in Hampshire and Sussex in the 1960s and 1970s (News, 24 May 2013).

The abuse and subsequent events affected her education and her ability to form relationships with others as an adult, the witness said. “I became very withdrawn and moody; I didn’t want to engage with anyone; I didn’t trust anyone; I was very much on my own; so I stopped taking an interest in my education. I think I am intelligent enough that I could have gone on and gone to college.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(CT) America’s Surrogacy Bump: Is Fertility a Blessing to Be Shared?

[Meg] Watwood is part of America’s rapidly growing surrogacy movement. The number of babies born through surrogacy in the United States, though still relatively small, has quadrupled in just over a decade. And despite ethical questions surrounding the practice, demand isn’t slowing.

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, surrogates gave birth to 2,807 babies in 2015, up from 738 in 2004. Nearly all were conceived by IVF and carried by women with no genetic connection, a process called “gestational surrogacy.” (In “traditional surrogacy,” the only option prior to IVF but one rarely used today, the carrier would also be the genetic mother of the baby.)

IVF and surrogacy are becoming more normalized in the US just as other countries have shut down foreign surrogacy enterprises, dual trends that have made the US a top surrogacy destination. High demand for surrogates, who typically earn more than $20,000 per birth, has attracted many evangelical women, who often fit the profile of the “ideal” surrogate and are drawn to the idea of using their fertility to bless others.

But laws and ethical discussions surrounding surrogacy haven’t kept up with the industry’s growth, and pastors and churches appear largely ill-equipped to guide women and couples through the high-stakes decisions involved in third-party reproduction.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

A Glimpse of Life at Harvard these days–Secularism and Its Discontents by Henry Brooks

In the past month, student group Harvard College Faith in Action endured two serious public relations debacles, both regarding the group’s relation to the BGLTQ community. The first incident arose when HCFA invited renowned ex-lesbian Jackie Hill-Perry, who became famous for claiming that her rebirth into faith saved her from a “lifestyle of homosexual sin,” to speak at its weekly Doxa meeting. Then, in the wake of a public outcryand several opinion pieces, news broke that HCFA had dismissed one of its Bible study group leaders after she dated someone of the same gender—though group leaders citedreasons of “theological disagreement.” After the latter incident, the College put the group on “probation,” reportedly marking the first instance of such disciplinary action in the history of the College.

Much of the response among community members and the wider public has echoed a familiar array of sentiments. One student interviewed by The Crimson chastised the non-denominational Christian group for exemplifying “institutional backlash against queer people.” An op-ed judged HCFA “complicit in promoting dangerous homophobic rhetoric” and threatening “the emotional and physical safety of LGBT people here on campus.” One commenter following the story on a BGLTQ news site staked out a more extreme position: “Virginal births, talking snakes, boats with two of every species on board… Enough judging people through the prism of fairy tales.”

It seems to this author that these reactions, some more respectfully than others, leave unexamined the purchase that faith still holds in people’s lives—and the lives of BGLTQ people no less. To identify “dangerous homophobic rhetoric” as the object of our frustration means leaving the underlying problem—the way faith is often framed as contending with our secular sensibilities—unaddressed. Attributing homophobia to a belief in “virginal births [and] talking snakes” only exacerbates that problem, affirming categories like “religious-and-straight” and “secular-and-queer” that constrain nonconforming expressions of identity.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Sexuality, Theology, Young Adults

(ACNS) Anglican Bishop of Boga, Mugenyi William Bahemuka, predicts a Congolese genocide

In the past month, three new military bases have been established by the United Nations’ peace-keeping force in the democratic Republic of Congo – MONUSCO – in the Djugu territory of Ituri province, but it has so-far failed to stem the increasing tide of violence. Last week, 33 people were killed in an attack on the village of Maze. The Bishop of Bogo, Mugenyi William Bahemuka, has said that it is “difficult to confirm” that the recent violence is an extension of ethnic and tribal conflicts. “Is it a planned insurgency that will turn out to be either a civil war or a genocide?” he asked. “Both are situations no one would like to experience. Once again we need prayer and advocacy for peace.”

Bishop William said: “It is becoming difficult to understand the main reason of the killings in Djugu. The situation appears to be beyond control as time goes on. The Provincial and National governments keep assuring people that that situation will come to an end soon. Community leaders and politicians from the two communities claim to dissociate an ethnic conflict on what is happening in Djugu.

“On the night of Thursday to Friday, the village of Maze and few surrounding villages were attacked – and this is happening after the deployment of police, the army and United Nations’ peace-keeping forces in the area. . . Who is behind all this? No answer is found yet.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Africa, Anglican Church in Congo/Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Religion & Culture, Republic of Congo, Theology, Violence

The New technology that allows for the Creation of Fake Videos(II)–yesterday’s New York Times

The video, which appeared on the online forum Reddit, was what’s known as a “deepfake” — an ultrarealistic fake video made with artificial intelligence software. It was created using a program called FakeApp, which superimposed Mrs. Obama’s face onto the body of a pornographic film actress. The hybrid was uncanny — if you didn’t know better, you might have thought it was really her.

Until recently, realistic computer-generated video was a laborious pursuit available only to big-budget Hollywood productions or cutting-edge researchers. Social media apps like Snapchat include some rudimentary face-morphing technology.

But in recent months, a community of hobbyists has begun experimenting with more powerful tools, including FakeApp — a program that was built by an anonymous developer using open-source software written by Google. FakeApp makes it free and relatively easy to create realistic face swaps and leave few traces of manipulation. Since a version of the app appeared on Reddit in January, it has been downloaded more than 120,000 times, according to its creator.

Deepfakes are one of the newest forms of digital media manipulation, and one of the most obviously mischief-prone.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Science & Technology

The New technology that allows for the Creation of Fake Videos(I)–a Radiolab Podcast from last summer

Simon Adler takes us down a technological rabbit hole of strangely contorted faces and words made out of thin air. And a wonderland full of computer scientists, journalists, and digital detectives forces us to rethink even the things we see with our very own eyes.

Oh, and by the way, we decided to put the dark secrets we learned into action, and unleash this on the internet.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Science & Technology