Category :

President Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court seat

President Donald Trump on Saturday announced his nomination of federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The move to select Barrett sets up what promises to be a bitter confirmation fight less than two months before Election Day — an unexpected twist in an election season already fraught with the coronavirus pandemic and attempts by the president to undermine confidence in the result.

Read it all.

Posted in Supreme Court

Saturday Food for Thought–There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy by Frederick W. Faber (1854)

“For the love of God is broader than the measures of man’s mind; and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind. But we make his love too narrow by false limits of our own; and we magnify his strictness with a zeal he will not own.”

"For the love of God is broader than the measures of man's mind; and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind….

Posted by St Mary's Shortlands – Church of England on Sunday, April 7, 2019

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship, Theology

(NYT) How Do Children Fight Off the Coronavirus?

Why the coronavirus affects children much less severely than adults has become an enduring mystery of the pandemic. The vast majority of children do not get sick; when they do, they usually recover.

The first study to compare the immune response in children with that in adults suggests a reason for children’s relative good fortune. In children, a branch of the immune system that evolved to protect against unfamiliar pathogens rapidly destroys the coronavirus before it wreaks damage on their bodies, according to the research, published this week in Science Translational Medicine.

“The bottom line is, yes, children do respond differently immunologically to this virus, and it seems to be protecting the kids,” said Dr. Betsy Herold, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Albert Einstein College of Medicine who led the study.

In adults, the immune response is much more muted, she and her colleagues found.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Lancelot Andrewes

Almighty God, who gavest thy servant Lancelot Andrewes the gift of thy holy Spirit and made him a man of prayer and a faithful pastor of thy people: Perfect in us what is lacking of thy gifts, of faith, to increase it, of hope, to establish it, of love, to kindle it, that we may live in the life of thy grace and glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Bishop Nicholas Ridley (1500-1555)

Heavenly Father, the Father of all wisdom, understanding, and true strength, we beseech Thee look mercifully upon Thy servants, and send Thy Holy Spirit into their hearts, that when they must join to fight in the field for the glory of Thy holy Name, then they, strengthened with the defense of Thy right hand, may manfully stand in the confession of Thy faith, and continue in the same unto their lives’ end.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God.

–Psalm 87:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Second wave will be harder, Archbishops warn

Divisions are deeper now — on the brink of a second wave of coronavirus infections — than they were six months ago when the nation first went into lockdown, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have warned in a joint letter to all bishops on Wednesday.

The letter speaks of the inevitability of further national and local restrictions as the winter months approach, and the responsibility of the Church to “avoid mistakes” and respond in the right way to a more complex situation than before. In March, the Church was criticised for going beyond the government advice at the time and ordering church buildings to close, even to clergy (News, 24 March).

“We will need to be more critical in our response to restrictions that are above and beyond government regulations,” the Archbishops write, “helping the Church at the local level, in parish and diocese, steer a course that is marked by responsible action towards each other, care for the most vulnerable, and witness for the poor and disadvantaged who are suffering disproportionately.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Health & Medicine

Friday Mental Health Break–James Taylor and YoYo Ma: Hard Times Come Again No More

Posted in Music

(WSJ) How South Korea Successfully Managed Coronavirus

South Korea appears to have cracked the code for managing the coronavirus. Its solution is straightforward, flexible and relatively easy to replicate.

The country has averaged about 77 new daily cases since early April and recently suppressed a spike in infections. Adjusting for population, that would be the equivalent of about 480 cases a day in the U.S., where new daily cases have averaged about 38,000 over the same period. Total deaths in the U.S. due to Covid-19 just surpassed 200,000.

South Korea halted virus transmission better than any other wealthy country during the pandemic’s early months. It was about twice as effective as the U.S. and U.K. at preventing infected individuals from spreading the disease to others, according to a recent report from a United Nations-affiliated research network. South Korea’s economy is expected to decline by just 0.8% this year, the best among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s forecasts for member nations.

The key to South Korea’s success came from blending technology and testing like no other country, centralized control and communication—and a constant fear of failure.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, South Korea, Theology

(MIT News) Why social media has changed the world — and how to fix it

The numbers make this clear. In 2005, about 7 percent of American adults used social media. But by 2017, 80 percent of American adults used Facebook alone. About 3.5 billion people on the planet, out of 7.7 billion, are active social media participants. Globally, during a typical day, people post 500 million tweets, share over 10 billion pieces of Facebook content, and watch over a billion hours of YouTube video.

As social media platforms have grown, though, the once-prevalent, gauzy utopian vision of online community has disappeared. Along with the benefits of easy connectivity and increased information, social media has also become a vehicle for disinformation and political attacks from beyond sovereign borders.

“Social media disrupts our elections, our economy, and our health,” says Aral, who is the David Austin Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Now Aral has written a book about it. In “The Hype Machine,” published this month by Currency, a Random House imprint, Aral details why social media platforms have become so successful yet so problematic, and suggests ways to improve them.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Science & Technology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Sergius

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that inspired by the devotion of thy servant Sergius of Moscow, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Benjamin Jenks

O renew our spirits and draw our hearts unto Thyself, that our work may not be to us a burden, but a delight; and give us such a mighty love to Thee as may sweeten our obedience. O let us not serve Thee with the spirit of bondage as slaves, but with cheerfulness and gladness, delighting ourselves in Thee and rejoicing in Thy work.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the sabbath; and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authority. And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon; and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ah! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” And reports of him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

–Luke 4:31-37

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Local Paper Front Page) Charleston area diaper banks a crucial resource for parents amid coronavirus pandemic

Thousands of families across the Lowcountry struggle to afford diapers for their babies.

The inability to provide a sufficient supply to keep an infant or child clean, dry and healthy, also known as diaper need, was already a significant issue for families before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, in the wake of mass unemployment and widespread financial distress, the demand for free diapers has surged dramatically. As a result, many families across the country are turning to local diaper banks to help meet basic needs.

“We’ve seen a 222 percent increase in diaper needs since COVID started,” said Beth Meredith, president of the Junior League of Charleston.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

(CT) Rediscovering the Pedagogical Power of Narnia

The Narnia stories endure primarily because they are delightful stories, but in hindsight I see that part of the delight—part of what made the characters so engaging and the adventures so riveting—flows from Lewis’ understanding of human character. The adventures rivet because they are so consequential for the adventurers: not only their physical lives but their moral character and indeed their eternal destinies hang in the balance. The characters engage most profoundly not when good characters battle evil ones, but when good and evil war within the persons themselves.

In Narnia we find embodied the baffling mystery of the human condition—the gospel truth of our genuine freedom and desperate need. In Narnia we learn that we cannot save ourselves, but we can accept a savior. Above all, in Lewis’s stories we find an image of a king—not safe but good, not tame but beautiful. As our children come to love Aslan, may they thereby learn better to love the true King.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Children, Theology

(Washington Post) Mike Shannon–I tracked electoral votes for George W. Bush. Beware of 2020 forecasts

All the data – and every model and prediction based on them – are overshadowed by unusual factors that create enormous uncertainty.

First, we’ve had no real general election campaign yet. Most of the season has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has had just a handful of his beloved rallies. Biden has mostly stayed at home. The in-person conventions were canceled, replaced by virtual conventions that recorded a collapse in voter interest (only 28% said they watched at least some of the 2020 Republican National Convention, compared with 64% four years ago) and that were virtually bounceless, the first time in modern history when neither candidate appeared to get a bump. In this campaign-less campaign, Trump has been the only player on the field, which has been to his detriment. This will change with the debates, which could be the most consequential of our lifetime and should provide a better sense of the race.

Second, to continue the sports metaphor, even as an abbreviated season gets underway, a dense fog is covering the playing field, making both the ground game and scoring difficult: No one knows how the pandemic will affect voter turnout or the actual casting of ballots. This is a big deal for forecasting and polling – an everything deal when swing-state poll margins are within five points, which is where most are today. Moving turnout share just a few points here and there among Republicans and Democrats could have changed three of the past five presidential outcomes. A measurable disparity in whose supporters’ votes are actually counted – because of higher rates of disqualification of mail-in ballots, pandemic-related difficulties at the polls or even partisan malfeasance – could have a similar effect.

Now, a Supreme Court nomination fight has burst onto the campaign playing field with less than two months to go. With it comes a new layer of unpredictability. There’s no modern precedent to help us forecast how this will affect the contest.

Finally, there is an additional significant factor of uncertainty unrelated to the pandemic or the Supreme Court – the dimensions of the playing field itself.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Politics in General

(NPR) 2 Louisville Police Officers Shot After Charges In Breonna Taylor Case Spark Protests

The chief said that under the tense circumstances following the indictment by the grand jury Wednesday, he is “very concerned for the safety of [his] officers.”

Hundreds of protesters swiftly began demonstrations calling for justice for Breonna Taylor after a grand jury decided to indict just one of the three Louisville Metropolitan Police officers who fired nearly two dozen bullets into her apartment, killing the 26-year-old during a no-knock raid.

City and state officials, who have been expecting a decision from the grand jury all week after months of outrage and anticipation, were braced for widespread protests, preemptively calling for reinforcements from the National Guard.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Urban/City Life and Issues

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Bishop Walter Frere (1863-1938)

My God, I desire to love Thee perfectly: with all my heart which Thou madest for Thyself, with all my mind which only Thou canst satisfy, with all my soul which fain would soar to Thee, with all my strength, my feeble strength, which shrinks before so great a task, and yet can choose naught else but spend itself in loving Thee. Claim Thou my heart, fill Thou my mind, uplift my soul, and reinforce my strength, that where I fail Thou mayest succeed in me, and make me love Thee perfectly.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, mastered all of them, and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks; and fear fell upon them all; and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Many also of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all; and they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew and prevailed mightily.

–Acts 19:11-20

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CNBC) Google will try ‘hybrid’ work-from-home models, as most employees don’t want to come in every day

Google is rethinking its long-term work options for employees, as most of them say they don’t want to come back to the office full-time.

Sixty-two percent of Google employees want to return to their offices at some point, but not every day, according to a recent survey of employee office preferences the company released this week. So Google is working on “hybrid” models, including rearranging its offices and figuring out more long-term remote work options, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in an interview with Time magazine on Wednesday.

“I see the future as being more flexible,” Pichai said in the interview. “We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having a sense of community is super important when you have to solve hard problems and create something new so we don’t see that changing. But we do think we need to create more flexibility and more hybrid models.”

The long-term planning comes as Google, which has been looked at as a model for Silicon Valley workplaces, slowly reveals more details of its plans to return its employees back to the office while also competing with other tech companies for top talent.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Theology

(CC) Philip Jenkins–To understand African Christianity, remember the Battle of Adwa

The new war culminated on March 1, 1896, at Adwa, when the Italian force of around 18,000 allowed itself to be drawn into battle against an Ethiopian army at least six times larger. The Italian force was utterly destroyed as a fighting unit, suffering at least 6,000 dead and losing all artillery and equipment. Only Menelik’s diplomatic sense and restraint prevented his forces from sweeping up all the now defenseless Italian territory that remained on the Red Sea. Why risk his gains when he already had achieved everything he needed? (The campaign is expertly described in Raymond Jonas’s 2011 study The Battle of Adwa.)

The sheer scale of the European catastrophe demands attention. This was a period when White empires might lose the occasional battle, as the British had to the Zulus some years before, but they certainly did not lose whole wars to despised Black Africans. Nor did the familiar stereotype allow for a situation where African commanders outmaneuvered imperial invaders and deployed modern weaponry against them. To put such a reversal of expectations in a US context, we would have to imagine an alternate world where Native forces both triumphed at Little Bighorn and then went on to secure the independence of the whole Black Hills region for a generation.

That context explains the very long shadow cast by Adwa, on Europeans and Africans alike. Italy recalled the battle as an epic humiliation, a horror made all the worse by propaganda tales of the atrocities inflicted on their prisoners of war….

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Church History, Ethiopia, Italy, Military / Armed Forces

(SA) 3-D Printing inside the Body Could Patch Stomach Ulcers

Stomach ulcers and other gastric wounds afflict one in eight people worldwide, but common conventional therapies have drawbacks. Now scientists aim to treat such problems by exploring a new frontier in 3-D printing: depositing living cells directly inside the human body.

Just as 3-D printers set down layers of material to create structures, bioprinters extrude living cells to produce tissues and organs. A long-term dream for this concept is that people on active waiting lists for organ donations—nearly 70,000 individuals in the U.S. alone, according to the nonprofit United Network for Organ Sharing—might one day have the option of getting a bioprinted organ. Although the ability to produce a functional heart or kidney this way likely lies years in the future, realistic near-term goals include bioprinting simpler structures, such as bone grafts. Living tissues printed outside the body, however, would still require implantation surgery, which often involves large incisions that increase the risk of infection and lengthen recovery times.

What if doctors could instead print cells directly inside the body? The idea would be to use current minimally invasive surgical techniques to insert 3-D printing tools into patients through small incisions and then lay down new tissues.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Gelasian Sacramentary

We pray Thee, Lord, Who art the author and giver of light, that Thou wouldest banish from us this day the shadows of evil, and shed upon us the bright beams of Thy loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

On that night the king could not sleep; and he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mor′decai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands upon King Ahasu-e′rus. And the king said, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mor′decai for this?” The king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”

–Esther 6:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Vatican Pushes Against Growing Acceptance of Euthanasia

The Vatican condemned the spreading international acceptance of euthanasia and assisted suicide, including in some traditionally Catholic countries in Europe, in a strongly worded document that reasserts traditional teaching.

“Euthanasia is an act of homicide that no end can justify and that does not tolerate any form of complicity or active or passive collaboration,” the Vatican’s doctrinal office said in a document published Tuesday and expressly approved by Pope Francis. “It is gravely unjust to enact laws that legalize euthanasia or justify and support suicide, invoking a false right to choose a death improperly characterized as respectable only because it is chosen,” the document says.

Spain’s Parliament is considering a law that would make the country the fourth in Europe to legalize euthanasia, after the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Legislators in neighboring Portugal are considering similar proposals. In February, Germany’s highest court overturned a law banning assisted suicide.

Euthanasia is the painless killing of a patient suffering from a physical or mental disease. In assisted suicide, patients administer lethal drugs to themselves under medical supervision.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology

(CT) Atlanta’s Black Church

They say you can’t love what you don’t know, and lately, many of us are realizing just how much we don’t know. This year, my church in Augusta, Georgia, began exploring the racial history of our city, the location of one of the first and largest civil rights riots in the South. The details of the 1970 riot—chronicled in a recent Georgia Public Broadcasting podcast—resemble current events: a teen beaten to death in police custody, the black community responding with peaceful demands then rebellion, police using deadly force to suppress the uprising. But the parallels to the present aren’t striking if, like so many young people in our city, you had no idea it took place.

No wonder we feel so stuck in this racial justice fight. You can’t lament a past you don’t remember. You can’t change problems you don’t recognize. You can’t empathize with voices you ignore. Part of our call to love and serve our neighbors is to understand the lingering scars and burdens they bear.

Learning how my community downplayed the significance of its racial past made me all the more curious about the extensive civil rights legacy in the Georgia capital, the subject of this month’s cover package. Across the generations, Atlanta—with the black church as its heartbeat—has worked to honor its hard-won progress as well as to lament the cost of the ongoing fight for justice.

That practice has helped carry on a long legacy and inspire today’s leaders in Atlanta—the preachers and politicians, entrepreneurs and activists, who are working to see the principles of God’s kingdom shape every sphere of life.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(New Atlantis) Yuval Levin–Prudence in a Storm

Everything therefore depends on our assessment of the severity of the crisis we are living through. We are called to judge our circumstances. And that means we are called to the hard work of prudence. As Greg Weiner puts it in his magisterial study of the subject:

An essential element of prudence is thus recognizing the difference between genuine emergency and the aggrandizing rhetoric of catastrophe. Not every moment is Munich, but Munich was. A wide range of experience and circumstances is necessary to discern the difference.

Not every moment is a time of exceptional crisis, but a few moments are. And how we think about the policies our country is now pursuing ultimately hinges on whether we judge this pandemic to be such a time. Most of us are not experts in the relevant knowledge, and we must make the necessary judgment as citizens, calling on our read of the available evidence and our degree of confidence in those who claim to know — calling, in the end, upon our prudence. This doesn’t free us from the need to consider tradeoffs. On the contrary, it compels us to consider them in full, and to do so in full knowledge of the limits of our judgment.

The debunkers may be right about some important elements of our situation, and we must not forget it. But it seems awfully likely they are not right on the whole. And so we need to treat this crisis as a grave emergency, with an eye to doing what’s required to protect the most vulnerable among us and recover our safety and prosperity — precisely so that we can return to normal life, and to our vitally important debates about how best to live it.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Philosophy

The Columbus [Ohio] Dispatch looks back to 1817–Episcopal priest Philander Chase Comes to Preach

On May 3, 1817, he conducted the first…[Episcopal] service in Columbus at the Buckeye House hotel.

Four days later, he preached again at the High Street home of storekeeper Lincoln Goodale. “Some of those who came were merely curious. Others believed that God’s inerrant providence brought them to that spot. All listened with reverence as Chase intoned the service from the Book of Common Prayer and preached to them,” Lisa M. Klein wrote in her 2003 history of Trinity Episcopal Church, Be It Remembered.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Philander Chase

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith We give thee heartfelt thanks for the pioneering spirit of thy servant Philander Chase, and for his zeal in opening new frontiers for the ministry of thy Church. Grant us grace to minister in Christ’s name in every place, led by bold witnesses to the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, even Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Eugene Bersier

O God, Who hast given us life and all things good in this world: Thou hast created us for Thy service, and when we have forsaken Thee in our wanderings Thou hast sought us out; Thou hast vouchsafed to us the precious treasure of Thy Gospel; Thou hast ordained that we should be born in the bosom of Thy Church; Thou hast revealed to us Thy exceeding great mercies in Jesus Christ our Lord; Thou hast borne with us in our rebellions, raised us up from our falls, comforted us in our sorrows. For all these gifts of Thy grace, and for Thy benefits which we remember not, we Thine unworthy servants do give Thee thanks, and bless thy holy Name.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer