Category : Politics in General

(Wash Post) Kathleen Parker–Blame the eruptions of sexual harassment claims on Bill Clinton

It is little wonder, then, that other men of the era didn’t feel compelled to curtail their proclivities, or that women felt their power to fight back minimized by the first lady.

Fast-forward to the present and each day seems to produce the name of another man accused of sexual harassment. Though they are being lumped together in round-up stories, it would be unfair to put them all in the same cell. There’s a world of difference between what movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is alleged to have done and, say, what another recently named Mother Jones writer is alleged to have done. Apparently, among other offenses of minor note, he gave gratuitous shoulder rubs.

With all due sympathy to victims of abusive behavior, I confess to a certain reticence as #MeToo momentum continues to grow. This isn’t because I know a few of the alleged harassers, who are disgusting if the accusations are true, but because we are becoming too comfortable with condemnation without due process. Life is unfair — and women inarguably have been on the receiving end of unfairness for long enough. But life shouldn’t be a zero-sum game and men, even those one dislikes, deserve a fair hearing before their life and livelihood are taken away.

Karma will take care of the rest.

Had the Clintons played their cards differently, our country might have become less coarse, and our infantile impulsiveness less pronounced. It might not have taken 25 years for women to find their voices. More men might have treated their female colleagues with greater respect. Who knows? Hillary Clinton might have become president. And Donald Trump, whose disrespect toward women is epic, might not have.

Karma, baby: It’s Bubba’s fault.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Sexuality

Time Magaine–9 questions for Masha Gessen: the truth about Russia

After the U.S. elections, Putin has often been depicted in the West as some all-power figure. Do you think the West overestimates him?

It depends. I think his power in influencing the U.S. elections is overestimated, because there is an overwhelming desire to lay blame for Trump somewhere outside the United States. But otherwise I don’t think it’s overestimated. … He does wield unilateral power in his country. Is there a system of checks and balances that would limit his power? There isn’t.

But does he have the kind of absolute control usually associated with totalitarian regimes?

Do people in Russia today live as people in the Soviet Union lived under Stalin? Of course not. But does [Putin] have the same political staying power as Stalin did? Does he have the near guarantee of maintaining power and being able to do whatever he wants for the rest of his life? Yes.

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Posted in Books, History, Politics in General, Russia

(Wash Po) Ryan Danker–Historic church should rethink Washington, Lee plaque removals

The plaques on the walls of Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, commemorate famous Americans who at one time called the Episcopal parish their own: George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

As a church historian, I believe the vestry’s recent decision to remove the memorials – as well as their forebears’ decision to put them up in the first place – disregards the true purpose of Christians’ commemoration of the dead.

From the very start of the Christian faith, believers have remembered the “great cloud of witnesses” who came before them. During the third century, the church in North Africa regularly commemorated early martyrs on the anniversary of their death – the origin of saints’ days.

Whether honored through holidays or monuments, the church still recognized the complexity of the human situation and never expected perfection from these early saints. Scripture and church history provided plenty of evidence of their shortcomings: Paul’s thorn in his flesh, Peter’s denial of Christ, Augustine’s lust, Thomas Aquinas’ borderline gluttony, Martin Luther’s anti-Semitic tendencies, John Calvin’s use of capital punishment, and John Wesley’s failed marriage.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Office of the President, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes

Cut stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals to £2, Bishop Smith of St Albans urges Government

The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has responded to the Government’s announcement today of The Triennial Review of Stakes and Prizes.

He said: “The Triennial Review of Stakes and Prizes has proposed a range of possible stakes for fixed-odds betting terminals. While a reduction in stakes is welcome, any stake higher than £2 does not go far enough to address the harm these machines cause to families and communities around the UK.

“In our broader response to the consultation, the Church of England will urge the Government to consider the experiences of those affected most by these machines, and to choose to lower the stake to £2.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(AI) A Religious Test? TEC Member of Senate grills a nominee for the Federal Judiciary who is a member of Falls Church (Anglican)

An…[Episcopal Church] member of the US Senate grilled a nominee for the Federal Judiciary over his membership in an ACNA congregation, asking if his beliefs would prejudice his work as a judge.

In written questions submitted to Trevor McFadden, (pictured) Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., asked the nominee his views on gay marriage, abortion and homosexuality, citing Mr. McFadden’s membership on the vestry of Falls Church parish as an area of concern.

The Senator wrote:

You are an elected member (until 2020) of the Falls Church Anglican, which broke away from the Episcopal Church largely due to the denomination’s consecration of an openly gay bishop. The Falls Church Anglican considers “marriage to be a life-long union of husband and wife” intended for “the procreation and nurture of godly children” and entailing “God-given” “roles of father and mother.” In 2015, the associate pastor of the Falls Church Anglican agreed that “if the U.S. Supreme Court decision includes a redefinition of marriage, this will constitute an intrusion of the state on God’s institution of marriage ‘from the beginning’.” Do you understand the majority of the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges to have held that the right to marry is a fundamental right under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment and that same-sex couples may not be deprived of that right?”

Mr. McFadden responded: “yes”.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Senate

David Brooks–The American Narrative informed by Scripture is being turned into an anti-biblical zero-sum struggle of class and ethnic conflict

The American social structure, as [Jonathan] Sacks notes, was based on biblical categories. There was a political realm, but the heart of society was in the covenantal realm: “marriages, families, congregations, communities, charities and voluntary associations.”

America’s Judeo-Christian ethic celebrated neighborliness over pagan combativeness; humility as the basis of good character, not narcissism. It believed in taking in the stranger because we were all strangers once. It dreamed of universal democracy as the global fulfillment of the providential plan.

That biblical ethic, embraced by atheists as much as the faithful, is not in great shape these days. As Sacks notes: “Today, one half of America is losing all those covenantal institutions. It’s losing strong marriages and families and communities. It is losing a strong sense of the American narrative. It’s even losing e pluribus unum because today everyone prefers pluribus to unum.…”

Trump and Bannon have filled the void with their own creed, which is anti-biblical. The American story they tell is not diverse people journeying toward a united future. It’s a zero-sum struggle of class and ethnic conflict. The traits Trump embodies are narcissism, not humility; combativeness, not love; the sanctification of the rich and blindness toward the poor.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(The Hill) George Washington’s Virginia church taking down his memorial

A church attended by George Washington will take down a memorial to the nation’s first president, a move church leaders say is intended to make the place of worship more welcoming.

The Washington Times reported Friday that Christ Church in Alexandria, Va., will remove memorials of Washington and former Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which stand on either side of the church’s altar.

“The plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome,” church leaders said. “Some visitors and guests who worship with us choose not to return because they receive an unintended message from the prominent presence of the plaques.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), History, Office of the President, Parish Ministry

(Church Times) Freedom of religion or belief must be protected, say MPs and peers

Attacks on the freedom of religion are on the rise around the world, and protecting that freedom must become a priority of both the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development (DfID), a new report by a parliamentary committee argues.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for International Freedom of Religion or Belief released the report, Article 18: From rhetoric to reality, on Wednesday, to mark International Freedom of Religion or Belief Day, which is today.

Among the contributors to the report was the UN’s special rapporteur for freedom of religion and belief, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, who wrote: “This report comes at a time when acts of intolerance involving religion or belief are on the rise globally.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(WCC) Kenya church leaders view dialogue as best way out of political crisis

Church leaders in Kenya are proposing a national dialogue conference to help find ways of the resolving the current political and social crises facing the East African nation.

Apart from discussing the stand-off over fresh presidential elections, it would also help resolve a longstanding nurses and clinical officers’ strike.

On 10 October, the political crisis appeared to deepen after National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga announced that his coalition would boycott the polls set for 26 October.

Odinga had cited the failure by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to institute some reforms he had demanded as an “irreducible minimum” before another election is held. High on the list of demands is the removal of officials in the commission who he believes caused him to lose the 8 August polls. One of the officials is the chief executive Ezra Chiloba.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Kenya, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

([London] Times) Help 4 British missionaries kidnapped in Nigerian delta, Archbp Welby urged

The Archbishop of Canterbury was urged yesterday to personally intervene to help secure the release of four British missionaries kidnapped in Nigeria.

The Most Rev Justin Welby has previously negotiated the release of hostages in the Niger Delta where David Donovan, a former GP from Cambridge, his wife, Shirley, and two other volunteers were kidnapped last week.

Authorities fear they have been moved outside the police search area as one of the groups seeking independence for the region pledged to help the government security agencies rescue the missionaries.

Mr and Mrs Donovan, both 57, have run a Christian charity providing medical services in Nigeria for 14 years. The other hostages were named by police as “Alana” and “Tyan”.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Missions, Nigeria, Politics in General

Prime Minister backs Church of England drive to eradicate modern slavery

The Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury have given their backing to the launch today of a project aimed at mobilising the Church of England’s 12,000 parishes in the battle to eradicate modern slavery.

Theresa May welcomed the Clewer Initiative, a three-year programme to help the Church of England’s 42 dioceses work to support victims of modern slavery and identify the signs of exploitation in their local communities.

The project was being launched today at Lambeth Palace at an event attended by representatives from Church of England dioceses and other denominations, along with MPs and charities involved in work to combat modern slavery.

In a statement of support for the launch, Mrs May said: “Modern slavery is a barbaric crime which destroys the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our society. I value the work that the Clewer Initiative will be doing to enable the Church of England dioceses and wider church networks to develop strategies to tackle modem slavery.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(NYT Op-ed) Clay Routledge–Why Are Millennials Wary of Freedom?

Young Americans seem to be losing faith in freedom. Why?

According to the World Values Survey, only about 30 percent of Americans born after 1980 believe it is absolutely essential to live in a democratic country, compared with 72 percent of Americans born before World War II. In 1995, 16 percent of Americans in their late teens and early adulthood thought democracy was a bad idea; in 2011, the number increased to 24 percent.

Young Americans also are disproportionately skeptical of free speech. A 2015 poll from the Pew Research Center found that 40 percent of millennials (ages 18 to 34) believe the government should be able to regulate certain types of offensive speech. Only 27 percent of Gen-Xers (ages 35 to 50), 20 percent of baby boomers (ages 51 to 69) and 12 percent of the silent generation (ages 70 to 87) share that opinion.

For many conservative commentators, especially those concerned with attitudes on college campuses, this is merely more evidence of the deleterious influence of the radical left in academia. But while ideology certainly plays a role here, these trends transcend political party affiliation, as a number of recent polls indicate.

2016 Gallup survey found that a majority of both Democratic and Republican students believe colleges should be allowed to restrict speech that is purposely offensive to certain groups. A survey of students’ attitudesconcerning free speech released on Wednesday by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education found that 66 percent of Democratic and 47 percent of Republican students believe there are times a college should withdraw a campus speaker’s invitation after it has been announced. And a survey published by the Brookings Institution in September found that 20 percent of Democratic and 22 percent of Republican students agreed it was acceptable for student groups to use violence to prevent a person from speaking.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Psychology, Young Adults

(Economist) Today’s historians have a higher opinion of Ulysses S. Grant

Ron Chernow’s 1,100-page biography may crown Grant’s restoration. The author of defining books on George Washington and Alexander Hamilton—the latter formed the basis for a hit Broadway musical, after Lin-Manuel Miranda read it on holiday—Mr Chernow argues persuasively that Grant has been badly misunderstood. The corruption in his administration never touched him—the soul of integrity—personally. Sometimes portrayed as an ignorant drunk, he was in fact a profound thinker with a sensitivity to suffering that underlay his kindness to vanquished armies and people of other races. His bibulous reputation was exaggerated by his opponents, Mr Chernow believes, and indeed with discipline and the support of his beloved wife, he abstained from drinking almost fully during his presidency.

Grant may have been America’s most improbable president. His early military career showed flashes of brilliance before he resigned from a post in California amid accusations, almost certainly justified, of drunkenness. He then failed at various business ventures, a lifelong tendency that accompanied a penchant for trusting swindlers. Not long before the civil war he was virtually broke, walking the streets of St Louis in shabby clothing selling firewood.

War brought salvation. The Union army was afflicted with generals who hesitated to engage, or failed to follow up victories by chasing vulnerable opponents. Not Grant. “I can’t spare this man; he fights,” Lincoln supposedly said of him, a year before the general engineered a landmark victory at Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1863. Robert E. Lee, his chief opponent, concurred: “He is not a retreating man.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, History, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President, Politics in General

A Picture is Worth 1000 words–The baby Boombers are Reaching Retirement

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Budget, Children, Economy, Health & Medicine, History, Marriage & Family, Medicaid, Medicare, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Social Security, Taxes, Young Adults

Archbishop Glen Davies’ Presidential Address at the Sydney Diocesan Synod

Brothers and sisters, as the penetration of the gospel diminishes in our society, we find ourselves being moved in a more libertarian direction under the influence of those who want to abandon the mores of the past. Yet at the same time these permissive forces who espouse the virtue of ‘tolerance’ are seeking to impose restrictions upon those who wish to maintain the values on which our nation has been founded. This has become nowhere more apparent than in the current debate surrounding the postal survey on same-sex marriage. While the advocates of the ‘Yes’ campaign have been unrelenting in their attempts to redefine marriage, they have also been virulent in their opposition to those who hold a contrary view. The innocent inclusion of drinking Coopers beer in the Bible Society’s promotion of an informed and civilised debate between two politicians, each holding opposing views on same-sex marriage, is a case in point. It resulted in an uncivilised, unwarranted and malicious campaign through social media to boycott Coopers Breweries. Similarly, a Christian doctor whoappeared in an advertisement opposing same-sex marriage was subject to a campaign to have her medical registration withdrawn. Witness also the ludicrous attempt to rename Margaret Court Arena, merely because Margaret Court, one of our greatest Australian athletes, went public on her opposition to same-sex marriage.

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Posted in Anthropology, Australia, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Theology, Theology: Scripture