Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly three-quarters of the public (72%) now thinks religion is losing influence in American life, up 5 percentage points from 2010 to the highest level in Pew Research polling over the past decade. And most people who say religion’s influence is waning see this as a bad thing.

Perhaps as a consequence, a growing share of the American public wants religion to play a role in U.S. politics. The share of Americans who say churches and other houses of worship should express their views on social and political issues is up 6 points since the 2010 midterm elections (from 43% to 49%). The share who say there has been “too little” expression of religious faith and prayer from political leaders is up modestly over the same period (from 37% to 41%). And a growing minority of Americans (32%) think churches should endorse candidates for political office, though most continue to oppose such direct involvement by churches in electoral politics.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 22, 2014 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new Persian translation of the Bible will be smuggled into Iran to feed a growing Christian community in the Islamic republic, defying a campaign of persecution by Tehran.

Publishers of the new edition, unveiled at a ceremony in London today, plan to ship 300,000 copies into Iran over the next three years. Iranian clerics have denounced the text, but missionary groups claim Iran’s Christian community is the world’s fastest growing, rising by 20 per cent a year.

More than 60 Christians are being held in Iranian jails, and police continue to target the “house churches” where small groups gather for prayer and Bible study.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Reconciliation in its widest sense is about the restoration of relationships that have been badly damaged and broken. Jesus taught us to love and forgive those who hurt us. There can be no reconciliation without forgiveness – this is love in practice.

The bonds that unite this country have been tested to near breaking point this week. We will now be together for a long time to come and it is important for the sake of our future that we move forward without carrying heavy baggage full of resentment and distrust along with us.

Politicians have been given a sharp shock and need to wake up to the disillusionment felt by many voters. The incredible turnout in Scotland has engaged an entire population. Fears for some have been dissipated, but hopes for others have been shattered. Politicians cannot ignore those desires for change. They can work towards building a politically fairer society, but reconciliation has a spiritual dimension. If Scotland is to become a united country once again in a United Kingdom, then Christians will need to play their part, pouring out an unconditional love that dissipates resentment and reminds factions who have fought against each other how much they still have in common.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The suffering of Iraqi Christian refugees fleeing the depredations of the Islamic State (ISIS) are beyond description, the vicar-general of the Diocese of Zanzibar reports following a visit to Kurdistan last week. The Rev Jerry Kramer writes: “Right now we’re processing all that we saw and experienced firsthand. Honestly, we don’t have the words at the moment. The suffering is so immense. The magnitude of the disaster is beyond comprehension.” Fr Kramer, who served as the rector of an Episcopal congregation in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and was one of the leaders in the grassroots campaign to rebuild the city, but currently is a missionary in Tanzania with Love for the Least ministries stated: “Christians were given 48 hours to leave their homes. “Some paid to stay or converted to Islam.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaTanzaniaMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis called Sunday for Muslims and all religious leaders to condemn Islamic extremists who "pervert" religion to justify violence, as he visited Albania and held up the Balkan nation as a model for interfaith harmony for the rest of the world.

"To kill in the name of God is a grave sacrilege. To discriminate in the name of God is inhuman," Francis told representatives of Albania's Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic communities during a half-day visit to Tirana in which he recalled the brutal persecution people of all faiths suffered under communism.

Francis wept when he heard the testimony of one priest, the Rev. Ernest Troshani, 84, who for 28 years was imprisoned, tortured and sentenced to forced labor for refusing to speak out against the Catholic Church as his captors wanted.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEuropeAlbania* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The dispatch of troops to west Africa may seem an odd priority when American forces are preparing to confront jihadists in Iraq and Syria and are stretched thin elsewhere. Ebola is a disease that is usually absent from human populations, has been quickly stamped out in the past and in its worst recorded outbreak has thus far caused 3,000 known deaths (see article). Moreover it is unlikely to spread widely in rich countries with good health-care systems. Set against killers such as HIV, the virus that kills some 1.6m people a year, or tuberculosis (TB), which takes another 1.3m lives, an expensive fight against Ebola may seem a misallocation of resources.

Yet Ebola is now growing exponentially, with the number of new cases roughly doubling every three weeks or so. In Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, it is thought to be doubling every two weeks. Previous outbreaks were usually in rural villages where it was easier to contain. At this rate of progress, small numbers quickly become big ones, and there is a real risk of the disease spreading to cities such as Lagos, which is home to more than 10m people. The longer Ebola is allowed to replicate in humans, the greater the risk that it will become more contagious. Some virologists fret that it might even acquire the ability to be transmitted through the air by coughs and sneezes. Although this seems unlikely, nobody wants to find out just how quickly Ebola can adapt to humans.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Please note that the above headline is the one given by NPR to the piece as it appear on thier main page--KSH).

Believing in God isn't like believing, correctly or incorrectly, that there are brick houses on Elm Street. What's at stake is not a simple proposition whose meaning is understood and whose truth is up for discussion. God is an idea that is made intelligible, to the degree that it is intelligible, only thanks to the stories we tell about Him or about ourselves and our history. Believing in God is more like believing that a story is true, or that a story is compelling or worthwhile or worth learning or caring about, than it is like believing some fact.

Herodotus said that history is the history of lies. This is a bit of an overstatement. But I get the point. History is made up of stories and stories are often slightly less than, or maybe slightly more than, the truth.

A story teller, like a bank teller, aims at a good count, a well balanced, transparent accounting. And the value of a good story doesn't ever consist in its matching all the facts....

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyApologetics

2 Comments
Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Linda] Woodhead sees Fresh Expressions and other forms of missionary outreach as attempts to boost the God-fearers. She puts her faith in both the churchgoing and non-churchgoing mainstream. There are several problems with this strategy. With admitted exceptions, clergy tend to be recruited from the committed. As numbers shrink, it becomes more difficult to recruit able candidates, especially able young candidates. Studying American evangelicals, Christian Smith has suggested, teaches us that churches thrive when they have a distinctive message but remain in dialogue with the secular society. What is crucial is that Christians choose the right issues on which to make a stand. Woodhead ignores signs that the number of those who claim church affiliation but are not active members or believers is in decline as more claim to be ‘spiritual’ but not ‘religious’. Woodhead herself has studied this pattern in Kendal. One move would be to make the Church more welcoming of spiritual seekers and turn clergy into what the NHS already terms ‘spiritual care givers’. Questions need to be asked about how far the Church can go in this direction and still be Christian.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyChristologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The gravity of the financial situation facing the Bathurst Diocese of the Anglican Church hit home this weekend for members of the 47th Synod.

Bishop of Bathurst Ian Palmer implored representatives of parishes from Bourke to Bathurst to accept the need for fresh approaches to ministry across the Central West.

He said the Diocese needs to look at where its resources are spent and ask itself if there are resources that are no longer needed.

Bishop Palmer said the mood of the Synod was one of grappling with, or coming to terms with, the enormity of the financial problems currently facing the Diocese.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Barely three years after Britain helped to free Libya from Col Gaddafi's tyranny, anti-Western radicals hold sway. How could Britain's goal of a stable and friendly Libya have been thwarted so completely?

Step forward a fabulously wealthy Gulf state that owns an array of London landmarks and claims to be one of our best friends in the Middle East.

Qatar, the owner of Harrods, has dispatched cargo planes laden with weapons to the victorious Islamist coalition, styling itself "Libya Dawn".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAfricaLibyaEngland / UKMiddle EastQatar

3 Comments
Posted September 21, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa could spread to hundreds of thousands more people by the end of January, according to an estimate under development by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that puts one worst-case scenario at 550,000 or more infections.

The report, scheduled to be released next week, was described by two people familiar with its contents who asked to remain anonymous because it isn’t yet public.

The projection, which vastly outstrips previous estimates, is under review by researchers and may change. It assumes no additional aid or intervention by governments and relief agencies, which are mobilizing to contain the Ebola outbreak before it spirals further out of control in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & Medicine* International News & CommentaryAfricaGuineaLiberiaNigeriaSierra Leone

2 Comments
Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Painful to watch after returning home, yuck. Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“My sense of the big picture is that we’re moving toward laws like the one in Illinois, which accepts that the demand for surrogacy isn’t going away but recognizes the hazards and adds regulations and protections,” said Joanna L. Grossman, a family law professor at the Hofstra University law school.

The Illinois law requires medical and psychological screenings for all parties before a contract is signed and stipulates that surrogates be at least 21, have given birth at least once before and be represented by an independent lawyer, paid for by the intended parents.

The law allows only gestational surrogacy, in which an embryo is placed in the surrogate’s uterus, not the traditional kind, in which the surrogate provides the egg. In addition, it requires that the embryo created in a petri dish must have either an egg or a sperm from one of the intended parents.

“That eliminates some of the concerns about designer babies,” Professor Grossman said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I’m at the Cambridge University college that Charles Darwin attended before heading off on a ship to change the world’s views about the origin of the species, particularly the evolution of humans.

Darwin’s theories have been used and abused for many things in the past century or two — to promote racism and defeat racism, promote competition and encourage cooperation, to treat humans as objects and see them as special, to believe humans are machines and to say they have free choice, to attack religion and advance religion (particularly through a movement sometimes known as ‘theistic evolution”).

A conference at Christ’s College in Cambridge, organized by The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion and sponsored by the Templeton Foundation, is actually titled “The uses and abuses of biology.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 21, 2014 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For centuries the secrecy of the confessional has been sacrosanct, but the Church of England may relax the rules to allow clergy to reveal serious crimes such as child abuse.

Former Bishop of Chelmsford John Gladwin – who last year led an inquiry into clerical sex abuse in the Church of England – is pressing for the changes, along with members of the Church’s ‘parliament’, the General Synod.

But any change will be fiercely resisted by traditionalists who think clergy should retain the trust of worshippers. It will also cause tensions with Roman Catholics, who believe the seal of the confessional should remain inviolable.

Bishop Gladwin’s moves follow a decision by the Anglican Church of Australia to allow its priests to report crimes they hear during confession to the police.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of AustraliaChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental Theology

13 Comments
Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The church was built in 1873 and classified as a historical site in 1991. The building was still used as a church, but was empty at the time of the fire. The former church hall, destroyed by fire earlier this month was a centre for Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* International News & CommentaryCanada

0 Comments
Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:52 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Bishop of the diocese on the Niger, Rt. Rev. Dr. Owen Nwokolo, has predicted that if the activities of rampaging Boko Haram insurgents continues unchecked, it would result into the break-up of Nigeria.

Although, he would not want Nigeria’s disintegration, Bishop Nwokolo stressed that it might be inevitable if it becomes too difficult for all the citizens to live together, “as we are now trying to observe with the ongoing slaughtering of innocent Nigerians in the name of religion.”

The Bishop made this known at the St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Omagba Phase 1, Onitsha, Anambra State, during the confirmation and induction into the Girls Guide and Mothers Union. He regretted that a lot would go wrong if Nigeria breaks up.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even though the government is working hard to reform the GCSE and ensure that it is rigorous and challenging, it will not be included as one of the humanities options in the English Baccalaureate. This exclusion has not stemmed the rising numbers of those young people who value and want to study the subject, but that is primarily because the Ebacc was not compulsory and schools can still offer the subject as one of the ‘Progress 8’ that will be measured in performance tables.

But recent announcements from the Secretary of State suggest that the Conservative Party’s manifesto is likely to see the EBacc becoming compulsory, and that will have a disastrous impact on the numbers of students able to take a subject which they value so highly.

Perhaps the largest challenge is found in the desperate shortage of specialist or dedicated RE specialist teachers. It is shocking that more RE lessons are currently being taught by non-specialists than by teachers trained in the subject. One can only imagine the outcry if this was the situation with Maths or English. Encouraging new RE teachers requires the government to reconsider their current policy not to provide bursaries to PGCE students wishing to train as RE teachers. Why would anybody want to train to teach a subject which is undermined by central government in such a fashion?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Turkish authorities say they have freed 49 hostages from one of the world’s most ruthless militant groups without firing a shot, paying a ransom or offering a quid pro quo.

But as the well-dressed men and women captured by the Islamic State group more than three months ago clasped their families Saturday on the tarmac of the Turkish capital’s airport, experts had serious doubts about the government’s story.

The official explanation “sounds a bit too good to be true,” said Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat who chairs the Istanbul-based Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies. “There are some very legitimate and unanswered questions about how this happened.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On more serious matters, [Bishop Blase] Cupich was asked about reports that he had moderate leanings.

He response was that he was “no saint.”

“Labels are hard for anyone to live up to. ... It's not my agenda, it's not what I feel,” he said. “I'm going to try to be attentive to what The Lord wants.”

He pressed for immigration reform, saying it was desperately needed and “every day we delay is a day too long,” he said.

He said he did not think Pope Francis was sending a message to U.S. Catholics with his appointment. “I think his priority is not to send a message but to send a bishop. ... I think he sent a pastor, not a message,” Cupich said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * Theology

2 Comments
Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For many farmers in the UK it was this year's weather that helped give them their best harvest in living memory.

But in the future it will be technology that helps them get the most from every acre.

With the global population predicted to be nine billion by 2050, experts believe we will need to produce 70% more food.

Edd Banks is one of the growing number of farmers in the UK now practising precision farming.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 19, 2014 at 4:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

After many months of discussion, debate, and careful thought, we now know the outcome of the Referendum, and it is a result that all of us throughout the United Kingdom will respect.

For many in Scotland and elsewhere today, there will be strong feelings and contrasting emotions – among family, friends and neighbours. That, of course, is the nature of the robust democratic tradition we enjoy in this country. But I have no doubt that these emotions will be tempered by an understanding of the feelings of others.

Now, as we move forward, we should remember that despite the range of views that have been expressed, we have in common an enduring love of Scotland, which is one of the things that helps to unite us all. Knowing the people of Scotland as I do, I have no doubt that Scots, like others throughout the United Kingdom, are able to express strongly-held opinions before coming together again in a spirit of mutual respect and support, to work constructively for the future of Scotland and indeed all parts of this country.

My family and I will do all we can to help and support you in this important task.

ELIZABETH R.

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland

0 Comments
Posted September 19, 2014 at 12:47 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than half of Church of England primary schools are delivering poor quality religious education lessons that give pupils little more than a “superficial” grounding in the subject, according to official Anglican research.

A study by the Church’s education division found that under-11s were being fed a “narrow diet of Bible stories” rather than in-depth classes designed to boost their understanding of Christianity.

Researchers found that RE was “not good enough” in 60 per cent of primary schools and officially “inadequate” in one-in-six of those inspected.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted September 19, 2014 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Both the abused young girls in Rotherham and the ‘Trojan horse’ affair in Birmingham reveal defects in popular ideas of multiculturalism. Properly understood, multiculturalism means respect for different cultures and a recognition that we cannot treat people as isolated individuals but must see them as part of a wider community that gives meaning and purpose to their lives. It does not mean encouraging people to live entirely separate lives or giving complete autonomy to subgroups in society to order their affairs as they wish. Above all multiculturalism does not rule out commitment to an overarching set of values that can unite a wider community of diverse cultures and creeds. It aims at integration, avoiding both assimilation or alienation. Perhaps the phrase ‘interactive pluralism’ suggested by Rowan Williams would be better than multiculturalism.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan WilliamsAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 19, 2014 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States has made the same mistake in evaluating fighters from the Islamic State that it did in Vietnam — underestimating the enemy’s will, according to James Clapper, the director of national intelligence.

Clapper’s comments came in a telephone interview Wednesday, in which he summarized the elements of a new National Intelligence Strategy released this week. Clapper also answered some broader questions about intelligence issues confronting the country.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That the majority of ISIL’s victims are Muslim does not exclude it from being a religiously motivated movement. For ISIL is part of the group within Islam whose motivation is religious - namely, the removal of apostasy.

We should take our opponents self-identity seriously. They are waging war in the name of Islam and in accordance with their Islamic beliefs. They wish to create the Caliphate. Their commitment is more than a power grab for land – it is a religious zeal and if we ignore it, we will seriously underestimate them.

We must not try to conform Islam to Christian ideals of religion. Jesus and Mohammed were very different in their life as well as in their teaching. Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey to be executed, a week later, for our sins. Mohammed arrived at Mecca in front of an army of 10,000 soldiers to take the city by force. In countries where Christianity has dominated, mosques can be built, the Qur’an can be read and studied and preached in the streets, and citizens can change religion without fear of persecution, let alone execution. None of these corresponding freedoms are available for Christians in countries where Islam holds sway.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Bishop of Manchester David Walker]...said, "[it is]...more important to get it right than get it quick. . . If we rush at this, we will simply end up repeating tired old failures to reach solutions."

He was interviewed alongside the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, by the Church of England's director of communications, Arun Arora. Bishop Dakin appeared more ready to emphasise the extent of the division within the College.

"These are Gospel issues that we are talking about," he said. "They go deep. They are very important to many of us, personally, or by conviction, or by a sense of deep commitment to a way of life."

He went on: "Our different traditions of wisdom and our understanding of reason have actually probably brought us to the point where we have got some deep disagreements and we need to be able to speak the truth in love to one another in a Christian way and then work out what we're going to do."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"As Scots now consider what kind of nation will now emerge from this campaign, the church must lead – and be allowed to lead – the way to ensure the new Scotland is one that reflects God's values in the economy, the family, our communities and our environment. As Christians we passionately believe that these values will shape our nation for good. There has been an exceptionally high level of engagement and this must not wane. The passion must continue.

"We recognise that while many are celebrating this morning there are also many in Scotland who are devastated at this result. It is now time to show grace and kindness to those on the other side and move quickly to bring reconciliation where it is needed in our land. I know it will be a difficult thing for some people to do but we must love our neighbour. We are all Scots and Scots at heart together. If we put God’s love at the heart of what we do, healing will be much faster, genuine and long-lasting.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

0 Comments
Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of Scotland's most senior cleric has urged unionists and pro-independence campaigners to respect the outcome of the referendum and work together towards a stronger future.

In the hours after the result both sides must publicly declare that the matter has been democratically settled, the Moderator of the Kirk's General Assembly said.

The Rt Rev John Chalmers also suggested replacing posters and badges from the Yes and No campaigns with a "One Scotland" image, while opposing voters should pose together for selfies and share them on social media.

Read it all and please note there is a Service of Reconciliation at St Giles planned for this Sunday.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"This is a moment for reconciliation and healing not rejoicing or recrimination. Some of the wounds opened up in recent months are likely to take time to heal on both sides of the border. The historically close relationships that have existed between the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of Scotland and the Church of England and our long involvement in mediation have a contribution to make as our societies not only reflect on the lessons of the referendum campaign but engage in delivering the radical restructuring of the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom for which commitments have been made." \

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 19, 2014 at 4:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Scotland has overwhelmingly rejected independence after a record turnout of voters delivered a clear victory for the No campaign.

Alex Salmond’s separatist campaign was resoundingly defeated, with 55 per cent of Scotland voting to remain in the 307-year-old Union.

Read it all in the Telegraph and a report from Reuters

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland

0 Comments
Posted September 19, 2014 at 1:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

None of that makes the religious heritage of Europe sound very appealing. But it is essential to remember that in Europe, with the Reformation, Enlightenment, Emancipation, we’ve moved on. Those of us who still practise a faith – Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or Jew – preserve a sense of sanctity without killing each other over it. Crucially, we’re no longer theocrats: the C of E may tell me adultery is sinful, but the state won’t stone me to death over it. But in moving on too fast, we’ve also lost the religious literacy that tells us why people look to priests and saints for guidance in the first place. There will always be those for whom the post-modern world just seems a bit too fractured, a bit too liberal, frankly, in all its dazzling, confusing choices, a bit too frightening. If we want to keep young Muslims from religious violence, the answer is not secularism, but religious alternatives. The violent history of Christianity shouldn’t be a reason to discredit our religious impulse, but to demonstrate the impossibility of repressing it completely.

And to despite the State Department’s best efforts, we can’t build the moral case against Isil simply by pointing out the cruelties it inflicts upon its enemies. As Professor Ian Robertson points out, that’s not how out-group/in-group dynamics work. Religious fanatics have always slaughtered their enemies – and for radical Sunnis, that includes the Shia. Instead, it is the mundane misery of Isil’s ideal state that should horrify the world. Amira Karroum isn’t scared of being beheaded, because she doesn’t think of herself as an infidel. But once the glamour of war is gone, does she really want to live in an eternal shroud, forbidden from leaving the house, denied an education? Do young British men – one of whom notoriously asked “Do the mujahideen play footy and that?” – understand that a state ruled by blasphemy laws is a state where a wise crack at the local cleric could cost you your life? Many states are forged in war – not all of them then ban music, art and history in peace time.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Caitlin Doughty has been cutting pacemakers out of corpses, grinding human bones by hand, and loading bodies into cremation chambers for seven years. But the 30-year-old mortician doesn’t want to keep all the fun to herself: She thinks the rest of us should get to have a little more face time with the deceased. In her new book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (that’s a cremation joke), Doughty argues for more acceptance of death in our culture—and tries to spark a wave of amateur undertaking.

Are you really saying that people should handle their loved ones’ bodies? Can we do that?

Most people think dead bodies are dangerous or that they’re required to hire a funeral director to prepare a body. I’m a licensed mortician, but I want to teach people that they don’t need me.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksHealth & MedicineHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I look no further than the disciples of Jesus; a group of disparate, argumentative and fickle individuals. We have Matthew a tax gatherer, who worked for the Roman army of occupation and alongside him Simon the Zealot sworn to obliterate them by whatever means possible. They were divided in their politics and divided on how Jesus could achieve his mission. Yet with God’s guidance and a common purpose they took his message of love to the ends of the earth.

May we also find a new common purpose beyond the vote.

Read (or listen to) it all (from BBC Thought for the Day).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 7:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, has disclosed that he questions whether God exists.

Britain’s most senior churchman, who is effectively the leader of almost 80 million Anglicans worldwide, admitted that there are moments when he asks himself “Is there a God?” and “Where is God?

He also said that Christians cannot explain why suffering exists in the world but that the answer was faith.

His remarks came in an interview conducted as part of a service at Bristol Cathedral, during a visit to the diocese.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyApologetics

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Australia's prime minister says intelligence that Islamic State supporters were planning to carry out a killing to demonstrate its abilities led to counterterrorism raids in Sydney.

Australian police detained 15 people Thursday in a major counterterrorism operation, saying intelligence indicated a random, violent attack was being planned on Australian soil.

About 800 federal and state police officers raided more than a dozen properties across Sydney as part of the operation — the largest in Australian history, Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin said. Separate raids in the eastern cities of Brisbane and Logan were also conducted.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Sadly, Belgium has been at the forefront of making euthanasia available on demand. The door was first opened in 2003, and every year since then the demand for euthanasia and its practice has increased," Paul Moynan, director of CARE for Europe, told Christian Today.

"Last year these deaths were up by 27 per cent on the previous year, with five people a day being euthanised," he added.

Moynan blamed the Belgian health system for failing to address Van Den Bleeken's needs sufficiently.

"With euthanasia being packaged as palliative care, our care homes are not safe. With its extension this year to all ages, our children are not safe. And now the mentally ill in prison are not safe," he explained.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The people of Scotland will go to the polls in record numbers today when two and a half years of campaigning culminate in the most important vote in the country’s history.

The future of Scotland and that of the 307-year-old United Kingdom will be determined by an unprecedented turnout of voters from Shetland to the Borders.

With last night’s polls indicating that the result is too close to call, the fate of the nation lies in the hands of 4,285,323 people – 97 per cent of the potential electorate – who have registered to vote.

Voters can cast their ballot at 5,579 polling stations from 7am until the polls close at 10pm. The question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” requires a straight Yes or No answer.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

...although there is at present agreement that there will not be another referendum on Scottish independence for many years, it is likely that, whatever the result, we in England will face a referendum on our relationship with the European Union in some form in the near future. After Thursday we need to reflect on what can be learned from the experience of this referendum to help us prepare for that one. There are clearly many parallels – whether we need to separate from a more distant form of governance in order to have more power closer to the people, whether such separation will being economic benefits or problems, whether there are alternatives to removing ourselves from the union, whether the overall social and political vision of the larger body is pulling us in the opposite direction to what we would choose, how being British relates to being European. As in Scotland, that debate will doubtless lead to the articulation of strongly held and incompatible visions of the future and to claims and counter-claims about the consequences of different options which most of us feel incapable of adjudicating. If we do enter it as a United Kingdom it is quite possible it could re-ignite the independence debate were Scotland to vote to remain in the EU but the UK as a whole to vote to leave. It appears that it has only been in the last few months or even last few weeks that most people have begun to consider what is at stake this Thursday. One of the challenges over the next few years is for Christians to lead the way in considering seriously both what it is that is at stake in relation to our membership of the European Union and how we can debate that issue constructively should we have to decide in a referendum.

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 5:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The reason why Scotland and England united as one nation was in order to promote the Christian gospel. You won't hear that spoken by the leaders of the yes campaign or the no campaign, but we must not be unaware of this as Christians. The Scottish King James VI became King James I of England in 1603 because he was a Protestant and because the two nations hoped that, by uniting two great Protestant kingdoms as one, they might be able to promote the cause of Christ far better in the world. This union of crowns became a union of parliaments in 1707, and the historian Linda Colley argues that "Protestantism was the foundation that made this invention of Great Britain possible."

The Union succeeded in its goal. Great Britain went on to preach the gospel to more nations than any other nation in history –across Africa and Asia and America and Australia. This wave of British missionaries was led, not by an Englishman, but by a Scot. David Livingstone's heroic example inspired a nation of imperialists to become a nation of missionaries. Niall Ferguson observes in his book Empire that: "There could not be a greater contrast between the missionaries' motives and those of previous generations of empire-builders, the swashbucklers, the slavers and the settlers … Their readiness to sacrifice themselves not for gain but for God was what made the Victorian Empire different from all that had gone before." I'll be honest. I am as repulsed by much of the history of the British Empire as anyone, but I still feel challenged. What would it be like if the United Kingdom did more than survive next Thursday? What would it be like if the British renewed their commitment to promote the cause of Christ around the world?

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 7:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

As millions of Scots prepare to go to the polls on Thursday, the Telegraph looks back at how the world has responded to the potential dissolution of the UK's 300-year-old union.

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 7:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Bruce] Shipman didn’t understand Jewish connections to Israel, argued religion writer Mark Oppenheimer in a column for Tablet. Oppenheimer said Shipman failed to understand the difference between Israel and the action of Jews and anti-Semitism.

“You don’t say to Muslims, ‘If you have a problem with anti-Muslim bigotry, take it up with al-Qaida,’” Oppenheimer said in an interview. “That’s not the way American dialogue should proceed.”

However, Oppenheimer, who teaches a class at Yale, does not believe Shipman should have had to resign.

“I’m opposed to drumming people out of communities,” he said. “I don’t think the answer is to call for someone’s scalp.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 5:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking on the theme of the Synod, “Thy Kingdom Come”, President Jonathan emphasized the need for Nigerians to shun vices that were evil, so as to attract mercies and kindness of God in their daily dealings.

In his opening address, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh, advised Nigerians to work hard to ensure that the prediction that the country would cease to exist in 2015 comes to nothing.

Okoh, who is the Bishop and Archbishop of Abuja, insisted that God has plans for Nigeria but warned that the people in collaboration with enemies from outside could destroy the country.

He said: “If the politicians allow righteousness to be the umpire; if the electorate allow righteousness to be the umpire; if the INEC allow righteousness to be the umpire; then the country will remain strong, solid and promising. But if for whatever reasons we dump righteousness and seek to manipulate people and figures, then sin will degrade our country.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 4:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Having spent most of his youth as a drug addict in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Turkey’s capital, Can did not think he had much to lose when he was smuggled into Syria with 10 of his childhood friends to join the world’s most extreme jihadist group.

After 15 days at a training camp in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto headquarters of the group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the 27-year-old Can was assigned to a fighting unit. He said he shot two men and participated in a public execution. It was only after he buried a man alive that he was told he had become a full ISIS fighter.

“When you fight over there, it’s like being in a trance,” said Can, who asked to be referred to only by his middle name for fear of reprisal. “Everyone shouts, ‘God is the greatest,’ which gives you divine strength to kill the enemy without being fazed by blood or splattered guts,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkeyMiddle East* Theology

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Ideal Home Show has been running since 1908 and the International Motor Show began in 1903 so it was only a matter of time before someone came up with a similar show and earlier this month the Beeches in Bournville, Birmingham played host to the first Ideal Death Show.

The event billed itself as a 'weekend gathering of entrepreneurs, pioneers and progressives from the funeral industry'.

Open to members of the public, the show allowed discussions about death, planning a funeral and some of the more eccentric ways people select to mark their own passing....

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEschatology

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A less great Britain loses a quarter of its territory and almost all of its mountains. Scotland lays claim to the ski resorts (and, sadly, a bit more of the rain). It gets some of the oil in the North Sea. But for actors, athletes, tourism and treasure, the kingdom comprising England, Wales and Northern Ireland holds a generous lead. Among inventors, Scotland gets John Logie Baird who devised the first television, while England lays rights on Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web. The 18th century poet Robert Burns goes north, Shakespeare, Dickens, the Brontë sisters and others stay south. Among politicians, the Scots can claim Gordon Brown; the rest of Blighty gets Churchill. In music, Annie Lennox and the Bay City Rollers have to hold their own against England’s Bowie, Beatles and Stones.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 6:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If Scotland votes Yes to independence the knee-jerk response in the markets is easy to predict: sell sterling, sell UK equities, sell Scottish financials and short Spanish debt on Catalonia fears. UK gilts may offer a safe haven but this is not certain given questions about the allocation of debt in divorce, enhanced risk of rump UK exit from the EU and potential contingent liabilities associated with a messy break-up of the UK.

In particular there has been insufficient attention to the challenge that would be faced by the Bank of England maintaining unlimited liquidity provision to Scottish banks during the transition to independence, particularly if uncertainty about future currency arrangements were to result in cross-border capital flight. There is a non-trivial risk this could end in a credit crunch in Scotland.

The onset of divorce negotiations would lay bare that Scotland faces an impossible trinity: full independence, financial stability and deep economic integration with the UK. It can have any two of these but not all three.

Read it all Krishna Guha of the FT.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 6:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Anglican clergyman is facing opposition from parishioners over a service in his local church to bless his same-sex civil partnership.

The Rev Dominic McClean, the Rector of 13 parishes around the village of Market Bosworth in Leicestershire, invited parishioners to the special service this weekend to mark his civil union with his partner, Tony Hodges.

The service, taking place in the 14th Century St Peter’s Church in Market Bosworth on Saturday next week was given a go-ahead by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens, who led the Church of England’s opposition in the House of Lords to the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted September 17, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is now evident that the de-privatisation and re-politicisation of religion is a truly global phenomenon, and does not only concern the monotheistic religions. "Religious terrorism" and "fundamentalism" are its most obvious, but by no means sole, expressions.

We can find religious symbols and active religious groups nowadays across the political spectrum - from the extreme right to the extreme left; from fighters for civil liberties, human rights and social justice to supporters of authoritarian regimes; from ecological activists to extreme nationalists; from the United States and Latin America to the new states of African; from the Balkans to the Arab countries, from Israel to India or Japan.

The fundamental assumption of the theory of secularisation - that what had been happening in Europe for some time would necessarily have to happen throughout the world - is now regarded as erroneous, especially by sociologists and analysts of globalisation, who view it as one of the many prejudices of an arrogant and naive Eurocentrism. Religion has proven to be a more vital and multifarious phenomenon than it was viewed by the Enlightenment, positivism or Marxism.

In fact, the theory of secularisation had itself become a kind of ersatz religious conviction for certain social groups and political orientations; it no longer functioned as a scientific hypothesis, but instead as a ideology in the service of power politics....

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian minorities are in danger of being eradicated in the Middle East, leaders of evangelical and Protestant denominations in Syria and Lebanon said in a joint statement Aug. 29.

Leaders of the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon, the highest representative body of all the Evangelical and Protestant denominations in the two countries, issued a “state of emergency” to preserve “what remains of the Christian and moderate non-Christian presence” in the region “and to circumvent its complete demise.”

“The issue of Christian presence in the Middle East has gone beyond the stage of calling for equal rights and protection from persecution,” the statement said. “It has become a cry of warning before further events cause the annihilation of Christian presence in the Middle East.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastLebanonSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A briefing by Amnesty International, Ethnic cleansing on historic scale: the Islamic State’s systematic targeting of minorities in northern Iraq, calls the ISIS offensive a genocide, citing several examples of mass killings along with a wave of abductions.

"The massacres and abductions being carried out by the Islamic State provide harrowing new evidence that a wave of ethnic cleansing against minorities is sweeping across northern Iraq," says Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser. "The Islamic State is carrying out despicable crimes and has transformed rural areas of Sinjar into blood-soaked killing fields in its brutal campaign to obliterate all trace of non-Arabs and non-Sunni Muslims."

In more than 20 interviews conducted during three days by a World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation that visited northern Iraq at the end of August, few people could imagine the possibility of returning to their homes. A fourteen-year-old Christian girl from a village on the Nineveh Plain, Iraq, when asked what she thought about the future, replies, "There is no future. Da'ish (ISIS) destroyed our future. We are scared to go back."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther Churches* Theology

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The fact that there are now two cowboy churches in the Fort Worth Stockyards is a sign of the times: Dozens of these churches have popped up in the last 15 years, constituting a rapidly growing constituency of new Western Christianity that embraces simple services over big-church productions.

Westby's church is a nondenominational congregation with a relaxed, indoor service featuring lots of music and no formal sermon. Miller's, meanwhile, is associated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and has been open for a little more than a year with a focus on ministry that goes beyond Sunday morning.

The two pastors don't conflict or compete: They say there are enough cowboys, or at least enough people who want to worship like a cowboy, in the Stockyards to go around.

"Talking to someone about religion is like talking about politics," Miller said. "Talk to them about their horses and their spirituality, that's what they connect with."

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* General InterestAnimals* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

United in the suffering of their people, five Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs from the Middle East urged Westerners to take action to help ensure that Christians and other minorities can remain in the Middle East.

“Christians are not (just) looking for humanitarian aid. They are looking for humanitarian action, to save Christianity in the Middle East,” said Catholicos Aram of Cilicia, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

The Armenian patriarch said a comprehensive strategy is needed to defeat Islamic State extremism that “threatens the very survival of Christianity” in places like Iraq and Syria. He said it was essential to promote human rights, pluralism and religious freedom.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 11:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sketched out scenarios in which U.S. Special Forces might need to embed with Iraqi or Kurdish troops engaged in direct combat with Islamic State fighters.

Under questioning from lawmakers, Dempsey acknowledged that Obama has vowed not to send U.S. ground combat forces back into Iraq, less than three years after the president fulfilled a campaign promise to extricate the military from a long, costly and unpopular war there.

But the general revealed that U.S. commanders have already sought permission, on at least one occasion, to deploy small teams of U.S. advisers into battle with Iraqi troops. Dempsey also suggested that, while Obama has held firm, he might be persuaded to change his mind.

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 5:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Please note--be warned this contains content that is very disturbing--KSH.

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 3:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Janna Weaver is proud she’s managed to keep her bamboo plant alive for more than a year. She’s not quite ready for a pet yet, and a child? “Definitely not anytime soon.”

“I want to know who I am before I bring someone else into the equation,” said Weaver, 25, who has a master’s degree in exercise physiology and moved with her boyfriend to Dallas in July. “The longer I wait and the more established I am, the more I’ll be able to provide for the family.”

More U.S. millennial women, those born after 1980, are holding off on motherhood, which bodes well for their economic and social mobility and that of their future children, according to recent research. Odds are that lower U.S. birth rates are here to stay, even if some of the recession-induced decline reverses, said Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyWomenYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He was appointed Dean of St Albans in 2004 and two years later he and his partner Rev Grant Holmes entered into a civil partnership.

Dr John was shortlisted last year for Exeter but the vote went narrowly against him, even though his performance at interview was outstanding. His name was also withdrawn previously from the Southwark diocesan appointment process because of opposition from the conservative wing.

The shortlisting of Dr John once again is an indication that the Church is taking seriously its pledge to "listen" to the gay community. Last year the Church dropped its prohibition on gay clergy in civil partnerships becoming bishops, which effectively removed the bar against the elevation of clergy such as Dr John, who are openly gay but live within the guidelines stipulated by the Church, which demands celibacy and, controversially, forbids its gay clergy from marrying their partners.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

2 Comments
Posted September 16, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan means that fewer American soldiers are in harm's way. But new data from the Department of Defense suggests that the drawdown has done little to solve the serious problem of military suicides. The rate of military self-inflicted deaths has stayed roughly the same even as combat deaths have fallen.

Last year alone, 475 active service members took their own lives according to a report published last week by the Department of Defense. In the same year, 127 soldiers lost their lives in the line of duty reported icasualties.org — a website that has been documenting war deaths since the Iraq War in 2003. That's the lowest level since 2008.

The same Department of Defense report said that 120 personnel took their own lives in the first quarter of 2014, a rate of nearly one soldier every day. That compares with 43 soldiers who lost their lives on the front line between January 1 and September 11, 2014.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologySuicide* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 6:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian fathers told to convert to Islam or watch their children lose their heads.

Christians fleeing their communities shot, their dead bodies lined up on the ground, then rolled over by a bulldozer as their loved ones watch.

These are just some of the stories Canon Andrew White and Dr. Sarah Ahmed shared at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Monday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 16, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev Kate Bottley, star of Gogglebox, Channel 4's fly-on-the-wall show, has criticised BBC1 show Songs Of Praise for being ''depressing'' and ''like a piece of soggy quiche''.

The vicar, who has become an unlikely TV favourite since appearing on the cult show, praised presenters Aled Jones and Diane Louise Jordan, and said that the Sunday teatime show was ''great for those who can't get out to church.''

But she hit out at the ''over-exaggerated mouth movements, as if the singers are trying to chew a toffee at the same time'', and the congregations, adding: ''I've never seen an Anglican church so full on a Sunday evening ....and with such a huge variety of ages.''

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionMusic* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After I published a story about my grandmother’s dilemma on July 24 last year, I received hundreds of emails and letters from readers worldwide. Some wrote about struggles they’d experienced with their relatives. Others were anxious about their parent-care challenges ahead.

“I have never cried when reading a Bloomberg story,” wrote one reader. “I am going to make sure to talk with my grandmother about what she wants when she reaches that point.”

The story was also read by medical professionals. Kojiro Tokutake, a Japanese gastroenterologist, shared his story about his own internal conflict about the value of tube feeding. His experiences formed the basis of another story that I published.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaJapan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the Edinburgh rain, a striking number of voters have recently changed their minds. Michael Constantine says he and his parents all switched sides.

"My dad, he was a 'no,' " says Constantine, 25. "In the past two months, he's become a 'yes.' And then my mum was a 'no' initially. She became a 'yes.' "

All three of them used to support keeping the U.K. intact. Now, they plan to vote for Scottish independence. Constantine says he wasn't so much drawn to the 'yes' campaign; it's more that unity drove him away.

"The 'no' campaign, the scaremongering and the fear they're putting into people, really upset me," Constantine says.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Police are trying to track down young women whom they believe have been lured over the internet to travel to Syria by Islamic State (Isis) with the promise of cash for babies.

At least three Somali families in Minneapolis have female members who have disappeared in the past six weeks. They are all from the St Paul area of the city. At the end of last month, a 19-year-old Somali woman from St Paul, who left home saying that she was attending a bridal shower, instead flew to Turkey and joined Isis in Syria.

On Friday, Shannon Conley, 19, from Colorado, pleaded guilty to trying to travel to the Middle East to enrol in Isis. She was arrested at Denver International airport in April with a one-way ticket and had been recruited online by a male militant in Syria.

Read it all (subscription required).


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was the time of unraveling. Long afterward, in the ruins, people asked: How could it happen?

It was a time of beheadings. With a left-handed sawing motion, against a desert backdrop, in bright sunlight, a Muslim with a British accent cut off the heads of two American journalists and a British aid worker. The jihadi seemed comfortable in his work, unhurried. His victims were broken. Terror is theater. Burning skyscrapers, severed heads: The terrorist takes movie images of unbearable lightness and gives them weight enough to embed themselves in the psyche.

It was a time of aggression. The leader of the largest nation on earth pronounced his country encircled, even humiliated. He annexed part of a neighboring country, the first such act in Europe since 1945, and stirred up a war on further land he coveted. His surrogates shot down a civilian passenger plane. The victims, many of them Europeans, were left to rot in the sun for days. He denied any part in the violence, like a puppeteer denying that his puppets’ movements have any connection to his. He invoked the law the better to trample on it. He invoked history the better to turn it into farce. He reminded humankind that the idiom fascism knows best is untruth so grotesque it begets unreason.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaEngland / UK--ScotlandEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the Rev. Canon Andrew White, in his work as chaplain of St. George’s Anglican Church of Baghdad, the flesh may be weak but the spirit remains strong.

“I have to be honest with you. I’ve never felt overwhelmed. I know I’m doing what I was made to do and what I was created to do,” White said during a forum at All Saints Church in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on September 14. “The Lord is here, and he has never left us, even in our time of great trial.”

Even in the face of violence, persecution and killings perpetrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), “I’ve never felt discouraged,” he told TLC, because of his deep trust in God. “I never doubt him,” White said. “I always love him and I know he loves me.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans' trust in each of the three branches of the federal government is at or near the lows in Gallup's trends, dating back to the early 1970s. Americans' trust in the legislative branch fell six percentage points this year to a new low of 28%. Trust in the executive branch dropped eight points, to 43%, and trust in the judicial branch, at 61%, is also the lowest measured to date.

The data are part of Gallup's annual update on trust in government, conducted in the Sept. 4-7 Governance poll. Gallup previously documented that Americans' trust in the federal government to handle both domestic and international problems slid to new lows this year.

Americans have generally had the least trust in the legislative branch, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate, but never lower than the 28% who do so now. The prior low was the 31% measured in 2011, shortly after Congress and the president engaged in contentious debt-ceiling negotiations.

Trust in the legislative branch had recovered slightly during the previous two years, to 34%, but is down significantly this year....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenateState GovernmentSupreme Court* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 1:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A “Yes” vote for independence would be an economic mistake for Scotland and a geopolitical disaster for the west, senior US figures – including Alan Greenspan – tell the Financial Times as Washington wakes up to the chance that its closest ally could break up this week.

Having assumed for months that “No” would win comfortably, Washington has reacted with alarm to opinion polls showing that Thursday’s referendum is going down to the wire. “We have an interest in seeing the UK remain strong, robust and united,” said Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 19th was a century of national consolidations — in the United States, Italy (the Risorgimento under Cavour), Germany (Bismarck hammered together numerous principalities and other entities) and Belgium, which was invented from various odds and ends. The 20th century, however, brought the breakup of empires — the British, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, Russian and then Soviet empires. The disintegrative impulse continues in, among other places, Spain, where Catalonians are asserting their particularities as Basques have long done.

Were Scotland now to become a sovereign nation, as it was until 1603, it would have a GDP ranking 16th among what would then be the 29 nations of the European Union (just behind Ireland and ahead of the Czech Republic) and would be the 20th-most populous. And the United Kingdom would have to redesign its flag, the Union Jack....

Scotland’s Royal Arms banner, emblazoned with a lion rampant, flies over Balmoral Castle when the Queen is not there. Which means it could be used even more after Thursday.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the nation’s economy is on the mend, the voters of 2014 aren’t feeling it.

Despite continued signs of a halting but persistent national comeback, midterm voters remain frustrated and unhappy with the state of the economy, according to the latest POLITICO poll of likely voters in 2014 battleground states. Many appear to blame President Barack Obama: 57 percent of these voters disapprove of his economic leadership.

By every measure in the survey, a gloomy mood still pervades the electorate when it comes to kitchen-table issues: Just 23 percent say their personal financial situation has improved over the past year, versus 30 percent who say it has gotten worse.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 15, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

HIRSCH: I was completely shocked when Gabriel died and I tried to go back to work after a while and I couldn't really function at work and so in order to alleviate my grief I began to write a document in which I wrote down everything I could remember about Gabriel. I suddenly became desperate that I would forget things because I'd lost him so suddenly, so completely. It all was sort of a blur and I wanted to remember and I began to talk to my partner, to my ex-wife, to my sisters, to my mother, to Gabriel's friends and every day I went to a coffee shop and I basically tried to tell the story of Gabriel's life....

GREENE: You've said though that poetry is not a protection against grief.

HIRSCH: On the contrary, poetry takes courage because you have to face things and you try to articulate how you feel. I don't like the whole language of healing which seems to me so false. As soon as something happens to us in America everyone begins talking about healing, but before you heal you have to mourn and I found that poetry doesn't shield you from grief but it does give you an expression of that grief. And trying to express it, trying to articulate it gave me something to do with my grief.....

GREENE: Talking about - mourning and grief it makes me want to hear another passage from your poem. It's on page 73, and it starts with, I did not know the work.....

HIRSCH: (Reading) I did not know the work of mourning is like carrying a bag of cement up a mountain at night. The mountaintop is not in sight, because there is no mountaintop. Poor Sisyphus Greif. I did not know I would struggle through a ragged underbrush without an upward path. Because there is no path, there is only a blunt rock with a river to fall into and time with its medieval chambers. Time with its jagged edges and blunt instruments. I did not know the work of mourning is a laborer in the dark we carry inside ourselves. Though sometimes when I sleep I'm with him again and then I wake. Poor Sisyphus Greif. I'm not ready for your heaviness cemented to my body. Look closely and you will see almost everyone carrying bags of cement on their shoulders. That's why it takes courage to get out of bed in the morning and climb into the day.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenDrugs/Drug AddictionMarriage & FamilyPoetry & LiteraturePsychology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

French President François Hollande was set to order reconnaissance flights over Iraq on Monday as he kicked off an international conference aimed at shoring up a coalition to fight Islamic State militants.

On opening the conference, Mr. Hollande noted U.S. President Barack Obama's call for countries to join a broad military coalition to combat the militant group, which has seized territory straddling Iraq and Syria.

"Many countries have responded in the region and beyond. France will do its part," Mr. Hollande said, flanked by Iraqi President Fouad Massoum.

Read it all from the WSJ.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted September 15, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The official reason for [Bruce] Shipman’s resignation, according to the Episcopal Church at Yale, was not the letter but “dynamics between the Board of Governors and the Priest-in-Charge.” Ian Douglas, bishop of Connecticut and president of the board of governors for the Episcopal Church at Yale, emphasized this distinction to the Yale Daily News. “It’s not as glamorous a story to hear that Priest-in-Charge Bruce Shipman resigned because of institutional dynamics within the Episcopal Church at Yale and not the debates related to Israel and Palestine — but it’s the truth,” he said.

Shipman disagrees. “This story cannot be simply dismissed as the inner problems of the Episcopal Church at Yale. It was not,” he says. “It was this letter that set off the firestorm.”

For Shipman, the controversy raises a number of “troubling questions” about free speech on campus. In addition to the hate mail, Shipman says he has also received letters of support from people thanking him for taking a courageous stand for Palestinian rights. University chaplains, he adds, have a long history advocating unpopular cultural positions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchEducationYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 15, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop T.D. Jakes, the founding pastor of the 30,000-member The Potter's House megachurch in Dallas, Texas, is making a weekly program based on his latest book as well as a daily talk show for national syndication in 2015 or 2016.

Jakes' weekly program will be based on his book, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive, and his daily talk show is also being developed, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Both shows will be produced through his TDJ Enterprises, a for-profit company, and its partners 44 Blue Productions and Enlight Entertainment. The shows will be targeted for national syndication in 2015 or 2016.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 14, 2014 at 2:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the heart of the nationalist campaign is the claim that Scotland would be a more prosperous and more equal country if it went solo. It is rich in oil and inherently decent, say the nationalists, but impoverished by a government in Westminster that has also imposed callous policies. They blame successive British governments for almost every ill that has befallen Scotland, from the decline of manufacturing industry to ill-health to the high price of sending parcels in the Highlands. Alex Salmond, Scotland’s nationalist leader, is broad in his recrimination: Labour and the Tories are of a piece, he suggests, in their disregard for Scotland.

But Scotland’s relative economic decline is the result not of southern neglect but of the shift of manufacturing and shipping to Asia. If Westminster has not reversed all the deleterious effects of globalisation and technology, that is because to do so is impossible. The nationalists know this, which is why, sotto voce, they would continue many of Westminster’s policies. Instead they make much of minor adjustments, such as abolishing the “bedroom tax”, a recent measure designed to nudge people out of too-large social housing. To break up a country over such small, recent annoyances would be nuts.

The nationalists’ economics are also flawed. Scotland would not, in fact, be richer alone. The taxes that would flow to it from the North Sea would roughly compensate for the extra cost of its lavish state, which would no longer be funded by Westminster (last year spending was some £1,300 per person higher in Scotland than elsewhere in Britain). But oil revenues are erratic.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsTaxesEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash were deeply religious people whose personal and professional lives were imbued with a sense of spiritual struggle and religious engagement. The 2005 biopic Walk the Line was very good at depicting the sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll aspect of Cash’s life and art, but, like almost all Hollywood movies, it steers clear of religion in general and of evangelical Protestant religion in particular. Also left out the film was the story of Johnny and June Carter Cash’s passionate engagement with Israel, an engagement that grew out of their religious beliefs. John’s interest in Israel started with a wish to visit the Christian holy sites and “walk where Jesus walked.” Cash’s initial visit to the Israel in 1966 was followed by a trip with June in 1968 and developed into a lifelong project to serve as advocates for the State of Israel, even when such advocacy was unfashionable among American performing artists.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMusicReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 12:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Owly Images

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksHistory* International News & CommentaryEuropeItaly

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 11:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Between 1900 and 2010, the total number of Christians in the region – including Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories – grew from 1.6 million to 7.5 million. But while the Christian population in the Middle East more than quadrupled in that period, the non-Christian population increased ten-fold. As a result, the Christian share of the overall population in the region decreased from 10% in 1900 to 5% in 2010. In recent decades, Christians in the region have tended to be older, have fewer children and be more likely to leave the area compared with Muslims.

Since 2010, there has been considerable population change in the region due to war in Iraq and Syria, hostilities in other countries and related migration, but there is little reliable data to measure overall regional shifts in the last few years. Many Christians have left Iraq in recent years, though many stayed in the Middle East, fleeing to neighboring countries such as Jordan.

Pew Research has found rising social hostilities related to religion in the region since 2007. Christians faced religious harassment in a greater share of countries in the Middle East and North Africa than in any other region in 2012 (the most recent year for which data are available).

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureSociologyViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From his own wallet, Kowbeidu also supports his siblings and obsesses over spending his money on Western luxuries. After Valerie threw him a 50th birthday party, he made her promise no more. That money could help Liberian children attend school, as he received help.

"I am here because of God's generosity through God's people," he says. "From whence I came, I pray I never forget."

That's largely what made him run for Mount Pleasant Town Council last year, he says.

"This country has given me more than I could have imagined," he says. "I want to give back."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* International News & CommentaryAfricaLiberia* South Carolina* Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 14, 2014 at 6:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My first job at 13 was jumping in and out of a milk truck making deliveries. I told myself, "There is no way in God's creation that I'm going to be a milkman when I grow up."

I joined the army. Then, wouldn't you know it, I married a girl whose dad was a milkman.

When he was diagnosed with Parkinson's, he said that if I brought his daughter and grandchildren back to Seattle, he'd give me the business. It beat the hell out of getting shot at. I've been driving this route for 20 years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 6:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are three reasons for this invisibility. The political left in the West associates Christian faith with dead white male imperialism and does not come naturally to the recognition that Christianity is now the globe’s most persecuted religion. And in the Middle East the Israel-Palestine question, with its colonial overtones, has been the left’s great obsession, whereas the less ideologically convenient plight of Christians under Islamic rule is often left untouched.

To America’s strategic class, meanwhile, the Middle East’s Christians simply don’t have the kind of influence required to matter. A minority like the Kurds, geographically concentrated and well-armed, can be a player in the great game, a potential United States ally. But except in Lebanon, the region’s Christians are too scattered and impotent to offer much quid for the superpower’s quo. So whether we’re pursuing stability by backing the anti-Christian Saudis or pursuing transformation by toppling Saddam Hussein (and unleashing the furies on Iraq’s religious minorities), our policy makers have rarely given Christian interests any kind of due.

Then, finally, there is the American right, where one would expect those interests to find a greater hearing. But the ancient churches of the Middle East (Eastern Orthodox, Chaldean, Maronites, Copt, Assyrian) are theologically and culturally alien to many American Catholics and evangelicals. And the great cause of many conservative Christians in the United States is the state of Israel, toward which many Arab Christians harbor feelings that range from the complicated to the hostile.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralSenateTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 14, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Previously, Business Insider examined ranked every state by how quickly the economies were growing. This time around, we calculated which states had the best economies outright.

We ranked each state on seven economic measures: the July unemployment rate; the change in nonfarm payroll jobs from June to July 2014; the 2013 GDP per capita; the 2012 per capita consumption; the 2013 average annual wage; the 2013 exports per capita; and the 2012 government expenditures.

No fair looking until you guess where your state falls if this applies to you. Then go and read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

2 Comments
Posted September 13, 2014 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Were these publications justified in rejecting this advertisement?

The simple answer is “yes.” And it has nothing to do with the truthfulness of the ad’s message or the lack thereof. Rather, these are independent evangelical publications who hold to a particular view of marriage. They have audiences with expectations about what is and isn’t consistent with a Christian worldview. And they should be free to only publish content that is consistent with both....

We’re now facing a perennial issue where activists on both sides of this debate expect to be invited to every party and demand to be heard in whatever forum they choose. I’m sorry, but a conservative publication should not be shamed for rejecting an ad that flies in the face of their convictions and beliefs. And, similarly, a liberal organization committed to marriage equality should be free to rescind a speaker’s invitation when they learn the speaker holds to a divergent position.

Have we finally arrived at a moment where Christians of mutual goodwill attack their brothers and sisters not only for disagreeing with their position on sexuality, but also for not advertising it for them?


Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMediaReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

3 Comments
Posted September 13, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Running through the Bible and Christian thought is the conviction that the idea of covenant lies at the heart of God's relationship with human beings. It is therefore at the heart of how we as peoples relate to one another. 'Better together' is almost an echo of 'It is not good for a human being to be alone' in the book of Genesis. Therefore, any covenanted relationship based on mutual trust, fidelity, common purpose, interdependence and a care for one another's welfare is always better than being independent and alone. The breakup of the united kingdom of Israel and Judah was regarded as a disaster by the prophets because it flew in the face of a covenant between peoples.

This is why I think that for Scotland to say no to the Union of which we have all been a part for 300 years would not only be a tragedy, but also a denial of a hard-won principle of human society that the United Kingdom expresses. The point is not whether Scotland could be a successful, prosperous nation on its own. I am sure it could. But the Christian ideals of mutuality, partnership and service surely point in the opposite direction from narrow nationalisms and self-interest. They suggest that we should be reinvigorating the relationships between us, not dismantling them.

The United Kingdom is not a perfect union: far from it. The English have a long history of treating the Scots with disdain, even contempt. Durham Cathedral, 'half church of God, half castle 'gainst the Scot' in Sir Walter Scott's famous words, epitomises an often violent, destructive relationship. We English need to repent of this, and start treating Scotland as an equal partner in the Union.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted September 13, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A recent meeting of representatives from ecumenical, Catholic, Evangelical and Pentecostal churches in Strasbourg, France has promised to address more effectively discrimination, persecution and violence faced by Christians around the world. This theme will be explored in depth through an international consultation to be held in 2015.

The meeting in Strasbourg was convened by the Global Christian Forum (GCF) with participation from the representatives of the Vatican, the World Council of Churches (WCC), the World Evangelical Alliance and the Pentecostal World Fellowship. The meeting was held from 8 to 9 September.

The planned 2015 consultation will address the theme “Christian discrimination, persecution and martyrdom”. The event will bring together representatives of the churches and Christian communities who have faced discrimination and persecution in their local contexts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther Churches

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Posted September 13, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Queen is not just the titular head of the United Kingdom; she incarnates the Union in its ability to contain difference. When the Supreme Governor of the Church of England crosses the border, she becomes a Presbyterian, an ordinary member of the Church of Scotland. She doesn’t surrender her Anglican faith, but she accepts that Scotland’s church and its legal system are different. As further proof of her devotion, every weekday morning at 9am, when she is in residence at Buckingham Palace, Windsor, Holyroodhouse or Balmoral, the Queen has a designated piper play the bagpipes under her window for 15 minutes. With no snooze button. For that sacrifice alone, Her Majesty surely deserves a united kingdom.

Alex Salmond’s blithe assurances that Elizabeth can be Queen of Scots and Queen of RUK are deluded. The monarch can only act on the instruction of her elected ministers; what if two sets of ministers in neighbouring but newly foreign countries want her to do different things? This is not some little wrinkle that can be ironed out after Scotland leaves the UK. It forces the Queen into a bigamous relationship and it requires wholesale constitutional change without the consent of the English, the Welsh and the people of Ulster (remember us?).

The news this week that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child was said, by cynics, to be a ploy to rescue the Union. It is both a joke and not a joke. According to a YouGov poll published when Prince George was born last July, the Scots were the people most likely in the UK to buy royal baby memorabilia. Does that sound like a place that wants to be rid of its Queen?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

6 Comments
Posted September 12, 2014 at 4:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 12, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Twenty stories above ground zero, its existence and whereabouts known only to those who needed it, the Family Room served for a dozen years as a most private sanctuary from a most public horror.

It was spartan office space at a 54-story tower at 1 Liberty Plaza for families to be by themselves, a temporary haven where they could find respite from bad weather and the curious stares of passers-by. Piece by piece, without any planning, it was transformed into an elaborate shrine known only to them.

Unconstrained and undesigned, a profusion of intimate expressions of love and loss filled the walls of the room, the tabletops, the floors and, even, the windows, obscuring views of the World Trade Center site below, as if to say: Jim and John and Jonathan and Harvey and Gary and Jean and Welles and Isaias and Katherine and Christian and Judy are all here, with us, not down there in the ruins.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 12, 2014 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Preaching is really hard, and many churchgoing people have no idea what goes into preparing a sermon. Perhaps they shouldn't care, but preachers are disappointed to find that many folks think we just preach on Sundays and do little else. There are preachers who wait until Saturday night to get their sermons ready; they are either extremely gifted or stupid and lazy.

The late Rev. Dunstan Stout, a Roman Catholic missionary priest to the American community in Mexico City, was the best homilist I have heard, ever. I knew him in the mid-1960s, and he could deliver a four- to six-minute homily, hard-hitting and even accusatory, and everyone in the church believed he was speaking directly to them...[He said] "a homily or sermon must be Gospel-centered and relevant to the listeners." His final rule on preaching: "Never say anything from the pulpit that you do not believe."

Preachers, past and present, violate Father Stout's rules. Sometimes I suspect the problem is that these preachers have lost their Gospel faith and turned to their own agenda. One hears social justice and political agendas of all sorts preached, but little or nothing of the Gospel.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 12, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lambeth Palace is to be home to a new religious community of people aged between 20 and 35, which will be known as the Community of St Anselm. According to the Lambeth press release members will be drawn from every walk of life with no formal requirements needed and will spend a year studying, praying and taking part in service of the community, although in an interview with the BBC the Archbishop spoke of a community of ‘postgraduates’ who would be ‘mainly Anglican’. The Community will be launched in September 2015 and will consist of 15 full-time members with a further 40 people who live and work in London joining part-time. Lambeth Palace is in the process of recruiting a Prior to pioneer the new venture and direct its worship and life. The Prior will act under the supervision of the Archbishop who will function as an ‘Abbot’ to the community. A website has been set up asking for volunteers. It speaks of community members ‘seeking to draw closer to God through a daily rhythm of silence, study and prayer’ but also promises potential recruits that ‘they will be immersed in the modern challenges of the global 21st century church’.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted September 12, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In August, the [United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS ] Trust withdrew the [job] offer, after the Bishop, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, refused to grant the licence (News, 8 August). He was unable to do so, he declared, "in light of the pastoral guidance, and for reasons of consistency" -referring to the House of Bishops' pastoral guidance, which states that clergy should not enter into same-sex marriages. Canon Pemberton married Laurence Cunnington in April...

On Monday, Canon Pemberton said: "I am deeply saddened that I have had to take this step against church authorities. However, I feel I have been left with little choice, having found myself being punished and discriminated against simply for exercising my right to marry. I will be making no further comment until these matters have been resolved through the court process."

Among those assisting Canon Pemberton in his claim are Helen Trotter, a barrister specialising in employment and discrimination, and the Revd Justin Gau, a barrister specialising in both employment and ecclesiastical law, and Chancellor of the diocese of Bristol.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 12, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Examine them all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketTerrorism* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shortly after 9/11, I visited the father of Muhammad Atta, the ringleader of the hijackers, in Cairo. Muhammad al-Amir Atta, the father, told me that, against all evidence, his son was still alive, that it was the Mossad that had framed him. He was angry and aggressive, but also seemed gripped by melancholy, and I sensed he knew the truth: That his son was a mass murderer, and that he was dead. We spoke for a few minutes, and I asked him a question he answered as if it were theoretical. I asked, What would motivate your son to do such a thing to innocent people? He answered, "You can't be a human and do this thing. It's impossible."

That is the crucial truth of 9/11. Osama Bin Laden had gathered to him men who were devoid of love, and who found in al Qaeda a vehicle for expressing their hatred of humanity. On the 10th anniversary of the murderous rampage committed by soulless men, we should remember the victims, and count our own blessings, and recommit ourselves to the suppression of evil and the protection of the innocent.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This really is quite something--explore it and see what strikes a chord with you.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Late in the morning of the Tuesday that changed everything, Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney was on a runway at Andrews Air Force Base and ready to fly. She had her hand on the throttle of an F-16 and she had her orders: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The day’s fourth hijacked airliner seemed to be hurtling toward Washington. Penney, one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning, was told to stop it.

The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline sky was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a hostile aircraft.

Except her own plane. So that was the plan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the great themes of the Hebrew Scriptures is that God identifies with the suffering. There are all these great texts that say things like this: If you oppress the poor, you oppress to me. I am a husband to the widow. I am father to the fatherless. I think the texts are saying God binds up his heart so closely with suffering people that he interprets any move against them as a move against him. This is powerful stuff! But Christianity says he goes even beyond that. Christians believe that in Jesus, God’s son, divinity became vulnerable to and involved in - suffering and death! He didn’t come as a general or emperor. He came as a carpenter. He was born in a manger, no room in the inn.

But it is on the Cross that we see the ultimate wonder. On the cross we sufferers finally see, to our shock that God now knows too what it is to lose a loved one in an unjust attack. And so you see what this means? John Stott puts it this way. John Stott wrote: “I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the Cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?” Do you see what this means? Yes, we don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, but we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us! It can’t be that he doesn’t care. God so loved us and hates suffering that he was willing to come down and get involved in it. And therefore the Cross is an incredibly empowering hint. Ok, it’s only a hint, but if you grasp it, it can transform you. It can give you strength.

And lastly, we have to grasp an empowering hope for the future. In both the Hebrew Scriptures and even more explicitly in the Christian Scriptures we have the promise of resurrection....

Read it carefully (noting especially the original setting as described) and read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 1:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When astronauts describe the feeling of sailing around space, looking at our planet from hundreds of miles above, they often invoke the phrase “orbital perspective,” a shorthand for the emotional, psychological, and intellectual effects of seeing “the Earth hanging in the blackness of space.” This experience is characterized by not merely awe, but, as astronaut Ron Garan puts it, “a sobering contradiction. On the one hand, I saw this incredibly beautiful, fragile oasis—the Earth. On the other, I was faced with the unfortunate realities of life on our planet for many of its inhabitants.”

This tension was particularly poignant on 9/11, when the effects of violence on Earth were actually visible from space, as captured in the photograph above. At the time, three people were not on Earth: Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Tyurin and Vladimir Dezhurov, and American Frank Culbertson, making Culbertson the only American not on Earth during the 9/11 attacks.

Over the course of that night and into the following few days, Culbertson wrote a letter to those at home, and his words echo that orbital perspective Garan describes. “It’s horrible to see smoke pouring from wounds in your own country from such a fantastic vantage point,” he wrote. “The dichotomy of being on a spacecraft dedicated to improving life on the earth and watching life being destroyed by such willful, terrible acts is jolting to the psyche.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 11:54 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President and Mrs. Bush, I want to say a personal word on behalf of many people. Thank you, Mr. President, for calling this day of prayer and remembrance. We needed it at this time.

We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious, or political background may be. The Bible says that He’s the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles. No matter how hard we try, words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. September eleven will go down in our history as a day to remember.

Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God.

Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God.

We’ve always needed God from the very beginning of this nation, but today we need Him especially. We’re facing a new kind of enemy. We’re involved in a new kind of warfare. And we need the help of the Spirit of God. The Bible words are our hope: God is our refuge and strength; an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking now. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands these feelings that you may have. We’ve seen so much on our television, on our — heard on our radio, stories that bring tears to our eyes and make us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.

But what are some of the lessons we can learn? First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I’ve been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept by faith that God is sovereign, and He’s a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says that God is not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a mystery. In 1st Thessalonians 2:7 it talks about the mystery of iniquity. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Who can understand it?” He asked that question, ‘Who can understand it?’ And that’s one reason we each need God in our lives.

The lesson of this event is not only about the mystery of iniquity and evil, but secondly it’s a lesson about our need for each other. What an example New York and Washington have been to the world these past few days. None of us will ever forget the pictures of our courageous firefighters and police, many of whom have lost friends and colleagues; or the hundreds of people attending or standing patiently in line to donate blood. A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart. But instead it has united us, and we’ve become a family. So those perpetrators who took this on to tear us apart, it has worked the other way — it’s back lashed. It’s backfired. We are more united than ever before. I think this was exemplified in a very moving way when the members of our Congress stood shoulder to shoulder the other day and sang “God Bless America.”

Finally, difficult as it may be for us to see right now, this event can give a message of hope — hope for the present, and hope for the future. Yes, there is hope. There’s hope for the present, because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation. One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in America. And God has told us in His word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins and return to Him, and He will bless us in a new way. But there’s also hope for the future because of God’s promises. As a Christian, I hope not for just this life, but for heaven and the life to come. And many of those people who died this past week are in heaven right now. And they wouldn’t want to come back. It’s so glorious and so wonderful. And that’s the hope for all of us who put our faith in God. I pray that you will have this hope in your heart.

This event reminds us of the brevity and the uncertainty of life. We never know when we too will be called into eternity. I doubt if even one those people who got on those planes, or walked into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon last Tuesday morning thought it would be the last day of their lives. It didn’t occur to them. And that’s why each of us needs to face our own spiritual need and commit ourselves to God and His will now.

Here in this majestic National Cathedral we see all around us symbols of the cross. For the Christian — I’m speaking for the Christian now — the cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering. For He took upon himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, our sins and our suffering. And from the cross, God declares “I love you. I know the heart aches, and the sorrows, and the pains that you feel, but I love you.” The story does not end with the cross, for Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the cross to the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life, for Christ has conquered evil, and death, and hell. Yes, there’s hope.

I’ve become an old man now. And I’ve preached all over the world. And the older I get, the more I cling to that hope that I started with many years ago, and proclaimed it in many languages to many parts of the world. Several years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast here in Washington, Ambassador Andrew Young, who had just gone through the tragic death of his wife, closed his talk with a quote from the old hymn, “How Firm A Foundation.” We all watched in horror as planes crashed into the steel and glass of the World Trade Center. Those majestic towers, built on solid foundations, were examples of the prosperity and creativity of America. When damaged, those buildings eventually plummeted to the ground, imploding in upon themselves. Yet underneath the debris is a foundation that was not destroyed. Therein lies the truth of that old hymn that Andrew Young quoted: “How firm a foundation.”

Yes, our nation has been attacked. Buildings destroyed. Lives lost. But now we have a choice: Whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people, and a nation, or, whether we choose to become stronger through all of the struggle to rebuild on a solid foundation. And I believe that we’re in the process of starting to rebuild on that foundation. That foundation is our trust in God. That’s what this service is all about. And in that faith we have the strength to endure something as difficult and horrendous as what we’ve experienced this week.

This has been a terrible week with many tears. But also it’s been a week of great faith. Churches all across the country have called prayer meetings. And today is a day that they’re celebrating not only in this country, but in many parts of the world. And the words of that familiar hymn that Andrew Young quoted, it says, “Fear not, I am with thee. Oh be not dismayed for I am thy God and will give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand upon” my righteous — on “thy righteous, omnipotent hand.”

My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we trust in Him. We also know that God is going to give wisdom, and courage, and strength to the President, and those around him. And this is going to be a day that we will remember as a day of victory. May God bless you all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted September 11, 2014 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is a long download but an important file to take the time to listen to and watch. There are a few pieces I would have wished to do differently in terms of the choices for specific content, but the actual footage and the music is valuable.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryMusicUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Remember that the more specific you can be, the more the rest of us will get from your comments--KSH.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetHistoryUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

9 Comments
Posted September 11, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It isn't easy, but it is important--I make myself do this every year on this day. Watch it silently, and watch it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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