Posted by The_Elves

Chinese security forces have launched a roundup of church activists who opposed a Communist party campaign to remove crosses.

“At least nine people I know have been taken away by the police and that figure is still rising,” a church leader in the eastern province of Zhejiang – the operation’s focus – told the Guardian on Thursday afternoon.

“We think it is a campaign targeting church leaders across the province. It can only be a co-ordinated action initiated by the provincial government.”

Among those understood to have been detained is Zhang Kai, a prominent Beijing human rights lawyer who had been offering legal support to a number of churches in the region.

Friction between the Communist party and the church has been building in in Zhejiang since late 2013 when authorities initiated a demolition campaign that they said targeted illegal buildings.

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

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Posted August 28, 2015 at 8:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Aisha Yesufu is the chairwoman of the strategic committee of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign in Abuja.

"We keep on hoping that the girls will be found. We will keep up the fight, there will be no retreat, no surrender on the Chibok girls until each one of them is accounted for," she told DW.

Activists have organized numerous events this week to mark the 500 days of the disappearance of the more than 200 girls. They included Muslim and Christian prayer services, a tree planting ceremony and a march through Abuja.

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

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Posted August 28, 2015 at 7:56 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

For years, the Rev. Philip Woo, the feisty leader of a small Protestant church here, has delighted in testing the limits of China’s restrictive laws on religion. From his perch in Hong Kong, he has delivered fiery sermons on human rights, led seminars on social problems for mainland students, and ordained pastors in the mainland without permission from the ruling Communist Party.

But Mr. Woo, a longtime Hong Kong resident, was startled when he was summoned across the border recently for a meeting with officials from the State Administration for Religious Affairs. Over tea, he said, the officials rattled off a list of laws they said he had violated, and they ordered him to stop...

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Filed under: * International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

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Posted August 28, 2015 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new report suggesting that marriage is “alive and well” among the rich, but not the poor, is evidence that the “liberal elite” are hypocrites, a researcher said this week.

“It’s very striking that the liberal elite will happily tell everyone that it does not matter if you marry or not, yet nearly 90 per cent, even today, get married if they have children,” Harry Benson, research director at the Marriage Foundation, said on Tuesday.

“They talk a good liberal story, but act in very conservative ways for themselves. . . These modern-day Pharisees tell us how to live our lives, but live their own lives in a completely different way.”

The report from the Marriage Foundation, The Marriage Gap, looks at mothers with children under the age of five. In 2012, 87 per cent of mothers with an annual household income of above £45,000 were married.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 28, 2015 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Iran appears to have built an extension to part of its Parchin military site since May, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said in a report on Thursday, as part of its inquiry into possible military dimensions of Tehran's past nuclear activity.

A resolution of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Parchin file, which includes a demand for fresh IAEA access to the site, is a symbolically important issue that could help make or break Tehran's July 14 nuclear deal with six world powers.

The confidential IAEA report, obtained by Reuters, said:

"Since (our) previous report (in May), at a particular location at the Parchin site, the agency has continued to observe, through satellite imagery, the presence of vehicles, equipment, and probable construction materials. In addition, a small extension to an existing building" appeared to have been built.

The changes were first observed last month, a senior diplomat familiar with the Iran file said.

The IAEA says any activities Iran has undertaken at Parchin since U.N. inspectors last visited in 2005 could jeopardize its ability to verify Western intelligence suggesting Tehran carried out tests there relevant to nuclear bomb detonations more than a decade ago. Iran has dismissed the intelligence as "fabricated".

Read it all and for the earlier Associated Press report see AP Exclusive: UN to let Iran inspect alleged nuke work site and follow up here

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

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Posted August 28, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Father Abdel Massih Basit, pastor of the Church of the Virgin Mary in Mostorod, confirmed to Al-Monitor, “The terrorist operations did not affect the church festivities. On the contrary, the number of visitors was higher than any other year. Egyptians insist on pursuing their lives normally regardless of the intensification of terrorist incidents.”

Basit said he had expected the number of visitors to drop because of the hot weather, but he was wrong.

Asked about the security measures in the area around the church, Basit said that he is in constant contact with the security services and that there are always leaders from the Ministry of Interior in the church. “There is a security checkpoint in front of the church, and on Friday [Aug. 14], the celebrations were surrounded by major security measures, given the concurrence of the second anniversary of the raid on the two protests that were held in al-Nahda Square and Rabaa al-Adawiya Square,” he explained.

Basit said that the church relies on its own personnel to keep order inside the church and to inspect visitors at the electronic entrance gates.

He added that those most concerned with the safety of visitors during the Virgin Mary holiday are the area's Muslim residents, who financially benefit from the high turnout that brings business to local stores. Therefore, these people help security forces with the protection of the church. Security forces are deployed 24 hours a day during the festivities that last two weeks, said Basit.

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted August 27, 2015 at 12:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious freedom in America is under threat, and the battle is already in progress. For the most part, the burden of the struggle has been borne by Christians. America’s Jews, living safely behind the front lines, have paid little heed. But that safety is likely to be ephemeral. If freedom falls for those now fighting for their religious rights, it can fall for all, prominently including a community characterized by its attachment to an ancient and traditional moral code and defining ritual practices.

The threat emanates from a classic question: what is the proper relationship between church and state? The tension is as old as recorded history. It appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh and throughout Greek mythology. Some societies, from the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to Japan’s chrysanthemum throne, imbued their rulers with divinity. In Christendom, western kings answered to the pope while eastern churches supported the emperor. In Islam, the caliph held titles of both temporal and spiritual authority. England maintains an established church still today, while France severed its formal ties to Catholicism more than a century ago. In Jewish tradition, the Second Temple period was replete with conflicts between royals and priests—hence the rabbinic reluctance to embrace the Hasmoneans, priestly usurpers to the throne whose victories are celebrated annually by today’s Jews at Ḥanukkah. In modern-day Israel, selected areas of civil governance have been relegated entirely to religious authorities.

The U.S. Constitution, steeped in classical liberalism, attempted a novel—and ingenious—resolution. It combined the absence of an official, “established” religion with the individual’s freedom to choose and follow his faith.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism

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Posted August 25, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God, who didst call thy servant Louis of France to an earthly throne that he might advance thy heavenly kingdom, and didst give him zeal for thy Church and love for thy people: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate him this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of thy saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

5 Comments
Posted August 25, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Stone was cut by the attacker behind his neck, and his thumb was nearly sliced off as the man was wrestled to the ground by the Americans. Sadler said: "The gunman pulls out a box cutter and slices Spencer a few times." He added that the attacker "never said a word."

To Americans who remember Sept. 11, 2001, this kind of response — even down to the “let’s go” — echoes the story of Todd Beamer and the passengers of Flight 93. It’s the right response, of course, to terrorists who threaten innocents.

As Brad Todd wrote days after 9/11, it was the response of ordinary Americans on this flight that meant a repeat of the attacks was much less likely: “Just 109 minutes after a new form of terrorism — the most deadly yet invented — came into use, it was rendered, if not obsolete, at least decidedly less effective. ... United Flight 93 did not hit a building. It did not kill anyone on the ground. ... Why? Because it had informed Americans on board who'd had 109 minutes to come up with a counteraction. And the next time a hijacker full of hate pulls the same stunt with a single knife, he'll get the same treatment and meet the same result as those on United Flight 93. Dead, yes. Murderous, yes. But successful? No.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 24, 2015 at 10:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the annals of African-American history, and specifically of historically black colleges and universities, there is indeed a proper noun known as the Morehouse Man. These men have included not only Dr. Thurman and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but also Julian Bond, who died on Aug. 15; the director Spike Lee; the civil rights lawyer James Madison Nabrit Jr.; and innumerable politicians, scholars, scientists, ministers and executives.

With the fall of legal segregation and the emerging ethos of diversity, however, Morehouse has faced the challenge of supplying meaning and purpose to young black men who can choose any college in the country. The Parents’ Parting Ceremony, created in 1996, has answered the need with a mix of African music and dance, black Christian preaching and specific homage to Dr. Thurman’s liberation theology.

The elements add up to what the Rev. Dr. Peter G. Heltzel, a professor at New York Theological Seminary, has called “the Morehouse Gospel” — a belief system, as he put it in a recent essay, “characterized by a prophetic-mystical vision, a focus on racial justice and a commitment to nonviolent love.”

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

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Posted August 24, 2015 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Today the greatest Christian evangelism movement ever to occur in any country in the world is taking place in China. It’s one of the most exciting developments to be happening on the world stage right now and most American and western Christians do not seem to be aware of it. In part I think that the reason why we are not is because the media that surrounds us in our electronically saturated culture is focused so much on other things. Perhaps in part also the reason why we Christians in the west are not aware of it is because we are so busy slugging it out in the trenches, trying to save the moral and logistical remnants of our Christian past in a western culture that seems rapidly to be turning in a different direction. To be sure, slugging it out for the gospel in the west is a valuable mission. It’s a mission to which I am currently dedicating my life. But at the same time I do think that a case could be made for saying that we Christians in the west are needed every bit as much on the mission field in China. At the very least our financial resources are needed on that mission field. Consider the following points...

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

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Posted August 21, 2015 at 11:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Grainy security camera footage showed Khadiza and her two 15-year-old friends, Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, calmly passing through security at Gatwick Airport for Turkish Airlines Flight 1966 to Istanbul and later boarding a bus to the Syrian border.

“Only when I saw that video I understood,” Ms. Khanom said.

These images turned the three Bethnal Green girls, as they have become known, into the face of a new, troubling phenomenon: young women attracted to what experts like Sasha Havlicek, a co-founder and the chief executive of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, call a jihadi, girl-power subculture.

An estimated 4,000 Westerners have traveled to Syria and Iraq, more than 550 of them women and girls, to join the Islamic State, according to a recent report by the institute, which helps manage the largest database of female travelers to the region.

The men tend to become fighters much like previous generations of jihadists seeking out battlefields in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. But less is known about the Western women of the Islamic State. Barred from combat, they support the group’s state-building efforts as wives, mothers, recruiters and sometimes online cheerleaders of violence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureTeens / Youth* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeTurkeyMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted August 21, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There was a miserable stint in the Army, mercifully shortened by a psychiatrist who thought I had no business being a soldier. There were a couple of romantic relationships with married women. Casting about for something to do, I eventually settled on studying journalism at San Francisco State University.

That’s where I found Islam. A friend introduced me to the Qur’an, and I was entranced by its words, which speak of a God who cares a great deal about the men and women he created. But it was also the people: the Palestinian and African American Muslims who first taught me what it meant to surrender. They welcomed me as no one else had before.

Some people look to faith for ideas of right and wrong, or some understanding of good and evil, or a set of principles with which to order the world. Not me. What I sought, what I ached for, was meaning and belonging. And Islam gave me both.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted August 21, 2015 at 5:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Army created the Human Terrain System — at the height of the counterinsurgency craze that dominated American strategic thinking in Iraq and Afghanistan late in the last decade, with much fanfare — to solve this problem. Cultural training and deep, nuanced understanding of Afghan politics and history were in short supply in the Army; without them, good intelligence was hard to come by, and effective policy making was nearly impossible. Human Terrain Teams, as Human Terrain System units were known, were supposed to include people with social-science backgrounds, language skills and an understanding of Afghan or Iraqi culture, as well as veterans and reservists who would help bind the civilians to their assigned military units.

On that winter day in Zormat, however, just how far the Human Terrain System had fallen short of expectations was clear. Neither of the social scientists on the patrol that morning had spent time in Afghanistan before being deployed there. While one was reasonably qualified, the other was a pleasant 43-year-old woman who grew up in Indiana and Tennessee, and whose highest academic credential was an advanced degree in organizational management she received online. She had confided to me that she didn’t feel comfortable carrying a gun she was still learning how to use. Before arriving in Afghanistan, she had traveled outside the United States only once, to Jamaica — “and this ain’t Jamaica,” she told me.

She was out of her depth, but at least she tried to be professional.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistanMiddle EastIraq* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 20, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

No looking, networking, googling or anything else--guess first before you look.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

11 Comments
Posted August 19, 2015 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has failed to sign a peace deal in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, aimed at ending the civil war in his country.
The government has initialled a draft agreement, but requested a further 15 days before signing in full.
International sanctions had been threatened by mediators if both sides failed to reach an agreement on Monday 17 August.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Ireland* Culture-WatchPovertyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--North Sudan--South Sudan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 18, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Jason Day fell flat on his back at the US Open in June, his head swimming with debilitating vertigo, the first person to help him to his feet was the most important man in his life.
Colin Swatton is much more than just a caddie to the Australian star who broke his major duck with victory at the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits on Sunday.
Swatton's support helped his ailing boss complete the US Open at Chambers Bay. Within two months Day fulfilled his golfing potential in brilliant style with a record-breaking major championship score of 20 under par.
To have risen from such a stricken position to the top of the golfing world, reflects the journey Day has taken in life with Swatton as mentor, coach and caddie.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismMenSportsYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ

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Posted August 17, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration just announced a 40,000 reduction in the Army’s ranks. But the numbers don’t begin to tell the tale. Soldiers stay in the Army because they love to go into the field and train; Defense Secretary Ashton Carter recently said that the Army will not have enough money for most soldiers to train above the squad level this year. Soldiers need to fight with new weapons; in the past four years, the Army has canceled 20 major programs, postponed 125 and restructured 124. The Army will not replace its Reagan-era tanks, infantry carriers, artillery and aircraft for at least a generation. Soldiers stay in the ranks because they serve in a unit ready for combat; fewer than a third of the Army’s combat brigades are combat ready. And this initial 40,000 soldier reduction is just a start. Most estimates from Congress anticipate that without lifting the budget sequestration that is driving this across-the-board decline, another 40,000 troops will be gone in about two years.

But it’s soldiers who tell the story. After 13 years of war, young leaders are voting with their feet again. As sergeants and young officers depart, the institution is breaking for a third time in my lifetime. The personal tragedies that attended the collapse of a soldier’s spirit in past wars are with us again. Suicide, family abuse, alcohol and drug abuse are becoming increasingly more common.

To be sure, the nation always reduces its military as wars wind down. Other services suffer reductions and shortages. But only the Army breaks. Someone please tell those of us who served why the service that does virtually all the dying and killing in war is the one least rewarded.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 16, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are important reasons why it is a gigantic misstep for Amnesty to advocate for the decriminalization of sex buyers. First, the empirical evidence of potential benefits from making it permissible to purchase sex is weak while the costs may be enormous. New Zealand decriminalized prostitution in 2003 and yet the country’s Prostitution Law Review Committee found in its evaluation that a majority of prostituted persons felt that the decriminalization act “could do little about violence [in prostitution].” At the same time, several studies have found that countries where buying sex is decriminalized, sex trafficking is more prevalent.

Second, decriminalizing buying sex seems to be at odds with Amnesty’s core objectives. One of the reasons that there are so many of us who have strongly supported Amnesty for years is the organization’s steadfast commitment to the fundamental rights of individuals, whether they are refugees, prisoners of conscience, or victims of torture. But buying sex is not a human right.

Instead of adopting a harmful proposal, Amnesty should have learned from Sweden’s prostitution policies. In 1999, Sweden made it illegal to buy sexual services, but not to sell them – an approach that is now often called “the Swedish model.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesSexuality* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeSweden

0 Comments
Posted August 16, 2015 at 1:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are numerous reasons why some black churches retain their members, but, most prominently, the church has played a historic role in black life that has fostered a continuing strong black Protestant identity. Members and visitors at Alfred Street say the church’s holistic ministry — the preaching, the singing and the community outreach — are what draw them in and keep them there.

“I think black churches have always been very pivotal in social movements and outreach,” said Kelli Slater, 20, a Howard University student from Mississippi who was visiting Alfred Street at the invitation of her older sister. “I think black churches do a whole lot more than religion.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted August 16, 2015 at 1:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Brother Roger’s life ended tragically ten years ago when he was stabbed during a worship service by a young woman who was mentally ill. I was convinced this violent incident would change the character of Taizé, that the brothers would put up bulletproof glass between themselves and the visitors or that people would have to run their bags through x-ray machines upon arrival.

But this was not the case. The community of brothers continued to welcome pilgrims with openness and care.

In a world that is hyper-militarized, the brothers modeled a different response – one of trust, prayerfulness and compassion in a desperately wounded world. Taizé continues to organize what is called a “Pilgrimage of Trust” in different cities around the world each year where thousands of pilgrims are welcomed into people’s homes and churches.

Why is this place so special? Why does it continue to attract so many pilgrims? I believe Taizé is what the Celts referred to as a “thin place” where the veil between this reality and God is permeable.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipSpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

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Posted August 16, 2015 at 12:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Veterans of World War Two have taken part in events to mark the 70th anniversary of VJ Day, when Japan surrendered and the war ended.
A memorial event was held at Horse Guards Parade, attended by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.
And the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh joined the PM and former prisoners of war at a remembrance service at St Martin-in-the-Fields church in London.
David Cameron said it was important to "honour the memory of those that died".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted August 15, 2015 at 3:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Defense Department is taking another look at the military prison in Kansas and the Navy Brig in South Carolina as it evaluates potential U.S. facilities to house detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, part of the Obama administration’s controversial push to close the detention center.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said a team was surveying the Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth on Friday and will do a similar assessment at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston later this month.

Davis said the team will assess the costs associated with construction and other changes that would be needed in order to use the facility to house the detainees as well as conduct military commission trials for those accused of war crimes.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-N. Charleston, immediately blasted the idea of sending the Gitmo prisoners to the Palmetto State.

Read it all from AP.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison Ministry* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

1 Comments
Posted August 15, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. intelligence agencies have evidence indicating Islamic State used mustard agent against Kurdish forces for the first time at least two weeks ago in fighting in Syria, a tactic that the group may have repeated in two subsequent attacks in Iraq, U.S. officials said Friday.

The developments are fueling concerns that Islamic State has acquired a crude arsenal of banned chemicals that could herald a significant escalation of fighting in the region.

“It could be a pattern,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the intelligence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 15, 2015 at 8:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Louis van Gaal has warned his Manchester United attack that they will need to sharpen up if they are to mount a genuine title challenge.

The Dutchman watched his side move to the top of the Premier League table with a 1-0 win against Aston Villa.

But he admitted they must improve in front of goal if they are to seriously contend with Chelsea and Manchester City this season.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted August 14, 2015 at 4:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

She was a cheerleader, an honor student, the daughter of a police officer and a member of the high school homecoming court who wanted to be a doctor.

He was a quiet but easygoing psychology student. His father is a well-known Muslim patriarch here, whose personable mien and habit of sharing food with friends and strangers made him seem like a walking advertisement for Islam as a religion of tolerance and peace.

Today, the young woman, Jaelyn Young, 19, and the young man, her fiancé, Muhammad Dakhlalla, 22, are in federal custody, arrested on suspicion of trying to travel from Mississippi to Syria to join the ranks of the Islamic State.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

2 Comments
Posted August 14, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The recent Supreme Court decision which asserted that the right to marry is a constitutional right, including for same sex couples, has raised prompted some commentators to question whether the same could be said of polygamy. Polygamy has long been prohibited and rarely practised in the United States, but at least the practise is quite common in many parts of the Islamic world and sub-Saharan Africa. What is increasingly common in the United States, however, are various forms of 'polyamory', where people have multiple sexual and romantic partners with the full knowledge of their partners.

YouGov's research shows that most Americans (56%) reject the idea that polyamory is somehow morally acceptable, though one quarter of the country does think that polyamorous relationships are morally acceptable. Polygamy, that is marriage between more than two people, is even less acceptable, with 69% saying that polygamy is immoral and only 14% believing that it is morally acceptable.

Attitudes towards polyamory depend significantly on how religious someone is. 80% of people who say that religion is 'very important' in their lives say that polyamory is wrong, but among people for whom religion is 'not at all important' 58% say that polyamory is morally acceptable.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--PolyamorySociology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 14, 2015 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The white Christians I know who care deeply about solving our nation’s racial injustices are those who are embedded in communities with black and Hispanic and Asian Christians. They care not just about issues but about people they love as their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Where we see churches that expand beyond the sameness of ethnicity or economic status, we see people who are willing to stand up for one another in the public square, because they’ve learned to love one another at the family table.

The answer to racial injustice is precisely the way the Hebrew prophets once framed the answer to all social evil. It means working for courts and systems that are fair and impartial. But it doesn’t stop with policies and structures. It must also include people who are transformed, not just by greater social awareness, but also by consciences that are formed by something other than our backgrounds. For that, we need more than national conversations and policy proposals (as important as those are).

We need, nationally, what Abraham Lincoln called “a new birth of freedom.” But we also need, personally, a new birth.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 14, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the Episcopal Church we believe in the continuing revelation of God. The Holy Spirit did not retire to Florida after the Bible was written or the Creeds promulgated. The Holy Spirit continues to teach us. I believe that the Holy Spirit has been expanding our consciousness about the dignity and equality of our gay brothers and sisters. That consciousness might well have been developed in society before it was developed in the Church, and now the Church is catching up to the Holy Spirit. The Church is catching up to the broader society.

As to the election of Michael Curry as Presiding Bishop, he was chosen (the first time anyone has been elected on the first ballot) not because he is African-American but because in an outstanding field of four candidates, he is the best person to lead us now. Michael is an inspired preacher and brilliant organizer who passionately invites all to join the "Jesus Movement" - to change the nightmare this world so often is for so many into the dream God has for it.

Although he was not chosen because he is African-American, I do find it holy and good that an African-American was chosen at this time of tremendous racial tension in our country. Our country has a history of racism embedded within it that we have never really faced. Could this be the time to have an honest discussion about that history and move forward as a New Creation?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC Bishops* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To the casual skeptic, the notion of getting sucked into the Church of Scientology's belief system is a prospect as likely as a Sunday brunch date with galactic overlord Xenu.

But for the average Canadian, it helps that this film's main liaison is filmmaker Paul Haggis, a practising Scientologist for 35 years before his explosive departure from the church in 2009.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Recently]..there have been two poignant reminders of the prevalence of that attitude, where the advancing years are regarded as a cause for apprehension and fear.
The first was the death of Cilla Black at the comparatively young age of 72.
Although she had problems with her hearing and suffered from arthritis, she was — so far as we know — in reasonable health. But psychologically, she appeared to have been preparing for the end, explaining in interviews last year that she ‘did not want to live longer than 75’.

In this rather bleak outlook, she seems to have been heavily influenced by the experience of her mother, who lived until she was 84 but suffered a good deal in her final years.
The second episode to highlight this fear of old age was the sad case of retired nurse Gill Pharaoh, who recently took her own life at a Swiss assisted suicide clinic, despite the fact she was only 75 and had no serious health issues.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The demolition of St. Martin’s Anglican Church is now a done deal as the North Peace Savings and Credit Union moves forward with plans for of a new three story administrative centre at the location.

Negotiations for purchase of a portion of the site, adjacent to the existing credit union building on 100th Street, began back in 2013 and the demolition followed the removal of hazardous materials.

Read it all. You can read about the final worship service there and you can find the location here.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The BBC's John McManus says Archbishop [Josiah] Idowu-Fearon, who is the new secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, has a strong reputation for promoting dialogue between Christians and Muslims.
But the archbishop told our correspondent that efforts to maintain unity were undermined by some fellow Christians who failed to engage with their Muslim counterparts.
"We warned the leadership in my country, the Christian Association of Nigeria: 'Let us listen to the Muslim leadership, because the leadership is not in support of Boko Haram.'
"'Oh no no no,' they said, 'they are always deceiving us. They are all the same,'" he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was a formal church setting with nine area Christian leaders present, but no formal sermons were given or messages with the Bible cracked open to a particular passage.

Instead, the clergy spoke off the cuff in a Christian “conversation” Wednesday night on issues of faith and belief.

And that led them into some areas of modern-day debate and concern, such as marriage equality, race and the church’s relevance in a digital age.

“We’ll be having a great debate next April about same-sex marriage and transgender (issues),” said the Rev. Terry Walton, senior pastor at Gainesville First United Methodist Church, at “Christianity Beyond the Catchphrases,” held at Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsLutheranMethodistPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * General InterestAnimalsPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryMexico

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 7:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now a story about a professor in Oregon who says when she told her employer she was pregnant, she got a pink slip instead of congratulations. That's because she worked at a Christian school and because she's not married. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Coty Richardson spent four years teaching exercise science at Northwest Christian University. She says she loved in the small classes at the school in Eugene, Ore., and she loved its values and caring environment.

COTY RICHARDSON: Christ-centered community that's based on, you know, loving one another, loving yourself, kindness, tolerance of other individuals.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & CultureSexualityWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Close to 4 million Kenyans consume illegal alcoholic brews, found a 2013 survey by the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse. The biggest challenge is corruption among government officials, said the agency’s John Mututho.

Some clergy have been joining community members to seek out and storm the makeshift breweries — many just drums or pots hidden in forests, private residences or buried near riverbeds.

“We commend the steps taken by the president. As clergy, we do not encourage drinking,” said Anglican Bishop Julius Kalu of Mombasa. “We urge more steps to ensure those addicted are rehabilitated.”

Kyalo agrees. The president, he said, “took bold steps, but he has to address the root cause of the problem. This is deeply rooted, where people are poor. He must deal with poverty, which is increasing.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Daily Express and the Sun both carried critical front pages of the BBC programme’s decision to film in the church, which they claimed was a waste of licence fee money and a highly politicised gesture.

Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, made it clear in a tweet that he fully supported the programme, as well as retweeting a positive piece from the influential Anglican blog, Archbishop Cranmer.

“What do they think the church is for? It is for the poor and the vulnerable, it is to voice things that others cannot voice,” [Bishop] Baines told the Guardian. “Everyone else seems to be allowed to be political apart from the church.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The current crop of homeschoolers has one major advantage over the movement’s pioneers: modern technology has put all of history’s collected knowledge at their fingertips. No homeschooling parent need become an expert on differential equations or Newton’s Third Law of Motion. He or she can simply visit YouTube’s Khan Academy channel and find thousands of video lectures on these topics. Rosetta Stone, the well-known foreign-language software company, offers a specially tailored homeschool reading curriculum for just $99 per year. Wade’s children use a free website called Duolingo to practice Spanish. And many popular curriculum packages and distance-learning education programs provide Skype-based tutorials, online courses, and other learning supports.

Cities offer homeschoolers rich educational opportunities. The Fredettes of Philadelphia have used their storied city to supplement American history lessons. Their travels have brought them to the Liberty Bell and Constitution Hall, of course, but they’ve also visited a glassblower’s studio, taken archery classes, and toured the facility where the Inquirer, the nation’s third-oldest daily newspaper, is printed. “We even went to the Herr’s potato-chip factory and watched the chips coming out of the machine,” recalls Fredette. The children’s favorite trip was to the studios of FOX 29 News, where, as part of a unit on meteorology, they watched a live broadcast of the midday weather report, complete with green screen.

Boston is known as a college town. Kerry McDonald lives across the Charles River in Cambridge—“between M.I.T. and Harvard,” she says. On her City Kids Homeschooling blog, McDonald writes: “We use the city as our primary learning tool, taking advantage of all its offerings, including classes, museums, libraries, cultural events, and fascinating neighbors”—including a Tufts University biology professor who brings home snails and mollusks for the kids.

Read it all (Hat Tip: AI).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the course of aiding in creating a fair trade support network within the church in Montreal, I have been exploring the theology of relationship as something fundamental to the Christian vision of life and that the call to right relationship with God, the earth and each other is a call to sustainable and dignified ways of relating. I careful study of the creation narrative is, I think, a good place to start!

The French bible study group is a group of parishioners who attend the French service on Sundays at Christ Church Cathedral. They come together bi-weekly to share a meal, personal reflections and study of scripture. The focus here for me has been on mission as nurturing the already present and active community within the church. There is an imperative for us to continue providing nourishment for those who call the Anglican Church there Christian ‘home.’ As with fair trade, there is work to be done on articulating the theological reasons for sustaining relationships. The particular angle with which I have been approaching this idea is through the lens of, as mentioned, upholding the sanctity of life. This is important for the church because, I believe, the church is essentially the gathered body of Christ. And just as we would expect to care for our own bodies, so to must we care for the gathered body. Similarly, thinking globally, working with the principles of the fair trade movement one sees a similar concern for ensuring the healthy vitality of global human relationships.

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion on Tuesday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to order the closure of schools opened without compliance to due process in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

This was contained in an open letter signed by the Bishop, Diocese of Kubwa, Anglican Communion, Abuja, Rt. Rev. Duke T. Akamisoko, and addressed to President Buhari, a copy of which was obtained by this reporter in Abuja.

The clergyman, who is also an educationist, noted the arbitrary opening and running of private schools within the Federal Capital Territory‎ without following standard guidelines and regulations.

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

‘A new refugee camp has opened a few kilometres from Gambella town. Another is being established near the town of Matar, and another in the Asosa region near the permanent camp Sherkole (the new camp has been given the poignant name ‘Sorry’).

‘The churches, however, are usually the first stop for the refugees. They often ask for food and shelter.

‘As well as food aid, there are churches in the refugee camps providing literacy classes and other educational support. In this way, the churches function as community centres for many refugees.

‘We have 15 mission centres in Gambella, each of which is a cluster of churches. Some of the churches are in established refugee camps; some are in villages and towns. We have 16 clergy and 90 lay readers in the area, so we are obtaining first-hand information about what is happening.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaEthiopiaSudan--South Sudan* Theology

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A recent substantial donation from the Church of the Epiphany in Doha, Qatar, has enabled Fr Faiz Jerjes, our priest in Baghdad, to serve the physical as well as the spiritual needs of the many internally displaced Iraqis who have fled Da’esh (ISIS)) in the Mosul and Nineveh Plain area and are now at and around St George’s.

Read it all and make sure to catch the pictures.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Burma is a deeply religious nation—predominantly Buddhist but with big religious and ethnic minorities.

Stephen Than, the Anglican Archbishop is from the minority Karen people. During his lifetime he has faced ethnic discrimination and a crisis of faith. Archbishop Than is the subject of a new biography, Dancing With Angels, by Melbourne Anglican priest Alan Nichols.

Listen to it all (just over 13 minutes).

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaMyanmar/Burma* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsBuddhism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Understanding the religious life of early America is an important business, and not just for scholars. That is because all sides in today's religious and constitutional arguments appeal to the past when they lay out their ideas for how things should work in the 21st century.

Conservatives generally want churches and church-affiliated organisations to enjoy wide sovereignty; they cite the First Amendment's guarantee of the free exercise of faith, and also its bar on the establishment of any religion, the so-called "non-establishment" clause. At least since the 20th century, non-establishment has often been taken to mean that the government and judiciary should avoid delving much into the internal affairs of a church, because to take any position could imply state backing for one religious line. Liberals, meanwhile, tend to have an idealised image of the absolute separation of church and state, as laid down by the founding fathers; they use that picture as an argument for keeping religious ideas and taboos out of policymaking. For both camps, Thomas Jefferson's statement of belief in a "wall of separation" between church and state is another important text. Liberals see the wall as protecting politics from religion, while conservatives see it more as protecting religion and its followers from political interference.

But what if both camps are wrong, because in the young American republic, state and religion were never fully separated? Sarah Barringer Gordon, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, says 20 years of research have convinced her that during the early decades of American life, state authorities interfered heavily in the affairs of churches and in doing so, helped to remould the American religious scene. The story she tells is nuanced and intriguing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While Bakersfield {California] isn’t exactly Los Angeles, it’s still a different pace compared to Garrett County [Maryland], a lush locale of ski lodges and pristine lakes in the shadow of Backbone Mountain, the state’s highest peak.

It is also home to Maryland’s oldest Amish settlement. The Amish are a German speaking Protestant sect with historical roots in the Reformation. Church members dress plainly and avoid technology to varying degrees.

Soon after moving to Oakland, Cortez would notice the plain-dressed people riding horse-drawn buggies or tractors as they headed into town or to church. She was intrigued.

“There weren’t any Amish in California. The closest thing we had were nuns who sort of dressed similarly,” Cortez laughed, realizing the analogy of Catholic nuns and Amish didn’t quite equate.

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Taxpayers in the UK donate £2.7 billion a year in aid to countries where Christians are suffering some of the most extreme religious persecution in the world, figures show.

Analysis of official aid statistics shows that four out of five countries listed on a global human rights watch list, charting attacks or official suppression against Christians, receive money from the overseas development budget or through other official agencies.

David Cameron said last year that Christianity is now the “most persecuted religion around the world” and said Britain should be “unashamed” in standing up for religious freedom.

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

--1812: Archibald Alexander becomes the first professor of Princeton, filling its theology chair. Like many of America’s premiere colleges and universities, Princeton had been founded to train ministers.
Authority for the date: Kerr, Hugh Thomas. Sons of the Prophets: Leaders in Protestantism from Princeton Seminary. Princeton University Press

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all and there is a lot more there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: how Americans rate the current economy and whether they feel the economy is "getting better" or "getting worse." The index's theoretical maximum is +100, if all Americans rated the economy as positive and improving, while the theoretical minimum is -100, if all Americans rated the economy as negative and getting worse.

Both components were level for the week ending Aug. 9. The current conditions component averaged -6, the result of 24% of Americans rating the economy as "excellent" or "good," while 30% rated it "poor." The economic outlook component averaged -18, as 39% of Americans said the economy is getting better while 57% said it is getting worse.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologySociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There’s no place like home,” repeats Dorothy as she taps those famous ruby slippers together. The place to which she so desperately longs to return is Kansas, that little corner of the world she calls home. One might imagine the Depression-era dustbowl of Kansas is no match for the wonders of Oz, but it’s the place she feels rooted, attached and secure.

In literature and in cinema, there is no shortage of heroes’ journeys that end up back where they started. From Odysseus to Bilbo Baggins to Dorothy, wanderlust eventually turns to homesickness and the pull of the familiar overrides the glories of adventure. But what is it about home that’s such a draw? Dorothy’s repeated attempts to return to Kansas are less about the physical place itself and more about the meaning her attachments there bring to her sense of self. What most people seem to long for and grieve while in exile (even if it’s in the Technicolor land of Oz) are the social connections that friends, family and community bring to their sense of belonging.

Barna recently conducted research into this “sense of place,” asking Americans where they live, why they choose to live there and what they love most about the place they call home. We found that although Americans often move for different reasons, the most consistent characteristics that make a place worth staying in are relational.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & CultureSociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Their legs may be short but they still have plenty of speed! The Calgary Herald was at the Running of the Dachshunds at the Strathmore Stampede last week.

it all.

Filed under: * General InterestAnimalsPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

White-on-black Islamic calligraphy still adorns the establishment that the Islamic State used to recruit fighters and bombers in this town in southeast Turkey.

Known as the Islamic Tea House, it was a hub for bearded men in tunics, who lured young men for explosives training in Syria before complaints from the community led police to shut it down.

“It wasn’t exactly a tea house, but they did drink tea among themselves,” says Mahmoud Tunc, a chatty boy with a whisper of a mustache who works at a tiny tea shop across the street. “They were a carbon copy of the IS guys you see on social media. Even if you put a Quran in front of them, they wouldn’t read it. They would just parrot their stupid ideology. They were not harmful to us but they were very harmful to Adiyaman and Islam.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wright’s self-discipline, as demonstrated by his daily running routine, is legendary: when he lived in Ottawa, he’d set out every morning before work on a half-marathon from his condo at 700 Sussex Dr. next to the Château Laurier. It was such a reliable habit that CTV’s Danielle Hamamdjian once ambushed him as he loped by the Mac’s on Laurier Avenue in Sandy Hill, at 4 a.m., to ask him about Duffy. He didn’t say much, except that he’d made some mistakes and was co-operating with the authorities.

Succeeding in private equity, as Wright has, takes management talent, steel nerves, and a willingness to do hard things — to make deals worth billions with other people’s money, to combine and break up companies other people built, to cut other people’s jobs. In Wright, those qualities are combined with a moral code derived from his devotion to a traditionalist strain of Anglicanism. It’s a throwback to the faith’s Catholic roots followed in just a few Canadian churches (St. Barnabas in Centretown is the one in Ottawa), featuring ornate services and a social conservatism that’s in deepening tension with the Anglican Communion’s increasingly liberal positions on things such as homosexuality and the ordination of women.

Wright’s a graduate of Trinity College at the University of Toronto — known for its training of Anglican priests and its adherence to some of British academe’s more amusingly stuffy traditions — and has been a lay leader at his Toronto church. He raises money for charity, particularly Camp Oochigeas (for kids with cancer, where he’s also volunteered during his vacations), and serves at soup kitchens.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPornography* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted August 10, 2015 at 5:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I’ve noticed before the strange tendency of hateful buildings to become almost lovable after the passage of decades. Not all of them, of course. Some, like the 1960s highrise clones lining Moscow’s New Arbat (Kalinin Prospekt) become more annoying as they get shabbier. But the Moscow State University building on Lenin Hills, one of Moscow’s seven late-Stalinist wedding cakes, has definitely undergone a metamorphosis in my mind. When I lived there in the late 1960s, I regarded it as an anti-people monster, guarded by dragons who, if you had lost your pass, would throw you out to die in the snow. (According to Hatherley, they now use swipe cards to protect the building against invasion.) But I noticed a while back that I had started regarding the wedding cakes with something like affection; apparently the passage of time has naturalised them.

But Hatherley is young, and so are the Poles who like the Palace of Culture; their reassessment must come from somewhere else. Actually it seems to come from two different places. One is the Western pop/youth phenomenon that might be called Soviet ruin chic – a fascination with Soviet imperial ghosts or, as Hatherley puts it, ‘tourism of the counter-revolution’. Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film Stalker, with its memorable imagery of the Zone, is a reference point here, as is real-life Chernobyl, now a tourist destination for those with a ‘ruin chic’ sensibility. Hatherley distinguishes his own position from that of the admirers of Totally Awesome Ruined Soviet Architecture, and his ideological and personal baggage is definitely not counter-revolutionary. But there’s some family – or perhaps more accurately, generational – resemblance.

The other place this re-evaluation comes from is Eastern Europe, specifically young people who grew up in the Soviet bloc at the end of the communist era, and don’t share their parents’ bad memories.

Read it all from the LRB.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchArchitectureHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism* Theology

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Posted August 10, 2015 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Professional football isn’t known for being a place that encourages deep intellectual reflection. With its history of silence on head injuries, locker-room harassment, and macho culture, the NFL would be the last place you would expect to find a philosopher and a poet–and an atheist to boot. But all of those things come together in Houston Texans running back Arian Foster, who was the subject of an ESPN feature yesterday in which he revealed that he didn’t believe in God. That’s unusual in a league where players regularly point to the sky (nevermind the questionable theology behind the assumption that heaven is somewhere up in the sky) and meet for regular Bible studies.

Foster, raised in New Mexico and San Diego, played for the University of Tennessee Volunteers before entering the NFL in 2009. His father was Muslim, and Foster grew up in that tradition, praying five times a day and asking God for help when he was in a difficult situation. He eventually garnered the courage to tell his father that he didn’t believe in God, and instead of a lecture, Foster’s father told him to ” Go find your truth.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSports* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism

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Posted August 10, 2015 at 3:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Prelate with government ties says campaign damages religious freedom
Archbishop Paul Kwong of the Anglican Church in Hong Kong has called on China’s central government to halt the cross-removal campaign in Zhejiang.

The archbishop told the Chinese diocesan weekly Echo that he felt “sad and sorry” over news reports about physical clashes and the burning of crosses that have accompanied the campaign. More than 1,200 crosses in Zhejiang have been removed and several churches demolished since late 2013 under a controversial “illegal structures” provision many believe is being misused to target Christians.

“Placing a cross on top of a Church is a common practice in Christianity. If the Zhejiang authorities think there is a safety concern to have an oversized cross, it only needs to order the church to change for a smaller one,” said the archbishop in the report published on Aug. 9.

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

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Posted August 10, 2015 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So why would the smarter, more far-seeing leaders of the IRG see the deal as a good one? Certainly there are some attractive features from an Iranian perspective. There is the good news about the progressive dismantling of limits on Iran’s nuclear program. here are the cumbersome and weak inspection procedures that allow Iranian negotiators plenty of wiggle room for incremental cheats. There is the delicious reality that the drive to negotiate the deal has weakened the core alliances that are the heart of America’s strategic position in the Middle East. And there’s more: the prospect of an end to the conventional weapons embargo, the windfall gains from unfreezing assets and the boost to Iran’s economy that will come with the end of the sanctions.

But the real reason the deal is a gift to Iran isn’t in the language of the deal itself; it’s the path the deal opens up for Iran in the region. At a time of unprecedented crisis among Iran’s Sunni Arab rivals, the nuclear deal offers Iran a historic opportunity to aim for the hegemony of the Persian Gulf and to achieve the kind of world power that Shi’a religious enthusiasts and Persian nationalists believe is their due. God Himself, Iranian hardliners can tell the Supreme Leader, has opened this door for Iran; it is his duty and his destiny to walk through it.

So what’s Iran’s path? Simple, unfortunately. If Iran ratifies the deal, confines its cheating initially to the margins and then opportunistically pursues an agenda of regional expansion it can move towards the glittering prize that has dazzled Iranian nationalists since the time of the Shah: effective control over the oil resources of the Persian Gulf.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

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Posted August 10, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Elizabeth Esther looked into Vacation Bible School at the church closest to her home in Orange County, California, she was disappointed to discover it cost $40 per kid—too much for her big family.

The Catholic mom and blogger instead found a free program and then tweeted her gratitude: “A BIG THANK YOU to all the churches out there offering free VBS for kids this summer! As a mom of five, it makes ALL the difference!”

While most congregations offer VBS at no cost, organizers can easily become overwhelmed by demand. Not only are fewer programs available for a growing number of unchurched families—about 1 in 6 churches offering VBS in the '90s dropped it by 2012, according to Barna Research—parents now regularly enroll kids in multiple Vacation Bible Schools each summer. That puts more pressure on churches to do something unique from the congregration up the street.

Especially in cities with a booming VBS circuit, a nominal fee ($5–$25) can discourage no-shows, and a bit more ($30–$75) can offset the price of food and new materials. Churches that charge typically offer scholarship options and discounts for families enrolling multiple kids.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardshipYouth Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 10, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A year after tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians fled communities overtaken by Islamic State militants, their lives are on hold in exile: They won't go back to Iraq, saying it's not safe for Christians, but as refugees they're barred from working in temporary asylum countries such as Jordan. Expectations of quick resettlement to the West have been dashed.

"We've lost hope in everything," said Hinda Ablahat, a 67-year-old widow who lives with dozens of fellow refugees in plywood cubicles set up in a church compound in downtown Amman, the capital of Jordan. "We've been sitting here for a year and nothing's happened."

About 7,000 Christians from northern Iraq have found refuge in Jordan, including about 2,000 living in church-sponsored shelters.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 10, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 10, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jake Arrieta pitched four-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Chicago Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 2-0 on Sunday for a four-game sweep of the defending world champions.

Arrieta also tripled and scored in the second as the Cubs won for the 10th time in 11 games. Chicago's first four-game sweep of San Francisco since June 1977 increased its lead for the second NL wild card to 3 1/2 games over the reeling Giants.

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 9, 2015 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The everyday normalcy of this St. Louis suburb as well as evidence of its surreal burst into the national spotlight were both on display Sunday morning, the first anniversary of the fatal shooting of the black unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a white Ferguson police officer.

Outside the police station, concrete barricades blocked the entrance, and television news reporters had set up cameras across the street. But as cars whizzed past a sign advertising Sunday brunch at a local restaurant, there were no protesters in sight, and no noticeable police presence.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 9, 2015 at 3:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Liberal arts has not been killed by parental or student philistinism, or the cupidity of today’s educational institutions whose excessive costs have made the liberal arts into an unattainable luxury. In too many ways the liberal arts have died not by murder but by suicide.

To restore the liberal arts, those of us who teach should begin by thinking about students. Almost all of them have serious questions about major issues, and all of them are looking for answers. What is right? What is love? What do I owe others? What do others owe me? In too many places these are not questions for examination but issues for indoctrination. Instead of guiding young men and women by encouraging them to read history, biography, philosophy and literature, we’d rather debunk the past, deconstruct the authors and dethrone our finest minds and statesmen.

But why would any student spend tens of thousands of dollars and, rather than see the world in all its aspects, instead spend his time being indoctrinated and immersed in the prejudices of the current culture and the opinions of his tendentious professors? The job of teachers is to liberate minds, not capture them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksEducationHistoryYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 9, 2015 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Indian democracy has not blown up. But Ambedkar’s contradiction persists, and the caste foundation of India’s political structure maintains the hierarchy at the root of the country’s tremendous inequality of status and condition. Much of the careful thought of the nineteenth-century reformers and the founding generation has been shunted aside by the force of caste-based politics on the one hand and capitalist materialism on the other. The political principles on which the Indian state is founded have not been sufficient to create an inclusive, egalitarian society. Although the post-independence generation of Congress politicians promoted a secular vision of the Indian nation, they did not pursue the kinds of reforms that might have brought social reality closer to their political ideal. In doing so, they opened the way for the ascendance of caste-based politics and, ultimately, the more reactionary rise of religion in politics.

Hindu nationalism, with its dual focus on cultivating traditional social practices and providing social services afforded neither by the state nor economic growth, would seem to provide the strongest alternative to a modern capitalist society. But Hindu nationalism itself has adapted to India’s increasing wealth. The upper castes, particularly the Brahmins, once prided themselves on simple, even ascetic, living; they now hold up material success as another sign of caste superiority. The traditional Hindu elite is no longer distinguishable from the modern economic elite.

Prime Minister Modi is the living embodiment of this troubling marriage of Hindu nationalism and capitalism, of traditional social hierarchy and modern materialism. While he has maintained the support of his elite urban business constituents, he has proven himself to be as much a disciple of the Hindu Right as he was in his youth. Even as the RSS offers hope and basic services to thousands of poor, lower-caste youth like Aakash, we cannot take the organization’s apparent social egalitarianism at face value. At its core remains the inequality that has long marked Indian life.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsHinduism

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Posted August 9, 2015 at 1:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Silicon Valley version of that “green rush” looks a little different. It involves slick apps, software and founders who talk about big data and algorithms. AngelList, a website where micro start-ups can look for angel investors, lists more than 300 marijuana start-ups in the US — half were founded this year, and a third of those are in California. (Examples include an Amazon for cannabis, a Kickstarter for cannabis, inventory management software and dozens of delivery companies.) Investments in marijuana-related companies have reached $200m over the past 12 months, quadruple the levels of the previous year, according to CB Insights, a venture capital database.

This rush of funding has attracted software engineers such as Austin Heap, a veteran of some half-dozen start-ups. Heap didn’t initially know much about the marijuana industry, other than being a medical marijuana consumer himself. He and a friend (now co-founder) started batting ideas about last autumn and came up with Potbox, a monthly subscription delivery service for organic, farm-to-table cannabis. They met their other co-founder, a 20-year veteran of the industry, because they had been using his marijuana delivery service.

“It feels like a very normal start-up, it just happens to be cannabis,” Heap told me, the day before their launch on July 8. Later that night, he would put the final touches on their social media accounts and website. “Hopefully at about 2:30 in the morning I will be a) still awake and b) getting Cloudflare in place, which will help us deal with any huge spikes in traffic,” he explained with a geeky enthusiasm. “I’m largely tech focused.” Heap says the huge investor interest in cannabis is “refreshing” after years of doing the venture capital dog-and-pony show. “No start-up I’ve worked on has said no to so many investment requests. I think we have something the cannabis industry has never seen.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug Addiction* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted August 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Much like New York City’s World Trade Center site that was destroyed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the church has become a destination and a ground zero for modern racial strife. It could mark a historic turning pointing in how Americans view race.

Tourism officials hesitated to estimate how many people have inquired about visiting Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, but the building has risen nearly to the top of Charleston’s tourist attractions.

The interim pastor, the Rev. Norvel Goff, said members of his congregation were energized by a public sentiment that the church has “an open door to all visitors, regardless of color.”

“It’s become a touchstone for Charleston,” he said. “People from around the world are coming to share their thoughts and how their communities have come together in their own way because of how this community came together.”

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

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Posted August 9, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With scant media attention, leading U.S. thinkers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. Mormon) and Evangelical Protestantism have been holding regular dialogue meetings the past 15 years. This is a good moment for religion writers to examine where things stand between these two dynamic faiths.

That’s because the talks are pausing temporarily as participants issue a new anthology: “Talking Doctrine: Mormons & Evangelicals in Conversation” (InterVarsity Press). The book’s editors, who’ve led the dialogue to date, are top sources for journalists: Robert Millet, former religious education dean at the LDS Brigham Young University, and Richard Mouw, retired president of Fuller Theological Seminary.

The two sides constitute the most unlikely dialogue partners imaginable, despite their concord on moral issues in the socio-political realm.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther FaithsMormons

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Posted August 8, 2015 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I think this is something that has been in the works for more than a year,” said Lee Montgomery, vicar for St. Jude’s Episcopal Church in Cedar City.

Because of that, Montgomery said he was “not at all surprised” by the decision, but he has mixed feelings about the reaction of some of his congregants.

“Personally, as I interpret the Bible and from our religious perspective, I applaud the Supreme Court decision that finally grants the right to marry to a group that I think has been deprived of that right,” Lee said. “At the same time, I feel extreme sadness because I know there are people who disapprove of the Supreme Court ruling.”

Some within the Episcopal Church view the decision to perform such marriages in the church as being in opposition to their religious beliefs, said Lee. “I feel sympathy for those people.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 8, 2015 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the oil futures market is correct, Saudi Arabia will start running into trouble within two years. It will be in existential crisis by the end of the decade.
The contract price of US crude oil for delivery in December 2020 is currently $62.05, implying a drastic change in the economic landscape for the Middle East and the petro-rentier states.
The Saudis took a huge gamble last November when they stopped supporting prices and opted instead to flood the market and drive out rivals, boosting their own output to 10.6m barrels a day (b/d) into the teeth of the downturn.
Bank of America says OPEC is now "effectively dissolved". The cartel might as well shut down its offices in Vienna to save money.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSaudi Arabia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 8, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My argument thus far is that the policymakers in the West and especially in the United States and Britain do not just tolerate dictatorial regimes in the Middle East, but at a minimum, refuse to oppose them and often will actively support them because of a basic sense of insecurity about Muslims exercising self-autonomy and determination. There is a visceral but historically rooted fear of the bogeyman of a united Islam and of Muslims demanding to be treated as equals and not as colonial subjects. Muslims are still the faceless, indistinct mass of dark-skinned natives who cannot be trusted unless they speak, act, and even covet what their imperial masters teach them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 8, 2015 at 10:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Manchester United began their Premier League season with a nervy 1-0 win over Tottenham at Old Trafford.

United started slowly and Christian Eriksen almost put Spurs ahead inside five minutes when he broke through but chipped his effort over new goalkeeper Sergio Romero -- starting in place of the dropped David De Gea -- and also over the bar.

But, despite having the better of the opening exchanges, Spurs fell behind soon after as Ashley Young scampered free to cross for Wayne Rooney and the backtracking Kyle Walker diverted the ball into his own net.

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 8, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In addition to writing about your own experiences, you personally interviewed U.S., U.K., and Iraqi officials as well as clergy and religious leaders of all faiths. Can you describe some of the insight people of faith had on ISIS?

One of the terrible tragedies in Iraq is the fate of Christians, who were a central part of Iraq. I think there are more Iraqi Christians now in the state of Michigan than there are in Iraq. There were 1.2 million Christians living in Iraq in 2003; today there are 400,000, and most want to leave. I interviewed Reverend Canon Andrew White (vicar of the sole Anglican church in Iraq); he lost a quarter of his flock who were persecuted or forced to pay a tax or be killed. I asked myself, why has the Christian population gone down? It’s ISIS. The terrible violence, you wouldn’t believe it—what they did to people’s children, the churches they blew up and the number of people they have killed. I cite a report in the book about ISIS cooking a two-year-old Syrian girl and serving it to her family.

Can you describe what life is like in Iraq?....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 4:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr Philip Freier, Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne and Primate of Australia, has officially launched the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

The RAP, developed in conjunction with Reconciliation Australia, is being implemented so that the diocese, along with its parishes and sector ministries, is able to coordinate key programs and initiatives aimed at changing the culture of the diocese to better embrace reconciliation. This will include advocacy and promotion of the key issues surrounding reconciliation, as well as providing practical advice and liturgical resources for parish and other ministry events.

“The full aspiration that Reconciliation Australia has encouraged is that we don’t overreach, over-promise and under-deliver, but have at every stage of this journey things that can be authentic and real and help strengthen our mutual resolve and understanding,” said Dr Freier. “I’m really thrilled my expectation coming to this night has been met by the reality.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Niloy Chakrabati, a Bangladeshi blogger who used the pen name Niloy Neel to criticize Muslim extremism, was hacked to death by a machete-wielding gang who broke into his apartment Friday. He is the fourth such social media activist to be killed in the South Asian country so far this year.

"They entered his room on the fifth floor and shoved his friend aside and then hacked him to death," Imran H. Sarker, head of the Bangladesh Blogger and Online Activist Network, or BOAN, tells Agence France-Presse.

According to The Associated Press: "Hours after the assault, Ansar-al-Islam, which intelligence officials believe is affiliated with al-Qaida on the Indian subcontinent, sent an email to media organizations claiming responsibility for the killing and calling the blogger an enemy of Allah. The authenticity of the email could not be independently confirmed."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaBangladesh* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 2:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Chapter two of the book is primarily devoted to an in-depth examination of the negative socio-cultural ramifications of redefining marriage and how, if not checked, this redefinition can all too easily lead to further breakdowns in the monogamy, permanence, and exclusivity that bolster the procreativity-oriented reality of comprehensive/conjugal marriage. This is then buttressed with an extremely thorough examination of the judicial overreach and activism involved in the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage in Obergefell in chapter three. The treatment given to the dissenting opinions in this chapter is worth the cost of admission alone.

The second half of the book, beginning with chapter four, is devoted to defending religious liberty in the wake of Obergefell. Chapter four itself is largely devoted to examining several prominent religious liberty infringement cases that have already occurred. This is then followed in chapter five with a detailed explanation of what religious freedom is, why it is the “first freedom,” and why it is of paramount importance that it be protected, not sacrificed on the altar of the sexual revolution. This “strong-protection” view of religious liberty is then reinforced in chapter six, wherein Anderson shows how detrimental a national SOGI (Sexual Identity and Gender Identity) law(s) would be for religious liberty and for those whose religious convictions commit them to the traditional view of marriage.

The final three chapters examine both the negative sociological ramifications of redefining marriage, particularly for children, and lay out a long-term plan for adherents of traditional marriage to begin rebuilding a marriage culture and strengthening religious liberty against attempts to weaken it. Anderson is optimistic here, but also realistic. He rightly points out that the legalization of same-sex marriage is just the most recent and logical outworking of previous deconstruction done by no-fault divorce, recreational sex, and other trivializations of marriage and sexuality over the past four decades.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is the American Mind–the collective intelligence of what it means to live as independent citizens and individuals in America–increasingly being lost? That is the subject Mark Bauerlein discusses with Richard Reinsch in this Liberty Law Talk. Some have argued that we are Becoming Europe in fiscal and welfare state policies. Others have noted the rise of political correctness as a smothering force in our society. Many have long observed that our education system not only inadequately prepares young Americans in primary schools and colleges and universities for the competitive private sector, but that it is nearly oblivious to the American Founding and the qualities of American citizenship. Mark Bauerlein, in a new volume co-edited with Adam Bellow entitled The State of the American Mind, pulls these critiques together in a powerful, contemporary light with 16 essays by various critics. Our conversation considers these contributions on education, politics, media, and culture.

Listen to it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. employers are adding jobs at a steady clip though the labor market is showing little sign of overheating, factors likely to reassure Federal Reserve officials as they weigh their first interest-rate increase since 2006.

Nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 215,000 in July, the Labor Department said Friday. Revisions showed employers added 6,000 more jobs in May and 8,000 more in June than previously estimated.

The unemployment rate, which is obtained from a separate survey of U.S. households, held steady at 5.3% in July.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nestled amongst the nondescript concrete buildings of Silicon Valley, home to start-ups and tech giants, are a surprising number of churches and temples.

They cater to the highly successful and wealthy population of the world’s tech capital. It is surprising because this is a region that is known for its agnosticism, rather than religiosity.

"Silicon Valley attracts people with a type-A personality,” said Skip Vaccarello, author of Finding God in Silicon Valley. "[That type has] the lowest number of people that go to a church on any Sunday. The gods become the things like money, technology, success and so on."

A recent survey listed San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose as having the least church-going population of any place in America.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* Theology

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While the White House and Congress prepare for a final showdown over the controversial Iran nuclear deal, three American prisoners and one missing American in Iran are awaiting their own fate.

One of the prisoners is Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American Christian pastor who has been detained in Iran since 2012. He has become the international face of the brutal persecution of Christians by the Islamic Republic.

Abedini was arrested by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps while visiting relatives and building an orphanage in the city of Rasht. Initially placed under house arrest, he was transferred to Iran’s notorious Evin Prison and later to Rajai Shahr Prison.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Alternative chrism masses for those who cannot accept women bishops are a consequence rather than a cause of division in the Church, and do not breach the principles in the House of Bishops’ Declaration on women bishops, an independent review has concluded.

The adjudication by Sir Philip Mawer, who was appointed by the Archbishops to consider grievances from those who are concerned that the principles are not being adhered to, was published last Friday. It followed a letter to him from Hilary Cotton, who chairs Women and the Church (WATCH), in April.

She argued that there was “no sacramental need” for the masses, which are presided over by bishops of the Society under the patronage of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, since chrism masses were already held in each diocese. Alternative masses were “a cause of much pain to clergy women and their supportive male colleagues, and an expression of division within the dioceses”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

3 Comments
Posted August 7, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian preacher Pastor James McConnell has said he wants to be “exonerated, liberated and set free” after he pleaded not guilty at a Belfast court in connection with charges he faces over a sermon where he branded Islam as “satanic”.

At Laganside court on Thursday, the north Belfast preacher’s solicitor Joe Rice said his client would be pleading not guilty to the case prosecutors have taken under the 2003 Communications Act.

Supporters, including DUP MP Sammy Wilson, gathered outside the court holding placards to protest what they described as the pastor’s right to free speech.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram Islamists shot dead at least nine people and set homes on fire in a raid on two villages in conflict-hit northeastern Nigeria, fleeing residents told AFP on Thursday.

All nine victims were gunned down with assault rifles as the jihadis attacked Tadagara around 10:30 pm (2130 GMT), looting thatch-roofed mud homes and shops before setting them ablaze, according to witnesses.

"Boko Haram gunmen came on motorcycles and opened fire on the village after we had retired for the night and killed nine residents," Tadagara villager ‎Shuaibu Nuhu told AFP.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 6, 2015 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Prostitution should be decriminalised because men have twice the need for sex that women do, a free market think tank claims in a report published today.
Men’s higher desire for sex means that the oldest profession can never be eliminated so it should be treated like any other job, the paper says. It also suggests that prostitution and erotic entertainment may “help to reduce sexual crime rates”. The report says there are too few studies to conclude that the sex industry damages women.
Catherine Hakim, the report’s author, said the laws on prostitution were outdated, misinformed and redundant in a world in which the internet had fundamentally changed sex lives.
Dr Hakim, a sociologist, said: “The very concept of prostitution is no longer workable in today’s world of fluid sexual markets, where anyone can meet anyone on whatever terms they choose. Decriminalisation is the only workable way forward.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMenSexuality* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 6, 2015 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr Choudary, the former head of the banned Islamist group al-Muhajiroun, was accused of promoting Isis and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on social media.
The preacher gave a 20-minute speech protesting his innocence as he appeared at Westminster magistrates’ court yesterday afternoon. He told the court that it was David Cameron and the police who should be in the dock.
Wearing a long white robe, Mr Choudary, 48, spoke confidently and waved notes around about his case. He said that he wished to represent himself as he appeared alongside Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, 32, from Whitechapel, east London, who is also accused of inviting support for Isis.
Mr Choudary, who was born in Britain, refused to confirm his east London address.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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Posted August 6, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So let’s be clear about what’s really going on here. It is not the pro-life movement that’s forced Planned Parenthood to unite actual family planning and mass feticide under one institutional umbrella. It is not the Catholic Church or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles or the Southern Baptist Convention or the Republican Party that have bundled pap smears and pregnancy tests and HPV vaccines with the kind of grisly business being conducted on those videos. This is Planned Parenthood’s choice; it is liberalism’s choice; it is the respectable center-left of Dana Milbank and Ruth Marcus and Will Saletan that’s telling pro-life and pro-choice Americans alike that contraceptive access and fetal dismemberment are just a package deal, that if you want to fund an institution that makes contraception widely available then you just have to live with those “it’s another boy!” fetal corpses in said institution’s freezer, that’s just the price of women’s health care and contraceptive access, and who are you to complain about paying it, since after all the abortion arm of Planned Parenthood is actually pretty profitable and doesn’t need your tax dollars?

This is a frankly terrible argument, rooted in a form of self-deception that would be recognized as such in any other context. Tell me anything but this, liberals: Tell me that you aren’t just pro-choice but pro-abortion, tell me that abortion is morally necessary and praiseworthy, tell me that it’s as morally neutral as snuffing out a rabbit, tell me that a fetus is just a clump of cells and that pro-lifers are all unhinged zealots. Those arguments, as much as I disagree with them, have a real consistency, a moral logic that actually makes sense and actually justifies the continued funding of Planned Parenthood.

But to concede that pro-lifers might be somewhat right to be troubled by abortion, to shudder along with us just a little bit at the crushing of the unborn human body, and then turn around and still demand the funding of an institution that actually does the quease-inducing killing on the grounds that what’s being funded will help stop that organization from having to crush quite so often, kill quite so prolifically – no, spare me. Spare me. Tell the allegedly “pro-life” institution you support to set down the forceps, put away the vacuum, and then we’ll talk about what kind of family planning programs deserve funding. But don’t bring your worldview’s bloody hands to me and demand my dollars to pay for soap enough to maybe wash a few flecks off.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 6, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For many reasons, then, Boko Haram is a significant and threatening phenomenon, which demands explanation. It is valuable to have Virginia Comolli's thoughtful and wide-ranging account of the movement, which draws on extensive conversations with Nigerians of many backgrounds, apart from archival work. As with any study of a current topic, her book runs the risk of becoming obsolete the moment it appears in print, but it is nevertheless a very useful overview. Surprisingly, many aspects of this strictly contemporary movement are fiercely debated and poorly understood, and Comolli is a sure-footed guide through the scholarly battlegrounds.

She roots the insurgency in some very old-established traditions within North African Islam. Long before the arrival of British colonialism, the lands that became northern Nigeria were ruled by proud sultanates and emirates, of which Kano was the most celebrated. One of the great events in that history was the sweeping jihad movement undertaken at the start of the 19th century by the visionary Fulani reformer Usman dan Fodio. Islamic memories survived powerfully under the British, who worked closely with local political and religious authorities.

That historical legacy is cherished up to the present day, providing an ideological vehicle for popular disenchantment and resistance. Comolli rightly points out that Boko Haram did not spring from nowhere in 2002, but grew out of a series of Islamist, Wahhabi, and fundamentalist sects and student movements that had been flourishing from the 1970s onward. Islamic insurgencies are nothing new to Nigeria, and neither are charismatic and prophetic leaders.

I offer one criticism of an excellent book, namely that Comolli is so focused on tracing the tangled origins of Boko Haram that she underplays the larger political, ethnic, and religious picture, and specifically the role of Christianity. Undoubtedly, she knows that story very well, but most non-specialist readers will not, and they need to be told. A case can be made that Boko Haram is the most aggressive and acute form of a sweeping anti-Christian protest movement.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 6, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If pastors and pundits and politicos follow Moore's lead, what would that mean for evangelicals—and for everyone else?

On the evangelical side, Moore hints at a few strategic shifts ahead—and, perhaps, strategic retrenchments. During his time as a Southern Baptist leader, Moore has pushed hard on the topic of racial reconciliation within the denomination. He sees the broader church for what it’s becoming: markedly less white, and steadily more global. This is part of the context for his campaign against a vague, American-values Christianity—the real movement in the faith is happening outside of the United States.

He also thinks Christians need to change how they relate to their LGBT brothers and sisters. “The loudest voices against the hounding and intimidation of gay and lesbian persons around the world should be from the wing of the church most committed to a biblical Christian sexual ethic,” he writes. This means working to end homelessness among gays and lesbians, he says, and caring for teens who have been rejected by their parents.

But this response is not a softening on sexuality; if anything, Moore is calling for more fidelity to this Christian sexual ethic. This means talking about “chastity,” not just “abstinence,” he says; condemning “fornication,” not just “premarital sex.” It means eschewing divorce and recognizing traditional gender roles and rejecting the values of the sexual revolution.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristology

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Posted August 6, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[The Rev. Gretta] Vosper, 57, who was ordained in 1993 and joined her east-end church in 1997, said the idea of an interventionist, supernatural being on which so much church doctrine is based belongs to an outdated world view.

What’s important, she says, is that her views hearken to Christianity’s beginnings, before the focus shifted from how one lived to doctrinal belief in God, Jesus and the Bible.

“Is the Bible really the word of God? Was Jesus a person?” she said.

“It’s mythology. We build a faith tradition upon it which shifted to find belief more important than how we lived.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsAtheismSecularism* Theology

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Posted August 6, 2015 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the end of the 19th century, eight nations had significant numbers of businesspeople and diplomats in China. Their modern railroads and telegraph lines had greatly increased the vast country’s internal communication. Their missionaries, educators, and health workers had served the Chinese people for centuries. Many Chinese had become Christians.

The Boxer Uprising (1899–1901) was an attempt to purge the country of foreign influence. Boxers, or members of the Society of Righteous Fists, laid siege for 55 days to the foreign quarter in Beijing. One provincial governor massacred 44 Protestant missionaries—men, women, and children—after luring them to his capital with promises of safety. The final death toll: 136 Protestant missionaries and 53 children; 2,000 Chinese Protestants; well over 200 Russian Orthodox Christians; and 30,000 Chinese Catholics.

Drastic repercussions followed. Some 20,000 soldiers invaded China and quashed the rebellion. Many foreigners—mainly soldiers and businesspeople, but also some missionaries—engaged in looting. Governments, companies, and mission agencies that lost people and property demanded huge reparations. Their demands put an already shaky dynasty into a worse condition and created further resentments.

Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission (CIM), stood apart.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissions* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 6, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ministers will challenge the Church of England to support the biggest shake up of Sunday trading laws in a generation to help boost high streets and cut shopping bills for every household in Britain.
Under plans unveiled in a consultation today, local authorities will be given the power to prevent large supermarkets from opening longer in an attempt to revive Britain's high streets.
The Government will encourage councils to use the new powers to help town centre stores at the expense of larger out-of-town shops.

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 6:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians are facing growing persecution around the world, fuelled mainly by Islamic extremism and repressive governments, leading the pope to warn of “a form of genocide” and for campaigners to speak of “religio-ethnic cleansing”.

The scale of attacks on Christians in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America has alarmed organisations that monitor religious persecution, with most reporting a significant deterioration in recent years.

On his recent trip to Latin America, Pope Francis said he was dismayed “to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus”. He went on: “In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A veteran leader of the Muslim Brotherhood was so alarmed by the rising calls for violence from the group’s youth that he risked arrest to urge the movement to stay peaceful.

Already hunted by the police for his role in a banned organization when he released his online manifesto in May, the leader, Mahmoud Ghuzlan, conceded that shunning violence in the face of the government crackdown on the Brotherhood was “like grasping a burning coal.” But, he said, history taught that “peacefulness is stronger than weapons, and violence is the reason for defeat and demise.”

It was a losing argument, or so it now appears. The police in Cairo soon found and arrested him. A chorus of Islamists mocked him on social media as naïve, unrealistic and hypocritical.

And his manifesto for “peacefulness” was quickly drowned out by official statements that have come closer to endorsing violence than anything the organization has said or done in more than four decades — an ominous turn for both Egypt and the West.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




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

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 7:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

China has tightened its grip over the country’s 650m internet users by announcing moves to station police officers inside large internet companies in an effort to heighten censorship and prevent subversion, according to a senior security official.
The move follows a spate of recent efforts to tighten the screws on social media users, as well as a draft cyber security law that will grant authorities broad new powers to control the internet in the country and force web companies to share more data with the government.

Chen Zhimin, the deputy minister of public security, revealed a plan to set up “network security offices” in major internet companies — such as Tencent and Alibaba — “in order to be able to find out about illegal internet activity more quickly”, although he did not specify how the initiative would work.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sacks is reported to have shied away from media appearances for the past two years so as not to overshadow his successor as chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis. However, his head is firmly back above the parapet as he challenges many who say that religion is intrinsically a cause for violence. It is another challenge altogether from that of being the head of mainstream Orthodox Judaism — during which he became probably the best-known British chief rabbi in Anglo-Jewish history. An Archbishop of Canterbury during his period in office is the principal leader of the Church of England, even though the synod can resemble the House of Commons at prime minister’s questions. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster cannot argue with the Pope. A chief rabbi has to cope not only with the deviating views of other clerics but also with members of his flock who enjoy sniping from the wings.

The resulting magnum opus has been a labour of love. “I wrote with passion and it took 12 years,” he says, adding that he has a profound belief in detail: “You can’t do microsurgery with a pneumatic drill.” He has also rewritten the book four times.

Is it a book that could have been written while he was chief rabbi? After all, The Dignity of Difference, a previous book, was severely criticised by other rabbis because it appeared to give equality to other faiths. “The Dignity of Difference was a statement of global ethics. This is a statement of what I take to be the bedrock of Abrahamic monotheism,” says Sacks, adding that his latest book is more hard hitting. “I can probably speak more forcefully now than I could, because I am putting myself on the line, not the community on the line.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksGlobalizationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism* Theology

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In May, authorities in eastern China’s Zhejiang province unveiled rules severely limiting the size and placement of crosses on churches — the codification of a sometimes-violent 2014 campaign that saw crosses torn from more than 300 churches in and around the city of Wenzhou, home to a large Christian community.

The local government now appears to be enforcing the new regulations.

As shown in the Associated Press..authorities last week dispatched demolition crews to shear off the cross that sat atop Lower Dafei Catholic Church outside Wenzhou as parishioners sang hymns in protest.

“They say we have religious freedom. Is this freedom?” one congregation member, surnamed Chen, told the AP. “Have we violated any national laws? We are also good Chinese citizens.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* Religion News & CommentaryChurch-State Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Diocese of Colombo of the Church of Ceylon has called on political parties and voters to take a stand against corruption and greed in upcoming parliamentary elections.

On 26 June a government spokesperson announced that Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena had dissolved parliament in an effort to clear the way for needed reforms. Voting to elect a new 225-member Parliament is set for 17 August, ten months ahead of schedule.

In a statement to diocesan parishes and the media, the Rt Revd Dhiloraj Ranjit Canagasabey, Bishop of Colombo, underlined the need for reform.

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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaSri Lanka* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least eight people were killed and about 100 others were kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram militants in an overnight raid on a village near Cameroon's northern border, a local government and a military source said.

Tchakarmari, the village targeted early on Tuesday, lies north of Maroua, where dozens of people were killed in a series of suicide bombings by the Nigerian Islamist group last month.

"Residents said the attackers headed back to Nigeria where Cameroon is not allowed to pursue them," the local government source in the Far North region said.

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Posted August 4, 2015 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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