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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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'You and I have been wonderfully spared," Thomas Jefferson wrote John Adams in 1812...."
It's easy now, in a nation awash with complaints about what our Founders did not do, what imperfect humans they seem to 21st century eyes, to overlook how startlingly bold their views and actions were in their own day and are, in fact, even today. Who else in 1776 declared, let alone thought it a self-evident truth, that all men were created equal, entitled to inalienable rights, or to any rights at all? How few declare these views today or, glibly declaring them, really intend to treat their countrymen or others as equal, entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
Certainly not America's 20th century enemies, the Nazis and communists; certainly not today's Islamic radicals, who consider infidels unworthy to live and the faithful bound by an ancient and brutal code of law. We are fortunate that the Founders of our nation were enlightened, generous, jealous of their rights and those of their countrymen, and prepared to risk everything to create a free republic.
Breaking with Britain was a risky and distressing venture; could the American colonies go it alone and survive in a world of great European powers?
Read it all.
Watch it all, and be forewarned, you are not going to make it through without Kleenex--KSH.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Military / Armed Forces * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Read it all.
"Today we stand on an awful arena, where character which was the growth of centuries was tested and determined by the issues of a single day. We are compassed about by a cloud of witnesses; not alone the shadowy ranks of those who wrestled here, but the greater parties of the action--they for whom these things were done. Forms of thought rise before us, as in an amphitheatre, circle beyond circle, rank above rank; The State, The Union, The People. And these are One. Let us--from the arena, contemplate them--the spiritual spectators.
"There is an aspect in which the question at issue might seem to be of forms, and not of substance. It was, on its face, a question of government. There was a boastful pretence that each State held in its hands the death-warrant of the Nation; that any State had a right, without show of justification outside of its own caprice, to violate the covenants of the constitution, to break away from the Union, and set up its own little sovereignty as sufficient for all human purposes and ends; thus leaving it to the mere will or whim of any member of our political system to destroy the body and dissolve the soul of the Great People. This was the political question submitted to the arbitrament of arms. But the victory was of great politics over small. It was the right reason, the moral consciousness and solemn resolve of the people rectifying its wavering exterior lines according to the life-lines of its organic being.
"There is a phrase abroad which obscures the legal and moral questions involved in the issue,--indeed, which falsifies history: "The War between the States". There are here no States outside of the Union. Resolving themselves out of it does not release them. Even were they successful in intrenching themselves in this attitude, they would only relapse into territories of the United States. Indeed several of the States so resolving were never in their own right either States or Colonies; but their territories were purchased by the common treasury of the Union. Underneath this phrase and title,--"The War between the States"--lies the false assumption that our Union is but a compact of States. Were it so, neither party to it could renounce it at his own mere will or caprice. Even on this theory the States remaining true to the terms of their treaty, and loyal to its intent, would have the right to resist force by force, to take up the gage of battle thrown down by the rebellious States, and compel them to return to their duty and their allegiance. The Law of Nations would have accorded the loyal States this right and remedy.
"But this was not our theory, nor our justification. The flag we bore into the field was not that of particular States, no matter how many nor how loyal, arrayed against other States. It was the flag of the Union, the flag of the people, vindicating the right and charged with the duty of preventing any factions, no matter how many nor under what pretence, from breaking up this common Country.
"It was the country of the South as well as of the North. The men who sought to dismember it, belonged to it. Its was a larger life, aloof from the dominance of self-surroundings; but in it their truest interests were interwoven. They suffered themselves to be drawn down from the spiritual ideal by influences of the physical world. There is in man that peril of the double nature. "But I see another law", says St. Paul. "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind."
--Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (1828-1914). The remarks here are from Chamberlain’s address at the general dedicatory exercises in the evening in the court house in Gettsyburg on the occasion of the dedication of the Maine monuments. It took place on October 3, 1889. For those who are history buffs you can see an actual program of the events there (on page 545)--KSH.
...one thing is certain: the religious liberty of individuals and faith-based institutions -- up to and including churches -- is now threatened in a way not present before the ruling. When the Court heard oral arguments for Obergefell in April, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli's admitted that the tax-exempt status of religious institutions "could be an issue" if same-sex marriage is recognized as a right.
Sounding very much unlike the man from Burwell, Chief Justice Roberts's Obergefell dissent lays the stakes on the table:
Today's decision, for example, creates serious questions about religious liberty. Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is -- unlike the right imagined by the majority -- actually spelled out in the Constitution. Respect for sincere religious conviction has led voters and legislators in every State that has adopted same-sex marriage democratically to include accommodations for religious practice. The majority's decision imposing same-sex marriage cannot, of course, create any such accommodations. The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to "advocate" and "teach" their views of marriage. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to "exercise" religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.
How do we get from "marriage equality" to churches forced into performing weddings that violate their teachings? Lawsuits.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General Supreme Court * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
In years and decades to come, we’ll remember the last two weeks. The Emanuel A.M.E. massacre, the sudden shift away from the Confederate flag, the Supreme Court’s reaffirmation of the Affordable Care Act and its extension of same-sex marriage to every state. Last Friday there was an awesome funeral service for Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of Emanuel and one of the victims in the shooting. And all of it while once again black churches have been burning, some under suspicious circumstances.
For all of America’s secularization, actual and expected, each event was resonant with religious significations—and each prompted a wave of public theology. And none more so than Pinckney’s funeral, which saw a small army of clergy, a massive choir, an arena full of mourners, and the president of the United States in the pulpit for the eulogy.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch History Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Office of the President President Barack Obama * South Carolina * Theology
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained Stewardship * Culture-Watch Education Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence Young Adults * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * South Carolina
Greece's prime minister has put his political clout behind the "no" camp in a referendum to decide whether the country should accept the terms of an international bailout. But the people appear to be evenly split on the issue, according to two new opinion polls.
One survey, conducted by the respected ALCO institute just 48 hours before the referendum that could decide Greece's economic fate and future in the eurozone, gives the "yes" camp 44.8 percent against 43.4 percent for the "no" side, according to Reuters.
But a second poll, conducted by Public Issue and published in the ruling party's newspaper, reports a 0.5-percentage-point lead for those opposed to the bailout.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Credit Markets Currency Markets Euro European Central Bank The Banking System/Sector Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Greece
Nearly seven in 10 millennials, or 69% of those ages 18 to 34, say they have it harder than previous generations in securing a middle-class lifestyle. But the story doesn’t stop at younger Americans feeling they have it harder than older generations. Seventy-seven percent of seniors say that young people today have a harder time achieving a secure middle-class lifestyle compared with their counterparts 20 or 30 years ago. The share of seniors with this view is striking, particularly given that many of them have lived through the Great Depression, World War II, Stagflation, the stock market crash of 1987, and, most recently, the Great Recession.
More than seven in 10 Americans also believe that millennials have it harder when it comes to saving for retirement (81%); owning a home (76%); having a stable, decent-paying job (71%); and having stable, affordable housing (71%).
These are some of the findings from a recent Hart Research survey conducted for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s How Housing Matters Initiative. It also found that millennials are concerned about their housing situation and that many have had personal experience with housing distress. This has caused them to re-assess the feasibility of homeownership, with many millennial homeowners considering whether to rent in the future.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Area Bishop of North Africa, and Rector of St George's, in the capital Tunis, the Rt Revd Bill Musk, visited survivors of the attack in intensive care at hospital. He said that they were still deeply in shock.
"It's very humbling - you just go to listen," he said. "Everyone wants us to pray with them. When you have come very close to dying, or someone you love has, we are all vulnerable."
The overwhelming response from Tunisians has been one of shame, Bishop Musk said. One of the nurses at the bedside of a British victim of the shooting was continually apologising and explaining how Mr Rezgui did not represent true Islam, he said.
The attack was also a disaster for Tunisia, as it would lose billions of pounds if tourists decided to stay away.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Tunisia * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
And now -- enter God's poetic justice. It seems that Bishop Bruno, who is as quick as any Episcopal Church diocesan to recognize a Dennis Canon interest in property when he comes across one, forgot about an earlier reversionary interest in the St. James parish property. It turns out that the original developer of the area, Griffith Company, donated in 1945 the land on which the beautiful St. James building was erected, to the Protestant Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles, upon "the condition, covenant and restriction" that
The property conveyed shall be used for church purposes exclusively and no building other than a church and appurtenances shall be erected, placed or maintained thereon. The foregoing restriction shall be binding upon the [Bishop], his successors and assigns. Upon the breach of the foregoing condition, the title to said property ... shall become at once divested from the [Bishop], his successors and assigns, and shall revert and revest in the grantor [Griffith Company], its successors or assigns.
Thus if Bishop Bruno carries out his plans to sell the property to the current developer, the only thing that developer could do with the property is maintain the existing church building on it (or build a brand-new one). And thus there is no way a developer would pay $15 million for land that is so encumbered.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles TEC Departing Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market
Doctors in Belgium have granted a medically depressed woman the right to end her own life.
The 24-year-old woman, named only as ‘Laura’, told doctors she had suffered from depression since she was a child and wished to end her life, local newspaper De Morgen reported.
Laura, who entered a psychiatric facility when she was 21, told the publication: “life, that’s not for me.”
"Death feels to me not as a choice. If I had a choice, I would choose a bearable life, but I have done everything and that was unsuccessful," she told the newspaper.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Psychology Young Adults * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Belgium * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Nathan Collier said he was inspired by the recent Supreme Court decision that made marriage equal. He said he was particularly struck by the words of dissenting Chief Justice John Roberts who claimed giving gay couples the right to marry, might inspire polygamy.
And so this week, Mr Collier and his two wives, Victoria and Christine, entered a courthouse in Billings, Montana, and sought an application to legalise the trio’s polygamous union,
“Right now we're waiting for an answer," Mr Collier told The Independent. “I have two wives because I love two women and I want my second wife to have the same legal rights and protection as my first.”
He added: "Most people are not us. I am not trying to define what marriage means for anybody else - I am trying to define what marriage means for us."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General Supreme Court * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
What does this show us? Three things, I think.
It shows us that tolerance is over. I’m not breaking new ground here–but this must be said. Tolerance is dead. Oppenheimer’s piece ran all of two days after the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage. He wants to crush those who dare to stand against the fullest possible acceptance of what Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield has called “samesexuality.” Sexuality liberated from any constraints is now a full-blown worldview. This is paganism, 21st-century version. The body is all; sex is all.
The hippies now wear steel-toed boots. The earlier “free love” movement was all about doing what you want–live and let live. Today’s version of this pagan impulse is militaristic–live and you better approve. There’s a menace, a fury, in this cultural momentum. There will be no tolerance. There will be no dissent. Churches and organizations that stand bravely against the rushing tide of the late stages of the sexual revolution will be crushed.
It shows us that churches and organizations doing much good are imperiled.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes The U.S. Government Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Britain and America may now be post-Christian societies but they don’t need to become anti-Christian societies. Sadly, I see signs that we might be drifting in that direction. There is the mounting campaign to close all faith schools; the questioning of Tim Farron MP’s legitimacy to lead the Liberal Democrats because of his evangelical background; and the fear of the chief justice of the US Supreme Court that opponents of Christian morality “are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent”; no charitable status for faith-based groups and no room for believers in the public square.
Half of me can identify with the anti-religious instinct because, while I’m a Christian seeking space within a secular society, I am also a sceptic about Islam. I’m fearful that, without Christianity’s clear narrative — ending as the New Testament does with the example of Jesus — Islam is a religion that’s too easy for the likes of Seifeddine Rezgui to misinterpret. Most Muslims, of course, hate the heinous crime he committed in their name — but, regardless of what we might think about Islam, thinking the worst is not really a practical option. Nearly three million Britons are Muslims; 1.6 billion of our global neighbours see Allah as the one true God. The challenge must be to understand them and help them to reform their religion — not to drive them and it underground.
I want less vacuous talk of fairness, tolerance and generosity from our politicians. Let’s start getting specific about what we mean by “British values”. Freedom of religion should be a cornerstone of western belief and it must stand as a contrast to the many Islamic states where apostasy is punishable by death.
Read it all from the London Times (subscription required) [emphasis mine].
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Tunisia America/U.S.A. England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The murders of 9 churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, rekindled the debate about gun control in America. But some religious leaders are advocating using armed security to defend their congregations.
One church where this is already happening is the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit which has its own 25-strong security force called "The Ministers of Defence". Charles H. Ellis III is its senior pastor.
Listen to it all (a little over 3 minutes).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
In the past few days, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Greece has blown up negotiations with European creditors on staving off default, then retreated and accepted more or less the same terms, only to have European leaders tell him the offer had expired.
Greeks are supposed to vote on a referendum this weekend, but no one there or elsewhere seems sure what they will be asked, or what the consequences will be for voting yes or no.
And European leaders here and in Berlin and Paris have been saying distinct — sometimes directly contradictory — things about whether there is a bailout deal for Greece still on the table, and whether they want Greece to hold its referendum before they can renew discussions about it.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Credit Markets Currency Markets The Banking System/Sector Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Greece * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
So is polygamy passé? The next slide on our slippery slope to damnation? The next rung on our steep climb towards full civil rights and equality in America?
Whatever your take, there’s no denying that last week’s SCOTUS opinions broke our collective silence on poly rights. If Friday’s ruling was about dignity and equality, as Justice Kennedy made clear, we must continue this debate.
Read it all from Brian Pellot.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Polyamory --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General Supreme Court * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Today, a new "cloud tax" takes effect in the city of Chicago, targeting online databases and streaming entertainment services. It's a puzzling tax, cutting against many of the basic assumptions of the web, but the broader implications could be even more unsettling. Cloud services are built to be universal: Netflix works the same anywhere in the US, and except for rights constraints, you could extend that to the entire world. But many taxes are local — and as streaming services swallow up more and more of the world's entertainment, that could be a serious problem.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Movies & Television * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance Taxes Politics in General City Government * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
...we should call Oppenheimer’s arguments what they are: societally destructive. He seems to think that churches losing their privileged positions will be just peachy for society, because the government will then step in and execute the same work with extreme competency. His faith in big government is touching, but naive. Consider how the Great Society programs have fared. The government often does a much worse job of distributing funds and targeting local needs than community-specific outfits that must give local account for their operations.
[Also]...we should challenge Oppenheimer on the way he makes his case. He dislikes Scientology. He’s fit-to-be-tied that the group was given a tax-exemption as a religion. But Scientology is quite different from the vast spectrum of American churches. Oppenheimer has used a tiny group at the margins to deny an obvious truth about the myriad groups at the center. Oppenheimer would nuke a thriving continent to vanquish an unwanted mouse.
He also notes the awkwardness of the IRS determining what is and isn’t a church. But instead of dealing with that problem, he doubles down on it, and encourages exponentially greater government involvement to regulate congregations. A most vexing solution, this. His comments on Yale and universities are in truth a screen to hide his real target: churches, particularly those “that dissent from settled public policy on matters of race or sexuality.”
Here we behold the Oppenheimer Project with unveiled face. It isn’t really about redirecting a few odd dollars and cents currently going to religious nutjobs. It’s about smashing into oblivion those who dare to resist the late stages of the sexual revolution. They no longer deserve to thrive, or perhaps even exist, in this country.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes The U.S. Government Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Those who work with children, young people and vulnerable adults know only too well the risks associated with residential care. In 2012, of the 16,500 children who were found to be at high risk of sexual exploitation, more than a third—35%—were children living in residential care. It seems to me that these amendments would add additional strength to the general direction of the Bill, which we on these Benches happily support. We also draw on the research and briefing of the Children’s Society.
Places which care for children, young people and vulnerable adults in either residential or supported care facilities can easily become targeted by people who, via grooming and addiction to psychoactive drugs, use control to lead children and vulnerable adults into other very serious kinds of abuse. I note the point that the noble Lord made that accepting the amendment would put this offence on the same footing as that of supplying drugs outside a school, which the Bill already makes an aggravating factor.
My colleague the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol told me that last year, in his own city of Bristol, 13 men were convicted of a string of sexual offences involving sexual abuse, trafficking, rape and prostitution of teenage girls as young as 13 years old. Their tactics were clear: in return for drugs and alcohol, young girls were forced to perform sexual acts with older men. Much more could be said but I want to support these amendments because, as I say, they would help this vulnerable group to receive additional protection.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Teens / Youth * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
We must contend for marriage as God’s gift to humanity – a gift central and essential to human flourishing and a gift that is limited to the conjugal union of a man and a woman. We must contend for religious liberty for all, and focus our energies on protecting the rights of Christian citizens and Christian institutions to teach and operate on the basis of Christian conviction.
We cannot be silent, and we cannot join the moral revolution that stands in direct opposition to what we believe the Creator has designed, given, and intended for us. We cannot be silent, and we cannot fail to contend for marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
In one sense, everything has changed. And yet, nothing has changed. The cultural and legal landscape has changed, as we believe this will lead to very real harms to our neighbors. But our Christian responsibility has not changed. We are charged to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman and to speak the truth in love. We are also commanded to uphold the truth about marriage in our own lives, in our own marriages, in our own families, and in our own churches.
We are called to be the people of the truth, even when the truth is not popular and even when the truth is denied by the culture around us.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
One year ago I wrote in these pages about how the InterVarsity ministry at Bowdoin College, with a forty year history of ministering the Christian Gospel, was formally refused access to meet with students on campus facilities. Christian students in the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship were denied access to the funds and facilities for student activities and other benefits enjoyed generally by students participating in voluntary activities on the campus....
One year later, the ministry continues with these important changes to report.
The venue has changed. This Christian ministry, through the help of committed friends, acquired a building on the edge of campus and became a member of the Consortium of Christian Study Centers. The meetings that once took place in the college chapel, the college dining halls, and in buildings reserved for Christians to practice religious faith now take place in a converted living room at the Joseph and Alice McKeen Christian Study Center, named after the first President of Bowdoin College and his first lady.
The challenge to incarnational and invitational ministry has changed. The InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin College previously operated primarily from a base on campus and only secondarily retreated to points beyond. Those priorities have been reversed by force of circumstance, and the ministry now operates primarily from its newly acquired space on the edge of campus.
Read it all from First Things.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Young Adults * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
One reason that this has been rather shocking to American Catholics is that we have had, at least for the last century or so, a fairly benign relationship with the environing culture. Until around 1970, there was, throughout the society and across religious boundaries, a broad moral consensus in our country, especially in regard to sexual and family matters. This is one reason why, in the 1950's, Archbishop Fulton Sheen could find such a wide and appreciative audience among Protestants and Jews, even as he laid out fundamentally Catholic perspectives on morality.
But now that consensus has largely been shattered, and the Church finds itself opposed, not so much by other religious denominations, as it was in the 19th century, but by the ideology of secularism and the self-defining individual -- admirably expressed, by the way, in Justice Kennedy's articulation of the majority position in the case under consideration.
So what do we do?
We continue to put forth our point of view winsomely, invitingly, and non-violently, loving our opponents and reaching out to those with whom we disagree. As St. John Paul II said, the Church always proposes, never imposes. And we take a deep breath, preparing for what could be some aggression from the secular society, but we take courage from a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us.
The Church has faced this sort of thing before -- and we're still standing.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
[ESPN's Frank Isola said] “Starting with [coach] Pat Riley in the early ’90s, the Knicks held training camp at the College of Charleston in South Carolina for nearly 15 years. It was the team’s home away from home in early October — a time when hope is at its peak for every NBA team. The players, coaches and yes, even the curmudgeon beat writers absolutely fell in love with the place. The weather, the food, but mostly the people make Charleston the beautiful city it is today. I was there with my family last August, in fact.
“Now for all the wrong reasons, Charleston has been in the news lately. And yet in its darkest hour, Charleston sent a powerful message to the world when relatives of nine African Americans gunned down at a local church stood in a courtroom and told a hateful white man they forgive him. Thanks, Charleston.
“On Friday, President Obama delivered a moving eulogy for one of the victims, the Reverend Clementa Pinckney. He even sang ‘Amazing Grace.’ This all took place inside a basketball arena at the College of Charleston — more than ever, a symbol of hope.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * South Carolina * Theology
The danger now is that, just as Greece was once a trailblazer in linking a democratic transition to the European project, so it may become an emblem of a new and dangerous process: the disintegration of the EU. The current crisis could easily lead to the country leaving the euro and eventually the union itself. That would undermine the fundamental EU proposition: that joining the European club is the best guarantee of future prosperity and stability.
Even if an angry and impoverished Greece ultimately remains inside the tent, the link between the EU and prosperity will have been ruptured. For the horrible truth is dawning that it is not just that the EU has failed to deliver on its promises of prosperity and unity. By locking Greece and other EU countries into a failed economic experiment — the euro — it is now actively destroying wealth, stability and European solidarity.
The dangers of that process are all the more pronounced because Greece is in a highly strategic location. To the south lies the chaos and bloodshed of Libya; to the north lies the instability of the Balkans; to the east, an angry and resurgent Russia.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Credit Markets Currency Markets Euro European Central Bank Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Banking System/Sector The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Greece * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The body of a dead Liberian man has tested positive for Ebola - the country's first reported case since it was declared free of the disease.
Deputy health minister Tolbert Nyenswah said tests confirmed that the 17-year-old man, from a town near the main airport, had died of the disease.
Officials are investigating how he contracted Ebola, Mr Nyenswah said.
Read it all.
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The BIS critique goes like this. Low interest rates have sustained the recovery, but the support is fragile. The economy relies too much on debt, which cannot build forever, and artificially high asset prices (stocks, homes, bonds) may someday tumble from unrealistic levels. A new crisis could be severe because governments have already deployed their standard anti-recession tools: cheap credit and big deficits.
The BIS’s most intriguing point is that a new recession or financial crisis might originate with emerging-market countries: China, Brazil, India, Turkey and the like. Although there has been debt repayment in the United States, the opposite has happened in some emerging-market countries, the BIS says. Private firms have assumed dollar loans worth $3 trillion, even though their “debt servicing capacity . . . has deteriorated.” Will defaults follow?
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Some of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria have been forced to join Islamist militant group Boko Haram, the BBC has been told.
Witnesses say some are now being used to terrorise other captives, and are even carrying out killings themselves.
The testimony cannot be verified but Amnesty International says other girls kidnapped by Boko Haram have been forced to fight.
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The result has been an obvious change in tone and emphasis — but not teaching or policy — at many churches. Almost all evangelical churches oppose same-sex marriage, and many do not allow gays and lesbians to serve in leadership positions unless they are celibate. Some pastors, however, now either minimize their preaching on the subject or speak of homosexuality in carefully contextualized sermons emphasizing that everyone is a sinner and that Christians should love and welcome all.
“Evangelicals are coming to the realization that they hold a minority view in the culture, and that on this issue, they have lost the home-field advantage,” said Ed Stetzer, the executive director of LifeWay Research, which surveys evangelicals. “They are learning to speak with winsomeness and graciousness, which, when their view was the majority, evangelicals tended not to do.” A handful of evangelical churches have changed their positions. City Church in San Francisco, for example, has dropped its rule that gays and lesbians commit to celibacy to become members, and GracePointe Church in Tennessee has said gays and lesbians can serve in leadership roles and receive the sacrament of marriage. Ken Wilson, who founded the Vineyard Church in Ann Arbor, Mich., published an open letter calling for a greater embrace of gays and lesbians in evangelical churches. But Mr. Stetzer said they are the exceptions.
“Well-known evangelicals who have shifted on same-sex marriage, you could fit them all in an S.U.V.,” Mr. Stetzer said. “If you do shift, you become a media celebrity, but the shift among practicing evangelicals is minimal.”
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Rejected in 2006, and again in 2009, attempts to introduce assisted suicide are now back on the table. This also follows rejection in Wales, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Rob Marris MP has introduced an assisted dying bill that is expected to be largely the same as Lord Falconer’s previous effort, which ran out of time before May’s general election. It is anticipated the bill will make it legal to assist in the death of people who are terminally ill with six months or less to live, provided they are considered mentally competent by two doctors. The change is presented as a compassionate response to tragic situations. Cases of people in severe continual pain make us want to be compassionate, and that is a good thing.
But this is a wholly wrong way to look after the most vulnerable. In fact, it does the opposite, putting them in mortal peril. The law must stay as it is now to protect those who are least able to have their voice heard: the disabled, terminally ill and elderly, people who might otherwise feel pressured into ending their lives. Campaigners to change the law make grand promises for the modesty of their goals, but I don’t believe them. The parameters set out for who could ask for a doctor’s help in killing themselves are ambiguous, open to challenge, and not unanimously supported among assisted dying advocates.
For example, many campaigners would like the law to apply to chronic non-terminal conditions.
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Almost on cue, there were three different news stories about abortion and Down syndrome around the time of the encyclical’s release. New blood screening, for instance, has resulted in a 34 percent increase in such abortions in Britain. Just a few days later, a Washington Post guest columnist argued such routine and systematic screening — not least because between 67 percent and 92 percent end up aborting — constitutes the formal “elimination of a group of people quite happy being themselves” under “the false pretense of women’s rights.” And then there was the story of the truly despicable company stealing the image of a child with Down syndrome for their Orwellian-sounding test kit named “Tranquility.”
You couldn’t ask for a more revealing practice of the throwaway culture Pope Francis so strongly decries. It doesn’t matter that people with Down syndrome are happier than those who are “normal;” our consumer culture’s tendency is to turn everything into a mere object or tool of the market, and when the object or tool is no longer useful, we simply discard it. These children don’t meet the quality-control standards of the consumer, and so the product simply gets thrown out as so much trash.
But one of the central themes of Pope Francis’s encyclical is that all creation has value independent of its value within a consumer culture. In response to my sharing the three stories mentioned above on social media, an old friend sent me a touching e-mail (parts of which are shared here with permission) about her sister with Down syndrome. She remembers that her family was initially sad and worried — but now, looking back, “it truly made no sense....”
Read it all from Charles Camosy in the Washington Post.
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[Dan] Price dropped his salary from about $1 million to $70,000 in order to increase pay for many of his employees.
In the weeks that have followed, Price has received hundreds of messages — some from CEOs who followed suit with similar moves and others from critics who feel the decision will destroy Price's company.
Of all the notes that he has received, the most striking to Price was a stack of 33 letters — delivered by mail — from a class of sixth graders at Woodbury Elementary School in Irvine, California.
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...the Court majority wrote that gays and lesbians do not want to change the institution of marriage, but rather want to benefit from it. This is hard to believe, given more recent writing from gay activists like Dan Savage expressing a desire to loosen the strictures of monogamy in all marriages. Besides, if marriage can be redefined according to what we desire — that is, if there is no essential nature to marriage, or to gender — then there are no boundaries on marriage. Marriage inevitably loses its power.
In that sense, social and religious conservatives must recognize that the Obergefell decision did not come from nowhere. It is the logical result of the Sexual Revolution, which valorized erotic liberty. It has been widely and correctly observed that heterosexuals began to devalue marriage long before same-sex marriage became an issue. The individualism at the heart of contemporary American culture is at the core of Obergefell — and at the core of modern American life.
This is profoundly incompatible with orthodox Christianity. But this is the world we live in today.
Read it all from Time Magazine.
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Biden’s attendance, along with his son and daughter-in-law Hunter and Kathleen, was a meant to be a show of solidarity, he said, but it was also an effort to lift him and his family up during their time of grief.
“The reason we came was to draw strength from all of you, draw some strength from the church,” he said, noting that he had spoken and or met with each of the nine victim’s families since their losses. “I wish I could say something that would ease the pains of the families and of the church. But I know from experience, and I was reminded of it again 29 days ago, that no words can mend a broken heart. No music can fill the gaping void.”
Biden’s son died May 30 of brain cancer. No stranger to death in his family, Biden said only faith could bring relief during such difficult times.
Read it all from the local paper.
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Defenders of tax exemptions and deductions argues that if we got rid of them charitable giving would drop. It surely would, although how much, we can’t say. But of course government revenue would go up, and that money could be used to, say, house the homeless and feed the hungry. We’d have fewer church soup kitchens — but countries that truly care about poverty don’t rely on churches to run soup kitchens.
Exemption advocates also point out that churches would be squeezed out of high-property-value areas. But if it’s important to the people of Fifth Avenue to have a synagogue like Emanu-El or an Episcopal church like St. Thomas in their midst, they should pay full freight for it. They can afford to, more than millions of poorer New Yorkers whose tax bills the synagogue and church exemptions are currently inflating.
So yes, the logic of gay-marriage rights could lead to a reexamination of conservative churches’ tax exemptions (although, as long as the IRS is afraid of challenging Scientology’s exemption, everyone else is probably safe). But when that day comes, it will be long overdue. I can see keeping some exemptions; hospitals, in particular, are an indispensable, and noncontroversial, public good. And localities could always carve out sensible property-tax exceptions for nonprofits their communities need. But it’s time for most nonprofits, like those of us who faithfully cut checks to them, to pay their fair share.
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As the Supreme Court prepares to announce its decision on same-sex marriage, religious people are wondering: will we lose our tax-exempt status for our religious institutions? Justice Samuel Alito raised this question during the oral arguments, citing the 1983 Supreme Court case that ruled Bob Jones University could lose its tax-exempt status if it continued to oppose interracial dating and marriage.
The solicitor general, arguing the case for same-sex marriage, responded that it would “depend on how states work out the balance between their civil rights laws.” This sort of reply should do nothing to calm the nerves of those who object to same-sex marriage. When the conscientious objectors become a minority of the voting population, will our rights be protected?
The issue of the tax-exempt status of religious organizations is already a hot topic in some quarters. Those in favor of taxing religious organizations point out the huge financial impact that it would have, anywhere from tens to hundreds of billions of dollars per year.
The confiscation of church property is no new thing.
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All of us must be full of grief at the attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait. They are intended not only to destroy but to divide, not only to terrify but to take from us our own commitment to each other in our societies....
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Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, found that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment prohibited government actions that “demean” the lives of homosexuals and that therefore gay marriage is a constitutional right. Homosexuals, he said, cannot be deprived of the “constellation” of state-conferred benefits limited to marriage, “a keystone of the nation’s social order.” He was joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Each of the four dissenting justices issued separate opinions, the central gist of which was summed up by Justice Scalia when he wrote, “It is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.”
Justice Samuel Alito, making a similar point, noted that, “Until the federal courts intervened, the American people were engaged in a debate whether their States should recognize same-sex marriage. ... Today’s decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage.” He added, “It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.”
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...in one of the ironies in which the arc of history specializes, while the conservative case for same-sex marriage triumphed in politics, the liberationist case against marriage’s centrality to human flourishing was winning in the wider culture.
You would not know this from Kennedy’s opinion, which is relentlessly upbeat about how “new insights have strengthened, not weakened” marriage, bringing “new dimensions of freedom” to society.
But the central “new dimension of freedom” being claimed by straight America is a freedom from marriage — from the institution as traditionally understood, and from wedlock and family, period.
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Let’s also recognize that if we’re right about marriage, and I believe we are, many people will be disappointed in getting what they want. Many of our neighbors believe that a redefined concept of marriage will simply expand the institution (and, let’s be honest, many will want it to keep on expanding). This will not do so, because sexual complementarity is not ancillary to marriage. The church must prepare for the refugees from the sexual revolution.
We must prepare for those, like the sexually wayward Woman at the Well of Samaria, who will be thirsting for water of which they don’t even know.
There are two sorts of churches that will not be able to reach the sexual revolution’s refugees. A church that has given up on the truth of the Scriptures, including on marriage and sexuality, and has nothing to say to a fallen world. And a church that screams with outrage at those who disagree will have nothing to say to those who are looking for a new birth.
We must stand with conviction and with kindness, with truth and with grace. We must hold to our views and love those who hate us for them. We must not only speak Christian truths; we must speak with a Christian accent. We must say what Jesus has revealed, and we must say those things the way Jesus does — with mercy and with an invitation to new life.
Read it all from Russell Moore.
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Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.
The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.
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The Supreme Court on Friday delivered a historic victory for gay rights, ruling 5 to 4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live and that states may no longer reserve the right only for heterosexual couples.
The court’s action marks the culmination of an unprecedented upheaval in public opinion and the nation’s jurisprudence. Advocates called it the most pressing civil rights issue of modern times, while critics said the courts had sent the country into uncharted territory by changing the traditional definition of marriage.
Read it all and the full text of the decision is there.
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“As usual, baby names are reflecting a larger cultural shift,” says BabyCenter’s Global Editor in Chief Linda Murray. “Millennials are an open-minded and accepting group, and they don’t want their children to feel pressured to conform to stereotypes that might be restrictive.”
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....the controversial law still faces a bumpy future. Here are five challenges the ACA will face during the next several years:
Healthcare costs are still too high. As many enrollees are discovering, the “Affordable” Care Act is somewhat misnamed. Healthcare costs continue to rise faster than wages or overall inflation, putting a financial burden even on people who have healthcare. A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund found that 23% of Americans who have healthcare coverage are “underinsured,” meaning their out-of-pocket spending on healthcare is more than 10% of their income in a given year. Deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs have been rising because consumers and businesses have been opting for plans with lower premiums—which usually require the patient to bear more of the cost before 100% coverage kicks in. The irony is that insurance has gotten more affordable, but actual healthcare hasn’t.
The ACA includes several long-term provisions meant to explore ways to lower costs, but they may not be nearly enough to offset other trends pushing costs up, such as the retirement of the baby boomers and the development of expensive new drugs. If Congress ever gets serious about improving the ACA rather that faux-repealing it, cost will be the thing to focus on.
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The work of the church is not merely to accept those of us who are transgender, asexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, and intersex. The work of the church is to accept and celebrate that the church—the body—is itself queer. The body of Christ is queer because it isn’t defined or bound by human constructs or binaries. It transcends and subverts norms and boundaries. It contains multitudes. But the body is also queer simply because its queer members are a vital component of its identity. When I was dating a cisgender (i.e., identifying with the gender assigned at birth), heterosexual man last fall, we were in a queer relationship. My queer identity made the relationship itself queer, even though he was straight. The body of Christ is queer in this same way because it contains queer identities.
It is time for the church to sit down nervously at its own Table and confront its internalized queerphobia. It is time for the body of Christ to come out. Some of us who have come out ourselves are happy to be the friend that talks the church through it.
Coming out is not easy. It is not just about moving forward in celebration and inclusion. It is about accepting that in some ways you are just now becoming acquainted with who you really are. It means recognizing you have missed opportunities for relationship, happiness, and growth. It means grieving the years lost to fear and the heartbreak of relationships with loved ones who cannot understand. It means holding with grace the wounds you will always carry.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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In a tent city under a highway overpass in Baghdad, refugees from Iraq’s Sunni province of Anbar were unanimous about whom to blame for their misery.
“I hold Americans responsible for destroying Anbar,” said former policeman Wassem Khaled, whose home was taken over by Islamic State, or ISIS, after the Iraqi army fled from Anbar’s provincial capital of Ramadi last month.
“We all know that America is providing ISIS with weapons and food, and that it is because of American backing that they have become so strong,” added Abbas Hashem, a 50-year-old who also escaped from Ramadi and now lives in the makeshift Baghdad camp that is only occasionally supplied with water.
Such conspiracy theories about America’s support for Islamic State are outlandish, no doubt. But they are so widespread that they now represent a political reality with real-world consequences—making it harder for the U.S. and allies to cobble together Iraqi forces that could regain the country’s Sunni heartland from Islamic State’s murderous rule one day.
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The searing shock and lingering pain inflicted by last week’s mass murder at the Emanuel AME Church hasn’t been confined to Charleston. It has extended across our nation. And Americans’ expressions of sympathy and solidarity have helped bolster our community’s spirit in this time of profound sorrow.
So it’s quite fitting that as our nation mourns the nine good people killed at a Bible study meeting, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, will deliver the eulogy today at the funeral of one of those victims — the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who also was a state senator.
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....I haven’t encountered many defenders of U.S. counterterrorism strikes. Last year, I co-chaired a Stimson Center commission on U.S. drone policy with retired Gen. John Abizaid. The commission, which included former senior military and intelligence officials from both Obama’s and George W. Bush’s administrations, concluded in June 2014 that “the Obama administration’s heavy reliance on targeted killings as a pillar of US counterterrorism strategy rests on questionable assumptions, and risks increasing instability and escalating conflicts. While tactical strikes may have helped keep the homeland free of major terrorist attacks, existing evidence indicates that both Sunni and Shia Islamic extremist groups have grown in scope, lethality and influence in the broader area of operations in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.” In dozens of interviews and conversations with national security experts since June 2014, I have yet to find anyone who won’t admit, off the record, that U.S. counterterrorism policy is flailing badly.
So here’s the question: If no one except administration press flacks thinks the whack-a-mole approach to counterterrorism is working, why are we still using it?
To me, that’s one of the unsolved mysteries of the universe, right up there with “what is dark matter?” and “why do we yawn?” Why do smart people like Obama and his top advisors continue to rely on counterterrorism policies that aren’t working?
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Two South Sudanese pastors whose legal plight is drawing comparisons to Meriam Ibrahim have been isolated by Sudan. They won’t be heard from until next Thursday, when a judge lets them speak in a Khartoum court.
The question is what role American advocacy played in their relocation to a higher-security prison earlier this month.
The families of Yat Michael (imprisoned for six months) and Peter Yen Reith (imprisoned for five months) were denied visitation on June 4. The day before, a vocal New York City pastor had attempted to visit the two Presbyterian pastors. A few days before that, a Virginia-based Christian TV network aired a telephone interview the two pastors gave from prison.
William Devlin, who pastors Infinity Bible Church in the Bronx, has long advocated for American pastors to travel to “hard, dangerous, difficult places” in support of persecuted Christians. Sudan ranks No. 6 among the world’s most difficult places to be a Christian.
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Capitalism that cannot find £200 for a highly-motivated individual, with good skills, is simply not adequate to the task of creating a stable society.
That hard-working, self-starting man will be on my mind tomorrow, when I take part in the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism in the City of London. This brings together leading figures from business, finance and public policy committed to creating economic systems which will encourage a long-term prosperity that is broadly shared. I am sure I will learn a great deal. I also hope to contribute in a small way, bringing a perspective informed by both economics and theology.
A Christian understanding of inclusive capitalism begins with the nature of God, who in Jesus Christ reached out to include all humanity in salvation. What that looks like for each individual is purpose, calling and a destiny with God. The New Testament teaches us that none of this happens because we are good - in fact, St Paul says in his letter to the Romans that Christ died for us while we were still God’s enemies. It happens because God sought to include all human beings in his love and purpose for them, if they would accept his invitation.
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Millennials, or America’s youth born between 1982 and 2000, now number 83.1 million and represent more than one quarter of the nation’s population. Their size exceeds that of the 75.4 million baby boomers, according to new U.S. Census Bureau estimates released today. Overall, millennials are more diverse than the generations that preceded them, with 44.2 percent being part of a minority race or ethnic group (that is, a group other than non-Hispanic, single-race white).
These latest population estimates examine changes among groups by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin nationally, as well as in all states and counties, between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2014.
Even more diverse than millennials are the youngest Americans: those younger than 5 years old. In 2014, this group became majority-minority for the first time, with 50.2 percent being part of a minority race or ethnic group.
Reflecting these younger age groups, the population as a whole has become more racially and ethnically diverse in just the last decade, with the percentage minority climbing from 32.9 percent in 2004 to 37.9 percent in 2014.
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Boko Haram militants have killed at least 40 people in north-eastern Nigeria, according to witnesses.
The attacks on Monday and Tuesday took place in the villages of Debiro Hawul and Debiro Bi in Borno state.
Residents say the militants drove into the towns and began shooting, looting and burning houses.
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This case comes hard on the heels of an attempt sponsored by Unite to establish that a beneficed parish priest is employed by his bishop or enjoys the status of a worker, thereby paving the way for unfair dismissal and whistleblowing claims. That was roundly rejected by the Court of Appeal in April. Lord Justice Lewison in his judgment sketched the history of the relationship between church and state and more particularly the jurisdiction of royal or civil courts over clergy from the investiture controversy in the 11th century right through to the establishment of the modern ecclesiastical courts. He appears to have accepted the proposition that employment tribunals could determine such questions as an attack on the balance that has been struck. Similar considerations apply to the Pemberton case, although the legal analysis is distinct.
While many will feel sympathy for Canon Pemberton, it should be remembered that even in the secular field, activities outside the workplace can result in a lawful termination of employment, although rarely. It should also be remembered that when ordained as a priest, he not only took an oath of canonical obedience to his bishop but also declared that he would fashion his own life “according to the way of Christ” and to be “a pattern and example to Christ’s people”.
What that amounts to cannot be a matter of private judgment. Plenty of other homosexual priests have at some cost followed the House of Bishops guidance and previous similar utterances from the hierarchy.
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You need to take the time to watch it all.
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In the past, many families like the McDowells, whose household income is almost $100,000 a year, would already be nestled in a starter home, maybe even on the cusp of upgrading to something bigger and more expensive on the profits from their first house.
But even as the market continues to improve — sales of existing homes in May increased to their highest pace in six years, the National Association of Realtors reported on Monday, and first-timers make up 32 percent of the buyers — it is leaving millions of Americans unwillingly stuck in rental housing.
“It’s more of a new normal,” said Robert J. Shiller, an economics professor at Yale University and a Nobel laureate. “We went through a wrenching experience with the biggest housing bubble and the biggest collapse since 1890. This is an anxious time.”
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The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches says Christians must grasp the “unique ecumenical momentum” created by Pope Francis’ new encyclical on the environment. He also believes it’s vital to respond in a more practical and pastoral way to migrants in Europe who are radically changing our “reflection about who is in communion with whom”.
Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit was in Rome on Tuesday to attend celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the Joint Working Group of the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches. Set up just before the end of the Second Vatican Council, the Group is holding a plenary session in Rome this week to begin its tenth round of ecumenical conversations.
In a message to Rev Fykse Tveit to mark the occasion, Pope Francis said we should be encouraged by the collaboration the Group has promoted, “not only in ecumenical issues, but also in the areas of interreligious dialogue, peace and social justice, and works of charity and humanitarian aid”. But he stressed that despite the many ecumenical achievements, “Christian mission and witness still suffer due to our divisions”.
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How is it being used?
Last week, US government agency talks that were intended to create a code of conduct for the technology fell apart. Privacy campaigners walked out of the discussions, claiming that companies and government agencies were unwilling to accept that they must always seek permission before using facial recognition technology to identify someone.
Alvaro Bedoya, from Georgetwon University Law Centre in Washington DC, told New Scientist that “not a single company would support [the principle].”
Uses of the technology are becoming increasingly Orwellian. Tesco plans to install screens that scan customers’ faces, determine their age and gender, and show them a relevant advertisement.
In the United States, a company called Face First offers retailers the ability to "build a database of good customers, recognize them when they come through the door, and make them feel more welcome” (in other words, schmooze the big spenders). The product also sends alerts whenever “known litigious individuals enter any of your locations”. Another company, Churchix, uses facial recognition technology to track congregation church attendance.
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After decades of bitter debate over whether the Confederate battle flag is a proud symbol of regional heritage or a shameful emblem of this nation’s most grievous sins, the argument may finally be moving toward an end.
South Carolina is leading the way for other states, as it considers removing the flag from its capitol grounds in the wake of a horrific racial hate crime.
The historical poignancy is heavy and resonant, given that the killings last week of nine African Americans took place in a church basement just a few miles from where the first shots of the Civil War were exchanged in 1861. Photos that have since surfaced of the accused killer, Dylann Roof, show him posing with the Confederate flag.
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Putnam, not first of all a complainer, this time reaches for extremes: “We” and “Our Kids” are not merely confused or apathetic or drifting. We are clearly in crisis. Or the book could get dismissed as one more complaint about social class and the economic debates connected with both, or all, sides of class division in America. Also, it could be ignored by those who tire of nostalgic reckonings about “the good old days;” Some celebrations of them do appear here.
Putnam lovingly invokes the past as he begins with references to his own childhood years and to locales like the town in which he grew up. Winsomely and with clarity he writes about a time when the boundaries between classes were not as defined and drastic as now. But as he looks at the contemporary scene, he finds plenty of reason to describe the class gulf as “in crisis” and the “American dream” not merely fading for millions, but becoming almost irretrievably out of range for their young.
What’s missing, especially for the millions of “Their Kids” in America today? They lack agencies where “social capital”—an old Putnam phrase—is tended to. Voluntary organizations, support groups, clubs, neighborhood places, which encourage bonding and interaction are disappearing from the scene for the millions who cannot advance.
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The Bishop of the Calabar Diocese of the Anglican Communion, Rt. Reverend Tunde Adeleye, has given kudos to President Muhammadu Buhari for successfully mobilising the international community to provide support in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists.
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Defenders of the Confederate flag say there is nothing inherently controversial or racist about it. It was adopted by the Confederate armies because the official Confederate national flag, the “stars and bars”, looked too much like the Union’s stars and stripes, and Confederate troops were killed by friendly fire in the smoke and confusion of battle. Its design was based on the cross of St Andrew, featuring in the Scottish and United Kingdom flags.
But what the Confederate flag means to most black Americans today, and to millions of their countrymen, is all too plain. The designer of Georgia’s 1956 flag was an explicit segregationist. The state legislature voted for the new flag after Denmark Groover, a state lawmaker, said it was created to “serve notice that we intend to uphold what we stood for, will stand for, and will fight for”.
Such remarks cannot be unsaid, nor unheard. But while “history cannot be unlived,” in the words of Maya Angelou, people can still change. Half a century after pushing Georgia’s new flag, Groover returned to the state legislature to support changing it. Many other white southerners have trod a similar same path, first clutching the Confederate flag in a burst of reactionary racism, then insisting the symbol had nothing to do with slavery or segregation, and finally, as Groover did, admitting the obvious: “It has become the most divisive issue on the political spectrum and needs to be put to rest.”
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The chamber said it believes the flags of the state of South Carolina and the United States of America, representing the sovereignty under which the state of South Carolina exists, should be the only flags displayed at the State House.
“Just as we did in 1999 when the Charleston Metro Chamber led local efforts to remove the flag from atop the Statehouse, we feel that the flag belongs in a place of historical reference,” said Bryan Derreberry, chamber president and CEO. “It is in the interest of all who live and work here that we show our ability to unite under the flag that is representative of everyone.”
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In the spirit of reconciliation, the Confederate flag needs to be removed from the Statehouse grounds.
On Monday, Gov. Nikki Haley gave her support to furling the flag. “We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer,” she said. A growing number of legislative leaders support the idea.
The Legislature has the opportunity to remove the flag before the end of this month’s extended session. It can revise the terms of the session, and vote to bring the flag down.
Do it to honor the nine people who were killed at Emanuel AME Church.
Do it now.
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As he tugged open the plywood door to his newsstand Saturday morning, Charles Tone turned to one of his customers with a question.
"How can they forgive him?" said Tone, 66. "Man, I don't even know if it can be genuine."
The newsstand at the corner of Manchester and Vermont — the heart of a historically black neighborhood in South Los Angeles — often hums with conversation about politics and sports.
Nationwide on Saturday, people were talking about the massacre of nine black churchgoers, allegedly by a white man, in Charleston, S.C. But among African Americans the subject felt more urgently personal, stirring fear, anger and unease as well as debate about what it means to be black in America.
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At the June 18 launch of the highly-anticipated encyclical Laudato Si (The Care for Our Common Home), Cardinal Peter Turkson acknowledged a critique that the Church is taking sides on scientifically still-debatable topics such as global warming, pollution, species extinction and global inequality’s impact on natural resources.
“The aim of the encyclical is not to intervene in this debate, which is the responsibility of scientists, and even less to establish exactly in which ways the climate changes are a consequence of human action” he said. Instead, the goal of the document is to promote the well-being of all creation and “to develop an integral ecology, which in its diverse dimensions comprehends ‘our unique place as human beings in this world and our relationship to our surroundings,” the cardinal said, quoting the encyclical.
“Science is the best tool by which we can listen to the cry of the earth,” Cardinal Turkson said, noting that regardless of the various positions, studies tells us that “today the earth, our sister, mistreated and abused.”
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Hundreds of veterans gathered at Fort Stewart, Georgia, to be honored at a homecoming ceremony that eluded them for decades.
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Charleston police gave church members clearance Saturday to return to their space, several members said. A group then met in the ground-level fellowship room where those killed had gathered to discuss the Gospel of Mark.
Harold Washington said it was an emotional moment.
“They did a good job cleaning it up. There were a few bullet holes around, but ... they cut them out so you don’t see the actual holes,” he said.
Many parishioners are eager to return to their church home. But others aren’t, not with death and horror still so fresh. They will fan out into the area’s other houses of worship to seek much-needed support.
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Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson donated $10,000 to each of the families of the nine people killed in Wednesday night's shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The team founder also donated $10,000 to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where the murders occurred during a bible study.
The $100,000 donation was made in a letter sent Friday to the Mother Emanuel Hope fund. The letter was shared by Bakari Sellers, a Democratic member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, on Twitter.
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At a Friday night vigil organized by Mr. Riley at TD Arena at the College of Charleston, the mayor received a standing ovation. The large and diverse crowd sat quietly, as Mr. Riley spoke at length about Charleston’s role in the slave trade and its long battle to overcome that history.
By Saturday, an aide said Mr. Riley—like many Charleston residents—was exhausted, and couldn’t be reached for interviews. The aide said the mayor would spend Father's Day with his family and likely wouldn’t be at Sunday’s planned march across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, an iconic part of the city’s landscape.
“He’s done a wonderful job,” said Dwayne Greene, a prominent black African-American activist. “He was there the night of the shooting. He made a very compassionate statement, and the city has done everything it can to bring people together.”
Mr. Riley, after decades in the job, will leave office this year after his term ends.
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The Confederate battle flag may mean many things, but with those things it represents a defiance against abolition and against civil rights. The symbol was used to enslave the little brothers and sisters of Jesus, to bomb little girls in church buildings, to terrorize preachers of the gospel and their families with burning crosses on front lawns by night.
That sort of symbolism is out of step with the justice of Jesus Christ. The cross and the Confederate flag cannot co-exist without one setting the other on fire. White Christians, let’s listen to our African American brothers and sisters.
Let’s care not just about our own history, but also about our shared history with them. In Christ, we were slaves in Egypt — and as part of the Body of Christ we were all slaves too in Mississippi. Let’s watch our hearts, pray for wisdom, work for justice, love our neighbors.
Let’s take down that flag.
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Attendees heard prepared statements from multiple speakers, including state Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston; Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey; Charleston Mayor Joe Riley; the Rev. Nelson Rivers III of Charity Missionary Baptist Church; and others.
They sang hymns “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” held hands and swayed to a rendition of “We Shall Overcome.”
Statements made during the vigil reiterated common themes of love, faith and unity.
“We share one thing in common. ... Our hearts are broken. We have an anguish like we have never had before,” Riley said.
Read it all from the local paper.
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One thing that might make a difference in mass killings is a law allowing people to ask police to take guns away from a family member who is acting irrationally. In this case, though, not even that would have helped: The shooter's father is said to have given him the gun in April as a birthday present.
The broader problem — more entrenched, more pernicious and more likely to eat away at the nation — is the racial animosity that still lurks in some quarters. African Americans have suffered its sting often in recent events. A series of unarmed black men, including one in North Charleston, S.C., have been killed by white police officers. And many African Americans have come to believe, a half-century after the civil rights movement took hold, that black lives still do not matter. Or do not matter as much as white lives.
Yes, there has been heartening progress. The president who mourned Thursday is black. So is the attorney general, who opened an investigation to ensure that justice is done. Politicians and congregations, black and white, came together to decry the violence. The alleged killer was pursued by local police and the FBI and taken into custody.
In important ways, America is a different country than it was in 1963
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People of faith need to focus on the moral and spiritual elements of the crisis brought about by rapid climate change, Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, said today in response to Pope Francis's encyclical on the issue.
In a statement issued from Cape Town, the Archbishop said:
"I would like to thank Pope Francis for this historic, ground-breaking letter. I look forward to studying it in more detail.
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WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC
I happened to catch this and I wanted to post it because it says so much about this community right now--here is a Republican talking about a Democrat, a friend talking about a friend, and a Christian talking about his brother in Christ.
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Opposition to the encyclical has been building for months. The Heartland Institute launched a campaign to “Tell Pope Francis: Global Warming is not a Crisis,” asking readers to “Talk to your minister, priest, or spiritual leader. Tell him or her you’ve studied the global warming issue and believe Pope Francis is being misled about the science and economics of the issue. Refer him or her to this website.” Others have suggested that Francis is advocating Latin American style socialism.
Hyperbole is part of politics. But there seems to be a fairly large disconnect between the criticism of Laudato Si (much of it made prior to the release of the actual text) and the encyclical itself. The actual document is a more measured affair. For one thing, it’s not even really accurate to call it a “climate encyclical.” Most of the document is devoted to other environmental issues (ranging from clean drinking water to biodiversity) or to the proper Christian perspective on the environment generally. Only a small portion of the lengthy encyclical is devoted to climate change per se, and much of what the encyclical does say about climate change is in keeping with the prior statements of John Paul II and Benedict XVI on the issue. The encyclical says that:
A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. . . . It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity. Concentrated in the atmosphere, these gases do not allow the warmth of the sun’s rays reflected by the earth to be dispersed in space.Read it all.
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“Laudato si’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.
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A white gunman killed nine people during a prayer meeting at one of Charleston’s oldest and best-known black churches Wednesday night in one of the worst mass shootings in South Carolina history.
Heavily armed law enforcement officers scoured the area into the morning for the man responsible for the carnage inside Emanuel AME Church at 110 Calhoun St. At least one person was said to have survived the rampage.
Police revealed no motive for the 9 p.m. attack, which was reportedly carried out by a young white man. Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said, “I do believe this was a hate crime.”
Mayor Joe Riley called the shooting “a most unspeakable and heartbreaking tragedy.”
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Update: the best way to try to keep up with this story is to follow the Twitter Hashtag #charlestonshooting
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What is in Fed officials’ control is what they do today and tomorrow and in their policy meeting Sept. 16 and 17. So by deciding to raise rates then (or deciding not to), they are sending a more powerful signal than any speech or written statement that they believe it is time to start winding down the era of easy money.
The thing is, Ms. Yellen and her colleagues know this, and that comments like those she made Wednesday won’t do much to change it. The best they can do is try to manage expectations so that people don’t assume that a quarter-percentage point rise in the Fed’s interest rate target in September automatically translates to much higher rates in a year or two.
In other words, Ms. Yellen may be an economist, but she is well aware that her tools for managing the economy work via financial markets. So how bond traders interpret the Fed’s words and actions matter a great deal.
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[Joseph] Stiglitz is also particularly critical of the banking system: “If they (the banks) are too big to fail and they know it, excessive risk-taking is a one-sided bet: if they win they keep the profits, if they lose, taxpayers pick up the tab.” He summarises this as socialising losses while privatising gains.
Furthermore, there is a growing chorus of opposition to lax executive pay habits. Fidelity Worldwide Investment has urged companies make their long-term incentive plans less short term in nature, or face votes against remuneration at annual meetings. Last year the Church Commissioners opposed executive pay deals in two-thirds of the companies where they have a holding.
Adam Smith, said to be the father of modern economics, wrote: “Servants, labourers and workmen of different kinds, make up the far greater part of every great political society. But what improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconvenience to the whole. No society can surely be ﬂourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed and lodged.”(2)
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Here, roughly, is what we know so far about today’s middle-class children: They seldom walk or bike to school, as generations did before them; they rarely work steady after-school jobs (their new work is strictly of the academic and extracurricular variety, one that doesn’t involve a wage); their time is rigidly structured (play dates, cello lessons, summer internships); their mothers spend more time with them than mothers did with their children in the 1960s, even though most women in the 1960s didn’t work.
When confronted with these facts, it is therefore reasonable to ask: What effect does all this involvement and insulation and scrupulous (some might call it psychoneurotic) programming have on our kids? Is it compromising their resilience in some way, or the firmness of their convictions, or their self-efficacy? Are the very things we view as horizon-stretching in fact resulting in a more circumscribed life?
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For an hour or two on a foggy morning last December, some students at the University of Iowa (UI) mistook one of their professors, Serhat Tanyolacar, for a fan of the Ku Klux Klan. Mr Tanyolacar had placed a canvas effigy based on Klan robes, screen-printed with news cuttings about racial violence, on the Pentacrest, the university’s historic heart. The effigy had a camera in its hood to record public reactions.
The reaction among some black students was to fear for their safety, and that is not surprising. What is more of a puzzle—for anyone outside American academia, at least—is that students and UI bosses continued denouncing Mr Tanyolacar for threatening campus safety even after the misunderstanding was cleared up. In vain did the Turkish-born academic explain that he is a “social-political artist”, using Klan imagery to provoke debate about racism. Under pressure from angry students, university chiefs issued two separate apologies. The first expressed regret that students had been exposed to a “deeply offensive” artwork, adding that there is no room for “divisive” speech at UI. The second apologised for taking too long to remove a display which had “terrorised” black students and locals, thereby failing to ensure that all students, faculty, staff and visitors felt “respected and safe”. An unhappy Mr Tanyolacar feels abandoned by the university. He left Iowa earlier this month, when his visiting fellowship came to an end, and has suspended his teaching career.
A crucial word in this tale is “safe”. Campus activists have stretched the meaning of safety from an important but second-order concern—shielding students from serious harm—to a defining ambition for any well-run academy.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has joined faith leaders in Britain pledging to fast and pray for the success of key international negotiations over climate change, in a new declaration warning of the “huge challenge” facing the world over global warming.
Representatives of the major faiths, including Archbishop Justin Welby, said climate change has already hit the poorest of the world hardest and urgent action is needed now to protect future generations.
In the Lambeth Declaration, which will be launched tomorrow, signatories call on faith communities to recognise the pressing need to make the transition to a low carbon economy.
The call comes ahead of the international climate change talks in Paris this December where negotiators from more than 190 nations will gather to discuss a new global agreement on climate change, aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 when current commitments run out.
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Appealing to the entire world, Pope Francis urged everyone to read his upcoming encyclical on the care of creation and to better protect a damaged earth.
“This common ‘home’ is being ruined and that harms everyone, especially the poorest,” he said June 17, the day before the Vatican was releasing his encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”
He said he was launching an appeal for people to recognize their “responsibility, based on the task that God gave human beings in creation: ‘to cultivate and care for’ the ‘garden’ in which he settled us.”
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In a wide-ranging interview on ABC radio yesterday, the Bishop of Grafton Sarah McNeil, spoke of the recent diocesan synod held in Port Macquarie.
Bishop McNeil said members of the synod had discussed a number of political issues, including gay marriage, asylum seeker policy and climate change.
The bishop said the synod decided to assess the views of the congregation on gay marriage in the next 12 months, then to present this to the 2016 synod.
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“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
This proverb does not have much resonance with Americans. In an age of numerous technological advances meant to save us time and energy, we find ourselves working more than ever. Instead of working fewer hours and taking more vacation, we have freely chosen to do the opposite.
We live by the “American Dream” where anyone can achieve anything if we simply “work hard enough.” Often it means “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” in order to realize your dreams.
While these maxims are not inherently bad, we have taken them to a new level and are working more and playing less. Unfortunately the family has been caught in the crossfire. As we continue to put emphasis on work and “getting ahead,” our families are quickly eroding and falling apart.
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Traditional Christian teaching could effectively be “criminalised” in some settings under David Cameron’s plans for new anti-extremist banning orders, a top Anglican theologian and former Parliamentary draftsman has warned.
The Rev Dr Mike Ovey, a former lawyer and now principal of Oak Hill Theological College in London, a training school for Church of England clergy, said proposals for new “Extremism Disruption Orders” could be a “disaster area” for people from all the mainstream religions and none.
Mr Cameron and Theresa May have signalled that the new orders, planned as part of the Government’s Counter-Extremism Bill, would not curb the activities of radical Islamist clerics but the promotion of other views deemed to go against “British values” even if it is non-violent and legal.
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Four suicide bombers on motorcycles killed at least 23 people and wounded more than 100 others in Chad’s capital on Monday, raising fears of a widening threat from the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the simultaneous attacks on two buildings, including the national police academy, in N’Djamena. But suspicion quickly fell on Boko Haram, the Islamist group based in northeast Nigeria.
The suicide attacks were the first of their kind in the capital of an ally of Nigeria involved in the fight against the group. In recent months, its strongholds in Nigeria have come under increased pressure from a five-nation coalition of African forces.
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Al Qaeda confirmed Tuesday that it's No. 2 official — a former aide to Osama Bin Laden who rose to lead the terror group's powerful Yemen affiliate — was killed in a U.S. airstrike.
Rumors about Nasir al-Wuhayshi's death first circulated on social media and in the Yemeni press.
A video released by al Qaeda on Tuesday said Wuhayshi had been killed in a U.S. airstrike along with two other militants and that a successor, Qassim al Rimi, had been appointed.
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What the Magna Carta is not, at least in popular perception, is particularly Christian. Amid the assorted celebrations and lectures that have been commissioned to celebrate its 800th anniversary, very little attention has been given to the role of Christian faith and theology in laying the foundations from which the Magna Carta emerged.
This is a mistake on two counts. First, because the Magna Carta is the product of a deeply convoluted historical process, in which relationships between King John, the Pope in Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, play a highly influential part. King John's war with the barons might have been the spark that ignited the Magna Carta negotiations, but it was the historically fractious relationship between the English monarch and the English Church - going back through generations - that had laid down much of the kindling. The new Archbishop of Canterbury in particular, heralded by many as a "new Becket" to challenge the authority of the King, played a crucial role in not only the negotiation and formation of the Magna Carta, but also its eventual survival down through generations.
But more important, and perhaps more interesting, than this practical contribution of the Church, is the conceptual contribution of Christian theology to the principles which frame the Magna Carta's demands. For the well-informed, the suggestion that Christian theology provides such a conceptual framework might come as something of a surprise. It is a common criticism coming from academic quarters that the public perception of the Magna Carta as a document of selfless charity illustrates a sharp disconnect from the historical reality.
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Congregations vacated St Columba’s Episcopal Church on Glasgow Road in 1996 — and since, it has been slowly crumbling away.
But after a photo of the church was posted on social media there have been calls for action to be taken to stop the rot at the town church.
Clydebank photographer Owen McGuigan, who ignited a debate about the church after uploading the snap to Facebook, said: “I just don’t like seeing old buildings, especially churches, which, back in the day were substantially built to last a long time, being left to fall down with neglect.
“In the last 40 years in Clydebank we have lost several churches, all knocked down before their time, some to make way for the Clyde Shopping Centre.”
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Inevitably fragilities remain. Europe is deep in debt and dependent on exports. Japan cannot get inflation to take hold. Wage growth could quickly dent corporate earnings and valuations in America. Emerging economies, which accounted for the bulk of growth in the post-crisis years, have seen better days. The economies of both Brazil and Russia are expected to shrink this year. Poor trade data suggest that Chinese growth may be slowing faster than the government wishes.
If any of these worries causes a downturn the world will be in a rotten position to do much about it. Rarely have so many large economies been so ill-equipped to manage a recession, whatever its provenance, as our “wriggle-room” ranking makes clear.... Rich countries’ average debt-to-GDP ratio has risen by about 50% since 2007. In Britain and Spain debt has more than doubled. Nobody knows where the ceiling is, but governments that want to splurge will have to win over jumpy electorates as well as nervous creditors. Countries with only tenuous access to bond markets, as in the euro zone’s periphery, may be unable to launch a big fiscal stimulus.
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LUCKY SEVERSON, correspondent: Near the Colorado-Wyoming border, beneath the snow covered Mummy Mountains, amongst the grassy meadows, the soothing sounds of psalms being sung by Benedictine nuns, praying for themselves and for the world. Altogether they pray over three-and-a-half hours a day.
And then in between prayers, rushing out to the corral to rein in the cattle, and the cattle don’t always cooperate. This is the Abbey of St. Walburga. It’s a working ranch, and the nuns are the ranch hands when they’re not praying. And they pray together seven times a day, always in their habits.
(speaking to Abbess): You change your clothes a lot, don’t you?
MOTHER MARIA MICHAEL: We do.
SEVERSON: Seven times a day?
MOTHER MARIA MICHAEL: Seven time a day, uh huh.
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"Archbishop Stephen Langton was mediator between the King and his barons, counsellor to both, and an advocate of civil harmony, cohesion and goodwill. His great legacy was this remarkable document, the spring from which so much of the human quest for political liberty has drawn, here and abroad, especially in the United States of America.
"The vision of the dignity of the human being, however limited that vision is, in Magna Carta sets a standard for our consideration of all human beings – however important or unimportant, near or far, they may seem to be.
"Langton was not alone. His was an age of giants at Canterbury. Alphege whose love for his people led him to give his life to save them from paying a crippling ransom. Anselm, the wise scholar and yet brave counsellor, whose advice cost him years of exile.
In such self-giving and courage Magna Carta found fertile soil to grow. It sets the bar high for all of us today...."
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The decision by Apple, Walmart, Eli Lilly, Angie’s List, and so on was a business decision—even more, a marketing decision. Coming out in opposition to the Indiana RFRA law was one of the shrewdest marketing coups since E.T. followed a trail of Reese’s Pieces. The decision to #BoycottIndiana was not made because it was the politically courageous thing to do; it was made because it was the profitable thing to do. The establishment could express support for a fashionable social norm while exerting very little effort, incurring no actual cost, and making no sacrifice to secure the goal. It had the further advantage of distracting most people from the fact that corporations like Apple have no compunction doing business in places with outright oppression of gays, women, and Christians. Those real forms of repression and discrimination didn’t matter; Indiana’s purported oppression of gays did.
The public statements, often hyperbolic propaganda about the dire consequences of the Indiana law, were cost-free because gay rights activists have successfully argued that opposition to gay marriage is tantamount to racism. Through a powerful and concerted effort, gay activists have succeeded in convincing the establishment that gays are the equivalent of blacks in Selma, and that their opponents—particularly their Christian opponents—are Bull Connors. There can simply be no brooking bigotry! Democrats like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton conveniently forget their previous support for conjugal marriage, and none of their supporters seek to hold them to account. All that matters is that one now deny that there can be reasonable opposition to gay marriage, and affirm that those who maintain that view are rank bigots. Companies like Apple and Walmart eagerly joined the bandwagon once it was clear that the tactic had worked.
There is a deeper reason for corporate support, however. Today’s corporate ideology has a strong affinity with the lifestyles of those who are defined by mobility, ethical flexibility, liberalism (whether economic or social), a consumerist mentality in which choice is paramount, and a “progressive” outlook in which rapid change and “creative destruction” are the only certainties. The response to Indiana’s RFRA law shows very clearly that corporations have joined forces with Republicans on economic matters and Democrats on social ones. Corporate America is aligned with the ascendant libertarian portion of each party, ensuring a win for the political, economic, and social preferences of libertarianism. In effect, there is only one functional party in America today, seemingly parceled between the two notional parties but in reality unifying them in its backing by financial and cultural elites.
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When Islamic State seized Iraq's largest northern city of Mosul almost a year ago, tribal leader Hekmat Suleiman was sure the extremist militants wouldn't expand further into his hometown.
"We bet Islamic State won't have what it takes to last," Suleiman said in October during a visit to the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil, smoke rising from his shisha water pipe. "We've reached the beginning of the end of extremism."
He was wrong. His hometown of Ramadi fell last month, three days before Islamic State captured Palmyra, a 2,000-year-old UNESCO world heritage city on the Syrian side of its territory.
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Hackers with suspected links to China appear to have accessed sensitive data on US intelligence and military personnel, American officials say.
Details of a major hack emerged last week, but officials have now given details of a potential second breach.
It is feared that the attack could leave US security personnel or their families open to blackmail.
The agency involved, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), is yet to comment on the reports.
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Caitlyn Jenner may have given Americans a crash course in transgender acceptance. But progressive pockets of Europe are moving toward an even higher plane — embracing what advocates describe as a post-gender world that critics say is leaving no room for women to be women and men to be men.
In Berlin, for instance, fresh rules for billboard ads in a district of the liberal German capital read like a new constitution for a land without gender identity. Girls in pink “with dolls” are basically out, as are boys in blue playing “with technical toys.” In ads showing both adult women and men, females cannot be depicted as “hysterical,” “stupid” or “naive” alongside men presented as “technically skilled,” “strong” or “business savvy.”
Adult women — featured alone or otherwise — must not be shown “occupied in the household with pleasure.” And in one stipulation pounced upon by critics, the equal-opportunity board of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg — home to Checkpoint Charlie and remnants of the Berlin Wall — no longer wants to see images of women “smiling for no reason.”
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The Church of the Intercession is a beautiful stone building constructed in 1915, with vaulted ceilings, large stained glass windows, and a nave that could seat several hundred. It now needs $1 million in repairs, and its members face difficult choices.
Outside this Episcopal church in Harlem is its sweeping cemetery that includes the grave of naturalist John Audubon. Inside on a Sunday only 42 worshippers, including the choir, were present. Almost everyone was elderly. There were three canes, one walker, and one child.
Those 42 seemed a megachurch in comparison with the congregation across the street in North Presbyterian Church (PCUSA). In its historic stone building Pastor Carmen Mason-Browne preached to an audience of six women in a room with space for several hundred. The women weren’t even sitting together, but spaced like strangers on an empty train.
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