Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria's army failed to protect Baga's civilians despite warnings that militants were going to attack, rights group Amnesty International has said.

Some reports say as many as 2,000 people died in Boko Haram's raids on the north-eastern town this month, but the government puts the toll at 150.

Amnesty quotes an unnamed senior army source as saying the Islamist militants told residents about the offensive.

Read it all.

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

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 5:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dealing with the death of a loved one can be all consuming and overwhelming.

It’s not just the grief that can leave you shattered — but the admin.

You have to pick coffins, book flowers, transport, a church, hymns, an order of service, a venue, music, speeches and food (all within a budget) — and that’s just for starters.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have a confession.

When I was in college, I read a book by a prominent megachurch pastor. The author told me to live like a child of God. He told me God wanted to bless me. He also mentioned that if I only believed, God would give me the nicest house in the neighborhood. That seemed to make sense.

The author explained that he once wanted the nicest house in the neighborhood, and God gave it to him. Here was a man with evidence. Not only did he have the story about the house, and other anecdotes, he also had a very nice set of white teeth (Ah, supernaturally white, I thought).

This was my first introduction to what is popularly called the “prosperity gospel” or the “health and wealth” gospel. At the time, the logic seemed airtight: “If it worked for him, why shouldn’t it work for me?”

If I had dug a bit deeper, though, I would have seen the actual reason it worked for him and not for me. It’s because the prosperity gospel is a pyramid scheme.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 3:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Internationally known scholars and experts in the field of religion and culture drew a record-breaking crowd of more than 900 to the Charleston Music Hall, Jan. 22-24 for the annual Mere Anglicanism Conference which this year looked at “Salt & Light: The Christian Response to Secularism.”

Bishop NT Wright, one of the world’s foremost New Testament scholars and the leading expert on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, said that Christians had colluded with secularism by letting God be pushed upstairs and out of sight, with Christians holding the view that their purpose lay in being heaven-bound. “That’s not it,” he said. “God rescues us to become rescuers.” “We are put right (justified) so we can help right things on earth.”

Mary Eberstadt, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Washington, D.C. organization dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to public policy issues, argued that the last 15-20 years has seen the emergence in the West of a new intolerance directed at Christians. Increasingly religious believers are the recipients of rage, ridicule and ostracism. “This hateful rhetoric would have been denounced if those on the receiving end were anything but Christians,” she said. She told of Christians losing their jobs or being pushed out of public life for expressing their beliefs.

“In subtle ways intimidation leads to censorship, censorship to self-censorship,” she said. “Free speech intolerance is everybody’s problem. Push back is way overdue.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyApologeticsChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The New Testament gives us two inspiring calls to transform our relationship to money. Jesus tells a young man, “Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). The early church had an equally compelling model: “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44–5).

In the imagination of many Christians there’s a perpetual sense that this is what our relationship to money would be like if we were doing it properly. But on closer look, the picture that Acts 2 offers is different from the one seen in Jesus’ words to the rich young man. The rich young man model is about living vulnerably before God and simply following Jesus. The Acts 2 model is about making a collective commitment and finding the activity of the Holy Spirit in the worship and practices of a community. Both models are compelling, but they’re not the same. The two dominant kinds of medieval monasticism—the mendicant friars and the wealthy monasteries—represent these two poles of the ideal of somehow getting money right. But both models turn out to be flawed when translated into a vision for a whole society.

For the most part the church has found these two models too challenging to implement and too disruptive to be sustainable.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One study by Mr. Kleiner and Rubert T. Kudrle of the University of Minnesota suggests that tighter licensing of dentists does not improve the quality of dental health. It does reduce the number of dentists. Crucially, it improves their earnings.

The issue goes beyond teeth. Associations for osteopaths have come out in support of North Carolina’s dental board; so have anesthesiologists, midwives, optometrists and even engineers and surveyors.

Supporting the dental board are the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards and the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.

For them, as for the taxi drivers battling Uber, the most important issue is whether they can maintain a lock on their professions and legally keep competition at bay. But is that a legitimate reason for the public to bear the cost of such cartels?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Listen to it all (starts after the gospel reading at about 3:20).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The petroleum industry celebrated the proposal, while complaining that it didn’t go far enough. Environmental groups warned of disaster.

“This represents a significant shift in federal policy and, in my view, a threat to the environment, the economy and the lifestyle of living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina,” said Chris DeScherer, a Charleston-based senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “It’s not just the coastal waters, wetlands, and wildlife that depend on them, but the businesses and the tourism industry.”

Erik Milito, director of Upstream and Industry Operations for the American Petroleum Institute, said offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling is much safer today than just five years ago.

“We are now in a new age,” Milito said in a conference call with reporters. “We’ve decreased the risk dramatically.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Belief in life after death is as common in Britain as it was 30 years ago in spite of a sharp decline in church attendance, a study suggests.

While the number of people who say they believe in God or call themselves Anglicans has fallen significantly in the course of a generation, some core Christian beliefs appear to be holding their ground.

The proportion of Britons who believe in Hell has risen from 26.2 per cent in 1981 to 28.6 per cent in 2008, while belief in the afterlife held steady over the same period at about 44 per cent.

Over those three decades the proportion of people who hold all five of the religious beliefs covered by the study — God, life after death, Heaven, Hell and sin — has also slightly increased to almost a third of the UK’s population.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEschatology

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain’s most senior judge has claimed that “the peddling of pornography on the internet” was a contributing factor in one of the most gruesome murder cases he had to rule on last year.

Lord Thomas of Cwymgiedd said internet porn “played a real part” in the actions of Jamie Reynolds, 23, who convinced 17-year-old Georgia Williams to take part in a “photoshoot” with a noose around her neck before killing her and taking pictures of her naked body.

Reynolds was found to have 16,800 images and 72 videos of extreme pornography on his computer at the time of his arrest – and the Lord Chief Justice told MPs yesterday that he felt the killer would not have come up with his meticulous plan had he not taken inspiration from the internet.

Read it all from the Independent.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPornographySexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon


The photo here is of all this year's speakers along with hosting bishop Mark Lawrence, second from the right, and the Rev. Jeff Miller, furthest right, conference organizer. The speakers in order from the left are: Alister McGrath, Os Guinness, Tom Wright, Ross Douthat, Mary Eberstadt and Michael Nazir-Ali.

Check them all out courtesy of Joy Hunter, and please note there is a slideshow option (above the top lefthandmost picture).

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* General InterestPhotos/Photography* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Authentic Christian faith does not fear reason "but seeks it out and has trust in it". Faith presupposes reason and perfects it. Nor does human reason lose anything by opening itself to the content of faith. When reason is illumined by faith, it "is set free from the fragility and limitations deriving from the disobedience of sin and finds the strength required to rise to the knowledge of the Triune God". The Holy Father observes that St Thomas thinks that human reason, as it were, "breathes" by moving within a vast horizon open to transcendence. If, instead, "a person reduces himself to thinking only of material objects or those that can be proven, he closes himself to the great questions about life, himself and God and is impoverished". Such a person has far too summarily divorced reason from faith, rendering asunder the very dynamic of the intellect.

What does this mean for Catholic universities today? Pope Benedict answers in this way: "The Catholic university is [therefore] a vast laboratory where, in accordance with the different disciplines, ever new areas of research are developed in a stimulating confrontation between faith and reason that aims to recover the harmonious synthesis achieved by Thomas Aquinas and other great Christian thinkers". When firmly grounded in St Thomas' understanding of faith and reason, Catholic institutions of higher learning can confidently face every new challenge on the horizon, since the truths discovered by any genuine science can never contradict the one Truth, who is God himself.

Read it all from 2010.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchEducation* Theology

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty God, who hast enriched thy Church with the singular learning and holiness of thy servant Thomas Aquinas: Enlighten us more and more, we pray thee, by the disciplined thinking and teaching of Christian scholars, and deepen our devotion by the example of saintly lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* Theology

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Listen to me, O coastlands,
and hearken, you peoples from afar.
The Lord called me from the womb,
from the body of my mother he named my name.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
But I said, “I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my right is with the Lord,
and my recompense with my God.”

And now the Lord says,
who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
and that Israel might be gathered to him,
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
he says:
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the preserved of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

--Isaiah 49:1-6

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 28, 2015 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now, with the new offensive in the Dontesk and Luhansk People’s Republics, Moscow is looking to decisively win the battle in the Donbas (the name for these two regions) by propagating terrorism and political instability across Ukraine. The terrorists’ training takes place at Novaya Rus (New Russia) coordinating centres in the Russian cities of Belgorod, Tambov, Taganrog, and Rostov; in Moldova’s frozen conflict zone of Transdniestr; and in Crimea’s port of Sevastopol, home of the Black Sea Fleet. Captured terrorists from the Svat group, who were active in the Mariupol region, have testified to attending training camps in Sevastopol. There, they say, they were taught how to build bombs, wage guerrilla urban warfare, and conduct reconnaissance and intelligence operations behind enemy lines. The Russian military intelligence service (GRU) and Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) lead the training.

At their training, the terrorists are given five strategic goals. First, blow up train lines and key government buildings, launch small-scale hit-and-run attacks on offices at military–industrial plants, and bomb pro-Ukraine rallies, military recruiting centres, and National Guard training facilities. Second, destabilize the country and provoke panic using whatever means at hand. The third goal is to collect intelligence on the movements of Ukrainian armed forces and National Guard battalions to help plan future terrorist attacks. Fourth, terrorists are supposed to establish underground print shops to publish pro-Russian separatist leaflets and newspapers. And finally, they are told to infiltrate Ukrainian National Guard battalions.

The training, to some degree, is working. ...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 27, 2015 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cars are running out of screens. The dashboard is a jumble of numbers, icons, indicator lights, and gauges. In some vehicles, the display built into the center console is bigger than our televisions in certain rooms at home. But drivers' and passengers' appetite for more information isn't subsiding, so the dashboard and entertainment console are about to get a companion: the windshield.

At the Detroit auto show, which runs until Jan. 25, you'll find demonstrations of cars with built-in projectors displaying speed, range, turn-by-turn directions, and other crucial data along the bottom of the windshield. Head-up displays—developed to keep fighter pilots' eyes on the sky rather than on the instruments in the cockpit—have existed in some form for cars since at least the 1980s, but they've mostly functioned as a novelty for high-end clientele. In the past year, however, HUD technology has made its way into some Mazdas and Priuses as a way to manage information overload for everyday drivers.

Automakers have been adding a flood of information designed to keep drivers safe—some requested by customers, others mandated by governments—but it risks having the opposite effect. As weird as it sounds, projecting text and graphics onto the windshield may be less distracting to drivers than forcing them to look down at cluttered in-car screens—or worse, their mobile phones. A HUD, which sits within the driver's line of sight, would be free of "check engine" and "change oil" lights, and only display the alerts a driver might need at any given moment. Hyundai, Toyota, and General Motors expect the HUD to go mainstream very soon.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted January 27, 2015 at 6:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

WHEN the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination line up on stage for their first debate in August, there may be three contenders whose fathers also ran for president. Whoever wins may face the wife of a former president next year. It is odd that a country founded on the principle of hostility to inherited status should be so tolerant of dynasties. Because America never had kings or lords, it sometimes seems less inclined to worry about signs that its elite is calcifying.

Thomas Jefferson drew a distinction between a natural aristocracy of the virtuous and talented, which was a blessing to a nation, and an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, which would slowly strangle it. Jefferson himself was a hybrid of these two types—a brilliant lawyer who inherited 11,000 acres and 135 slaves from his father-in-law—but the distinction proved durable. When the robber barons accumulated fortunes that made European princes envious, the combination of their own philanthropy, their children’s extravagance and federal trust-busting meant that Americans never discovered what it would be like to live in a country where the elite could reliably reproduce themselves.

Now they are beginning to find out...because today’s rich increasingly pass on to their children an asset that cannot be frittered away in a few nights at a casino. It is far more useful than wealth, and invulnerable to inheritance tax. It is brains.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 27, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As a young pilot of 24, Avraham Harshalom found himself hospitalized at Tel Hashomer hospital. He suggested to the doctor that while he was there, he could remove the tattoo from his left arm. "At that age you just want to be like everyone else," he says. "People would see the tattoo and look at you differently."

Sitting in the lobby of the Krakow Holiday Inn, Harshalom is for once surrounded by men and women who are not different to him. He is one of more than a hundred survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau who have been brought here by the World Jewish Congress to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the camp's liberation. The survivors are at the center of attention here, surrounded by family members and well-wishers. Everyone is aware that this could well be the last reunion of such a large group of survivors.

Another thing these grandparents and great-grandparents in their late eighties and nineties have in common is that for decades after liberation, they did not share their experiences. They just tried to be like everyone else.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanyPolandMiddle EastIsrael* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 27, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

These news items have begun to clarify my mind, just as I have been reading a short but challenging book by Scott Hahn: Evangelizing Catholics. Now I understand what the phrase means: every baptised Catholic, lay or clerical, has an apostolate, proper to their state, to spread the good news of salvation and the quickest way to achieve it: through participating in the life and mission of the Church. Hahn, who is an American and who was once a Protestant minister dedicated to bringing lapsed, unwary and ignorant Catholics into the Protestant fold, is now a well-known Catholic evangeliser, biblical scholar and academic. He has been using his gifts since his own conversion to explain why the Church’s claims and teachings are true and how they are supported by scripture.

In this book – significantly, it is dedicated to Pope Francis – he sets out to explain to his fellow Catholics why they must change their mentality and realise that they have a duty to share their faith. As he remarks, Catholics tend to think this is being “Protestant” – something they would rather run a mile from than undertake themselves. Sometimes, he suggests, this is ignorance of their faith; unlike Protestants, many Catholics, badly catechised, have “never encountered Jesus Christ in a meaningful and personal way.” Other Catholics, who do know their faith, prefer to keep their heads down, wanting to blend in with their neighbours so as not to appear weird. But, as he points out, “Our faith withers if we don’t share it.”

Quoting St John Paul II, “No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church, can avoid this supreme duty”, Hahn reminds readers that in sharing our faith, whether in our family life, at work, by our example, through the media and through friendship, we slowly start to change the culture around us – a culture which we are generally ready to criticise while doing nothing constructive to alter it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriology

0 Comments
Posted January 27, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As campaign season ramps up ahead of Nigerian general elections on February 14th, President Goodluck Jonathan has sought to downplay an insurgency in the country’s northeast that has been raging almost as long as he has been in power. The rise of Boko Haram, a Nigeria-based militant Islamist group best known for vicious attacks on military targets and its penchant for kidnapping women and girls and conscripting men and boys, has stymied Jonathan’s government since the former vice-president ascended to the presidency in 2010.

The insurgency has killed an estimated 11,000, according to the Council on Foreign Relation’s Nigeria Security Tracker. Unable to defeat it, the Jonathan campaign has chosen to all but ignore it as the president asks his people for an additional four-year term. But that strategy backfired on Saturday night, as militants swept into the strategic northern capital of Maiduguri just hours after Jonathan stumped for support from city residents.

The militants, who reportedly infiltrated the city of two million disguised as travelers on local buses, laid siege to key military installations and battled into Sunday. The Nigerian army eventually beat them back, but the fact that they were able to penetrate the city undetected raises questions about the military’s ability to defeat the movement....

Read it all.

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

3 Comments
Posted January 27, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is easy to see why Syriza put debt repudiation at the heart of its electoral campaign. John Paul Getty once opined that “if you owe the bank $100, that’s your problem; if you owe the bank $100m, that’s the bank’s problem”. Greece’s predicament may ultimately force creditors to the negotiating table. To service its debt burden would require Greece to operate as a quasi slave economy, running a primary surplus of 5 per cent of GDP for years, purely for the benefit of its foreign creditors. Even the IMF has dropped hints in favour of some debt forgiveness.

But Greece’s EU creditors have equally strong reasons for refusing. Caving to Syriza’s demands would come at a high political cost, particularly for Germany’s Angela Merkel, who is harried by the eurosceptic AfD on her right. Other struggling countries would find their own radical parties emboldened by Syriza’s success. No country deserves to live beyond its means indefinitely.

Back in 2011, Greece posed an existential threat to the eurozone. Today, Berlin and Frankfurt are no longer as frightened by the prospect of Greece leaving the single currency. Yet for the Greek people this would be a catastrophe: a giant economic step backwards and a blow to living standards just as severe as any endured under austerity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGreece* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 27, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him. And on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.

--Mark 6:1-6

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 27, 2015 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Legal marijuana is the fastest-growing industry in the United States and if the trend toward legalization spreads to all 50 states, marijuana could become larger than the organic food industry, according to a new report obtained by The Huffington Post.

Researchers from The ArcView Group, a cannabis industry investment and research firm based in Oakland, California, found that the U.S. market for legal cannabis grew 74 percent in 2014 to $2.7 billion, up from $1.5 billion in 2013.

The group surveyed hundreds of medical and recreational marijuana retailers in states where sales are legal, as well as ancillary business operators and independent cultivators of the plant, over the course of seven months during 2013 and 2014. ArcView also compiled data from state agencies, nonprofit organizations and private companies in the marijuana industry for a more complete look at the marketplace.

Read it all.

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

3 Comments
Posted January 26, 2015 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And at the heart of the Genesis story of the creation of human beings is the essential nature of the human being, both male and female, existing to know God intimately and to walk intimately with God. There is an equality of worship, in adoration of the presence of God; there is an equality of revelling and feasting in fellowship with God in the Garden. Equality is a gift in creation, it is the foundation of equality before the law, equality of voice in the public square, equality in righteousness. Walter Brueggemann makes a similar point in his commentary on Isaiah 59. The post exilic community in Israel is deeply flawed not by its lack of worship, of which there is plenty, but by its inequalities in justice, in voice, in inclusion of all who accept Torah, regardless of wealth and status.

The first point to make is thus that inequality contrasts with the basic equality that exists before God. That may well not make it wrong, but as I will come back to when looking at the issues of the use of power, it raises a significant question mark. Is it possible, where there is gross inequality, for equality in worship and fellowship to be maintained?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted January 26, 2015 at 12:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mohler often uses grand and ambiguous phrases (“the new sexual revolution,” “the moral revolution,” etc.), but now he’s gone a step further, putting a deliberately misleading phrase in direct opposition to his notion of religious liberty.

It’s a clever move. Replacing “LGBT rights” with “erotic liberty” reduces the myriad of LGBT experiences and issues to what he presumably sees as a matter of sexual promiscuity, depravity and perversion, something many of Mohler’s followers will agree is bad, wrong, unnatural. It dehumanizes a community seeking civil rights into a gaygle of sexual beasts.

But the “LGBT rights vs. religious liberty” debate, if we’re going to keep Mohler’s battle narrative afloat for a minute, is about so much more than sex. Is eros a component? Sometimes. But the real fight is one for equality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted January 26, 2015 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Not surprisingly, a mild sense of panic leaks out of all the reports. I imagined Archbishops standing in the road shouting: "The car is stuck in a ditch! Quick! Grab the tools nearest to hand and get it out!" But, the more I read, the more I worried that the hard questions that needed to be asked had been sidelined: why the vehicle fell into the ditch; whether it needed a different engine and new running gear; and whether it was going in the right direction in the first place.

The failure to get to grips with the terrain is particularly apparent. It is said of the society of which the Church is part that it is a "secularised, materialistic culture, often experienced as a desert for the soul", "built on the . . . presumption that I get to make my life up". This is a troublingly paranoid and unevidenced projection, and it urgently needs to be married to the existing research on cultural values, social change, and the reasons for church decline which could inform it.

As for the nature of the Church, and the priorities for its recovery, it is simply assumed that the improvement depends on more and better clergy; that only congregations can fund it (with a fillip from the Commissioners); and that being a Christian is a matter of "discipleship".

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Theology

10 Comments
Posted January 26, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa [CAPA] is on the verge of disintegration after leaders of the Gafcon coalition called upon its chairman, the Archbishop of Burundi, to repent or resign in the wake of an October communiqué he endorsed that backed the Episcopal Church of the USA.

The collapse of CAPA, sources within the Gafcon movement tell Anglican Ink, is merely a sign of the wider collapse of the Anglican Communion. On 22 Jan 2015, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, the Primate of Kenya released a copy of a letter prepared at the December Gafcon primates meeting in Nairobi for Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi. He stated that as “no reply has been received, the letter is now being made public in order to avoid misunderstanding.”

The public rebuke of Archbishop Ntahoturi by the Gafcon primates is unprecedented in African church history, but was not unexpected. In his Advent letter to Gafcon, Archbishop Wabukala called Africa’s bishops to order. Archbisho Ntahoturi’s failure to heed the warnings coming out of Nairobi prompted the public release of his rebuke.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Global South Churches & PrimatesSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* International News & CommentaryAfrica* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 26, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In one of his last interviews in the job he's held since February 2013, Hagel refers to the "hidden consequences" of "nonstop war" faced by American combat forces since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. He calls the situation "unprecedented in the history of this country."

He tells Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep that such a protracted combat role means that the same people keep rotating back to the front lines: "four, five, six combat tours — [the] same people."

Hagel says that when spoke with a group of six promising young U.S. military officers in a recent meeting, "five out of the six said they were uncertain over whether they were going to stay in the service and most likely would get out.

"And why? Because of family issues, because of stress and strain," he tells Inskeep.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 26, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. David Couper, 77, recalled the predawn hours of a March day nearly a quarter-century ago. A fire had broken out at a housing project in Madison, Wis., where he was the chief of police. A police sergeant, hearing about the blaze from a 911 dispatcher, jauntily sang of the apartment complex, “Sommerset Circle is burning down.”

Five black children, the oldest 9 and the youngest 20 months, died in the fire, and revelations about the sergeant’s song prompted protests against the seeming racial insensitivity of the Madison police and fire departments. There were demands that the sergeant be fired, or at least punished beyond the five-day suspension that Mr. Couper meted out.

Instead, Mr. Couper brokered a compromise in which the sergeant issued a public apology in the presence of local black leaders. The controversy gradually subsided. The sergeant, whose record had been spotless until then, stayed on the force until retirement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 26, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My Episcopal church is fading before my eyes. Several months ago, (because I usually arrive late for services) I would find myself wedged into the last few seats in the back of the church. Then, a few months ago, I began to find plenty of seats, even for a latecomer. Now, there is row after row of empty pews as I walk in. The service is short, in large part because the offering is taken and communion distributed in record time. My church is emptying out.

We are in the interim between the unexpected departure of our rector and the hiring of a new one. The departure of the last rector was messy, and in short order the other two priests on staff left, as well. Now we rely on an interim (or "transitional") priest and the vague hope that people will patiently wait for a new leader to arrive. That hope is poorly rooted in fact.

The lengthy interim seems to be a popular tactic in some denominations. The theory, as I understand it, is that a longer interim period allows for more deliberation. During that period of deliberation, a church can complete a "self-assessment" of its needs, and then spend months examining those needs and how they might be met by the new hire. Also, with more time between pastors (as this theory has it), the liturgical habits of the old minister can be washed away, so that the new one can establish her own.

I'm not a fan of this theory.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

4 Comments
Posted January 26, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is Boko Haram becoming Africa’s Islamic State? In its bloodlust and ambition to hold territory, it certainly resembles the jihadists in Iraq and Syria. Boko Haram has carved out a “caliphate” the size of Belgium in the impoverished north-eastern corner of Nigeria. And like IS, it is exporting jihad across post-colonial borders...

What started as a radical but mostly political movement in 2002 has turned, especially since a heavy-handed crackdown in 2009, into a jihadist insurgency that has grown more violent every year. In April 2014 it abducted 276 girls from the town of Chibok. Some fled, some died, and many were sold into slavery or forced to “marry” fighters. Now the uprising is spreading to other countries. A week ago, 80 Cameroonians were kidnapped. Chad is sending troops to help Cameroon; Niger and Benin also feel threatened.

Read it all.

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

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Posted January 26, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First, here was AN ANNOUNCEMENT; "Go to the house of Saul of Tarsus; for behold, he prayeth." Without any preface, let me say, that this was the announcement of a fact which was noticed in heaven; which was joyous to the angels; which was astonishing to Ananias, and which was a novelty to Saul himself.
It was the announcement of a fact which was noticed in heaven. Poor Saul had been led to cry for mercy, and the moment he began to pray, God began to hear. Do you not notice, in reading the chapter, what attention God paid to Saul? He knew the street where he lived; "Go to the street that is called Straight." He knew the house where he resided; "inquire at the house of Judas." He knew his name; it was Saul. He knew the place where he came from; "Inquire for Saul of Tarsus." And he knew that he had prayed. "Behold, he prayeth." Oh! It is a glorious fact, that prayers are noticed in heaven. The poor broken-hearted sinner, climbing up to his chamber, bends his knee, but can only utter his wailing in the language of sighs and tears. Lo! That groan has made all the harps of heaven thrill with music; that tear has been caught by God, and put into the lachrymatory of heaven, to be perpetually preserved. The supplicant, whose fears prevent his words, will be well understood by the Most High. He may only shed one hasty tear; but "prayer is the falling of a tear." Tears are the diamonds of heaven; sighs are a part of the music of Jehovah's throne; for though prayers be

"The simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try;"

so are they likewise the

"Sublimest strains that reach The majesty on high."

Let me dilate on this thought a moment. Prayers are noticed in heaven. Oh! I know what is the case with many of you. You think, "If I turn to God, if I seek him, surely I am so inconsiderable a being, so guilty and vile, that it cannot be imagined he would take any notice of me." My friends, harbor no such heathenish ideas.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 26, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God, who by the preaching of thine apostle Paul hast caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we beseech thee, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may show forth our thankfulness unto thee for the same by following the holy doctrine which he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 26, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Blessed is he who considers the poor!
The Lord delivers him in the day of trouble;
the Lord protects him and keeps him alive;
he is called blessed in the land;
thou dost not give him up to the will of his enemies.
The Lord sustains him on his sickbed;
in his illness thou healest all his infirmities.

--Psalm 41:1-3

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 26, 2015 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his new memoir, Dear Father, J. Ivy describes the pain of being abandoned by his father. But the book is not just about that relationship and what might have been. It's a retracing of a unique career, and what it took for Ivy to get to the place he is today. A Grammy Award-winning poet and spoken-word artist, Ivy is also the author of the book HERE I AM: Then & Now and has collaborated with Kanye West and Jay-Z.

He tells NPR's Rachel Martin that his path to becoming a writer was a long one....

One of the chapters [in his new memoir] is actually titled ... "Forgiveness is Remembering to Forgive Again." And I learned that because there would be so many moments, you know so many life moments that would happen and ... I wish my father was there for me to pick up the phone and talk to him. A year and a half after that moment, after us reconnecting, he passed away. ... There was a lot of regret, which would lead back to those moments of anger. And there was guilt and there was sadness. And, you know, there were just these things that would reconjure in my mind. And it wasn't until I wrote this poem that I was able to exercise that forgiveness on a regular basis.

Read (or better listen to) it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMusicPoetry & LiteraturePsychology* TheologyAnthropologySoteriology

0 Comments
Posted January 25, 2015 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the wake of an interfaith Vatican conference on marriage two months ago, a coalition of Roman Catholics and evangelicals -- including Southern Baptist Timothy George -- has issued a statement calling the legalization of same-sex marriage "a graver threat" to society than either "easy acceptance of divorce" or "widespread cohabitation."

"We must say, as clearly as possible, that same-sex unions, even when sanctioned by the state, are not marriages," the statement, titled "The Two Shall Become One Flesh: Reclaiming Marriage," says. "Christians who wish to remain faithful to the Scriptures and Christian tradition cannot embrace this falsification of reality, irrespective of its status in law."

At least two additional Southern Baptists -- Rick Warren and Daniel Akin -- have endorsed the statement, which is slated to appear in the March 2015 issue of First Things, the journal's editor Russell Reno told Baptist Press. A list of approximately 30 Christian leaders to endorse the statement may include other Southern Baptists when it is finalized, Reno said.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 25, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is understandable why the New York Times’s Editorial Board would conclude that Christians view sinners as inferior—the tragic history of Christianity, even within our own country, offers many examples of Christians who have used sin as an excuse to dehumanize, discriminate, and hate others. However, these abuses are not the proper consequence of Christianity, but a disgusting distortion of that faith.

Contrary to the Editorial Board’s portrayal of sin, the tradition Christian teaching is not that certain people are “inferior” or “second-class” because of sin.

According to most Christian traditions, all humans are subject to inherited sin, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” as St. Paul writes. What is true of Cochran and equally true of each of his subordinates is that they are sinners in need of God’s grace. St. Paul, one of the greatest figures in Christianity, gave the most powerful example of this by referring to himself as the “chief of sinners.” People, all people, are sinners, people who commit “vile,” “vulgar,” and “inappropriate” sins. This is reflected in Cochran’s book, where he actually includes having multiple sexual partners and sex outside of marriage as sins that are also vile, vulgar, and inappropriate. “Lustfulness” and “anything tending to foster sexual sin and lust” are condemned too, which undoubtedly includes every member of the Atlanta Fire Department, at one time or another. We are all sinners.

And yet what is equally true is that we are each made in the Image of God...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 25, 2015 at 4:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The leader of the left-wing Syriza party Alexis Tsipras has said Greece is "leaving behind disastrous austerity", after his party claimed victory in the country's general election.

And the 40-year-old told jubilant supporters the "Troika" of the country's lenders "is finished".

He was speaking after the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who heads the conservative New Democracy party, conceded defeat to Mr Tsipras.

Partial election results suggest Syriza has secured 36.5% of the vote, compared to 27.7% for the New Democracy party.

Read it all from Sky news.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGreece* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 25, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today’s Gospel reading is living proof.

This is a tough read, and not exactly one we read on Christmas.
It’s:
•Violent
•shocking
•and yet another sign that the Good Old Days concept is elusive....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 25, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigerian Islamist Boko Haram fighters have attacked the strategically important north-eastern city of Maiduguri, with dozens reported dead.

Earlier on Sunday they captured the north-eastern town of Monguno.

The BBC's Will Ross in Lagos says that with the insurgents gaining ground, Maiduguri is increasingly at risk.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 25, 2015 at 1:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

--Hebrews 11:8-16

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 25, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Relations between American military trainers and specialists advising the Nigerian military in the fight against Boko Haram are so strained that the Pentagon often bypasses the Nigerians altogether, choosing to work instead with security officials in the neighboring countries of Chad, Cameroon and Niger, according to defense officials and diplomats.

Major rifts like these between the Nigerian and American militaries have been hampering the fight against Boko Haram militants as they charge through northern Nigeria, razing villages, abducting children and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee.

Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to travel to Nigeria on Sunday to meet with the candidates in Nigeria’s presidential elections, and the Pentagon says that the Nigerian Army is still an important ally in the region — vital to checking Boko Haram before it transforms into a larger, and possibly more transnational, threat.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...most viewers are likely unaware of what they are actually seeing. They are not merely watching an historical drama, they are witnessing the passing of a world. And that larger story, inadequately portrayed within Downton Abbey, is a story that should not be missed. That story is part of our own story as well. It is the story of the modern age arriving with revolutionary force, and with effects that continue to shape our own world.

Downton Abbey is set in the early decades of the twentieth century. Though by season four King George V is on the throne, the era is still classically Edwardian. And the era associated with King Edward VII is the era of the great turn in British society. The early decades of the twentieth century witnessed a great transformation in England and within the British Empire. The stable hierarchies of Downton Abbey grew increasingly unstable. Britain, which had been overwhelmingly a rural nation until the last decade of the nineteenth century, became increasingly urban. A transformation in morals changed the very character of the nation, and underlying it all was a great surge of secularization that set the stage for the emergence of the radically secular nation that Britain has become.

Viewers should note the almost complete absence of Christianity from the storyline. The village vicar is an occasional presence, and church ceremonies have briefly been portrayed. But Christianity as a belief system and a living faith is absent—as is the institutional presence of the Church of England.

Political life is also largely absent, addressed mainly as it directly affects the Crawleys and their estate. This amounts to a second great omission.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 24, 2015 at 2:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now, three weeks into my son’s preschool career and we are already jockeying for a position next year. I’ve spent three paychecks from my part-time job, plus multiple hours of work-at-home time to get the necessary forms filled out and notarized so he can stay in the school.

Earlier this week, a friend dropped off her son’s registration packet with me to hold on to for registration day, since she will be out of town. I asked her how this whole registration thing will go down.

She told me that moms start lining up at 9 a.m. My eyes glazed over. Now I’m starting the registration process again. I am not a stay-at-home-mom, I’m an agent.

Of course, it could be worse. I could be paying for both school AND an admissions coach, who helps parents navigate getting into the best preschools in Manhattan, which cost upwards of $40K in tuition.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 24, 2015 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* General InterestPhotos/Photography* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* South Carolina* TheologyApologetics

3 Comments
Posted January 24, 2015 at 9:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram is about more than disenfranchisement and a quest for identity.

Its mission is to establish Islamic law — or at least Boko Haram’s version of it — over Nigeria. It is driven by a religious fundamentalism that sanctions the deliberate destruction of churches and the slaughter of worshipers.

On Christmas Day it targets churches. There’s nothing secular about Boko Haram.

No less than Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has said so himself. Claiming credit for a massacre that took place in the northeastern Nigerian town of Baga — in which hundreds were shot on sight or dragged from their homes and killed — Shekau said in a YouTube video, according to the Associated Press: “We are the ones who fought the people of Baga, and we have killed them with such a killing as he [Allah] commanded us in his book.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 24, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

To the end that [my] glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

--Psalm 30:11-12 (KJV)

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 24, 2015 at 6:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The dean of the Catholic University of America’s School of Business and Economics recently approached me with an idea: A research and educational program focused on the compatibility of capitalism and Catholicism. On Thursday the university announced a $3 million grant to fund this vision.

It makes perfect sense that CUA would want to teach this topic to business leaders. Free markets have liberated more people from poverty than any other force in history. But they must also be buttressed by moral principles, such as those taught in the Catholic Church.

The notion of such compatibility is troubling for some. In 2013, the Charles Koch Foundation pledged grants at CUA’s request for similar studies exploring principled entrepreneurship, which prompted condemnation from a number of Catholic “social justice” groups. Catholic “activists” sent the university a letter alleging that free-market positions “are in direct conflict with traditional Catholic values.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 23, 2015 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Also, as Ian Dowbiggin showed in “A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America” (2003), physician-assisted suicide was periodically championed in the 20th century yet rejected time after time by American voters when its practical harms were comprehended. As recently as 2012, Massachusetts voters defeated an initiative to legalize assisted suicide.

There are two essential harms from the practice. First: Once doctors agree to assist a person’s suicide, ultimately they find it difficult to reject anyone who seeks their services. The killing of patients by doctors spreads to encompass many treatable but mentally troubled individuals, as seen today in the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland.

Second: When a “right to die” becomes settled law, soon the right translates into a duty. That was the message sent by Oregon, which legalized assisted suicide in 1994, when the state-sponsored health plan in 2008 denied recommended but costly cancer treatments and offered instead to pay for less-expensive suicide drugs.

Read it all from Paul McHugh.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife Ethics* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 23, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Courage...is the indispensable requisite of any true ministry.... If you are afraid of men and a slave to their opinion, go and do something else. Go make shoes to fit them. Go even and paint pictures you know are bad but will suit their bad taste. But do not keep on all of your life preaching sermons which shall not say what God sent you to declare, but what they hire you to say. Be courageous. Be independent.

----Phillips Brooks, Lectures on Preaching, the 1877 Yale Lectures (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), p. 59

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

0 Comments
Posted January 23, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While much will be made in the coming months of France’s intelligence failures, the West’s inability to appreciate the role that women play in terror should come under the highest scrutiny. Take the role of women in the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL. While the group oppresses many women, many also flock to its ranks. Roughly 10 percent of its Western recruits are female, often lured by their peers through social media and instant messaging. The percentage is much higher in France: An estimated 63 of the 350 French nationals believed to be with the group are women, or just under 20 percent.

This story is both a new one and an old one. Women have long been involved in terror of all stripes, from female neo-Nazis in Europe to Chechen “black widow” suicide bombers.

Indeed, despite stereotypes about their domesticity and passivity — the idea that they must always be under men’s influence or tricked into joining — women are drawn to groups like the Islamic State by many of the same forces as men: adventure, inequality, alienation and the pull of the cause.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 23, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But I trust in thee, O LORD, I say, "Thou art my God." My times are in thy hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors! Let thy face shine on thy servant; save me in thy steadfast love!

--Psalm 31:15-16

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 23, 2015 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* South Carolina* TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 22, 2015 at 5:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...demonstrators descended on to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for an annual march coinciding with a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Demonstrators at the 42nd annual March for Life on Thursday carried signs ranging from ones that said "Defend Life" and "I am a voice for the voiceless" to "Thank God my mom's prolife." The march is held annually on the same day that in 1973 that the Supreme Court announced its decision in the case of Roe v. Wade, a decision that created a constitutional right to abortion.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted January 22, 2015 at 4:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The proposals are presented in a report written by Lord Green, a former British trade minister and HSBC chairman, and prepared with outside help from Christopher McLaverty, a former talent leadership chief at BP, an oil supermajor. As much as £2m ($3m) has been set aside to enact the “talent management programme”, which will provide 150 bishops with the means to study at INSEAD’s campus in Fontainebleau, France, over the next two years. The aim is that clergy, who often come into a high-profile post within the church with little training, are given more adequate preparation for their role, including the ability to build and manage a high-functioning support team. “Simply arriving at moments of appointment and then looking to see who might or might not, by a process of amounting to chance, have suitable preparation and gifting, is to abandon all responsibility,” Mr Welby wrote in support of the Green report.

Sending bishops to business school will kickstart a “culture change for the leadership of the church”, the report says. But it admits that the preponderance of phrases such as “talent pool” and “alumni network” peppered throughout the paper may put off more staunch theologians. Yet that hasn’t stopped the language of business breaching the pious institution. In an appendix of Lord Green’s report, the net promoter score (NPS), a loyalty metric developed by Bain & Company, a consultancy, is presented with a straight face as a hypothetical way of evaluating the benefit of the mini-MBA. With a fictionalised NPS of +75 (on a scale of -100 to +100), the church appears to be confident its plans will be well-received.
'
Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchEducation* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

4 Comments
Posted January 22, 2015 at 12:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Reading N. T. Wright's latest book, Simply Good News: Why the Gospel is News and What Makes It Good (HarperOne), is somewhat like listening to a compilation album. All the classic hits are here: "the kingdom of God is for earth now," "the gospel is the key moment in a story," "resurrection is about bodies," "something has happened," and, of course, the well-loved ballad "fundamentalists and liberals are both missing the point." For those who are new to Wright, Simply Good News will offer a helpful introduction to and summary of his work. For those who have read plenty of him already, or for those who dislike compilation albums in principle, it will probably have less to offer.

The focus of the book is admirably clear: to explain what the gospel is, and why we should think of it as good news. In eight succinct chapters, Wright explains the nature of good news (chapter one), the essence of what that good news is (chapters two and three) and is not (chapters four and five), and what it means for the way we live now (chapter six), think about God (chapter seven), and pray (chapter eight). Each of these chapters is readable and insightful, characterized by Wright's familiar mixture of rich scholarship, vivid illustration, and contemporary application.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 22, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I’ve never been a fan of global conferences to solve problems, but when I read that the Obama administration is organizing a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism for Feb. 18, in response to the Paris killings, I had a visceral reaction: Is there a box on my tax returns that I can check so my tax dollars won’t go to pay for this?

When you don’t call things by their real name, you always get in trouble. And this administration, so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia, is refusing to make any link to radical Islam from the recent explosions of violence against civilians (most of them Muslims) by Boko Haram in Nigeria, by the Taliban in Pakistan, by Al Qaeda in Paris and by jihadists in Yemen and Iraq. We’ve entered the theater of the absurd.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

5 Comments
Posted January 22, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Foreign ministers from 21 countries are meeting in London to discuss ways to co-ordinate their efforts to combat the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).

IS controls large swathes of Syria and Iraq and the US-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes since August.

But UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond insisted much more needed to be done.

He told the BBC that the countries wanted to find ways to halt the flow of recruits to IS, cut off its funding and "tackle the underlying narrative".

Read it all.

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

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Posted January 22, 2015 at 7:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The text of the Preface regarding Confirmation is brief enough that I’ll print the text of the first three out of four paragraphs as I go, one paragraph at a time, followed by a few comments. The statement begins like this:

Anglicanism requires a public and personal profession of the Faith from every adult believer in Jesus Christ. Confirmation by a bishop is its liturgical expression. Confirmation is evident in Scripture: the Apostles prayed for, and laid their hands on those who had already been baptized (Acts 8:14-17; 19:6).

I keep toying with this first sentence in my mind. If they mean this to be an accurate description of how the majority of Anglicans think about confirmation, I think they may be correct. But if this is meant to be descriptive of Anglicanism in any historical sense, than it is certainly misleading and probably just flat out wrong. Why?

At least one implication of the practice of requiring both baptism and Confirmation before reception of Holy Communion in the English and American BCPs (until 1979) is that God administers something in Confirmation (as opposed to it being simply a ritual acknowledgement that one is now mature enough to willingly give themselves to the Christian faith). Or at least that there is a sacramental encounter with God in that moment (which, by definition, would mean that it is an encounter unique to that sacrament). Otherwise, why does the bishop pray not only for a strengthening of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation, but for the seven-fold gifts of the Spirit? The petition that the candidate be defended “with thy heavenly grace” is also interesting, as it has no parallel in the baptism rites (that is, it’s not a repetition of something already requested in that ritual). In short, what the bishop petitions on behalf of the candidate are things not requested at baptism.

The rest of the ACNA statement reflects in many ways the tension that persists around this controverted rite, a tension that began in the twentieth century and endures into the twenty-first. While the adage that Confirmation is a “rite in search of a theology” is maybe a bit too cavalier, it is true that the intention of Confirmation and its relationship to baptism remain hotly contested.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* TheologySacramental Theology

6 Comments
Posted January 22, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leonardo Maugeri, an associate professor at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and who predicted the current collapse in prices back in 2012, estimates world oil production capacity is about 101 million barrels a day. That’s nearly 10% more than expected demand next year.

Mr. Maugeri says U.S. shale and tight oil production is more resilient than many expected because of lower break-even costs and higher productivity levels. Service fees are also falling at the same time, as hedging still offers a cushion to shale producers until mid-2015, he said.

That resilience may force Saudi Arabia to keep up its price war well into the year before the strategy wrings out some of the oversupply.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 22, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.” And he said to them, “Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how. The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

--Mark 4:21-34

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 22, 2015 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why did the Security Council condemn Boko Haram now?

The scale of the attack likely forced the council to adopt its first statement on the threat of Boko Haram, and was aimed directly at the Nigerian government's sensitivity to foreign criticism, says Darren Kew, an expert on Nigeria at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

"The government is very sensitive to international embarrassment and this announcement will get its attention. With an upcoming election, it will push President Goodluck Jonathan to take more comprehensive action in Boko Haram," Mr. Kew says.

The attacks have also involved troops of neighboring countries and bled over the Nigerian border, making the problem a regional one. Most recent was the seizure of hostages in Cameroon on Sunday, with about 24 later released.

Read it all.

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

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Posted January 21, 2015 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Economic historians have long supposed that Africa’s historically low population density shaped its development. Rulers struggled to exercise control over scattered populations, the theory goes. Malfunctioning states inhibited growth because property rights were insecure and infrastructure was worse.

But why was it that land in precolonial Africa was so abundant, and people were so scarce? A new paper* by Marcella Alsan of Stanford University blames the tsetse fly. The pest, much like the mosquito, lives off the blood of people and animals and in the process transmits disease, in this case a parasite that causes sleeping sickness. To domesticated animals, on which it likes to feed, its bite is fatal. Its prevalence, the paper argues, made it considerably harder for Africans to develop agriculture.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* General InterestAnimals* International News & CommentaryAfrica* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 21, 2015 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

n his Preface, the Bishop of Coventry notes that that the report is offered as a resource for theological reflection that can "inform the improvisations the church will continue to require in its practice of leadership and anchor them in faithfulness to the gospel…. How do the dynamics of Church life and leadership in the New Testament apply to the Church today? How might we draw faithfully and creatively on the rich traditions of the church over two millennia around authority, responsibility and service? How can we talk constructively about ambition in church life and deal with the realities of disappointment and the experience of failure? These are not just issues for those who exercise senior leadership in the Church of England. We hope this report can contribute to fostering serious thought and prayer about them."

Professor Loveday Alexander, one of the members of the Faith and Order Commission, comments: "What we are offering, as a gift to the Church and as the result of many years of collective reflection, is a theological contribution to practical thinking about leadership development in the Church. We have tried to set out some of the deep spiritual roots of the Church's understanding of what it means to exercise leadership within the body of Christ."

Read it all and note the whole report is there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted January 21, 2015 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Supreme Court that has extended the reach of religion into public life in recent years ruled Tuesday (Jan. 20) that spirituality can overcome even prison security concerns.

The court came down decisively on the side of a Muslim prisoner whose beard had been deemed potentially dangerous by Arkansas prison officials. Growing a beard, the justices said, was a Muslim man’s religious right.

The unanimous opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, had been widely anticipated despite two lower court decisions upholding the state’s no-beard policy. The ruling extended the high court’s reverence for religious beliefs and observances. In its last term, the justices allowed family-owned businesses with religious objections to deny health insurance coverage for contraceptives, and the court also upheld prayers at municipal government meetings.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 21, 2015 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It should have been a fun ­occasion – a boy’s birthday party at a tobogganing centre, ­complete with tea and balloons.

But the event has now turned into the focus of a public row between two families after the mother of the boy holding the party sent a formal invoice to the parents of his friend Alex for a “party no-show fee”.

The document, which included an invoice number, charged Tanya Walsh and Derek Nash £15.95 for the cost of their five-year-old son’s non-attendance at the event, held during the Christmas holidays.

And the Nashes are now being threatened with action at the small claims court if they refuse to pay up, while the mother of the birthday boy has banned her son from ever playing with Alex again.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted January 21, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Environment Agency’s pension fund has urged BP and Royal Dutch Shell to invest in renewable energy and do more to tackle climate change.

The government-backed agency’s £2.5bn fund has teamed up with more than 150 other investors, including the Church of England and several large local authority pension funds. They have filed shareholder resolutions urging both oil companies to take more action on global warming.

“It was an easy decision,” said John Varley, chairman of the Environment Agency pensions committee. “We believe that it is vital to manage climate risk within investments and that all shareholders have access to clear information to assess how these companies are managing risk and protecting shareholder value.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted January 21, 2015 at 7:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Much of England is experiencing economic crisis. Our economy appears to be, in one sense, a tale of two cities – one being a growing and constantly improving London (and the south-east generally), and the other being most, but not all, other cities, alike in that they are each trapped in apparently inevitable decline.

Of course, London has many economic problems of its own. While on a national level entire cities are being cast aside and left to their own devices, one cannot walk the streets of London for long before realising that this national trend is happening at an individual level in this massive city. There is poverty around the corner from every multimillion and multibillion pound industry – individuals and families similarly trapped in apparently inescapable circles of despair.

This sketch of our current plight will not come as news to many. It is the reality we experience and see on a daily basis. And I believe that many of the prescribed remedies that so often accompany this diagnosis are deeply flawed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureRural/Town LifeUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted January 21, 2015 at 7:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The story of the wise men and their star-led quest represents the religious and spiritual quest of the entire human race. Reason's star led them to Jerusalem, in quest of a new born King of the Jews; the Scriptures' revelation sent them to Bethlehem, where the star confirmed the scripture and stood over the place where the young child lay: the only begotten son of the Father, the full and final revelation of God's glory, incarnate of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, now manifested to the Gentiles as the only mediator of God and men, the Saviour of the world.

Let us be clear: at the heart of the Magi's journey is a claim offensive to many: not just Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus; but even, or especially, to many Christians and post-Christians, atheists, and skeptics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus expect to disagree with Christians, as they do with one another. It is the Christians and post-Christians who are embarrassed and offended by the claim that Jesus is the only Mediator of God and men (1 Timothy 2:5), the Saviour of the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted January 21, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A man purporting to be the leader of the Boko Haram Islamist group has said in a video that his fighters carried out a deadly attacks on the Nigerian town of Baga earlier this month.

The man said to be Abubakar Shekau said people were killed "as our Lord instructed us", threatening more raids.

He taunted nearby countries' leaders.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted January 21, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. has said it won’t be sending soldiers to fight ISIS but some Americans have found their own way there

When the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) surrounded the Yezidi tribes on Sinjar Mountain in August last year, Dean Parker was at his job as a commercial painter in the U.S.. That evening, he saw news reports of Kurdish fighters trying to liberate the mountain.

“I made the decision right there,” says Parker, now sitting in his hotel room in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah. “I was online booking a ticket.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“It’s neither beheading unbelievers nor terror that besmirch Islam,” he argued, but rather “all those who want Islam to be in the image of Mandela or Gandhi, without bloodshed and beheadings.” The provocative writer then added, “That isn’t the religion of Mohammed, who was sent out with his sword until Judgment Day; Mohammed, of whom the only chapter in the Koran that bears his name is called the war chapter. ... All those who try to paint Islam as a religion of peace, doves and love ... are doing so under the influence of the West’s false views and its evil ideas, which are being exported to the Islamic nation in order to weaken it.”

The author wasn’t making anything up. He cites Islamic sources. These are the same sources from which all Muslim religious scholars derive their worldviews.

So who is the abductor and who is the abductee in this story?

It seems that Islam needs a serious ideological shake-up. Or to be more precise, it needs a revolution that will bring it into alignment with the modern era. The “sacred” job of being the standard-bearer of this revolution must fall on the shoulders of Muslim intellectuals everywhere. For only a root canal of Islam’s ideas can move the Arab and Muslim world toward modernity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 21, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

However, the dean of Duke Divinity School, Richard Hays, raised concerns about the use of the chapel for the Muslim call to prayer if it’s seen as a Christian church (given its history and iconography), rather than a neutral space on campus.

“There are serious questions...about the wisdom and propriety of allowing Duke chapel to be used for this purpose,” he said in a statement. “Despite some common beliefs and traditions, Christianity and Islam stand in significant theological tension with one another.”

Durham resident and author Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove wrote that while he was “glad Duke Chapel hosts a vibrant Christian congregation,” he did not see the space as holy ground.

“The Dukes are buried in the crypt, not saints. Robert E. Lee's statue is in the entryway. Muslim prayers would not desecrate ground marked by the blood of Christian martyrs,” he wrote. “It would, instead, be an act of hospitality to hallow a messy place.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

8 Comments
Posted January 21, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

--Psalm 38:21-22

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 21, 2015 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Florida teenager managed to fool doctors and hospital administration at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach as he posed as a resident OB-GYN for an entire month, FOX13 reports.

“He presented himself with a patient of our practice and introduced himself as Dr. Robinson,” Dr. Sebastian Kent told WSBTV.

Kent is an OB-GYN with St. Mary’s Medical Center. He felt something was a little off as he watched the teen ("Dr. Robinson") enter an examination room with a patient.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineTeens / Youth* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 20, 2015 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The massive truck stops just off I-81 here offer diesel, hot coffee and “the best dang BBQ in Virginia.” There’s something else, too: a small-town doctor who performs medical exams and drug tests for long-haul drivers, an innovative effort to keep his beloved family practice afloat.

At a time when doctors are increasingly giving up private practice, Rob Marsh still operates his medical office in tiny Middlebrook, Va., about 15 miles from Raphine and 50 miles west of Charlottesville. He makes house calls and checks on his patients who are hospitalized — sometimes late at night. He knows which tough, leathery farmers will blanch as soon as they spot a needle.

For the past 2 1/2 years, Marsh, 58, also has reached out to another medically neglected population: the truck drivers who spend their days on the interstate, many never home long enough to find a primary-care physician.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineTravel* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 20, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tradition matters.

As a statement about the making of church doctrine, that comment might not sound too startling, and it is quite obvious to Catholic and Orthodox believers. But it does point to a major paradox in the thinking of that numerous and influential section of the world’s Christians who are evangelicals. Surprised, and even shocked, as they might be to hear it, they are in fact far more Catholic than they might ever have thought.

Evangelicals pride themselves on their reliance on Scripture alone, the core Reformation doctrine of sola scriptura. If you look at evangelical debates, the question will soon arise: how do you ground this in scripture? Give me chapter and verse!

But here’s the problem. Evangelicals believe absolutely in core doctrines of faith that cannot be derived simply from scripture, but rather grow out of church tradition.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologyEcclesiologyTheology: Scripture

30 Comments
Posted January 20, 2015 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of all the silly claims sometimes made by atheists these days, surely one of the silliest is that Christianity was in no way determinative of the politics of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Just take Christopher Hitchens's claim that, on account of King's commitment to nonviolence, in "no real as opposed to nominal sense ... was he a Christian." Wherever King got his understanding of nonviolence from, argues Hitchens, it simply could not have been from Christianity because Christianity is inherently violent.

The best response that I can give to such claims is turn to that wonderfully candid account of the diverse influences that shaped King's understanding of nonviolence in his Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, and then demonstrate how his Christianity gave these influences in peculiarly Christ-like form.

King reports as a college student he was moved when he read Thoreau's Essay on Civil Disobedience. Thoreau convinced him that anyone who passively accepts evil, even oppressed people who cooperate with an evil system, are as implicated with evil as those who perpetrate it. Accordingly, if we are to be true to our conscience and true to God, a righteous man has no alternative but to refuse to cooperate with an evil system.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 20, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, the Catholic charity for persecuted and other suffering Christians, the bishop said Nigeria’s military was weakened by incompetence, corruption and Boko Haram infiltration within its ranks.

He warned that drastic action was urgently needed as the attacks earlier this month in the town of Baga showed that Boko Haram was poised to become a threat well beyond Nigeria’s borders and was recruiting from Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Libya.

Bishop Dashe Doeme, whose diocese is the heartland of the Islamist terror group, said: “The West should bring in security – land forces to contain and beat back Boko Haram. A concerted military campaign is needed by the West to crush Boko Haram.”

Read it all from Catholic Herald.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 20, 2015 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Filed under: * By KendallSermons & Teachings* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEpiphanyParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyAnthropologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tartu Theological Seminary (Estonia) appointed its first ever woman Rector in January 2015. The Union of Free Evangelical and Baptist Churches of Estonia invited Dr Einike Pilli to be the leader of educational life and development in the Estonian baptistic faith movement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEuropeEstonia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

0 Comments
Posted January 20, 2015 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can find the speakers brief bios here and the conference schedule there and the vision for the gathering here. You all know enough about a conference like this to know that there is much more to it than simply the presentations. Please pray for the speakers travel and ministry here (a number are serving in Sunday worship after the conference locally), the time to develop new friendships and renew old ones, for the Bishop and his wife Allison in their hosting capacity, and especially for the the Rev. Jeffrey Miller of Beaufort and his assisting staff, who has the huge responsibility of coordinating it all--KSH.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* South Carolina* TheologyApologeticsSeminary / Theological Education

7 Comments
Posted January 20, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O LORD, I love the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy glory dwells.

--Psalm 26:8

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 20, 2015 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We’ve done so much out of respect and admiration for, in celebration and in honor of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that I wonder if these expressions are just that— words left hanging on calendars and parade routes, on school buildings, city streets and expressways, in libraries and museums, in filled rooms with empty people.

I am afraid that we are content with the sound of his words, that we like the way that they make us feel and perhaps, appear to others, that they are consumed but not digested, preached but not practiced, repeated but not remembered. We lick our fingers and then close our mouths satisfied. We push away from the table full of ourselves. Having done none of his work, we take the credit.

We have forgotten that he was a Baptist minister, a pastor, a shepherd while his flock was a nation. We have forgotten that he was not really fighting for civil rights but declaring the truths of the kingdom of God on earth, the message lost in politics, propaganda and people- pleasing. We have forgotten that he was only reminding us of what God says about all of us, that we are created equally—no one human being or culture having more time with the hands of God than the other. His message cannot be reduced to a march, a dream or a stamp. It is we who still need to be moved though we don’t want to be stirred or sent anywhere should it bring discomfort.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Michael] Gilbreath (a CT editor at large) hearkens back to the 1963 Birmingham civil rights campaign, to the world of Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, and other heroic Christian leaders. Today, we idolize these figures for leading a beleaguered people to the Promised Land. But as Birmingham Revolution makes clear, the civil rights movement was no slam dunk. Uncertainty, scarce resources, and outside hostility could have ground its progress to a halt.

The Birmingham campaign was pivotal. On the heels of defeat in Albany, Georgia, victory in Birmingham restored the movement's momentum. Failure could have crippled it, by drying up funding, discrediting the nonviolent method, and validating fears that the leaders were—take your pick—extremists, rabble-rousers, too Christian, not Christian enough, too Southern, or insufficiently urban.
How—amid the noise and ambiguity, the internal struggles and self-doubts, the bone-deep weariness and constant fear of death—did the Birmingham leaders maintain their focus? And how might their example instruct the church today? Gilbreath gives four answers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 19, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Instead of being watched by the state through telescreens, we carry our own screens—ones that put more information at our fingertips than an entire government department could have compiled in Orwell’s day. Big Brother has been defeated by capitalist technology.

But if, like most of his contemporaries, he was too gloomy, Orwell got one thing uncannily right. In an appendix to his dystopian novel, he discussed how an idea could be made literally unthinkable if there were no words to express it. The illustration he gave was the word “free.” In Newspeak, “free” could be used only in the sense of “this field is free from weeds” or “this dog is free from lice.” The concept of political or intellectual freedom had disappeared, because no one could put it into words.

What an eerily prescient example to have chosen. In recent years this is more or less what has happened to the word “free.” In 1948, “freedom” still had its traditional meaning of a guarantee against coercion: freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of worship. Since then, however, “freedom” has come to mean “entitlement,” as in “freedom to work,” “freedom from hunger,” “freedom from discrimination,” and so on. Thus, the notion that the state ought not to boss us around becomes harder to convey, and the politician who supports that notion is disadvantaged.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksEducationHistoryMediaPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 19, 2015 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.

There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPrison/Prison MinistryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



You can find the full text here.

I find it always is really worth the time to read and ponder it all on this day--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty Father, who didst inspire Simon Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the Living God: Keep thy Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in thee I trust,
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
for thou art the God of my salvation;
for thee I wait all the day long.

--Psalm 25:1-4

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 1979, Larry Lewis picked up a copy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and saw a full-page ad listing the Southern Baptist Convention among denominations that affirmed the right to abortion.

"Right there beside the Unitarians and universalists was the Southern Baptist Convention," Lewis, a St. Louis pastor who went on to become president of the Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board), told Baptist Press. "... That bothered me a lot."

So Lewis did something about it, proposing in 1980 the first of more than 20 pro-life resolutions adopted by the SBC over the next few decades. When Lewis became HMB president of in 1987, one of his first actions was to create the office of abortion alternatives to help churches establish crisis pregnancy centers.

Thanks to Lewis and others, newspapers do not call the SBC pro-choice anymore.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 18, 2015 at 5:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many of you who read my editorials are pastors of a local church as I am. Imagine this scenario. One hundred of your most committed and loyal members write you a letter. You know they love your church. Most of them have been members for decades. They serve faithfully in your congregation’s ministries and they give generously. Their letter states they are deeply concerned about a matter they believe is endangering the health of the church they love and they hope you will act to address it.

How would you respond? Would you ask to meet with them and hear them out? I know I would. Maybe you would decide to sit down with a few of their leaders and ask them to speak for the group. Short of that, would you send a letter of your own, thanking those who wrote for sharing their concerns? If not inclined to go that far, would you at least in some way acknowledge that you had received their letter? I mean, you would respond, right? Even if you did not agree with their concerns, as a leader you would feel it important to respond to your members who took the time to write, wouldn’t you? And if not as a leader, then wouldn’t simple politeness require you to make some kind of reply to your brothers and sisters in Christ?

What if you did nothing? What would you expect those 100 members to do? Would you expect them to continue to look to you for leadership? Listen to your sermons, telling them how we Christians should treat each other? Pay your salary?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 18, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In October, Seacoast’s Mount Pleasant Campus pastor took the stage to tell its 14,000 weekend attendees that he felt God calling the church to alleviate, even end, the local foster care crisis.

A few weeks later, 550 church members showed up for two interest meetings to learn more. An orientation meeting drew nearly 100 serious about becoming foster parents, almost as many people as licensed foster homes existing in Charleston County today.

Next week, the first series of foster parents licensing classes is full with 20 couples.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 18, 2015 at 1:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some people have obvious activities to chop. If you're surfing the web for four hours a day or spending your weekends in a casino, you know what needs to be done. But I'd wager most of us have more difficult decisions to make. Streamlining our schedules and keeping our sanity involves continually choosing the best from among the merely good.

In my interview with Bill Hybels from the Spring issue of Leadership, I asked him what changes he'd made to simplify his life. He talked about scheduling. "I know that sounds like such a boring subject," he said, "but sitting down before God with a calendar and a submitted spirit is one of the holiest things you can do."

That's good advice. I don't think following it will magically make our lives simple. If we wanted simple, we wouldn't have chosen ministry. But bringing our complicated lives before God and submitting every detail to his will—that's a pretty good place to start.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 18, 2015 at 1:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Muslims around the world are “the only ones that can actually win this battle because it is about an extremist ideology that they are going to have to stand up against,” says Haris Tarin, director of the Washington office of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 18, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Chris Kyle, often described as the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, wrote in his autobiography that he prioritized his life in the following order: God, country, family.

But God doesn’t make a central appearance in the film “American Sniper,” which opens nationwide on Friday (Jan. 16). The film offers a few similarities to “Unbroken,” Angelina Jolie’s recent World War II epic about POW Louis Zamperini.

Both stories focus on the dramatic stories of warriors who died before the movie versions of their lives came out. Both “American Sniper” and “Unbroken” include an early scene of their families sitting in church. Both men struggle with substance abuse after returning from war.

And both films largely skirt the faith that Kyle and Zamperini said were key to their identity — and their survival.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 18, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Four in 10 U.S. college students graduate without the complex reasoning skills to manage white-collar work, according to the results of a test of nearly 32,000 students.

The test, which was administered at 169 colleges and universities in 2013 and 2014 and released Thursday, reveals broad variation in the intellectual development of the nation’s students depending on the type and even location of the school they attend.

On average, students make strides in their ability to reason, but because so many start at such a deficit, many still graduate without the ability to read a scatterplot, construct a cohesive argument or identify a logical fallacy.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPhilosophyScience & TechnologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 18, 2015 at 6:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the first few days after Boko Haram’s recent attack in the remote village of Baga, most of the news coverage I saw about it concerned the lack of news. Why, the media wondered, was the media not more interested? As many as 2,000 people had been slaughtered, a figure that, if true, would dwarf the number killed in Paris around the same time.

A big reason the Boko Haram killings haven’t gotten much press is that there isn’t much press there. Baga is extremely remote, with little or no cell service, and it is, by all accounts, a war zone. Nor is the Nigerian government cooperative, or forthcoming, about what’s going on: The military claims no more than 150 people were killed, including militants. President Goodluck Jonathan, who is in the midst of a reelection campaign, hasn’t even publicly commented on the attack.

But even if the western media had been more present, I’m not convinced the western audience would have been more interested. Because, at bottom, there’s a pervading sense here that what happened in Paris was decidedly not normal, while what happened in Nigeria decidedly was.

And normal, unfortunately, doesn’t make the news.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted January 18, 2015 at 6:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens,
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his host!

Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them for ever and ever;
he fixed their bounds which cannot be passed.

--Psalm 148:1-3

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 18, 2015 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The SNB was not forced to act by a speculative run. No financial crisis forced its hand, and, in theory, the SNB’s directorate could have held the exchange rate and bought foreign assets indefinitely. But domestic criticism of the SNB’s large buildup of exchange-rate reserves (euro assets) was mounting.

In particular, Swiss conservatives disliked the risk to which the SNB was exposed. Fearing that eurozone government bonds were unsafe, they agitated to require the SNB to acquire gold reserves instead, even forcing a referendum on the matter. Though the initiative to require a fixed share of gold reserves failed, the prospect of large-scale quantitative easing by the European Central Bank, together with the euro’s recent slide against the dollar, intensified the political pressure to abandon the peg.

Whereas economists have modeled financial attacks well, there has been little study of just when political pressure becomes unbearable and a central bank gives in. The SNB, for example, had proclaimed loyalty to the peg just days before ending it. As a result, markets will now hesitate to believe central banks’ statements about future policy, and forward guidance (a major post-crisis instrument) will be much more difficult.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeSwitzerland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 17, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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