Category :

A Prayer for Pentecost from the ACNA Prayerbook

O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Posted in Pentecost, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him,”

God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

–1 Corinthians 2:1-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Queen Bertha and King Ethelbert

God our ruler and guide, we honor thee for Queen Bertha and King Ethelbert of Kent who, gently persuaded by the truth of thy Gospel, encouraged others by their godly example to follow freely the path of discipleship; and we pray that we, like them, may show the goodness of thy Word not only by our words but in our lives; through Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in Church History, England / UK, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924)

O Holy Spirit the Comforter, Who art everywhere present and finest all things, treasury of blessings and giver of life: descend and remain upon me, most blessed One, and cleanse me from all that is impure within.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

–Hebrews 9:11-14

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(FT) F-16s might not win Ukraine’s war, but they promise a more equal fight

The F-16, with its longer-range radars, sensors and missiles, would restore the Ukrainian air force’s edge both qualitatively and quantitatively — and push the VKS back into Russia. That will, in turn, protect both Ukraine’s ground forces and its critical infrastructure. But boosting its effectiveness in the absence of wider air power packaging will require imagination.

Integrated air defence systems work far better than those operating in isolation. The Ukrainian air force must link together its western surface-to-air missiles and their advanced radars to provide its pilots with an enhanced picture of the aerial battle. Ground-based electronic warfare systems can do much to degrade Russian radars, and thereby its surface-to-air missile belt. Using rapidly-prototyped drones in reconnaissance and suppressing enemy air defence missions would make Russia’s fighter aircraft more vulnerable. This package of largely ground-based supporting systems — much cheaper than airborne ones — would allow Ukraine to retain the initiative in the air battle.

Finally, there is a moral dimension to consider. Nato would fight Russia by winning the air battle first, and then using air superiority to drive a more efficient land battle. Given the weakness of the VKS, this is no pipe dream. But the west’s constrained donations to date have forced Ukraine to pursue grinding land tactics. We have restricted Kyiv to fighting in a way that we would not, and to take casualties that we would not.

Read it all.

Posted in Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Russia, Ukraine

(Church Times) Questions remain as Launde Minster Community is launched in Leicester

A “PERFECT STORM” of declining church attendance, reduced giving, and stretched church leaders means that “we cannot, in good conscience, put our heads in the sand and hope that more of the same is the answer,” the director of parish transition and ministry development in the diocese of Leicester, said this week.

Canon Stuart Burns was speaking in response to questions about the formation of Minster Communities in the diocese, the first of which was launched at the end of last month….

The Launde Minster Community (MC), the first of three areas in a pilot of the scheme, was officially launched on 30 April at a service at St Peter’s, Tilton on the Hill, at which the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, commissioned the Community’s Oversight Minister, Canon Jonathan Dowman. The Community brings together eight benefices comprising 24 parishes (35 churches) that have committed to collaborate in mission and to offer their resources.

Feedback from PCCs in the area has highlighted a tension between parishes’ desire for the answers to practical questions around provision of the eucharist and the allocation of stipendiary posts and the diocese’s position that MCs “aren’t chiefly about deployment” but “an issue of local discipleship, faith and vision”. In Launde, many decisions remain to be taken, including the deployment of ordained ministry, the identification of appointed ministers for each church, and how governance will work (the original diocesan framework envisaged a move to Joint Church Councils). PCCs have raised concerns about whether a proposed doubling of giving, necessary to fund four stipendiary posts, can be achieved, given small congregations.

Read it all.”>Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, Parish Ministry

(NBC) ‘Flying Classroom’ program inspiring Florida students to explore STEM

Posted in Children, Education, Science & Technology

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–The Church of England’s financial imbalance

Last year I identified four areas where greater funding is need now, and these have become no less urgent in the last 12 months.

First, with the cutting of stipendiary ministry we are facing the real possibility of the C of E withdrawing from large parts of the country. Perhaps that needs to happen, in order for new and effective ministry to be re-established at a later date—but we cannot just ignore this reality.

Secondly, clergy stipends have been in long-term decline, and there is a real sense of hardship amongst those clergy with children and without a second income. Given the overall financial situation, including the Commissioners’ assets, I think this is a scandal.

Thirdly, in 2015 the clergy pension was unilaterally reduced by a third, by what I regard as a sleight of hand. Questions in Synod have confirmed that this would cost a mere £25m per annum to rectify. (I say ‘mere’ in the light of the numbers above). This must surely be put right, and better provision made for housing for clergy in retirement who were not able to buy their own property during ministry. If you are a member of General Synod, please sign my Private Members’ Motion proposing that we address this.

Fourthly, our residential theological colleges are under threat and financial pressure, for a range of reasons, but principally because of the disaster of the RME changes, and because of the unmanaged growth of other forms of training. Historically, these have been vital sources of theological learning; we have already lost what was the largest college, and it would be a tragedy to lose another. These are assets which can never be regained once they are lost.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Stewardship

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Augustine of Canterbury

O Lord our God, who by thy Son Jesus Christ didst call thine apostles and send them forth to preach the Gospel to the nations: We bless thy holy name for thy servant Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, whose labors in propagating thy Church among the English people we commemorate today; and we pray that all whom thou dost call and send may do thy will, and bide thy time, and see thy glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Mozarabic Sacramentary

O Christ, the King of Glory, who through the everlasting gates didst ascend to thy Father’s throne, and open the Kingdom of heaven to all believers: Grant that, whilst thou dost reign in heaven, we may not be bowed down to the things of earth, but that our hearts may be lifted up whither thou, our redemption, art gone before; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, ever one God, world without end.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They will perish, but thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment. Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away; but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.

–Psalm 102:25-27

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Economist) The American credit cycle is at a dangerous point–Welcome to a bad time for big debts

Since the end of 2009 nominal growth has been higher than nominal rates (aside from the first half of 2020, when the covid-19 pandemic crashed the economy). Now America is about to cross the threshold. In the first quarter of 2023, despite annualised real economic growth of only 1.1%, troublesomely high inflation meant that nominal gdp rose at an annualised rate of 5.1%, roughly in line with today’s federal funds rate. A panel of economists surveyed by Bloomberg, a data firm, anticipate that in the second quarter of the year growth will slip to just 0.4% and inflation to 3.3%. Nominal growth is forecast to be just 3.7%—well below nominal rates of around 5.2%.

“This is when the rubber really meets the road for the economic cycle,” notes Carl Riccadonna of bnp Paribas, a bank. “This is the point at which, if you’re a business, your revenues are now growing more slowly than your cost of financing.” Wage growth will lag debt growth. Government debts will grow faster than tax receipts. A single quarter of this might be bearable. Unfortunately, economists expect the situation to last a year or more.

The precise impact depends on the extent to which debt reprices as interest rates rise. The vast majority of American homeowners have 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. This generous financing will protect them against a pincer-like combo of slowing wage growth and rising interest expenses. Nevertheless, consumers carrying other kinds of debt—including revolving credit-card balances and private student loans—will feel the pinch.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Economy

(WSJ) Kate Odell–The Many Paradoxes of Timothy J. Keller

A second paradox: Keller was a popular pastor who was allergic to the celebrity he attracted. His books, such as “The Prodigal God” and “The Meaning of Marriage,” among many others, have sold millions of copies. But he was enigmatic and avoided the spotlight. An editor of the Christian magazine World once quipped that he could organize an interview with Keller “as easily as I can set one up with Vladimir Putin.”

Keller “was not that great showman preacher,” says Collin Hansen, editor of the Gospel Coalition, a network of Presbyterian and Reformed churches. He was introverted and cerebral in a way that Billy Graham, for all his strengths, never was. But Keller’s “sense of irony,” his “professorial approach,” appealed to New Yorkers.

Keller insisted that Christian evangelism be winsome, which made him polarizing—perhaps the third paradox. “I fear that anxious evangelicals hope that if they can just be grace-centered enough” and “serve the community, and make clear that they are not Republicans, then unbelievers will turn to Christ,” Kevin DeYoung, a fellow Reformed pastor, recently wrote of Keller’s bent.

It’s a fair point. Keller warned that Christians shouldn’t be politically monolithic. He worried about American evangelicalism’s association with the political right. But there is also the risk, which Keller realized, that Christian believers become entangled with the obsessions of the political left: sexual identity, racial grievance, Marxian redistributionism and so on. Progressive Christianity is the mirror image of the moral majoritarianism of the 1980s, and it will end no better for the church’s public witness.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Apologetics, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT) A Paralyzed Man Can Walk Naturally Again With Brain and Spine Implants

Gert-Jan Oskam was living in China in 2011 when he was in a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the hips down. Now, with a combination of devices, scientists have given him control over his lower body again.

“For 12 years I’ve been trying to get back my feet,” Mr. Oskam said in a press briefing on Tuesday. “Now I have learned how to walk normal, natural.”

In a study published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, researchers in Switzerland described implants that provided a “digital bridge” between Mr. Oskam’s brain and his spinal cord, bypassing injured sections. The discovery allowed Mr. Oskam, 40, to stand, walk and ascend a steep ramp with only the assistance of a walker. More than a year after the implant was inserted, he has retained these abilities and has actually showed signs of neurological recovery, walking with crutches even when the implant was switched off.

“We’ve captured the thoughts of Gert-Jan, and translated these thoughts into a stimulation of the spinal cord to re-establish voluntary movement,” Grégoire Courtine, a spinal cord specialist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, who helped lead the research, said at the press briefing.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(Eleanor Parker) An eyewitness account of the death of Bede

Cuthbert was present at Bede’s deathbed, and this is how he describes his death.

For nearly a fortnight before the Feast of our Lord’s Resurrection he was troubled by weakness and breathed with great difficulty, although he suffered little pain. Thenceforward until Ascension Day he remained cheerful and happy, giving thanks to God each hour day and night. He gave daily lessons to us his students, and spent the rest of the day in singing the psalms so far as his strength allowed. He passed the whole night in joyful prayer and thanksgiving to God, except when slumber overcame him; but directly he awoke, he continued to meditate on spiritual themes, and never failed to thank God with hands outstretched. I can truthfully affirm that I have never seen or heard of anyone who gave thanks so unceasingly to the living God as he.

O truly blessed man! He used to repeat the saying of the holy Apostle Paul, ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’, and many other sayings from holy scripture, and in this manner he used to arouse our souls by the consideration of our last hour. Being well-versed in our native songs, he described to us the dread departure of the soul from the body by a verse in our own tongue, which translated means: ‘Before setting forth on that inevitable journey, none is wiser than the man who considers – before his soul departs hence – what good or evil he has done, and what judgement his soul will receive after its passing’.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Bede the Venerable

Heavenly Father, who didst call thy servant Bede, while still a child, to devote his life to thy service in the disciplines of religion and scholarship: Grant that as he labored in the Spirit to bring the riches of thy truth to his generation, so we, in our various vocations, may strive to make thee known in all the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Books, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Prayer Manual

Almighty God, who after thy Son had ascended on high didst send forth thy Spirit in the Church to draw all men unto thee; Fulfill, we beseech thee, this thy gracious purpose, and in the fullness of time gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; even in him, who is the head over all things in the Church which is his body, Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually!

–Psalm 105:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

South Carolina Supreme Court Final Order: Two More Anglican Parishes Have Property Rights Affirmed

From there:

Columbia, S.C. (May 24, 2023) – Today, in a unanimous order, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled on the pending petitions and motions before it regarding the remaining three parish properties still in dispute. Today’s order denied all such actions, returning to its earlier decision from August 17, 2022. Two will remain with the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina and one will be returned to the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

In response to the August ruling, the Church of the Good Shepherd (Charleston) had filed a petition for rehearing, asking the Court to reconsider facts in the case that had resulted in the Court ruling that the Episcopal Church (TEC) maintained a trust interest in their property. That determination has now been affirmed by the Court and the parish will enter into settlement discussions with TEC to resolve the transfer of property and all other remaining issues.

The Episcopal Church on its part had also filed both petitions for rehearing and motions for relief from judgement regarding Old St. Andrews (Charleston) and Holy Cross (Stateburg). The August 17 ruling had affirmed Anglican parish control of those properties. Today’s decision affirmed that outcome for both those congregations. In today’s order, the Court said, “After careful consideration of both petitions for rehearing, the court is unable to discover that any material fault of principle of law has been either overlooked or disregarded, and hence, there is no basis for granting a rehearing.” The court on similar grounds denied the motion for relief of judgement as well.

The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina is grateful to see the final legal issues in these property disputes resolved and the rights of Old St. Andrews and Holy Cross affirmed. They join the other twenty-five parishes whose property rights were confirmed by the earlier rulings. To come to the conclusion of all litigation is a welcome blessing.

While grateful for these good gifts, we mourn the loss of property for Good Shepherd that this order dictates. Like the other seven congregations who received adverse rulings, Good Shepherd will continue on in faith.

The Bishop of The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, the Rt Revd Chip Edgar, said, “As we have seen with our other parishes whose properties were taken from them, I am confident that the Church of the Good Shepherd will recover from this blow and prosper in the new place to which the Lord will lead them. As we have with our other parishes, the Diocese stands ready to encourage and assist them.”

The Rector of Good Shepherd, the Rev. Will Klauber, assured his congregation today, “The Lord will provide for us a community. He will provide facilities and space for his ministry to continue. We rest assured that Jesus is still seated at the right hand of the Father, and his Spirit is still with us as we navigate these uncharted waters.”

This coming Sunday, we, as a Diocese, will celebrate Pentecost and the outpouring of God’s Spirit to build his Church. We remain confident that his work will continue apace through the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina and its 54 parishes and missions.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry

(Economist) What would humans do in a world of super-AI?

But what if ultra-powerful ai develops super-humanoid robots, too? Material needs would almost certainly be met by machine hands. One might then expect humanity to give up on toil, much like in “Wall-E”. Indeed, in 1930 John Maynard Keynes, another economist, penned an essay entitled “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren”, in which he speculated that a century in the future people would work for less than 15 hours a week. The growth generated by technology would solve the “economic problem”, he predicted, and allow people to turn their attention to activities which are intrinsically pleasurable. Admittedly, Keynes’s 15-hour work week has not arrived—but higher levels of wealth, which reduce the benefit of working an additional hour, have cut working hours. The average number of hours worked a week in the rich world has fallen from around 60 in the late 20th century to under 40 today.

There are, nevertheless, some wants that perhaps only humans can satisfy even in a world of supercharged, embodied ai. It is also worth noting that what is intrinsically pleasurable may include work. Consider three areas where humans may still have a role: work that is blurred with play, play itself and work where humans retain some kind of an advantage.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Science & Technology

(Biologos) Francis Collins–A Tribute to my Friend, Tim Keller

A year ago the cancer was advancing very rapidly and Tim’s chance of surviving past the summer of 2022 looked slim. But prayers were answered: given appropriate instruction, the well-schooled immune cells found and demolished their target. That experience was grueling for Tim and Kathy, but we were all gifted with another stretch of many months for Tim to be with us. He used that time well—writing a particularly powerful and convicting article on “The Decline and Renewal of the American Church”, an essay that all who care about the future of our faith should read and reflect on.

The cancer returned around Christmas, but this time there was no dramatic response from a new immunotherapy protocol, re-engineered and delivered on Good Friday. I prayed fervently that God would heal Tim—either miraculously or through the tools of science. But this time, God had another plan.

It was a Sunday afternoon in mid-April when I was last with Tim and Kathy. His final admission to the NIH Clinical Center was coming to a close after three intense weeks. I thought a chance to sing some hymns together might provide an opportunity to share our faith and confidence in God’s love and grace. I made the suggestion to Tim and Kathy, and Tim immediately engaged as only the Reverend Keller would do. Yes, he said, let’s do this—but let me propose six hymns that will lay out the full foundation of the Christian faith, from the Creation, to our confidence in joining the saints at the end of our days. I reached out to about ten other believers who dropped everything to join, and there in the atrium of the world’s largest research hospital, we gathered around the grand piano to sing and pray. It was incredibly sweet and poignant. Kathy said this was the first time she and Tim had been able to worship in-person with others in three years.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Stephen Conway to be Bishop of Lincoln

Stephen Conway grew up in London, before moving to Oxford to study modern history at Keble College. Following this he completed a PGCE becoming a teacher at Glenalmond College in Perth, Scotland. In 1983, Stephen began training for ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge and was ordained as a priest at Durham Cathedral in 1987. Following time as a priest at churches in the Diocese of Durham, in 2006 Stephen was announced as Bishop of

Ramsbury, a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Salisbury, and in 2010 he became Bishop of Ely – the post he has held for the 13 years since. Bishop Stephen became one of the Lords Spiritual of the House of Lords in 2014.

Following a wide-ranging consultation across the Diocese of Lincoln and beyond, Stephen accepted the invitation from the King to become Bishop of Lincoln, after interviews by the Crown Nominations Committee. Following the announcement, a series of formal proceedings will now commence. The College of Canons in Lincoln will proceed to elect

Bishop Stephen and that election will be confirmed at a ceremony in London presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Jackson Kemper

Lord God, in whose providence Jackson Kemper was chosen first missionary bishop in this land, that by his arduous labor and travel congregations might be established in scattered settlements of the West: Grant that the Church may always be faithful to its mission, and have the vision, courage, and perseverance to make known to all peoples the Good News of Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Leonine Sacramentary

Almighty and merciful God, into whose gracious presence we ascend, not by the frailty of the flesh but by the activity of the soul: Make us ever by thy inspiration to seek after the courts of the heavenly city, whither our Saviour Christ hath ascended, and by thy mercy confidently to enter them, both now and hereafter; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

–Luke 10:17-24

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Quanta Magazine) Researchers uncover striking parallels in the ways that humans and machine learning models acquire language skills

How do brains learn? It’s a mystery, one that applies both to the spongy organs in our skulls and to their digital counterparts in our machines. Even though artificial neural networks (ANNs) are built from elaborate webs of artificial neurons, ostensibly mimicking the way our brains process information, we don’t know if they process input in similar ways.   

“There’s been a long-standing debate as to whether neural networks learn in the same way that humans do,” said Vsevolod Kapatsinski, a linguist at the University of Oregon.

Now, a study published last month suggests that natural and artificial networks learn in similar ways, at least when it comes to language. The researchers — led by Gašper Beguš, a computational linguist at the University of California, Berkeley — compared the brain waves of humans listening to a simple sound to the signal produced by a neural network analyzing the same sound. The results were uncannily alike. “To our knowledge,” Beguš and his colleagues wrote, the observed responses to the same stimulus “are the most similar brain and ANN signals reported thus far.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Language, Science & Technology

(The State) South Carolina has 2 of the best, cheapest cities in the US to live in 2023, US News and World Report says

If you’re looking for affordable places to live in the U.S., South Carolina has two cities among the best, according to a new U.S. News & World Report ranking.

The recent annual ranking includes 25 of the best most affordable metros in the U.S. To determine the ranking, U.S. News “looked at the proportion of the median annual household income that goes toward the average cost to own or rent a home, including the cost of utilities and taxes, as well as parity, which compares the cost of goods and services across the country.”

The city of Hickory, N.C. snagged the top spot on the list, while Montgomery, AL came in at 25th, rounding out the list.

And while living in some South Carolina cities, like Charleston, can be quite an expensive proposition, other cities in the Palmetto State are far more doable, the analysis found.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina

A Quite Amazing WSJ Article on the only Residential Community in the USA INSIDE a Disney Resort– Golden Oak, Florida

Janis Scaramucci’s bedroom is decorated with paintings of Disney castles. In her office, a recessed ceiling in the shape of a Mickey Mouse head is painted in black glitter. The feet of her dining room table are made from coffee mugs featuring Mickey and Winnie the Pooh. And in her closet hangs a series of colorful Disney outfits, including a red skirt appliquéd with characters from the movie “Ratatouille.”

Welcome to Golden Oak, the only residential community in the world located on Walt Disney Co. resort property.

Ms. Scaramucci, a divorced 63-year-old Disney enthusiast and art collector, bought a $2.52 million home in the Orlando, Fla., community a few years ago after feeling dissatisfied with life in her suburban neighborhood in Edmond, Okla. Now, she spends her days riding roller coasters, attending nature conservation programs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, and traveling to destinations such as Antarctica on Disney cruises…..

But Mr. [Kevin] Tupy said that, in his experience, politics doesn’t come up much when Golden Oak residents get together.

“Disney is more of a religion,” he said. “We worship the mouse.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Movies & Television, Personal Finance

(NYT Op-ed) David Brooks–Tim Keller Taught Me About Joy

[Tim]…offered a radically different way. He pointed people to Jesus, and through Jesus’ example to a life of self-sacrificial service. That may seem unrealistic; doesn’t the world run on self-interest? But Tim and his wife, Kathy, wrote a wonderful book, “The Meaning of Marriage,” which in effect argued that self-sacrificial love is actually the only practical way to get what you really hunger for.

After some time in marriage, they counseled, you’re going to realize that the wonderful person you married is actually kind of selfish. And as you realize this about him, he is realizing this about you.

The only way forward is to recognize that your own selfishness is the only selfishness you can control; your self-centeredness is the problem here. Love is an action, not just an emotion, and the marriage will only thrive if both people in it make daily sacrificial commitments to each other, learning to serve and, harder still, be served. “Whether we are husband or wife,” the Kellers wrote, “we are not to live for ourselves but for the other. And that is the hardest yet single most important function of being a husband or a wife in marriage.”

Tim’s happy and generous manner was based on the conviction that we are born wired to seek delight, and we can find it. “Anybody who has tasted the reality of God knows anything is worth losing for this,” Tim preached, “and nothing is worth keeping if I’m going to lose this.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture