Category :

The Latest Edition of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

St. Michael’s Launches PODZ: Parish Outreach Dedicated by Zip Code

The COVID-19 outbreak presented all leaders with far more than a problem to solve. It gave us a dilemma. You can’t really “solve” a dilemma but you can flip it. Bob Johansen, author of Leaders Make the Future defines dilemma flipping as reframing an unsolvable challenge as an opportunity. At St. Michael’s we reframed the COVID challenge with an opportunity for PODZ – Parish Outreach Dedicated by Zip Code.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(AC) Rod Dreher–Ryan T. Anderson Was Made For This Moment

When he was running for president, Joe Biden vowed to sign the Equality Act if elected. Now that both the House and the Senate are in the hands of Democrats, odds are that the Equality Act will pass. Why does this concern you?

First, thankfully, odds are still against the bill becoming law. If the legislative filibuster remains, the Equality Act goes nowhere in the Senate. If they somehow convince Senator Manchin to vote to remove the legislative filibuster, then we’re in a different situation. The question would then be whether Senator McConnell can keep all 50 republicans opposed (and early signs are good as Senator Collins has said she now opposes the Equality Act). That would then leave a 50-50 split with VP Harris casting the deciding vote—unless, of course, Senator Manchin broke ranks and opposed the bill.

Second, why is the Equality Act so disconcerting? My most recent short treatment can be found last week in the New York Post. But I’ve been writing about the harms of the Equality Act, and its predecessor the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, since 2013. In books, law review articles, essays, op-eds, white papers, etc. etc. my basic argument has been that it gets the nature of the human person wrong, and by enshrining a false anthropology into law it’ll cause serious harms. (Basic idea being straight from MLK, who was building on Aquinas and Augustine, that for man-made law to be just, it needs to embody the natural law and the eternal law.)

The equality act would take a just law—the Civil Rights Act of 1964—which banned discrimination on the basis of race, and then add “sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity” everywhere that race is protected. It expands the number of private businesses that would now be classified as public accommodations. And it explicitly exempts itself from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). And it’s important to point out that because “sex” isn’t currently a protected class in Title II (public accommodations) or Title VI (federal funding recipients), by adding “sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity” to those titles the only religious liberty protections the Equality Act allows for would be those available to racists.

So the short answer is that the Equality Act treats people and institutions that believe we are created male and female, and that male and female are created for each other, as the legal equivalent of racists. And then all of the negative consequences for privacy and safety in single-sex facilities, for equality and fairness for athletics, for medicine when it comes to gender dysphoria (and abortion, see my NYPost op-ed) follow from that. If you get human nature wrong in law, there are consequences.

Because the vast majority of those consequences are not simply about “religious liberty,” the so-called Fairness for All alternative to the Equality Act isn’t actually fair, at all.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Philosophy, Politics in General, Sexuality, Theology: Scripture

(First Things) Hans Boersma on the recent ACNA kerfuffle over Christian anthropology and pastoral care

Whither the ACNA? Much will depend on its ability to keep the theological and the pastoral together.

First, we should avoid blaming our Christian heritage or the contemporary church for singling out the sin of homosexuality. Such self-blame is understandable: It is a way of dealing with the emotional hardship caused by same-sex attraction. But this introspection is, for the most part, unwarranted. Traditional Christian morality does not single out homosexuality, whereas making it part of one’s identity does. Besides, power roles have reversed: In today’s therapeutic culture, insisting on one’s gay identity mostly gets applauded, while it requires great courage to speak and write biblically about homosexuality. And while greed, adultery, etc. are all wrong, Scripture hardly supports the notion that all sins are of equal weight.

Third, we should keep in mind that the primary pastoral context of sin is alienation from God. If disordered sexual desires lead us away from a right relationship with God, then that is the key pastoral issue that we must address. The primary pastoral context, then, is not the feeling of exclusion from fellow believers as a result of sexual identity. It’s not that the latter doesn’t powerfully function; it obviously does. But it does so because of the way we have wedded sexual desire to human identity—a unique characteristic of today’s Western therapeutic culture. Carl Trueman’s recent book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, is a must-read to untangle the cultural web that we have spun for ourselves and a welcome antidote to the inexorable drift toward acceptance of disordered desire.

Please note, I am not encouraging us to ignore the pastoral. Quite the opposite: I am convinced we’re often not pastoral enough.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Forbes) 49% Of Americans Who Lost Pay In Covid Pandemic Still Have not Returned to Their Previous Income Level

Nearly half of all U.S. adults who took pay cuts during the Covid-19 pandemic still have not returned to their previous incomes, according to a Pew Research Center report released Friday, indicating the pandemic’s lasting impact on many Americans’ finances.

Some 44% of American adults told Pew in a late January poll that somebody in their household has either lost a job or endured a pay cut since February 2020.

Among Americans who took a pay cut in the last year, 49% say they still make less money than they did prior to the pandemic, compared to 34% who earn roughly the same amount as before and 16% whose pay has increased.

Read it all.

Posted in Economy, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance

(New Scientist) Facebook AI learned object recognition from 1 billion Instagram pics

Artificial intelligence built by Facebook has learned to classify images from 1 billion Instagram photos. The AI used a different learning technique to many other similar algorithms, relying less on input from humans. The team behind it says the AI learns in a more common sense way.

Conventionally, computer vision systems are trained to identify specific things, such as a cat or a dog. They achieve this by learning from a large collection of images that have been annotated to describe what is in them. After doing this enough, the AI can then identify the same things in new images, for example, spotting a dog in an image it has never seen before.

This process is effective, but must be done afresh with every new thing the AI needs to identify, otherwise performance can drop.

By contrast, the approach used by Facebook is a technique called self-supervised learning, in which the images don’t come with annotations. Instead, the AI first learns just to identify differences between images. Once it is able to do this, it sees a small number of annotated images to match the names with the characteristics it has already identified.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Science & Technology

(TLS) Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: An air that says ‘go it!’–A poet’s huge but brief popularity

This biography hints at some possible reasons for Longfellow’s fascination with the hidden and obscured, such as his commitment to translation, and it also reveals a number of other ways in which his printed poems worked like icebergs: small blocks of text that emerged from the blank space of the page while hinting at much larger concerns under the surface. These include Longfellow’s methods of composition, which created paper trails of notes and drafts, and also the role played by his second wife Frances in helping him assemble works like The Poets and Poetry of Europe (1845), the first anthology of its kind to be published in America and further evidence of Longfellow’s conviction that lines of poetry should be viewed as bridges rather than barriers, forever reaching out for new human connections.

But as the title of this biography suggests, not every poem could find what it was looking for. In 1861, Longfellow’s wife died shortly after a horrible household accident in which her dress caught fire, and he was unable to smother the flames in time to save her. His own hands and face were so badly burned he was unable to attend her funeral, and the trademark bushy beard he later grew was partly an attempt to hide his visible scars. Yet the memory of his wife remained an open wound, and in a sonnet entitled “The Cross of Snow”, found among his papers after his death, he tried to put it into words. The inspiration for this poem was probably a comment from a mourner who expressed the hope that after his bereavement Longfellow would be able to “bear his cross”. His brother Samuel reported Longfellow’s response: “Bear the cross, yes; but what if one is stretched upon it!” Written eighteen years later, “The Cross of Snow” gave this feeling a permanent literary shape:

There is a mountain in the distant West
That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines
Displays a cross of snow upon its side.
Such is the cross I wear upon my breast
These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes
And seasons, changeless since the day she died.

In his Table-Talk (1857), Longfellow had pointed out that “Some sorrows are but footprints in the snow, which the genial sun effaces”, but in this unpublished poem he offered a chastening alternative. Some sorrows were as deep and lasting as permafrost.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Marriage & Family, Poetry & Literature

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

Save us, O God, from the false piety that parades itself in the eyes of men and is not genuine in thy sight; and so sanctify us by thy Spirit that both in heart and life we may serve thee acceptably, to the honour of thy holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note! Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth; that I may pardon her. Though they say, “As the LORD lives,” yet they swear falsely.

–Jeremiah 5:1-2

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(JE) Some Albany Clergy in TEC (the Episcopal Church) to Join Anglican Church in North America

number of clergy in the Episcopal Diocese of Albany are preparing to join the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) according to officials with the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word (ADLW).

The announcement made February 21 is in response to clergy requests for canonical residency under ADLW Bishop Julian Dobbs. It would be the first public movement of clergy in New York’s Capital District since the resignation of Bishop William H. Love earlier this winter.

According to officials with the ACNA diocese, the Albany clergy “have formally applied and are being licensed to minister within the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word.” They are to comprise a regional ministry network that will “place a strong emphasis on church planting and ministries in the [Capital] Region and surrounding areas of New York.”

“We are confident that as these men and women boldly proclaim the authentic Gospel of Christ, many souls will be saved, and new disciples will be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ,” the ADLW statement reads. “We ask that you join us in praying for these clergy and the congregations committed to their care.”

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC)

(LA Times) QAnon and conspiracy theories are taking hold in churches. Pastors are fighting back

The congregation was in the middle of an online service when a longtime churchgoer in her 60s texted her pastor to complain that his prayer lamenting the riot at the U.S. Capitol in January was “too political.”

The woman later unloaded a barrage of conspiracy theories. The election of Joe Biden was a fraud. The insurrection was instigated by Black Lives Matter and antifa activists disguised as Donald Trump supporters. The FBI was in on it all. The day would soon come, she said, “when all the evil, the corruption would come to light and the truth would be revealed.”

Startled and moved to tears, Pastor David Rice told the woman she had been “tricked by lies.”

“You need to know how crazy this is,” he said to his congregant at Markey Church in Roscommon County, Mich., a rural region of 25,000 residents that voted 2 to 1 for Trump. “You have been with my family and in my home and I care for you but you are dabbling in darkness. You are telling me it’s giving you hope. I’m telling you as your pastor that it’s evil.”

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anthropology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(NYT) Brazil’s Covid Crisis Is a Warning to the Whole World, Scientists Say

Covid-19 has already left a trail of death and despair in Brazil, one of the worst in the world. Now, a year into the pandemic, the country is setting another wrenching record.

No other nation that experienced such a major outbreak is still grappling with record-setting death tolls and a health care system on the brink of collapse. Many other hard-hit nations are, instead, taking tentative steps toward a semblance of normalcy.

But Brazil is battling a more contagious variant that has trampled one major city and is spreading to others, even as Brazilians toss away precautionary measures that could keep them safe.

On Tuesday, Brazil recorded more than 1,700 Covid-19 deaths, the highest single-day toll of the pandemic.

Read it all.

Posted in Brazil, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, South America

(P O) Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Episcopal Church look for new ways of being church

The third round of dialogue between the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Episcopal Church continued last week. The two denominations have been conducting bilateral dialogue since 2000 in an effort to deepen ties and work together.

In this latest virtual gathering, participants heard from the Rev. Dr. Amy Plantinga Pauw, a theology professor at Louisville Seminary, who led them through a discussion around her book “Church in Ordinary Time: A Wisdom Ecclesiology.” Plantinga Pauw writes about the seasons of the church year and uses wisdom ecclesiology to help the church think about addressing the realities of today’s world.

Dianna Wright, director of ecumenical and interreligious relations with the Office of the General Assembly, says the conversation centered on what it means to be church.

“We have this idea that we’re the ones who have all of what it means to be God wrapped up as the church. But there are so many different entities that are a part of who God is,” said Wright. “The church is only one part of that, and we are supposed to participate with the whole world and share the story of God. We don’t have it all together, but we are continuing to grow and evolve as the church.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presbyterian

(Bloomberg) Electric Vehicles Could Make Dealerships a Thing of the Past, Too

There’s auto news out of Sweden: Volvo Cars says that it will be fully electric by 2030. No more internal combustion, no more hybrids. It’s batteries or bust.

In making this commitment, Volvo is betting on a trend: that as EVs are becoming cheaper and new conventional cars are being priced higher, consumers’ math on electric-versus-internal combustion will soon come out in electrics’ favor.

But there’s more to Volvo’s position on EVs than just changing the powertrain. The carmaker says its pure electric models will only be available for sale online, and that its first fully electric car is now receiving over-the-air software updates. (Tesla has been doing this for years.) That first plan has implications for the built environment; the second, for emissions and the global climate.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Ecology, Science & Technology, Sweden, Travel

Kendall Harmon’s Teaching on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer for Prince George Winyah in South Carolina

The teaching starts about 3:55 in.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * South Carolina, --Book of Common Prayer, Adult Education, Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Sermons & Teachings

A Prayer to begin the day from Gordon Hewitt

O God, who through thy Son Jesus Christ hast promised help to man according to his faith: Grant us the freedom of the children to taste the food of eternal life, and to share with others what we ourselves receive; through the merits of the same thy Son, our Lord.

Posted in Lent

From the Morning Bible Readings

My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!
Oh, the walls of my heart!
My heart is beating wildly;
I cannot keep silent;
for I hear the sound of the trumpet,
the alarm of war.
Disaster follows hard on disaster,
the whole land is laid waste.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed,
my curtains in a moment.
How long must I see the standard,
and hear the sound of the trumpet?
“For my people are foolish,
they know me not;
they are stupid children,
they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil,
but how to do good they know not.”

–Jeremiah 4:19-22

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CC) James K. A. Smith–I’m a philosopher. We can’t think our way out of this mess.

As a young Christian philosopher, I wanted to be the confident, heresy-hunting Augustine, vanquishing the pagans with brilliance, fending off the Manichaeans and Pelagians with ironclad arguments. As a middle-aged man, I dream of being Mr. Rogers. When you’re young, it’s easy to confuse strength with dominance; when you’re older, you realize the feat of character it takes to be meek. I used to imagine my calling was to defend the Truth. Now I’m just trying to figure out how to love.

It’s not that I’ve given up on truth. It’s just that I’m less confident we’ll think our way out of the morass and malaise in which we find ourselves. Analysis won’t save us. And the truth of the gospel is less a message to be taught than a mystery enacted. Love won’t save us either, of course. But I’ve come to believe that the grace of God that will save us is more powerfully manifest in beloved community than in rational enlightenment. Or, as Hans Urs von Balthasar has put it, “Love alone is credible; nothing else can be believed, and nothing else ought to be believed.”

What changed my mind?

In some ways, it was a philosophical appreciation for the limits of philosophy—a rational conclusion about the limits of reason.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy

(PD) Daniel Burns–Institutions and the Culture War

Yuval Levin’s A Time to Build shows (as I wrote in..[an essay] essay) that to the extent there can be any solution to our current social crisis, it will require us to reform our social and political institutions in order to make them better capable of fulfilling their indispensable moral-formative function.

The good news here is that healthy institutions have never required their members to be fully conscious of the formative moral function that they serve. Only in a Simpsons mob would people consciously demand that others impose authoritative restraints on their demands, and only minors are compelled to enter formative institutions for the sake of formation itself. Outside of institutions aimed at forming minors (i.e., schools and families), an adult institution will primarily aim to achieve its “core goal”—winning wars, growing food, manufacturing cars, reporting the news, advancing scientific knowledge, writing laws—but, along the way, it will necessarily “also form people so they can carry out that task successfully, responsibly, and reliably.” Come for the paycheck, stay for the moral formation; or, as Aristotle might have said, institutions come into being for the sake of living but exist for the sake of living well.

The bad news is that all this means we are already being formed by our institutions, even and precisely when we do not think of them as formative. Levin highlights social media and the university as two very formative institutions for today’s elite culture: the former molds us by “encouraging the vices most dangerous to a free society,” while the latter “shapes the students who come under its influence . . . in ways that answer to the broader culture war.” This may be why Levin keeps recurring to the claim that we regard our institutions more as platforms than as molds. For the distinction does not describe the real character of different institutions so much as the different attitudes with which we approach them. You may consider Twitter to be your own personal platform, but Jack Dorsey is chuckling all the way to his vipassana tech-detoxes in Myanmar: he has molded millions of Americans to fit his own institution’s “core goal” better than Henry Ford ever managed to mold a few thousand employees in Detroit.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy

(Yorkshire Post) Archbishop of York: Future of our local churches after pandemic

But how will Archbishop Cottrell ultimately judge the success of his own mission from a pastoral and personal perspective? “I’m not sure is the honest answer,” he concedes. “Let me tell you what I long for. I do long for our churches to grow. I do long for that. I think our world will be a better place, I think people would lead happier more fulfilled lives in communion with God. Even if that doesn’t happen, I won’t think I have failed because I don’t think I am personally responsible for that – I have my part to play.

“I also long for us to live in a fairer, better world where families and households and communities are properly supported, and I think the Church has a part to play in that, and I certainly want to do all that I can to develop and strengthen the life of the local church.

“We might even increase and develop that presence into new communities, that we will have worked out what it means to be an online church as well as a physical church. They are the things that I hope for. If that bears fruit with more people being part of the Church, then I will rejoice.” He means it.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture

(Bloomberg Businessweek) Is the Four-Day Week Is Coming Soon?

When the world went into lockdown last year, the 1,000 employees at Berlin-based tech company Awin did what millions of others did: They flipped open their laptops and started working from the kitchen or dining room. At the same time, Awin started running flat-out as its business with online retailers soared, putting intense pressure on the staff.

So last spring the company told everyone to sign off around lunchtime every Friday to ease into the weekend. The experiment was so successful—sales, employee engagement, and client satisfaction all rose—that in January, Awin decided to go a step further, rolling out a four-day week for the entire company with no cuts in salaries or benefits. “We firmly believe that happy, engaged, and well-balanced employees produce much better work,” says Chief Executive Officer Adam Ross. They “find ways to work smarter, and they’re just as productive.”

Awin is in the vanguard of a trend that’s getting increased attention worldwide. Jobs website ZipRecruiter says the share of postings that mention a four-day week has tripled in the past three years, to 62 per 10,000. Consumer-goods giant Unilever Plc in December started a yearlong trial of the idea for its New Zealand staff. Spain’s government is considering a proposal to subsidize companies that offer a four-day week. And even in notoriously busy Japan, whose language includes the word karoshi—death from overwork—lawmakers are discussing a proposal to grant employees a day off every week to protect their well-being. “The four-day week is picking up momentum,” says Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, a U.K. think tank. “For the large majority of firms, reducing working hours is an entirely realistic goal.”

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

For Their Feast Day–(CH) John and Charles Wesley

John and Charles Wesley are among the most notable evangelists who ever lived. As young men, they formed a party which came to be derisively called Methodists, because they methodically set about fulfilling the commands of scripture. In due course they learned that works cannot save, and discovered salvation by faith in Christ. Afterward, they carried that message to all England in sermon and in song. John Wesley is credited with staving off a bloody revolution in England such as occurred in France.

Although the brothers did not set out to establish a church, the Wesleyans and the Methodists are their offspring.

Both preached, both wrote hymns. But John is more noted for his sermons and Charles for his hymns. Here we present two hymns by Charles and a sermon by John.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Methodist, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John and Charles Wesley

Lord God, who didst inspire thy servants John and Charles Wesley with burning zeal for the sanctification of souls, and didst endow them with eloquence in speech and song: Kindle in thy Church, we beseech thee, such fervor, that those whose faith has cooled may be warmed, and those who have not known thy Christ may turn to him and be saved; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to begin the day from C. J. Vaughan

Write deeply upon our minds, O Lord God, the lesson of thy holy Word, that only the pure in heart can see thee. Leave us not in the bondage of any sinful inclination. May we neither deceive ourselves with the thought that we have no sin, nor acquiesce idly in aught of which our conscience accuses us. Strengthen us by thy Holy Spirit to fight the good fight of faith, and grant that no day may pass without its victory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole earth! Amen and Amen!

–Psalm 72:18-19

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph and Argus) Dean of Bradford Cathedral, the Very Rev Jerry Lepine, to retire

The Dean of Bradford, the Very Reverend Jerry Lepine, will retire from his role in the summer.

Dean Jerry arrived at Bradford Cathedral in July 2013 and since then has built its reputation as a worship space and meeting place for all the city’s communities.

He said: “It has been such a privilege to lead the Cathedral and work with Bishop Nick and the other Deans of this Diocese.

“I will take with me some very special memories, such as being part of the creation of a new Diocese with its unique offer of three Cathedrals and our Cathedral Centenary Year in 2019.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

([London] Times) Deepfake TikTok videos of Tom Cruise watched by millions

Tom Cruise looks at the camera. “I’m going to show you some magic,” he says holding up a coin. “It’s the real thing”, the Hollywood actor insists, giving his trademark laugh and making the coin disappear. “It’s all the real thing.”

Millions have watched the video on TikTok, with many initially wondering if the 58-year-old Mission: Impossible star had joined the video-sharing platform beloved of teenagers.

Except this is not Cruise but a “deepfake” video, one of several of the actor that have garnered millions of views and shares across social media. They have led experts to warn that deepfake technology is advancing much faster than most people realise.

The three videos first appeared on TikTok and have been created by an account called “deeptomcruise”. They show the Top Gun actor apparently performing a magic trick, playing golf before bending to talk to the camera, and falling over in a fashionable clothes store before telling an anecdote about Mikhail Gorbachev.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology

(Wash Post) An evangelical scientist on reconciling her religion and the realities of climate change

Because here’s the thing. When I run into people who are very adamant about rejecting climate change — they’re not that many; only 7 percent of people are dismissive, but they’re very loud about it. I look at those people, whether it’s on social media or if they wrote me a letter — rarely do I run into them in person; most prefer to be behind the safety of a keyboard before they attack you — but I look at who they are because I’m curious. And easily 90 percent of the time — probably more than that — climate change is just one of a package of issues: extreme nationalism, anti-immigration, right-wing politics. You know, whatever the current issue of the day is — covid, school shooting — you can guarantee that whoever rejects climate change will also be adamantly defending the right of people to bear weapons and supporting covid myths and disinformation. It all goes together.

So only 7 percent are what we would call climate-change deniers?

Yeah. Seven percent are really hardcore, but then what happens is that a lot of people are not outright dismissive — they just are what social scientists call “cognitive misers.” We all are. [Laughs.] Because who has time to read all of these things and develop a thoughtful opinion on the myriad issues that we’re expected to have in order to vote or to advocate or even [address] when it comes up in conversation? So we look to the opinions of people we respect, whose values we believe that we share, who we assume have spent a bit more time thinking about it than we have. And we adopt their opinions. Unfortunately, today a lot of that has become very politically polarized. And you have a lot of people who are just really confused because they hear people whose values they share, who call themselves Christians, who have called themselves Republicans or conservatives, telling people, “Oh, this isn’t real.” “Those scientists are just making it up.” “It’s just a liberal hoax.”

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

“Americans have not yet grappled with just how profoundly the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution will impact our economy, national security, and welfare”

Americans have not yet grappled with just how profoundly the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution will impact our economy, national security, and welfare. Much remains to be learned about the power and limits of AI technologies. Nevertheless, big decisions need to be made now to accelerate AI innovation to benefit the United States and to defend against the malign uses of AI.

When considering these decisions, our leaders confront the classic dilemma of statecraft identified by Henry Kissinger: “When your scope for action is greatest, the knowledge on
which you can base this action is always at a minimum. When your knowledge is greatest, the scope for action has often disappeared.” The scope for action remains, but America’s
room for maneuver is shrinking.

As a bipartisan commission of 15 technologists, national security professionals, business executives, and academic leaders, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) is delivering an uncomfortable message: America is not prepared to defend or compete in the AI era. This is the tough reality we must face. And it is this reality that demands comprehensive, whole-of-nation action. Our final report presents a strategy to defend against AI threats, responsibly employ AI for national security, and win the broader technology competition for the sake of our prosperity, security, and welfare. The U.S. government cannot do this alone. It needs committed partners in industry, academia, and civil society. And America needs to enlist its oldest allies and new partners to build a safer and freer world for the AI era.

AI is an inspiring technology. It will be the most powerful tool in generations for benefiting humanity. Scientists have already made astonishing progress in fields ranging from
biology and medicine to astrophysics by leveraging AI. These advances are not science fair experiments; they are improving life and unlocking mysteries of the natural world. They
are the kind of discoveries for which the label “game changing” is not a cliché.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Science & Technology

(NYT) Nigeria’s Boarding Schools Have Become a Hunting Ground for Kidnappers

When nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped from their boarding school by the Islamist group Boko Haram in 2014, the world exploded in outrage. Hundreds marched in the country’s capital, the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls was picked up by then First Lady Michelle Obama and Nigeria’s president scrambled to respond to the mass abduction in the village of Chibok.

It seemed an aberration. But since last December, mass kidnappings of girls and boys at boarding schools in northwest Nigeria have been happening more and more frequently — at least one every three weeks. Just last Friday, more than 300 girls were taken from their school in Zamfara state. They were released this week, the governor of the state announced early Tuesday. The week before, more than 40 children and adults were abducted from a boarding school in Niger state. They were freed on Saturday.

With Nigeria’s economy in crisis, kidnapping has become a growth industry, according to interviews with security analysts and a recent report on the economics of abductions. The victims are now not just the rich, powerful or famous, but also the poor — and increasingly, school children who are rounded up en masse.

The perpetrators are often gangs of bandits, who are taking advantage of a dearth of effective policing and the easy availability of guns.

Read it all.

Posted in Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Teens / Youth

Report on housing crisis ‘challenge to the soul’ of the Church of England – Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishop Justin Welby told General Synod members that the recommendations of the Archbishops’ Commission report Coming Home presented a ‘profound challenge’ to the Church of England along with other groups, including the Government and developers, to tackle the housing crisis.

Speaking at an informal online gathering of the General Synod, the Archbishop outlined the seriousness of the crisis, saying that an estimated eight million people are living in unaffordable, sub-standard or overcrowded accommodation.

He said Coming Home was ‘not the end of the process, it is only the end of the very beginning of the process’ of tackling the housing crisis. “We have a long way to go,” he said.

He said that at “the heart of the Church’s message” was that that “our mission to the country is that we carry the good news of a God who intervenes who comes and is part of our life and there is the complete change in us that is caused by meeting with God.

“If we take that seriously, then we listen to what Jesus says when he says ‘your heart will be where your treasure is’.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Politics in General, Religion & Culture