Category :

(Inside Time) ‘Prisons should get virus jab first’

Further calls for prisoners to be prioritised for coronavirus jabs have come from the American Medical Association and a team of Oxford University researchers led by Professor Seena Fazel.

Ann Norman, who represents thousands of prison healthcare staff as the Royal College of Nursing’s professional lead for criminal justice, said: “I think there’s some lobbying there to do, but absolutely I believe prisoners are some of the most vulnerable people, and as such should be made a priority.”

Deborah Coles, Director of the charity INQUEST, said: “Clearly on both public health and human rights grounds, people in all detention settings must have high priority in receiving the vaccine.”

The Rt Rev James Langstaff, the Bishop of Rochester, said: “I would hope that Government would be sensible enough when [the vaccine] comes on stream to make sure it’s used in prisons sooner rather than later.”

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “In principle, prison staff and prisoners should be towards the front of the queue, given the risk that prisons pose as epidemiological pumps.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Prison/Prison Ministry

(WSJ) Pop culture suggests humans use only about 10% of their brains but that is a myth

OK, concentrate: How much of your brain are you using right now—or at any moment in time?

If you said 10%, you’ve repeated a popular, but inaccurate, myth.

The origin of the tale is murky but might be rooted in an outdated theory about the structure of the brain that was repeated in a bestselling self-help book more than 80 years ago.

Today, the trope is still trotted out in cartoons, books and movies.

In the 2014 thriller “Lucy,” a scientist repeats the 10% claim while speculating about the promise of accessing a larger portion of the mind. The 2011 film “Limitless,” about a struggling writer, pegs the fraction at a slightly more encouraging 20%. And the 1991 comedy “Defending Your Life,” about a deceased man’s efforts to prove his worth in the afterlife, lowers it to a demoralizing 3% to 5%.

Sorry, Hollywood. Science doesn’t buy it.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Psychology, Science & Technology

([London] Times) Africa becomes new focus for Isis terrorism

Islamic State terrorism is surging in Africa while in the western world the threat from far-right extremists has overtaken that from jihadists.

The 2020 Global Terrorism Index found that despite a fall in the global terrorism death toll for the fifth year running, Africa was suffering a dramatic increase in jihadist violence linked to Islamic State.

“The centre of gravity for Isis has now shifted to sub-Saharan Africa,” said Steve Killelea, founder of the Institute of Economic and Peace which produces the annual index. “Seven of the ten countries with the largest increases in terrorism all reside in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Terrorism, Violence

(CT) Anglican Churches in the UK Are Shrinking in Size but Not Impact

There are two pictures I could offer you of the role and significance of the Church of England in contemporary British society. The first is one of growing secularization and declining church attendance. The second is one where the church is the beating heart of the nation’s socioeconomic infrastructure, with an ever-increasing contribution of food banks, homeless shelters, and a range of community support.

Paradoxical though it may seem, both these pictures are recognizable reflections of the national church in Britain in 2020.

The evidence for secularization, or at least for the declining importance of Christianity, is compelling. Christian affiliation in the UK fell from 66 percent to 38 percent over 25 years, with Anglicanism accounting for the sharpest decline in affiliation. By 2018, only 12 percent of the national population identified as belonging to the Church of England or its sister churches in Scotland and Wales.

Any residual cultural affiliation to the Church of England appears to be in freefall and is likely to accelerate; surveys show as few as 1 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds now identify as Anglican. Likewise, attendance at Church of England services has fallen significantly in recent decades, down to an average weekly attendance of 57 people (compared to a mean of 81 in the Episcopal Church in the US, which has also suffered decline).

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Otis Sargent Huntington

O loving God, by whose grace thy servant James Huntington gathered a community dedicated to love and discipline and devotion to the holy Cross of our Savior Jesus Christ: Send thy blessing upon all who proclaim Christ crucified, and move the hearts of many to look unto him and be saved; 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 New Every Morning

Teach us, O God, to walk trustfully today in thy presence, that thy voice may encourage us, thine arm defend us, and thy love surround us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

New Every Morning (The Prayer Book Of The Daily Broadcast Service) [BBC, 1900]

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchae′us; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchae′us, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchae′us stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”

–Luke 19:1-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CC) Christiana Peterson–What we lost when the funeral home replaced the home funeral

At the time my house was built, people often died at home rather than in hospitals. Their families cared for the bodies. Typically, the deceased was washed and groomed by the women of the household and clothed in a simple home-sewn garment or winding-sheet, a cloth that, when wrapped around a body, made the dead resemble a mummy. Sometimes people would sew their own death shrouds.

These death rituals were carried out in community—a group of people with a history, with communal memories and rituals, who shared ways to grieve and manage the reality of death.

Today, the home has lost its place at the center of our death rituals. We no longer live near our families of origin, and our communities do not function in the ways they once did.

Death practices in the United States had changed greatly by the 1940s, when Howard Thurman gave his Ingersoll Lecture at Harvard. Thurman said that as death moved out of the home and into the hospital and the mortuary, “our primary relationship with death [became] impersonal and detached.”

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Religion & Culture

(LA Times) Muslims reel over a prayer app that sold user data: ‘A betrayal from within our own community’

Five times a day, tens of millions of phones buzz with notifications from an app called Muslim Pro, reminding users it’s time to pray. While Muslims in Los Angeles woke Thursday to a dawn notification that read, “Fajr at 5:17 AM,” users in Sri Lanka were minutes away from getting a ping telling them it was time for Isha, or the night prayer.

The app’s Qibla compass quickly orients devices toward the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia — which Muslims face when praying. When prayers are done, the in-app Quran lets users pick up reading exactly where they left off. A counter tallies the days of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Listings guide users to halal food in their area.

These features make it easier to practice the many daily rituals prescribed in Islam, turning Muslim Pro into the most popular Muslim app in the world, according to the app’s maker, Singapore-based BitsMedia.

But revelations about the app’s data collection and sales practices have left some users wondering if the convenience is worth the risk.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Theological Conversations with Kendall Harmon: The Rev. Rico Tice

Listen carefully for a concise summary from a Church of England evangelist as to what the gospel actually *is*.

Posted in England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Nature) Can dogs smell COVID? Here’s what the science says

A group in France, led by veterinary scientist Dominique Grandjean at the National Veterinary School of Alfort near Paris, posted its work3 on the preprint server bioRxiv in June. The researchers, who included Sarkis, trained 8 dogs to detect COVID-19 in 198 sweat samples, around half of which were from people with the disease. When these were hidden in a row of negative samples, the dogs identified the positive samples 83–100% of the time. The paper does not say how well the dogs identified negative test results. The research is now under review at a journal, but Grandjean says the process has not been easy. “To publish papers on detection dogs is very difficult because most reviewers do not know anything about working dogs,” he says.

The data in that study look promising, says Fyodor Urnov, a gene-editing scientist who is working on COVID testing at the University of California, Berkeley. But he would like to see larger data sets on how well dogs identify positive and negative samples. He also notes that there is variation in how well individual dogs perform. In Grandjean’s study, for example, 2 dogs identified 68 out of 68 positive samples, whereas one missed 10 out of 57 cases.

Groups need to boost their sample sizes before the wider scientific community can evaluate how useful the dogs might be, agrees James Logan, an infectious-disease researcher at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who is training and studying COVID-19 dogs, including Storm, Maple and Asher. “It’s important not to go out too early with grand claims and small data sets,” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(OM) Gavin Collins is announced as New Oxfordshire Bishop

The Queen has approved the appointment of the Venerable Gavin Collins as the next Bishop of Dorchester.

Due to lockdown restrictions, the Bishop of Oxford is announcing the news at an online meeting to be streamed from Dorchester Abbey with over 100 civic leaders and local clergy in attendance.

The online announcement will be followed by a visit to St Mary’s Church in Chipping Norton later today, where volunteers are supporting over 200 families during lockdown through an initiative called Mary’s Meals.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

A Prayer to Begin the Day from The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory

O God, mercifully grant that the fire of thy love may burn up in us all things that displease thee, and make us meet for thy heavenly kingdom; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: Services of Praise and Prayer for Occasional Use in Churches (New York: Oxford University Press, 1933)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and for evermore.

–Psalm 121:8

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(RNS) Katelyn Beaty–Carl Lentz and the ‘hot pastor’ problem

Granted, churches can’t control whether church members find a pastor attractive. Physical appearance aside, power, talent and money — all of which can come with a megachurch pastorate — are pretty intoxicating, too. What churches can control, or at least monitor and scan for in hiring decisions, is whether a pastor clearly wants to be found desirable. Professor and author Alan Noble said it well, that he can tell when “ministers desire to be desired. … The way the person carries themself, dresses, speaks, gestures, and posts images signal to me that the(y) desire other people to desire them.”

This desire is at the heart of the hot pastor formula. Megachurches recruit spiritual leaders who are designed to be found desirable by congregants. Their mission becomes bound up in their need to fill their ego, a need to be loved and desired.

Christian humility is about forgetting oneself. “True gospel humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation, with myself,” writes the Presbyterian minister Timothy Keller, who has planted several successful churches in New York himself. “In fact, I stop thinking about myself.”

It’s hard for anyone standing under the bright lights of a megachurch stage to forget about themselves. Maybe the problem isn’t the hot pastors like Lentz but a toxic megachurch culture that makes narcissism a prerequisite.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

(Spectactor) Things fall apart: Ethiopia’s terrifying descent into civil war

The world’s first conflict triggered by Covid-19 exploded on 4 November in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray. Before your eyes glaze over at news of fresh African horrors — hundreds dead in battles and air strikes, ethnic massacres, civilians fleeing, charities calling for food aid — consider this frightening new reality. For the first time in modern history, wars and insecurity now ravage a continuous line of African states from Mauretania’s Atlantic shores to the Red Sea — a 6,000km Sahelian suicide belt of jihadis, state failure and starvation. Intervene too hard in this mess and you get David Cameron’s ill-conceived 2011 Libyan bombing raids. Gaddafi gets butchered in a storm drain, the arsenals are pillaged and weapons flood the Sahara. Ignore Africa’s suffering and it comes back to bite us all, as we have seen with waves of migrants heading north on the perilous sea passage to Europe.

The Tigrayan leader Debretsion Gebremichael is not your typical African rebel. Thirty years ago he was a radio intelligence officer, who kindly agreed to transmit my Reuters reports in Morse while I was covering the guerrilla war against Ethiopia’s communist government. I was the only foreign correspondent accompanying the rebels as they advanced through a land of obelisks, inselbergs and hilltop monasteries. I saw the Tigrayans as Africa’s Afghans — impossible to beat in their highland redoubts, ascetic, xenophobic and obsessed with how badly they’d been oppressed….

Read it all.

Posted in Ethiopia, Military / Armed Forces

One of the most important stories in the last month in case you missed it–A BBC expose about a baby stealing operation (yes, really) in Kenya

Somewhere, Rebecca’s son is 10. He could be in Nairobi, where she lives, or he could be somewhere else. He could, she knows in her heart, be dead. The last time she saw him, Lawrence Josiah, her firstborn son, he was one. She was 16. It was about 2am one night in March 2011 and Rebecca was drowsy from sniffing a handkerchief doused in jet fuel — a cheap high on the city’s streets.

She sniffed jet fuel because it gave her the confidence to go up to strangers and beg. By the time she was 15, Rebecca’s mother could no longer support her or pay her school fees, and she dropped out and slid into life on the street. She met an older man who promised to marry her but instead made her pregnant and left. The following year Lawrence Josiah was born, and Rebecca raised him for a year and a few months until she closed her eyes that night and never saw him again.

“Even though I have other kids, he was my firstborn, he made me a mother,” she said, fighting back tears. “I have searched in every children’s centre, in Kiambu, Kayole, and I have never found him.”

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Kenya, Marriage & Family

(NYT) Politics, Science and the Remarkable Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine

The call was tense, the message discouraging. Moncef Slaoui, the head of the Trump administration’s effort to quickly produce a vaccine for the coronavirus, was on the phone at 6 p.m. on Aug. 25 to tell the upstart biotech firm Moderna that it had to slow the final stage of testing its vaccine in humans.

Moderna’s chief executive, Stéphane Bancel, a French biochemical engineer, recognized the implication. In the race to quell the pandemic, he said, “every day mattered.” Now his company, which had yet to bring a single product to market, faced a delay of up to three weeks. Pfizer, the global pharmaceutical giant that was busy testing a similar vaccine candidate and promising initial results by October, would take the obvious lead.

“It was the hardest decision I made this year,” Mr. Bancel said.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday sermon–Walking through rather than jumping over the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46)

The sermon begins about 25:20 in.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Clement of Rome

Almighty God, who didst choose thy servant Clement of Rome to recall the Church in Corinth to obedience and stability: Grant that thy Church may be grounded and settled in thy truth by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and may evermore be kept blameless in thy service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, 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 Bgein the Day from Knox’s Book of Common Order (1564)

Let thy mighty outstretched arm, O Lord God, be our defence; thy mercy and lovingkindness in Jesus Christ, thy dear Son, our salvation; thy all true word our instruction; the grace of thy life-giving Spirit our comfort and consolation, unto the end and in the end; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Praise the LORD! O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever! Who can utter the mighty doings of the LORD, or show forth all his praise? Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!

–Psalm 106:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

JC Ryle on the Final Judgment and its outcome

The state of things after the judgment is changeless and without end. The misery of the lost, and the blessedness of the saved, are both alike forever. Let no man deceive us on this point. It is clearly revealed in Scripture. The eternity of God, and heaven, and hell, all stand on the same foundation. As surely as God is eternal, so surely is heaven an endless day without night, and hell an endless night without day.

–Expository thoughts on the gospels, quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

Join us this Sunday, November 22, 2020, as we, in the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, give thanks for the work and…

Posted by The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina on Friday, November 20, 2020

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

A Prayer to Bgein the Day from the Church of England

Eternal Father,
whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven
that he might rule over all things as Lord and King:
keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit
and in the bond of peace,
and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.
All nations surrounded me; in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
They surrounded me like bees, they blazed like a fire of thorns; in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the LORD helped me.
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
Hark, glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly,
the right hand of the LORD is exalted, the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!”

–Psalm 118: 8-16

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Music For his Feast Day–Thomas Tallis: Spem In Alium

Lyrics:

I have never founded by hope on any other than Thee,
O God of Israel, Who shalt be angry, and yet be gracious,
and Who absolvest all the sins of mankind in tribulation.
Lord God, Creator of heaven and earth, be mindful of our lowliness.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Music for his Feast Day–Sing Joyfully, by William Byrd (1540-1623)

Lyrics:

Sing joyfully to God our strength; sing loud unto the God of Jacob!
Take the song, bring forth the timbrel, the pleasant harp, and the viol.
Blow the trumpet in the new moon, even in the time appointed, and at our feast day.
For this is a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Byrd, John Merbecke+Thomas Tallis

O God most glorious, whose praises art sung night and day by thy saints and angels in heaven: We offer thanks for William Byrd, John Merbecke and Thomas Tallis, whose music hath enriched the praise that thy Church offers thee here on earth. Grant, we pray thee, to all who are touched by the power of music such glimpses of eternity that we may be made ready to join thy saints in heaven and behold thy glory unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from James Martineau

O God, who hast commanded that no man should be idle: Give us grace to employ all our talents and faculties in the service appointed to us; that whatsoever our hand findeth to do, we may do it with our whole might; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer