Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ramaphosa moves to reclaim ‘radical economic transformation’ from those 'misusing' term

Ramaphosa moves to reclaim ‘radical economic transformation’ from those 'misusing' term:

“We now know that some highly-paid PR specialists contrived a plan to use terms like ‘radical economic transformation’ and ‘white monopoly capital’ to launch a publicity offensive in defence of their clients. It was part of defining a new narrative where those who stood in the way of their clients’ interests were presented as being opposed to ‘radical economic transformation’ and representing the interests of ‘white monopoly capital’.”

Invasion of the troll armies: ‘Social media where the war goes on’ | Media | The Guardian

Invasion of the troll armies: ‘Social media where the war goes on’ | Media | The Guardian:

You can hire your own troll army if you have the cash. In 2011 the PR firm Bell Pottinger told undercover journalists that they could “create and maintain third-party blogs”, and spruce up Wikipedia profiles and Google search rankings. Indeed marketing has a rich history of so-called “astroturfing”, which is laying down fake grassroots. Take Forest, “the voice and friend of the smoker”, which at least admits in nearly invisible small print that it is paid for by the tobacco industry.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Harry Potter and the millennial mind | The Spectator

Harry Potter and the millennial mind | The Spectator:

Almost every young person who can read has read Harry Potter — 450 million copies have been sold worldwide. Not to do so was an act of rebellion. On Monday, fans will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first book’s publication — two decades on and J.K. Rowling’s tales of wizardry and witchcraft continue to bewitch us, even though we are meant to have grown up.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

One in six young people are Christian as visits to church buildings inspire them to convert

One in six young people are Christian as visits to church buildings inspire them to convert:

Around 13 per cent of teenagers said that they decided to become a Christian after a visit to a church or cathedral, according to the figures.

The influence of a church building was more significant than attending a youth group, going to a wedding, or speaking to other Christians about their faith.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Is It Hateful To Believe In Hell? Bernie Sanders' Questions Prompt Backlash : The Two-Way : NPR

Is It Hateful To Believe In Hell? Bernie Sanders' Questions Prompt Backlash : The Two-Way : NPR:

A low-profile confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill this week raised eyebrows when the questioning turned to theology — specifically, damnation.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont pressed Russell Vought, nominated by President Trump to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, about his beliefs.

Tim Farron quits as Lib Dem leader | Politics | The Guardian

Tim Farron quits as Lib Dem leader | Politics | The Guardian: Farron says ‘remaining faithful to Christ’ was incompatible with being party leader after repeated questions over his faith

Farron resigns as Lib Dem leader

Farron resigns as Lib Dem leader:

From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith. I've tried to answer with grace and patience. Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.

At the start of this election, I found myself under scrutiny again - asked about matters to do with my faith. I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message.

Journalists have every right to ask what they see fit. The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Drone War: Understanding Who Must Die From Above

The Drone War: Understanding Who Must Die From Above:

Unmanned aerial vehicles are piloted remotely from thousands of miles away providing both surveillance in near-constant streams, and the ability to drop bombs. Through this new means of violence, Americans are not vulnerable, and are instead separated physically from the violence and death. The U.S. drone campaign is waged almost entirely in secret and without the hindrance of laws, international or domestic.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

IX. Crime, punishment, reformation | The Russian Orthodox Church

IX. Crime, punishment, reformation | The Russian Orthodox Church:



The abolition of death penalty would give more opportunities for pastoral work with those who have stumbled and for the latter to repent. It is also evident that punishment by death cannot be reformatory; it also makes misjudgement irreparable and provokes ambiguous feelings among people. Today many states have either abolished the death penalty by law or stopped practicing it. Keeping in mind that mercy toward a fallen man is always more preferable than revenge, the Church welcomes these steps by state authorities. At the same time, she believes that the decision to abolish or not to apply death penalty should be made by society freely, considering the rate of crime and the state of law-enforcement and judiciary, and even more so, the need to protect the life of its well-intentioned members.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Why Scruffy Hospitality Creates Space for Friendship | KnoxPriest

Why Scruffy Hospitality Creates Space for Friendship | KnoxPriest:

So it’s Thursday when I published this post. Go ahead and invite someone for tomorrow night. Keep your to-do list short. Take ten minutes to pick up the house and throw something together for dinner, even if it’s from Trader Joe’s. You’re more ready than you think. And we’re all hungry for genuine conversation more than we realize.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Human Beings or Human Persons? | Public Orthodoxy

Human Beings or Human Persons? | Public Orthodoxy:



One of the liveliest exchanges at the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church in June 2016 concerned which Greek words should be used in Council documents to refer to humans: anthrōpos (“human being”); or anthrōpino prosōpo (or simply prosōpon) (“human person”). The main protagonists in this debate were, in the anthrōpos corner, Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos), and in the prosōpon corner, Metropolitan John (Zizioulas), supported by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware). While this episode may seem to be an intra-Greek linguistic spat, the theological stakes are very high.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

100 Must-Read Books About Christianity

100 Must-Read Books About Christianity:

According to Pew Research, Christianity is the world’s largest religious group, so it’s worth knowing something about it, whether you’re a Christian or not. And if you’re interested in learning more about the Christian faith, there’s no lack of books out there. It’s hard to know where to start! I’m here to help with enough recommendations to keep you reading for a long time.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Can you be pro-life and anti-war? In Pittsburgh, apparently not.

Can you be pro-life and anti-war? In Pittsburgh, apparently not.:

On Tuesday, a “Consistent Life Ethic” group was booted from sponsorship of the Pittsburgh March Against War after Facebook complaints against their pro-life stance.

Rehumanize International, previously Life Matters Journal, is a group that opposes all violence against human beings, including abortion, war, euthanasia, torture, capital punishment and human sex trafficking.

They were invited to co-sponsor the Pittsburgh March Against War, set to take place this summer, and were then removed from sponsorship after a vote of the other co-sponsors, following several complaints on the event’s Facebook page.

Abortion: the Most Important Moral Issue Ever....Except for When it's Not

Abortion: the Most Important Moral Issue Ever....Except for When it's Not:

New Pro Life activists and writers have received accusatory messages demanding to know whether we are a “Podesta plant” or perhaps receiving Soros money to infiltrate the pro-life movement with insidious messages of social justice.

The message is clear: abortion is the worst evil. Stopping it is the top priority. The absolute necessity that we choose life for the unborn renders all other issues null and void, for now.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Terror Attacks Spark Cowardly Debate - ABC News

Terror Attacks Spark Cowardly Debate - ABC News:

Within hours of the attacks, President Bush twice used the c-word to describe the terrorists' plot. In a statement at an Air Force base in Louisiana, he declared, "Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward … . Make no mistake: the U.S. will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts."

The House and Senate soon followed suit. A joint resolution passed the next night labeled the suicide hijackings as "heinous and cowardly attacks."

An alternative view came from Bill Maher, host of the ABC late-night talk show Politically Incorrect. "We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly," Maher said on the show last week. "Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Analavos of the Great Schema Explained | MYSTAGOGY RESOURCE CENTER

The Analavos of the Great Schema Explained | MYSTAGOGY RESOURCE CENTER:

The Great Schema in the Orthodox Church requires the traditional monastic vows, plus special spiritual feats. According to Archpriest G. S. Debolsky: "In the understanding of the Church, the Great Schema is nothing less than the supreme vow of the Cross and death; it is the image of complete isolation from the earth, the image of transformation and transfiguration of life, the image of death and the beginning of another, higher, existence."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Good Christians Disagree, But Right Christians Do Not | Circe Institute

Good Christians Disagree, But Right Christians Do Not | Circe Institute:



Christianity is not a religion which is aimed at making men moral. Rather, Christianity is a religion which makes men divine. Morality is indispensable, but morality will be swallowed up in the apotheosis of a man. Classical education does not work against such intentions, which means that a classical education is unconcerned with whether “Good Christians disagree…” on an issue.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

10 Journalism Brands Where You Find Real Facts Rather Than Alternative Facts

10 Journalism Brands Where You Find Real Facts Rather Than Alternative Facts:

Realizing that millions more people are scratching their heads, wondering what to read and where to spend their subscription dollars, here are my top 10 large journalistic brands where I believe you can most often find real, reported facts:

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Health benefits of coffee-Aleteia

Health benefits of coffee-Aleteia:



Research the world over is confirming that drinking coffee keeps you alive … but it doesn’t work if you drink it in moderation. In fact, Harvard researchers found that low consumption of coffee is linked to deaths from heart-related illnesses. To get the health benefits of coffee, you have to drink it like you mean it.

Drinking three to five cups of coffee per day gives you a longer life, making you 15 percent less likely to die early, lowering your risk of dying from a heart attack or a stroke by 21 percent and slashing your risk for type 2 diabetes by 12 percent.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

The Evangelical Roots of Our Post-Truth Society - The New York Times

The Evangelical Roots of Our Post-Truth Society - The New York Times:

Conservative evangelicals are not the only ones who think that an authority trusted by the other side is probably lying. But they believe that their own authority — the inerrant Bible — is both supernatural and scientifically sound, and this conviction gives that natural human aversion to unwelcome facts a special power on the right. This religious tradition of fact denial long predates the rise of the culture wars, social media or President Trump, but it has provoked deep conflict among evangelicals themselves.

That innocuous phrase — “biblical worldview” or “Christian worldview” — is everywhere in the evangelical world.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Experimental Theology: The Paradox of Progressive Political Theology

Experimental Theology: The Paradox of Progressive Political Theology:



Progressive Christians resonate with Anabaptist, anti-empire political theology as it aligns well with the language of the prophets--indictment of oppression and injustice--which connects with the social justice impulses of progressive Christians. But lacking a robust ecclesiology, church as counter-cultural polis, progressive Christians are forced to turn to the state as the only player able to address the oppression and injustices they are calling out. Without a church, democratic engagement--guided by Niebuhrian political theology--is the only tool available to make the kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Crisis of Western Civ - The New York Times

The Crisis of Western Civ - The New York Times: The faith in the West collapsed from within. It’s amazing how slow people have been to rise to defend it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Is Male Headship a Lost Cause? | Desiring God

Is Male Headship a Lost Cause? | Desiring God:



Complementarianism will endure. It is not a lost cause. The reason I think it will endure and is not a lost cause may not be exactly what you think. Let me give you three reasons it will endure that are not the reason I’m going to give. I think there are a lot of reasons why it will, but these three are the ones you probably thought I would give, so I’m going to give them and then give the one I really want to give.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Media should show skepticism over Syrian chemical weapons attack claims

Media should show skepticism over Syrian chemical weapons attack claims:



If you watch and read the Australian media, whether it be the television news or discussion programs like Insiders and even Mediawatch, it's taken as read that chemical weapons were dropped by Bashar al Assad's Syrian government warplanes.

It's as if there's no memory of the weapons of mass destruction lies the American, British and Australian governments told us before the 2003 Iraq invasion.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The modern myth of the Easter bunny | Adrian Bott | Opinion | The Guardian

The modern myth of the Easter bunny | Adrian Bott | Opinion | The Guardian:



Did you know that Easter was originally a pagan festival dedicated to Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, whose consort was a hare, the forerunner of our Easter bunny? Of course you did. Every year the fecund muck of the internet bursts forth afresh with cheery did-you-know explanations like this, setting modern practices in a context of ancient and tragically interrupted pagan belief.

The trouble is that they are wrong. The colourful myths of Eostre and her hare companion, who in some versions is a bird transformed into an egg-laying rabbit, aren't historically pagan. They are modern fabrications, cludged together in an unresearched assumption of pagan precedence.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Approaching “The Silmarillion” for the First Time | A Pilgrim in Narnia

Approaching “The Silmarillion” for the First Time | A Pilgrim in Narnia: This is what a friend of mine called The Silmarillion: the Bible for Tolkien geeks. It is an astute observation, I think. Like the Bible, The Silmarillion includes genres like myth, legend, history, genealogy, prophecy, and poetry. It is a text of texts from another culture based in other languages, but a text that is meant to inform not just the past but the present. Like the Bible, it better reread than read.

How fights over Trump have led evangelicals to leave their churches - The Washington Post

How fights over Trump have led evangelicals to leave their churches - The Washington Post:



for 20 years, liberal to moderate evangelicals have been leaving their churches because they disagree with the Christian right. This is important because it allows us to recognize that this sorting process is plural, local, and continual. It is not something owned by the left or right, but a regular and expected part of life in all religious organizations.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Trump’s ‘Wag the Dog’ Moment – Consortiumnews

Trump’s ‘Wag the Dog’ Moment – Consortiumnews:



Today, because Trump and his administration are now committed to convincing Americans that Assad really was responsible for Tuesday’s poison-gas tragedy, the prospects for a full and open investigation are effectively ended. We may never know if there is truth to those allegations or whether we are being manipulated by another “wag the dog” psyop.

Disharmony: The religious response to Syria’s travails is prolix and confused | The Economist

Disharmony: The religious response to Syria’s travails is prolix and confused | The Economist:



Generally, the local Catholic and Orthodox churches remain reluctant to condemn Bashar al-Assad, whom they regard as their protector against the furies of Islamism. That in turn influences the hierarchs and adherents of those churches in other places. Meanwhile, some luminaries of America’s religious right (though not of the isolationist far-right) saw their country’s missile attack as a noble act by Donald Trump: a sign of his virtuousness compared with the wicked sloppiness of his predecessor.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

How French “Intellectuals” Ruined the West: Postmodernism and Its Impact, Explained – Areo Magazine

How French “Intellectuals” Ruined the West: Postmodernism and Its Impact, Explained – Areo Magazine:



Postmodernism presents a threat not only to liberal democracy but to modernity itself. That may sound like a bold or even hyperbolic claim, but the reality is that the cluster of ideas and values at the root of postmodernism have broken the bounds of academia and gained great cultural power in western society. The irrational and identitarian “symptoms” of postmodernism are easily recognizable and much criticized, but the ethos underlying them is not well understood. This is partly because postmodernists rarely explain themselves clearly and partly because of the inherent contradictions and inconsistencies of a way of thought which denies a stable reality or reliable knowledge to exist.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

The Russian Church: Profiting by Silence | Public Orthodoxy

The Russian Church: Profiting by Silence | Public Orthodoxy:

Among those detained and beaten by police forces was Gregory Hill, the underage son of an Orthodox priest and a British subject who was not part of the protesting crowd and whose only fault was failing to produce his papers immediately upon request. In the words of his mother, “Grisha [Gregory] is bruised because one policeman was holding his head to the ground, while the other kicked him in the groin and ribs. We are shocked by the comments from the city government that police reacted in a competent way and ensured security in heavily crowded areas. I very well see that ‘competence’ on Grisha’s face.” (Sergei Chapnin)

Eastern Christian Books: Reading Dreher with Schmemann and MacIntyre (and thus Marx)

Eastern Christian Books: Reading Dreher with Schmemann and MacIntyre (and thus Marx):



In fact, several passages from Schmemann came back to mind in reading Dreher, whose book fixates on same-sex marriage and gender issues to an unhealthy and unhelpful degree. None seems more acute or appropriate than this one: In March 1976 during Lent, Schmemann wrote: "Students' confessions. Always sex. I am beginning to think that this sin is useful; otherwise they would consider themselves saintly and plunge into guruism." Dreher's entire project reeks of guruism.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Lance's Religion Blog: Health Care Reform in Light of Orthodox Theology and the Sanctity of the Human Body

Lance's Religion Blog: Health Care Reform in Light of Orthodox Theology and the Sanctity of the Human Body:

As this country debates health care reform, I cannot help but turn to Orthodox theology for some answers. Orthodox theology is pretty much synonymous with Patristic theology. For an Orthodox Christian, salvation is holistic, involving Body and Soul. It is organic. God does not save the soul only, but the Body as well, and all Creation. To separate the soul from body is to hold to a decidedly non-Christian form of dualism. In the Eucharistic prayers of the Byzantine Liturgy, it is affirmed that the Holy Eucharist is for “the healing of both soul and body.”

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

From the Inside: Lessons from Singapore | Daily Maverick

From the Inside: Lessons from Singapore | Daily Maverick: I was blown away by the boldness of its vision, but most of all by the fact that a small country with no natural resources had in a single generation moved from extreme poverty to the cutting edge of modernity, and is determined to remain there, constantly re-inventing itself in a changing global economy.

When the young presenter (who looked in her 30s) asked if we had any questions, I asked hesitantly: “Will this plan actually get implemented?” Behind her immaculate poise I could see she thought it was the dumbest she had ever been asked.

“Of course”, she answered, before explaining how the country implemented a new plan every five years. This is how Singapore became one of the world’s leading ports, developed a powerful manufacturing sector, attracted investment across the globe, and became the springboard for exports across Asia. Good planning and implementation was how Singapore moved from mass unemployment to a labour-intensive manufacturing export economy, then to a high-skills, capital-intensive economy, and then a digital economy. And now they are positioning themselves at the cutting edge of the future super-smart economy.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Are Liberals on the Wrong Side of History? - The New Yorker

Are Liberals on the Wrong Side of History? - The New Yorker: Of all the prejudices of pundits, presentism is the strongest. It is the assumption that what is happening now is going to keep on happening, without anything happening to stop it. If the West has broken down the Berlin Wall and McDonald’s opens in St. Petersburg, then history is over and Thomas Friedman is content. If, by a margin so small that in a voice vote you would have no idea who won, Brexit happens; or if, by a trick of an antique electoral system designed to give country people more power than city people, a Donald Trump is elected, then pluralist constitutional democracy is finished. The liberal millennium was upon us as the year 2000 dawned; fifteen years later, the autocratic apocalypse is at hand. Thomas Friedman is concerned.

What is the Labour Party for? On the mystery of Jeremy Corbyn

What is the Labour Party for? On the mystery of Jeremy Corbyn:



There is a preference in the media’s political coverage – and in political campaigning altogether – for symbol and personality over policy and fact. The media coverage of Corbyn, who despite being an MP and unusually active campaigner for over thirty years had not much figured in the press until the leadership contest, has been by any measure persistently negative.