Thursday, January 29, 2015

Standardized Culture; E-book Momentum Slowing Down; No to CA judges being assoc. with Boy Scouts...More

Standardized Culture
...The trend toward bland neutrality is ensured by a process called “bias and sensitivity review.” Testing companies submit each passage and question to anti-­discrimination inspection. States have guidelines on what is and isn’t permitted. Expert reviewers ask, “Does this scene from Hemingway have sexist language that annoys females? Does that question about the Mexican-American War assume something about geography that gives students from the southwest a leg up?”

They spot topics, wording, stereo­types, and assumptions that the most nit-picking critic might flag. The bare chance of inequity moves them to drop a questionable item. From past experience, experts have learned not to take risks. Ten years ago, Diane Ravitch in The Language Police identified pressure groups eager to pounce on a biased test and an offensive book, too. She recounts how one editor told a children’s author whose story had been anthologized but only after every citation of Jews, God, and the Bible had been scrubbed, “Try to understand. We have a lot of problems. If we mention God, some atheist will object. If we mention the Bible, someone will want to know why we don’t give equal time to the Koran. Every time that happens, we lose sales.”

For the tests, educators reason that it is best to avoid certain things outright. The California Department of Education high school exit exam has a long list of excluded topics, ­including:

Dying, death, disease, hunger, famine. Junk food, Divorce, Rats, roaches, lice, spiders, Sex, Religion...

Anti-Middle-Class Economics: What Obama’s 529 Grab Revealed ...But there’s something else about this proposal: it was almost insanely suicidal. What politician in his right mind proposes a tax aimed narrowly at the middle class, and at such a universally accepted good as education? Even Nancy Pelosi shot this one down.

Megan McArdle suggests, quite reasonably, that this is a desperate move by those who need to finance ever bigger government and are simply going where the money is: the vast American middle class. You can understand why the champions of big government would be slavering over the very thing that defines the middle class, its savings. As she points out, 529s are not the first target. There have already been trial balloons about raiding 401(k)s and IRAs. The truly committed leftist looks upon our private savings as a vast reserve of capital unfairly withheld from its proper function of servicing the needs of the state.

I think that’s the real explanation. This is not so much a rational calculation about how to finance the behemoth state. This is an admission by a man who has no more election campaigns to run, and therefore no pragmatic constraints, about his real outlook and real preferences. A president who just a few weeks ago hailed the triumph of a supposed “middle-class economics” is revealing his hatred and contempt for the middle class...

E-book Momentum Slowing Down ...Finding #3 in the Scholastic poll says, “Kids want books in print—as opposed to in electronic format—even more than they did two years ago. So do their parents. Two-thirds of children stated that they prefer books in print format over books in e-format. In fact, the 2014 rate marks a 5-point increase over that of 2012.”...

Duck Dynasty Wife: The More Christians on Reality TV, the Better ...Jessica Robertson belongs to a big, unusual family—evangelical Christians made famous by their popular duck-call company Duck Commander and the hit A&E series Duck Dynasty.

Since its premiere three years ago, the show has set cable reality TV records, attracting millions of viewers and hundreds of millions of dollars in marketing. Despite its recognizable, bushy-bearded stars (Phil Robertson and his goofy brother Uncle Si, plus sons Alan, Willie, Jase, and Jep), their supportive wives (matriarch “Miss Kay,” and Lisa, Korie, Missy, and Jessica) bring humor and heart to each episode.

Through the show, now in its seventh season, “we spend more time together, and those relationships have grown and deepened,” said Jessica, 34, who married the youngest Robertson son, Jep. Their family of six recently moved onto the same street as his three older brothers, in their northeast Louisiana hometown, West Monroe...

ISIS hacks Westminster Presbyterian Church's website  Contrary to what its website temporarily displayed, the Westminster Presbyterian Church did not undergo a radical shift in religious views.  The church's website was hacked by the Islamic State or its supporters on Thursday and carried the statement "I love Islam and Jihadist," a gruesome video, and some very disturbing language, reported.

Church Pastor Jim Richter recalled how he woke up that morning with an email from a concerned church member informing him about the hack, and people cannot believe what they saw.
"I think it's terrifying, it's hostile no matter what you say about it," Marty Conley, who lives in Johnson City said. "I thought that was really strange. You don't think about that type of thing happening in our area, I mean little town Johnson City, Tennessee."...

California Supreme Court voted last week to prohibit state judges from belonging to nonprofit youth organizations ... Although the court's unanimous decision did not explicitly mention the Boy Scouts of America, there was little doubt that it was the intended target. The organization, which lifted its ban on openly gay boys younger than 18, still prohibits gay and lesbian adults from serving as staff or voluntary leaders...

Episcopal Diocese Of Maryland Asks Bishop Heather Cook To Resign After Fatal DUI Accident

By Zoe Mintz 
January 28 2015

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has called for the resignation of Bishop Suffragan Heather Elizabeth Cook who was involved in a fatal car accident on Dec. 27. The diocese sent a letter to Cook’s lawyer on Tuesday explaining the standing committee has unanimously agreed she is “no longer able to function effectively” in her position.

Cook, who became Maryland’s first female Episcopal bishop when she was ordained in September, did not immediately respond publicly to the call for her resignation.

The 58-year-old New York state native was accused of hitting 41-year-old bicyclist Thomas Palermo with her car on Dec. 27 while driving in Baltimore. Authorities charged Cook with vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence and texting while driving, among other charges.

She initially left the scene but returned about 30 minutes later. Authorities said she blew a .22 blood-alcohol level – nearly three times the legal limit... the rest

Maryland Standing Committee asks Bishop Cook to step down

A.S. Haley: Report on 2015 Mere Anglicanism Conference

posted January 29, 2015

The 2015 Mere Anglicanism Conference in Charleston, South Carolina—a sold-out event—centered on the theme “Salt and Light: the Christian Response to Secularism.” The speakers were left to choose their own individual topics; the organizers merely designated the theme. For that reason, it was truly remarkable to observe how the presentations complemented and sustained each other.

The Rt. Rev. Prof. N. T. Wright, the former Bishop of Durham and now the chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews School of Divinity, gave the opening night talk on January 22. Entitled “How Scripture Outflanks Secularism: the Biblical Challenge to the World and to the Church”, it served as a terrific inspiration for the Conference as a whole, which aims to equip Anglicans of all walks for the challenges of leadership, and “to take theology home with them.” Delivered with an enthusiasm and conviction that was infectious, his talk was nonetheless so densely packed with ideas and new ways of looking at old things that it is well-nigh impossible to summarize in a few paragraphs. Still, I must try.

In a nutshell, Dr. Wright tackled head-on how the Church best handles the secular age: not by confronting it head-on, but rather, by being true to the full arc of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, it outflanks it.

He singled out two major characteristics of secularism that open it to this strategy:
First, it has revived the ancient philosophy of Epicureanism by treating God, or the gods, as very distant and indifferent to man or what happens on Earth, thus conveniently leaving man to run things on his own. The result (in secularism, as in Epicureanism before it) is to shunt God upstairs: and thereby to divide heaven from earth, religion from man—and Jesus from His Church.

(The latter happens when the Church all too often allows it, for example, by thinking and preaching that treats heaven as a place to which we go when we die, to live the afterlife apart from this Earth. To the contrary: Revelation teaches that heaven—the new Jerusalem—will come down to Earth, and the faithful will partake in Jesus’ rule here on Earth. Thus, properly read and understood, the arc of Scripture begins and ends with heaven here on Earth, with God at one with His creation, and Jesus at one with His Church.)... the rest of Part I here

Part II

CYMATICS: Science Vs. Music

Monday, January 26, 2015

If God is your own...

For the first two or three years after my conversion, I used to ask for specific things. Now I ask for God. Supposing there is a tree full of fruits, you will have to go and buy or beg the fruits from the owner of the tree. Every day you would have to go for one or two fruits. But if you can make the tree your own property, then all the fruits will be your own. In the same way, if God is your own, then all things in Heaven and on earth will be your own, because He is your Father and is everything to you; otherwise you will have to go and ask like a beggar for certain things. When they are used up, you will have to ask again. So ask not for gifts, but for the Giver of Gifts: not for life but for the Giver of Life—then life and the things needed for life will be added unto you.
...Sadhu Sundar Singh image

The United States’ Unwritten Blasphemy Laws; ‘Muslim values’; 200,000 of Anyone Else Would Get Coverage...more

200,000 of Anyone Else Would Get Coverage  
The media once again largely ignored the March for Life which saw 200,000 plus people walking right down Constitution Avenue in Washington D.C.

According to Newsbusters, CBS is the only one to even mention the March and they did it in passing.

I'm just wondering if there's 200,000 of anything other than pro-lifers which would warrant such little coverage...

Obama goes after your savings account  ...Though millions of Americans have been putting money into "tax free" 529 plans to save for their children's increasingly expensive college educations, President Obama would change the law so that withdrawals from the plans to fund college would be taxed as ordinary income. So while you used to be able to get a nice tax benefit by saving for college, now you'll be shelling out to Uncle Sam every time you withdraw to pay for Junior's dorm fees. 
This doesn't hurt the very rich — who just pay for college out of pocket — or the poor, who get financial aid, but it's pretty rough on the middle– and upper–middle class. In a double-whammy, those withdrawals will show up as income on parents' income tax forms, which are used to calculate financial aid, making them look richer, and hence reducing grants.

Likewise, Obama proposes to tax the appreciation on inherited homes. When you sell property at a profit, you pay capital gains on the difference between the basis (what you paid) and what you sell it for. (Obama also proposes to increase the capital gains rate). That's not a big issue for most middle class people, because right now if your parents leave you their house, you get what's called a "step-up" in basis...

ASU offers course in “The Problem with Whiteness” ...I’d like to pretend that this is more shocking than it is, but these days it’s just business as usual. The oblivious groups who push this sort of social restructuring and societal realignment via our nations’ campuses have a very clear intent and message, but fail to see how patently offensive it is to so many people. None of them are claiming that there’s anything technically wrong with being white, and they want to be very clear about that. No, the problem is that you walk around being white every single day, waking up, making your coffee, going to work and trying to keep your bills paid, and you do all of that without once stopping to think that you would have none of those things if it weren’t for the way that you’ve helped oppress minorities for your entire life.

The shorter version of all this is that your “problem” isn’t that you’re white… it’s that you act insufficiently guilty for being white...

More homeless camps are appearing beyond downtown L.A.’s skid row

The Legal Ingredients to Forced Baking 2.0  ...So, let’s examine the facts of the case. A Christian with an uncharitable, harsh, and derogatory message about the gay community wants such values reflected on a cake that someone else would contract to create. The baker (we’re not told whether this person is a liberal or a conservative, a Christian or not) believes that this message is out of line with her values. So she declined her services. The customer filed a complaint, alleging that Silva is in violation of her state’s non-discrimination code. Silva’s plight is identical to that of other bakers, florists, and photographers who were asked and declined to use their creative talents for the purposes of a same-sex wedding celebration. In the first case, the ruling went after the baker because he discriminated against the gay couple when he said no to their same-sex wedding. How is this not the same kind of discrimination if the complainants state that their religion opposes gay marriage, and they want their cakes to represent that doctrine?

Let us be clear: Silva is right to decline her services. In a free country, she ought not be compelled to create a cake that she believes represents a hateful, wrong, or immoral message. Conservative Christians are asking to be treated in like manner...

New York Woman to ‘Marry’ Her Biological Father  ...But the teen said she didn’t feel remorse over being involved in an incestuous relationship.

“I didn’t regret it at all. I was happy for once in my life,” she stated. “We fell deeply in love.”

The two now plan to “marry,” and then move to New Jersey where incest is legal...

What are ‘Muslim values’, Lady Warsi?
...But here’s a thing. Nowhere in either article are ‘Muslim values’ defined. A bit like the Government’s elusive exposition of ‘British values’, Baroness Warsi’s understanding of the values taught by Mohammed – and propagated via the Qur’an and Hadith – appear to be dainty and celestial: peace, tolerance and respect; liberty and democracy; understanding of difference and the acceptance of diversity...

...But what about when standing up for a culture of free expression carries the risk of a loss of social or professional standing? What about when the fire chief of Atlanta, Georgia, was fired for expressing boilerplate Christian disapproval of homosexual acts in a book he published? What about when Brendan Eich was forced out at Mozilla for donating to Proposition 8? What about when Bret Baier and Gary Sinise were harangued for agreeing to appear at a run-of-the-mill Catholic gala until they canceled?

Sure, there has been support for Chief Kelvin Cochran, but in almost all cases from predictable sources—those who agree with the opinions that got him fired. It was largely the same for Eich (with a few notable exceptions), and for the Catholic group, Legatus. But if only people who agreed with the content of Charlie Hebdo’s satire showed up online or in the streets of Paris, it would’ve been a lonely adventure. A culture of free expression requires that people who disagree with controversial speech be willing to pin their personal brand to their opponents’. That is something very few will do if there’s a risk that it will tarnish their brand...