Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Quote of the Week - Chesterton on Orthodoxy

"People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy."--G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Professionals and Social Media Conduct

As a teacher I never discuss my students on Facebook. I don't even friend students. There is a professional boundary here that needs to be upheld.

Imagine a doctor who rants about a patient on Facebook.  That is very unprofessional behavior, and likely to draw heavy criticism, even calls for the doctor's resignation.

Such was the case earlier this year when a 33-year-old obstetrician in New York was fed up with one of her patients. She vented to her 470 friends on her Facebook page: "So I have a patient who has chosen to either no-show or be late (sometimes hours) for all of her prenatal visits, ultrasounds and NSTs. She is now 3 hours late for her induction. May I show up late to her delivery?"

This and similar incidents raise the question: Do professionals need a Code of Ethical Conduct for social media? That topic is addressed in this recent BioEthics article:

An increasing area of concern for bioethicists is doctor's use of social media. Every month more medical boards are releasing Codes of Conduct for practitioners - the latest example is Rhode Island.

In a recent NBC article influential bioethicist Arthur Caplan considered this issue, focusing particularly on the use of social media to verify the truth of patient statements.

Caplan cited a prospective liver transplant recipient who was refused the operation after photos of him intoxicated were discovered on Twitter.

Many see doctors' use of social media as a violation of patient privacy. Others believe it can in some cases be ethically permissible. Caplan argues that any ethical framework needs to preserve doctor-patient trust: "If they are going to continue to trust one another then we need to recalculate existing notions of medical privacy and confidentiality to fit an Internet world where there is not much of either."

There are other concerns that need to be addressed by any adequate social media code of conduct, including the preservation of a professional distance between patients and doctors and the caution of doctors in publishing any details - even vague details - about patients in their practice.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Forward in Faith UK reaffirms catholic faith

Rt Rev’d Jonathan Baker SSC, Bishop of Fulham

Women in the Episcopate: National Assembly Resolution

Meeting in London on 19 October, the Forward in Faith National Assembly received a presentation on developments regarding resolution on Women in the Episcopate since October 2012. It passed the following resolution:

That this Assembly

(a) reaffirm our aspiration to flourish within the structures of the Church of England and make our full contribution to its life and mission;

(b) request the General Synod and the House of Bishops to ensure that we have continued access to a ministry which will make this possible; and

(c) thank those members of Forward in Faith who have participated in the facilitated conversations and in the Steering Committee for the Women in the Episcopate legislation with a view to achieving this.’

Moving the motion, Prebendary Sam Philpott said ‘This church of ours… needs a great dose of charity’. He called on the catholic constituency to ‘love this church’ and to ‘show this church how it can become a loving church again within its own communion in order that it might actually proclaim to the world the love of God’.

Forward in Faith, he said, had ‘a passion to belong to part of the Church that is strong and bold and flourishing and passionate about converting England’ and wanted to play its part. ‘All that we ask’, he added, ‘is that at the end of this process our church gives us the space in which we can live a catholic life, looked after by catholic bishops, catholic priests and catholic deacons’.

Fr Charles Razzall praised the motion as ‘positive, firm and irenic’, which was ‘where we certainly want to be in the future’. He pointed out that in the motion ‘ensure’ means ‘guarantee’ and ‘continue’ means ‘without limit of time’.

Replying, Fr Philpott said: ‘I long for a Church of England that may well have different views on this particular subject, but will so provide for its children that it can actually speak to a broken world about reconciliation with an authenticity that is simply not around in our world at this moment.’

The motion was passed nem. con.

Audio files of the presentation, and a transcript of the speeches about the resolution, with audio files, are available here.

Women in the Episcopate: Initial Response to the Proposals

Forward in Faith thanks the members of the Steering Committee for their work.

The proposed combination of a House of Bishops' Declaration with a Mandatory Disputes Resolution Procedure represents a new and different approach which deserves careful consideration.

In line with the resolution passed at our National Assembly, we shall be examining the proposals closely over the coming weeks to see how far they would ensure that our parishes and their clergy and people have continued access to a ministry that will make it possible for us to flourish within the life and structures of the Church of England. We shall also be attentive to the responses of others within the Church.

After discussion, prayer and reflection, we envisage commenting further during November, in the run-up to the General Synod debates.

Chairman's Sermon

The Chairman of Forward in Faith is the Rt Rev’d Jonathan Baker SSC, Bishop of Fulham. Click HERE to listen to his important keynote address, or read the text here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Malala Yousafzai Awarded Sakharov Prize

Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani who was shot by the Taliban while walking home from school, has been awarded the 2013 Sakharov Prize by the European Parliament, the most prestigious human rights award given by the Eureopean Union.

Martin Schulz, the president of the EU legislature, said that the award was in acknowledgement of Malala's "incredible strength" in standing up for the rights of girls seeking to be educated.

Schultz said. "[She] is a young girl, a young adult, from the violence-filled Swat Valley in Pakistan; who showed incredible courage against an enemy in a male-dominated, violent environment. Who had the courage to say 'I am going to school. I will insist on my right to a [normal] childhood. I am, as a girl, an equal member of this society.'"

Read more here.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Gendercide in the Caucasus

An international team of researchers has identified massive sex-selection problems in the Caucasus. The study, published this month in the journal International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, indicates that three post-Soviet states have boy-to-girl ratios at birth of at least 116. The normal ratio is about 105.

Armenia (117), Azerbaijan (116) and Georgia (121) have overall ratios equal to or higher than China and India (118 and 111 respectively). In Armenia the situation is particularly dire; the first child sex ratio is 137 and if the first child is a girl, the ratio for the second is off the charts at 154.

The authors provided a number of possible causes for the sex disparity, which has greatly increased since the 1980s. One key factor is the increasingly availability of ultrasounds from the mid-1980s.

They also speculate that ethnic conflicts may have indirectly influenced sex-selection: "such situations, by virtue of their extended nature and the general mobilization they entail, might greatly diminish women's bargaining powers in the public and private spheres, such that men's preference for sons determines couples' reproductive and family planning practices."

The Economist suggested that there has been a revival of traditional 'son-valuing' and a breakdown of the egalitarian attitudes of the Soviet era.

Source:  BioEdge

Monday, October 7, 2013

Intimidation at Lackland Air Force Base?

By Bob Starnes, Fox News

Evangelical Christian airmen at Lackland Air Force Base are facing severe threats and retribution for their religious beliefs and some personnel have been ordered to publicly express their position on gay marriage.

“There is an atmosphere of intimidation at Lackland Air Force Base,” said Steve Branson, the pastor of Village Parkway Baptist Church in San Antonio. “Gay commanders and officers are pushing their agenda on the airmen. There is a culture of fear in the military and it’s gone to a new level with the issue of homosexuality.”

Branson tells me at least 80 airmen attended a private meeting at the church where he heard them voice their concerns about religious hostilities at the Air Force base. It was a standing-room only crowd.

“The religious persecution is happening,” the pastor said. “It’s getting bigger every day. Gay and lesbian airmen can talk about their lifestyle, but the rest have to stay completely quiet about what they believe.”

Among those at the church meeting was Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk. The 19-year veteran was punished after he refused to tell his lesbian commander his position on gay marriage. I was the first reporter to tell his story.

Monk disagreed with his commander when she wanted to severely reprimand a new instructor who had expressed religious objections to homosexuality.

Read it all here.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Iran sanctions to remain in place

by VOA News

A top U.S. official says limited sanctions relief for Iran is possible if it takes confidence-building steps to allay concerns about its nuclear program, but that fundamental measures must remain in place until all issues have been dealt with.

State Department Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman told a Senate panel Thursday that any diplomatic engagement with Iran will be accompanied by the "vigorous enforcement" of sanctions already in place.

She described the measures - imposed following Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment - as "the toughest sanctions the world has ever seen" and asserted they have forced Tehran to the negotiating table.

"Twenty-three economies have united in significantly reducing or eliminating purchases of Iranian crude oil," Sherman said. "Over the past 24 months, Iran's rial has depreciated by approximately 60 percent as Iran's access to the international financial sector has been largely severed."

Sherman said Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, was elected because he made the case that the failure to pursue a serious agreement on Iran's nuclear program was devastating the Iranian economy.

Earlier Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry expressed cautious hope about engaging with Iran over its nuclear program, but said Iran must take concrete steps to prove its sincerity. Speaking Thursday in Tokyo, Kerry said nothing will be taken at face value.

Fears about Iran's nuclear program remain a key issue, with Western nations and Israel saying Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has long said its program is peaceful.

U.S. President Barack Obama said last week in a phone call with Rouhani that he believes a comprehensive solution can be reached over Iran's nuclear program, and that the two sides are moving forward.

But Obama assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran must prove its sincerity through actions before getting any relief from the sanctions.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Weekly Quote - Chesterton on softening of the brain

"Every man who will not have softening of the heart must at last have softening of the brain."--G.K. Chesterton ("The Suicide of Thought" in Orthodoxy)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Obamacare bait swallowed by uninsured

Tuesday's Obamacare enrollment was not the roaring success the administration hoped. USA Today reported that:

  • In Connecticut, Jason Madrak, spokesman for the state's exchange, said the exchange had 11,000 visitors, its first customer at 9:30 a.m. and 24 by noon;

  • In Florida, Blue Cross and Blue Shield added five brick and mortar sales centers, bringing the statewide total to 16, and doubled the size of its direct sales force. In Estero, in Southwest Florida, Florida Blue Center Director Meredith Viskovic estimated morning visitor traffic was up by 3 percent to 4 percent;

  • In Kentucky, the state's Kynect website, had 24,000 visitors and had processed nearly 1,000 applications between midnight and 9:30 a.m. Louisville's seven Family Health Centers, which cater to the uninsured, took in more than 2,500 calls by early afternoon;

  • In Maryland, Maryland Health Benefit Exchange spokeswoman Danielle Davis said about 90,000 people had visited the site and crashed it;

  • In New Mexico, the state's SHOP site for small businesses enrolled 29 businesses within the first 45 minutes the exchange was open;

  • In New York, reports on Twitter cited 2 million visitors in the first 90 minutes that was open for business. This site advertises for brokers who want to be trained and certified to sell Obamacare health plans.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

One-in-five American Jews have no religion

From a recent Pew reports:

American Jews overwhelmingly say they are proud to be Jewish and have a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people, according to a major new survey by the Pew Research Center. But the survey also suggests that Jewish identity is changing in America, where one-in-five Jews (22%) now describe themselves as having no religion.

The percentage of U.S. adults who say they are Jewish when asked about their religion has declined by about half since the late 1950s and currently is a little less than 2%. Meanwhile, the number of Americans with direct Jewish ancestry or upbringing who consider themselves Jewish, yet describe themselves as atheist, agnostic or having no particular religion, appears to be rising and is now about 0.5% of the U.S. adult population.

Read the full report from Pew Research: A Portrait of Jewish Americans

Messianic Jews are regarded as non-Jewish by Jews by both religious and secular Jews. The Pew report states: "Believing in Jesus, however, is enough to place one beyond the pale: 60% of U.S. Jews say a person cannot be Jewish if he or she believes Jesus was the messiah."

So the religion of the rabbis has come down to a rejection of the very people who are the most faithful to the belief system on their father Abraham.