Helping the Hopeline

Earlier this month, a fellow social media producer from another corner of the blogosphere shared with this editor a draft of a video he was working on to bring attention to the 10th anniversary of 1-800-SUICIDE, also known as the Hopeline. The final version came out earlier this week, and in it, Kristin Brooks Hope Center founder Reese Butler talks about why he created the Hopeline, and some of the challenges the organization now faces as a privately funded charity operation entering its second decade of connecting callers with, as he puts it, help and hope.

But despite several years of government support in the form of a grant that ended in 2004, the Hopeline is running into funding issues that are partly a result of the government's subsequent decision to create its own hotline rather than support a private one. Among Butler's concerns about the "new" hotline: There's no transparency or explicit policy about what the national hotline does with the data it gets from its calls, and instead of connecting callers to trained, empathetic mental health professionals, the national hotline is more apt to call the police. Frank Warren of PostSecret, a Hopeline volunteer, also contributes to the video asking for viewers' support, with several postcard/art submissions that have come in to his site bearing witness to support they have received from 1-800-SUICIDE.

Learn more about the Kristin Brooks Hope Center and the Hopeline here.

The divine rush of running

Andrea Useem writes on Health.com's Poked and Prodded blog about the condition known as runner's high, and her own experience with it during her first marathon. The exultation she felt reminded her more of a religious experience than of any chemical rush, she says, and it piqued her interest enough to drill down into the phenomenon a bit more, interviewing Andrew Newberg, MD, a researcher who has explored brain imagery and how it changes during meditative experiences. Useem points us to a Pew event transcript in which Newberg and others talk about this phenomenon, and goes on to tie it back to her marathon experience:

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MDG mania

Suddenly the world's media, which has been studiously ignoring the Millennium Development Goals to this point, has caught MDG fever, just in time for today's activities in New York City, in which the Episcopal Church will play a major role.

While Bono's blog for the Financial Times, (which is actually quite informative) and articles about Bono's blog for the Financial Times are generating some of the coverage, mainstream media outlets from around the world are weighing in on the political and economic nuts and bolts of the campaign to halve extreme poverty by 2015.

To wit:

Neil MacFarquhar of The New York Times explains why world leaders feel the U. S. financial meltdown may cripple the whole effort:

Wall Street and the Bush administration's record of financial oversight came under attack at the United Nations, with one world leader after another saying that market turmoil in the United States threatened the global economy.

"We must not allow the burden of the boundless greed of a few to be shouldered by all," President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil said in an opening speech Tuesday that reflected the tone of the gathering.

The Guardian has an excellent special section All Out on Poverty and an astute column by Leo Hickman which begins:

"We must do more – and we must do it now." This urgent call for action is being aired loudly in both New York and Washington DC this week. On Capitol Hill, Congress is being urged to accept Henry Paulson's $700bn bail-out for Wall Street's beleaguered banks, whereas just over 200 miles up Interstate 95 at the UN headquarters in Turtle Bay big wigs from around the world are pondering how the millennium development goals – this week marks the halfway point towards their 2015 target – are ever going to be met given the woeful progress to date.

It's at times like this where you really get to see the naked truth about where our worldly priorities lie. And it's pretty hard not to think about what $700bn would buy you if you were pushing the trolley around the Truly Worthy Causes supermarket.

Causes don't come much more worthy than the eight millennium development goals, which together form a panoply of unquestionably important aims: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development. But as today's special Guardian supplement All Out On Poverty illustrates, we have a long, long way to go if we're ever to meet most of these goals, let alone by 2015 which seems as absurdly optimistic a deadline now as it did back in 2000 when it was first announced. In fact, with some goals we have arguably slipped into reverse gear rather than advance towards them.

For a brief overview of what the UN will be discussing this week, this AFP story isn't bad. The Age of Australia has a good overview of the entire MDG effort. Meanwhile, Washington Post has a helpful story about the contributions of Bill Gates and Howard and Warren Buffett in response to the world food crisis.

There are additional stories from Bangladesh, Nigeria, an editorial from Business Daily Africa (Kenya), a pessimistic appraisal of where the campaign stands from World Vision, India, and a personal vantage point provided by Queen Rania of Jordan on Slate.

So, I'm in NY this week wearing a couple of hats, shining a spotlight on the Millennium Development Goals and talking about the need for more sustainable development that will not only safeguard the environment, but also provide opportunity for the disenfranchised in society. It's something we're very interested in, in the Arab world.

I was invited to speak at Condé Nast's World Savers Awards conference amid the awesome and inspiring architecture of Gotham Hall. It was about the power of tourism to nurture our planet's precious resources while providing lasting economic opportunities for local communities.

I was there talking up the Middle East—not a region in conflict and turmoil, as many think, but a mosaic of cultures, stories, traditions, and warm, welcoming people.

Is the fact that Condé Nast has gotten into the act a good thing or a bad one?

The need for the celebrant to celebrate

There is an old joke that describes the Pope's dismay when, upon arriving in heaven, he discovers that the defining word for ordained life is spelled "c-e-l-e-b-r-a-t-e."

He is not alone.

Parish ministry can begin to feel like a grind to the priest or pastor who, as soon as one good sermon, liturgy, or class is done, must move on the next without even a break.

Rochelle Melander and Harold Eppley write for the Alban Institute that spiritual leaders rarely take time to savor their accomplishments. "Making time in your schedule to express gratitude for the blessings you have experienced and to celebrate your accomplishments," they say, "can bring joy and a renewed sense of purpose to your ministry."

They have a few ideas on how to do this:

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Using hypocrisy to encourage safe sex

Washington Post

What if the students placed themselves in a position where they vociferously and publicly advocated to others the utility of condoms? If Aronson could make them spokespeople for AIDS prevention, he theorized, it would be very difficult for them to then act as if condoms didn't really do much to stop AIDS or they were not really at risk. They would feel like hypocrites.

Aronson realized he had gotten things backward: Instead of his selling condom use to students, what he really needed was for them to sell AIDS prevention to him.

Spirituality and chronic disease

This week, there was yet two more studies that support that faith can help with disease:

Two recent studies, led by Michael Yi, MD, associate professor of medicine, and Sian Cotton, PhD, research assistant professor in the department of family medicine, investigated how adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)—a condition characterized by chronic inflammation in the intestines—may use spirituality to cope with their illness.

These results were published in online versions of the Journal of Pediatrics and the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Spirituality is defined as one’s sense of meaning or purpose in life or one’s sense of connectedness to the sacred or divine.

. . .

Teams led by Yi and Cotton collected data on socio-demographics, functional health status and psychosocial characteristics as well as spiritual well-being for 67 patients with IBD and 88 healthy adolescents between the ages of 11 and 19.

, , ,

He adds that researchers also found that one of the most important predictors of poorer overall quality of life was having a poorer sense of spiritual well-being.

Cotton’s analysis of the same 155 adolescents focused on the relationships between levels of spiritual well-being and mental health outcomes in the adolescents with IBD as compared to their healthy peers.

Levels of spiritual well-being were similar between adolescents with IBD and healthy peers. In addition, higher levels of spiritual well-being were associated with fewer depressive symptoms and better emotional well-being.

“However, even though both healthy adolescents and those with IBD had relatively high levels of spiritual well-being, the positive association between spiritual well-being and mental health outcomes was stronger in the adolescents with IBD as compared to their healthy peers,” Cotton says, noting that this indicates spiritual well-being may play a different role for teens with a chronic illness in terms of impacting their health or helping them cope.

Read it all here.

Love strengthens the heart

The Augusta, GA Chronicle reports on a new study that says having a loving relationship improves health and especially the heart:

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Hearing the voices of healthcare chaplains

Dr. Wendy Cadge, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, spent some time with hospital chaplains doing their ministry. She found that hospital chaplains are involved in almost everything that happens at a hospital. Chaplains are present for births and deaths and listen to patients and their families in times of crisis and decision. Chaplains take part in committees which can range in scope from ethics committees, to hospice teams, to employee wellness committees. Chaplains train nurses and medical students. But for all their good work, Cadge says that they have little voice when it comes to public conversations about religion and medicine in this country.

She writes in Religious Dispatches:

I interviewed chaplains across the country who, in addition to caring for patients and families around end of life issues, respond to all trauma pages, preside at bedside weddings and baptisms, sit on ethics committees, work with organ donations, and help to train medical and nursing students.

Despite this work, healthcare chaplains have not made consistent contributions to broader public conversations about religion, spirituality, health and medicine in the contemporary United States. This results, in part, from their small numbers. Researchers estimate that there are 10,000 healthcare chaplains across the country. Colleagues and I found that between 1980 and 2003, 54% to 64% of hospitals had chaplaincy services, with no systematic trend over the period. In 1993 and 2003, smaller hospitals and those in rural areas were less likely to have chaplaincy services while church operated hospitals were much more likely to have chaplains. Little is known about how many chaplains these hospitals had, from what spiritual and religious backgrounds, and with what responsibilities.

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Faith and waste in public life

Updated, March 28, The Economist:

The participants were not asked directly how religious they were but, rather, about how they used any religious belief they had to cope with difficult situations by, for example, “seeking God’s love and care”. The score from this questionnaire was compared with their requests for such things as the use of mechanical ventilation to keep them alive and resuscitation to bring them back from the dead.

The correlation was strong. More than 11% of those with the highest scores underwent mechanical ventilation; less than 4% of those with the lowest did so. For resuscitation the figures were 7% and 2%.


___________________

Religious dying patients more likely to get aggressive care reports the Boston Globe:

"These results suggest that relying upon religion to cope with terminal cancer may contribute to receiving aggressive medical care near death," the authors write in today's Journal of the American Medical Association. "Because aggressive end-of-life cancer care has been associated with poor quality of death . . . intensive end-of-life care might represent a negative outcome for religious copers."

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Flu pandemic guidelines from Episcopal Relief and Development

Episcopal Relief and Development has released information on the potential swine flu pandemic. A new initiative of ER-D is Domestic Disaster Response which offers support to churches and dioceses to prepare for events like a pandemic. The press release reports:

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What to do about the flu?

Updated at 4:25 p. m. with advisory from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops: the need for the introduction of widespread liturgical adaptations for the prevention of the transmission of influenza in the dioceses of the United States of America is not evident at this time.

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Thinking theologically about a pandemic

Bishop Linda Nicholls of the Church of Canada wrote this reflection on her Church's Pandemic Preparedness Plan. It seems timely:

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Flu and malaria and poverty

Church Times wonders about the disparity of investment in response to diseases around the world. Last week World Malaria Day passed with barely a whisper while the current flu alarm has been covered constantly.

The thinking that informs investment in anti-flu drugs is very straightforward. It has been estimated that a serious pandemic could cost the world economy $3 trillion. SARS is thought to have cost China £25.3 billion in 2003. Even an outbreak of an animal infection, foot-and-mouth disease, cost the UK £7 billion in 2001. Potential losses such as these can easily justify expenditure on disease prevention. Why, then, are the same arguments not applied globally?

Last Saturday was World Malaria Day. Half the world’s population remains at risk from the disease. Nearly a million people die every year. The World Health Organisation estimates that malaria alone reduces economic growth in the worst-affected countries by 1.3 per cent each year. And yet the case for investing in prevention to produce a direct economic benefit is not heard. It is hard to know why, but nationalism, global competition, ignorance, and indifference all play a part. Christ’s definition of “neighbour” has still to be adopted by the world at large.


Read the article here.

More on the flu and poverty here.

Mental illness and ministry

Rev. Kathryn Greene-McCreight, suffers from bi-polar disorder. The author of Darkness Is my Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness, spoke with HopeandHealing.org about mental health and the church.

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5PM today: Healthcare conversation with Obama

The group 40 Days for Health Reform has an organized a 40 minute conversation with President Obama today, Wednesday August 19, at 5PM EDT. Click here to RSVP and get information about listening in.

The Episcopal Church is one of many denominations and religious organizations sponsoring the call.

Revealing our true story

Alban Institute works with personal storytelling to find inner narratives that offer a better base for living one's life.

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A health care meeting without acrimony

UPDATED
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports a town meeting on health care without acrimony.

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Did Steve Jobs jump the queue?

ABC News reports on Steve Jobs' return to Apple after a liver transplant in June:

"As some of you know, about five months ago I had a liver transplant," Jobs said. "I now have the liver of a mid-20s person who died in a car crash and was generous enough to donate their organs, and I wouldn't be here without such generosity."

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Obama preaches the moral "we" - Diana Butler Bass

The Constitution of the United States begins with "We the people," and the the Nicene Creed begins with "We believe." Seeing the world through eyes that recognize our interconnectedness is a deep one in political and religious life. Episcopalian Diana Butler Bass notes that President Obama urged the nation to see health care through the lens of the "moral we""

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The gift of a brush with mortality, Garrison Keillor

Nice 67 y.o. male has brush with mortality

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Health care: all means all

The Los Angeles Times:

Calling access to healthcare a moral and spiritual imperative, Los Angeles faith leaders held a religious service and launched a phone bank Friday to urge congressional leaders to include illegal immigrants in any healthcare reform plan.

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The worshipping community and the flu

NPR ran a piece about different faith communities are thinking ahead about the upcoming flu season, particularly about how to handle the H1N1 virus.

In Catholic (and Episcopal) churches common rituals such as passing the peace, crossing one's self with holy water from a baptismal font, and the common communion cup have raised a host of questions.

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H1N1 virus affects church customs

Churches are balancing hospitality and welcome with prudence when it comes to the sharing of germs due to ongoing concerns about the H1N1 Virus.


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Religious leaders offering input to G-20

Religious leaders told their input is valued
By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Standing in the lobby of a Downtown hotel, a key adviser to the U.S. delegation to the G-20 Summit promised an array of religious leaders that he would carry their concern for the poor into the economic conclave.

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The White House's flu guide for churches

The White House's Office for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the Department of Health and Human Services has released a guide to help houses of worship prevent the spread of the H1N1 flu. It is available online and as a printable pdf.

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Mapping the religious divide in the healthcare debate

Ed Stoddard of Reuters:

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has released a useful backgrounder on the role of faith groups in the increasingly bitter and partisan U.S. healthcare debate. You can read it here.

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Child mortality subtly related to son preference

Chris Blattman:

Let’s consider three ideas.

First, breastfeeding reduces infant sickness and death in poor and tropical places, largely because it insulates the child from water-borne illness.

Second, breastfeeding naturally reduces a mother’s fertility, and so mothers that want to have another child may stop breastfeeding early.

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Living full lives to the end

Two stories of living a life of service in the face of death:

A Good Life to the End, Forrest Church, Death and Dying -- AARP
Source: www.aarp.org
Can a minister follow his own advice about embracing life in the face of death?

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As historic practice, the common cup subtly confronts racism

Lauren Winner, Assistant Professor of Christian Spirituality at Duke Divinity School and the author of Girl Meets God, wrote on H1N1 and the common cup for this week's Wall Street Journal. The effect, she contends, is broad, and based, perhaps, more on fear than on available logic.

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Pastoral care for pastors key to healthy pastoring

The Alban Institute discusses how clergy can take care of their own needs for support and care in crises to better pastor in the midst of parishioners' needs.

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Prayerful running

Rev. Roger Joslin, an Episcopal priest at All Saints’ Church in Bentonville, Arkansas, talks about his journey toward prayerful running.

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Depression and suicide among clergy

Greg Warner of Religion News Service writes about the emotional toll that many clergy experience including depression and sometimes suicide.

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Not everyone must grieve a loss for long

Christine Kenneally in doubleX:

The idea that grief is work that we must do began with Freud. He believed that if you didn't labor at it, you would never recover the psychic energy you had invested in a person who was no longer there. Over time, psychologists developed ways to describe the various stages of this “work.” Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ stages are the most familiar: Stage 1, denial—“This cannot be!” Stage 2, anger, followed by bargaining, then depression, then acceptance. The stages have great intuitive appeal, but, according to Bonanno, both Freud and Kübler-Ross were wrong.

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Holy (H1N1-Free) Water

Italian invents an anti-swine flu holy water dispenser
From the Reuters' FaithWorld blog

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Want to donate your organs?

But never get around to it? There's an app for that from Serenity Integration.

What would Jesus eat?

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the Daily Mail UK, reports on various Christian diet groups and plans. Christian Weigh Down, Thin Within, and Fit for Life Forever are a few that offer diet advice as well as support groups that explore why one overeats. Dr Elisabeth Weichselbaum, of the British Nutrition Foundation

...is much more impressed by the What Would Jesus Eat? diet, whose author, Dr Don Colbert, has identified a whole new angle on the Mediterranean lifestyle.

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Churches offer Blue Christmas services

While the Advent and Christmas seasons can offer hope, joy and peace, they can also stir feelings of sadness and depression in part because we all mourn the loss of loved ones and can feel these losses profoundly in this time of year. Churches across the country are offering what have become known as "Blue Christmas" services for those who have experienced loss.

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New Year's Resolution:
have fun now!

The New York Times offers advice on resolutions for the New Year:

For once, social scientists have discovered a flaw in the human psyche that will not be tedious to correct. You may not even need a support group. You could try on your own by starting with this simple New Year’s resolution: Have fun ... now!

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The Hope Clinic

The Hope Clinic in East Texas serves uninsured and under-insured 5000 patients in Shelby County, and is supported by the Episcopal churches in the Diocese of Texas.

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Mind/Body/Spirit in NC

A class , led by an Episcopal deacon in Raleigh, North Carolina, seeks to find mind-body-spirit connections and cultivate a deepened spirituality:

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The lonely American

Wilson Quarterly's Daniel Akst says what a lot of Americans need right now is friends.

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Churchgoing may be hazardous to your health

Discover Magazine notes an article from the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health PubMed.gov on particle mass during the burning of incense:

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Pope: condoms acceptable in "certain cases"

The Sydney Morning Herald writes about a series of interviews with Pope Benedict XVI including one where he says that condom use might be acceptable 'in certain cases', notably to reduce risk of HIV infection.

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Walking to Bethlehem in Winston-Salem

Episcopalians, Moravians, Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians in Winston-Salem North Carolina have all been taking part this Fall in a cooperative journey that has both physical and spiritual dimensions. Walkers from congregations across the city have been logging miles of walking with the ultimate goal of collectively covering the 6,175 miles between Winston-Salem and Bethlehem in Israel.

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At the intersection of Catholic politics and American healthcare

Writing in the Guardian, Becky Garrison says:

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Loneliness in ministry

Barbara Blodgett writes this weeks Alban Institute offering, discussing an important challenge facing many clergy: Loneliness.

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Relapse and Recovery: A Tale of Two Prostitutes

NPR carries the story of Magdalene in Nashville, TN, a recovery program for women with criminal histories or drug abuse who want to leave prostitution. From the second in a series:

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Picking up the pieces after things fall apart

CNN's Todd Leopold has filed a nice piece on something you might not think much about unless it happened to you: what if you were responsible for accidentally taking another human life? How would you ever move on, or ever get whole again?

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Mainstream religious leaders voice support for contraception coverage

The Religious Institute features the statement by twenty-three major mainstream religious leaders in support of the Department of Health and Human Services that contraception services must be covered by most health insurances.

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Ripped reverend

The Rev. Dr. Amy Richter relates her experience as a contestant in the Wisconsin State Fair physique competition. The New York Times carries her story:

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Health care act upheld; insurance exec, moved by faith, joins the fight

Update: The U. S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in a 5-4 decision. We will be posting links to the responses of religious organizations as we receive them.

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Silver Tsunami

New resources are available from The Episcopal Church Older Adult Ministries for ministry in the midst of the "silver tsunami." As the population of the US ages perhaps the Episcopal Church is well positioned for growth in this demographic as well as opportunities for ministry:

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Life expectancy declines for less educated whites in US

The long rise in Americans’ life spans has reversed itself for white people who lack high school diplomas, an increasingly troubled group that has lost four years of life expectancy since 1990.

The New York Times reports:

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On being a "has been"

There have been several items on how boomers need to get out of the way for the next generations. Here is a reflection by Chris Glaser on being a "Has Been." Although I still like one of our essayists, Linda Ryan's comment, "We're dying as fast as we can!":

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The ministry of health

Episcopal priest Micah Jackson writes a blog called The Ministry of Health. The blog focuses on "the transformative journey of health and wellness", especially pertaining to the church and clergy. Jackson writes:

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Soul Repair Center to help veterans recover from moral injuries

Rita Nakashima Brock, a theologian, and Herman Keizer Jr., a former military chaplain, are co-directors of the Soul Repair Center of Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. The center is scheduled to open Nov. 12

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Malaria progress threatened by lower funding

BBC notes that a drop in funding will threaten the goals for eradicating deaths from malaria. Episcopal Relief and Development offers to match your gift to Nets for Life:

Its latest World Malaria Report says 1.1 million lives were saved in the past decade but that the expansion in funding from 2004-09 halted in 2010-12.

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Don't let church make you sick this flu season

The Rev. Deacon Carol E. Peterson, a registered nurse from St. Mark's Church in Cheyenne Wyoming, provides these tips on communicable disease prevention in our parishes:

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Faith and abortion

MSNBC highlights the faith of those who work for abortion providers. The Rev. Matthew Westfox, a guest on Saturday’s Melissa Harris Perry Show, says:

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Is church attendance good for your health?

Dr. Richard Besser at ABC News blog speculates about the positive correlation that seems to exist between religious practice and physical health. While he writes that he is "not a religious person and (has) yet to see a any convincing studies that compare the belief systems of various religions and their impact on health" he notes:

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How churches can respond to mental illness

How can churches respond to mental illness? Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, asks and answers that question in an essay for CNN's Belief Blog. Two of this four suggestions are:

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Katharine Welby talks about depression

Katharine Welby, daughter of the Archbishop of Canterbury, gives her first interview about depression in
The Telegraph:

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Faith based diet and nutrition programs funded by state

Pennsylvania has begun an experiment to improve residents’ dietary and exercise habits using faith-based organizations. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

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Catholic hospitals at odds with Bishops on contraception mandate

Huffington Post picks up David Gibson's in depth Religion News Service story that Catholic hospitals no longer object to the Obama administration's birth control mandate:

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Tweeting grief

Scott Simon of NPR has been with his mother this past couple of weeks as she journeyed towards death. If you did not follow his tweets on Twitter - here is the story and his words. It was an amazing and touching time:

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Bringing health to children in Niassa

Anglican Communion News Service reports on a joint project with Episcopal Relief and Development in the Diocese Niassa in Mozambique:

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Food pantries worry in face of SNAP cuts

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits provided under the stimulus bill are set to expire November 1. Atlantic Cities reports on Food Pantries and their fears of not being able to provide the extra meals:

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Episcopalians recognized for assisting with ACA advocacy

Episcopal News Service:

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Affordable Care Act and the Episcopal Church

Despite the government shut down, the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) begins to go into effect today, October 1. Church Pension Group and Episcopal Church Health Ministries have some helpful information.

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Bishop Thom talks about his cancer; promotes value of early screening

Prayers, best wishes and thanks to Bishop Brian Thom of Idaho for sharing news of his recent prostate cancer diagnosis and touting the importance of early detection. He reports that "the combination of vigilance, great doctors, and some cool robotics (as well as the prayers of the good people of the Diocese of Idaho and beyond), will likely put an end to my prostate cancer experience" and he expects to resume his ministry by the end of October.

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The church, AA, Recovery and Social Media

Recently the Café ran an essay on "pub theology" and questions were asked, around the edges, about meeting in bars and how that might affect those who are in recovery from alcohol addiction. On Twitter some questions have been raised about the prevalence of jokes about how drunk clergy and laity have been the night before or at meetings. How can the church strike a balance around responsible drinking of alcohol? Does your church offer equally attractive alternative beverages in places where alcohol is served?

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Dealing with the "Poor Father" syndrome

Mark Silk at Religion News Service writes about clergy sexual abuse and misconduct in Dealing with the "Poor Father" Syndrome:

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Mental illness and the church

In his blog Tony Randall talks to..., Randall interviews the Venerable Dr. Jane Hedges, Sub-Dean, Canon Steward and Archdeacon of Westminster Abbey. Hedges "became Canon Steward at Westminster Abbey in January 2006 a role which involves overseeing the welcome of over one and a quarter million visitors each year to the Abbey. She is also Archdeacon of Westminster and has recently been appointed Sub-Dean":

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At age 90, surgeon still doing God's work in Ethiopia

At age 90, surgeon Catherine Hamlin performs miracles on a daily basis. And she plans to keep doing God's work in Africa for as long as she can. Rachel Marie Stone at Religion News Service writes:

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Clergy urge access to reproductive health services

The Very Rev. Tracy Lind, dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland, and the Rev. Harry Knox, president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, urge the governor of Ohio to support full access to reproductive health care. From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

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Transfiguration of the church

Becoming who we are might be the theme of the story of transgender and The Episcopal Church. The last week we have heard the story of Gwen Fry and her decision to become the person she always knew herself to be. We could not see it before. Now the scales have fallen from our eyes and we know the results of General Convention's vote to include transgender in the non-discrimination canon. The Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton reflects on our transfiguration within the church and what we have left to learn. A few snippets of her blog, read it all:

I was at the last General Convention of The Episcopal Church when the resolutions concerning non-discrimination of transgender people easily passed both houses.

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Nation's First Birthing Center/Abortion Clinic Opens in Buffalo

Amanda Marcotte of Slate picks up on the first birthing center/abortion clinic:

The clinic, run by Dr. Katharine Morrison, offers a traditional slate of gynecological services, including abortion up to 22 weeks, under the name Buffalo Women Services. But they also have a freestanding birthing center called the Birthing Center of Buffalo, where women who want a nonhospital birthing experience can go while having the benefit of being attended by a certified nurse midwife and an OB-GYN who has admitting privileges at the local hospital in case of complications.

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Risks of popular anxiety drugs

NPR's All Things Considered, in an article by Susan Sharon, looks at the risks from the popular benzodiazepines:

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