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Ugandan Government to Consider Abolishing Saturday Exams

19 February 2018 | Uganda’s The Observer newspaper reported that the Ugandan president has pledged to consider abolishing Saturday examinations in schools after a personal appeal from the president of the General Conference of the Adventist denomination, Elder Ted Wilson. Wilson made the appeal to Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan head of state, during an in-person […]

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Ugandan Government to Consider Abolishing Saturday Exams

19 February 2018 | Uganda’s The Observer newspaper reported that the Ugandan president has pledged to consider abolishing Saturday examinations in schools after a personal appeal from the president of the General Conference of the Adventist denomination, Elder Ted Wilson. Wilson made the appeal to Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan head of state, during an in-person […]

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Ugandan Government to Consider Abolishing Saturday Exams

19 February 2018 | Uganda’s The Observer newspaper reported that the Ugandan president has pledged to consider abolishing Saturday examinations in schools after a personal appeal from the president of the General Conference of the Adventist denomination, Elder Ted Wilson. Wilson made the appeal to Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan head of state, during an in-person […]

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Saint Lucian’s show neighborly love in partnership with Seventh Day Adventists for Harvest In …

With the Seventhday Adventist church’s Community Services department already providing many communities island-wide with hot meals weekly, elderly care and responding to natural disasters, Community Services Director and Mission Officer with special responsibility for the campaign, Pastor …

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Southern Adventist University To Host Maestro Herbert Blomstedt

Herbert Blomstedt, conductor laureate of the San Francisco Symphony, will be in residence at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale March 5-7 as a … March 5, 7:30 p.m., Collegedale Church of Seventhday Adventists – Maestro Blomstedt will lead a hymn sing, along with a short organ recital …

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How False Recovered Memories Ended My Ministry and Hurt My Family—and How the Church Made It Worse

by J. Alan Nash  |  19 February 2018  |   For 25 years I was employed as a Seventh-day Adventist minister, with service in England, Canada and the United States. My career was terminated prematurely in 1995 whilst I was serving in the Dakota Conference. This came about initially because my oldest daughter, Raydene, then 20 […]

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How False Recovered Memories Ended My Ministry and Hurt My Family—and How the Church Made It Worse

by J. Alan Nash  |  19 February 2018  |   For 25 years I was employed as a Seventh-day Adventist minister, with service in England, Canada and the United States. My career was terminated prematurely in 1995 whilst I was serving in the Dakota Conference. This came about initially because my oldest daughter, Raydene, then 20 […]

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How False Recovered Memories Ended My Ministry and Hurt My Family—and How the Church Made It Worse

by J. Alan Nash  |  19 February 2018  |   For 25 years I was employed as a Seventh-day Adventist minister, with service in England, Canada and the United States. My career was terminated prematurely in 1995 whilst I was serving in the Dakota Conference. This came about initially because my oldest daughter, Raydene, then 20 […]

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How False Recovered Memories Ended My Ministry and Hurt My Family—and How the Church Made It Worse

by J. Alan Nash  |  19 February 2018  |   For 25 years I was employed as a Seventh-day Adventist minister, with service in England, Canada and the United States. My career was terminated prematurely in 1995 whilst I was serving in the Dakota Conference. This came about initially because my oldest daughter, Raydene, then 20 […]

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Thousands Call for Reinstatement of Christian Prison Chaplain Allegedly Ousted by Muslim Overseer

(The Christian Institute) Over 20,000 people are urging Brixton Prison to reinstate a Christian chaplain who says he was unfairly ousted.

Paul Song volunteered at the prison for almost 20 years but was told last year by the senior chaplain, a Muslim, that he was no longer allowed to speak to inmates.

An official later confirmed the exclusion, prompting Christian Concern to take up the case and launch a petition calling for Song’s return.

Former prisoners have spoken out in his defense, saying he was a “light in the darkness” and a source of continuous support.

Continue reading this story >>

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Pope’s decision on child sex-abuse commission members criticised

Dublin abuse survivor Marie Collins has criticised a decision by Pope Francis not to reappoint “some of the most hard-working, independent, and active members” of the outgoing Vatican Commission for the Protection of Minors to the new commission announced at the weekend. The former commission …

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Pope Francis’ Feast of Forgiveness — Confession

One of Pope Francis‘ frequent appeals is for the faithful to frequent confession: “The sacrament of reconciliation must regain its central place in the Christian life,” so that “everyone is afforded the opportunity of experiencing the liberating power of forgiveness,” the Holy Father said in his 2016 apostolic …

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Morning Catholic must-reads: 20/02/18

A daily guide to what’s happening in the Catholic Church

The Holy See and China could reportedly sign a deal “before the end of March”.

Five women have been shot dead outside a church in Dagestan.

Cardinal John Onaiyekan has urged Nigerians to “get involved in the rough arena of politics”.

Andrea Tornielli explains why the Pope accepted the resignation of the Bishop of Ahiara.

Christopher Altieri asks if Cardinal Cupich’s Amoris Laetitia seminars “will come to much theologically”.

David Paul Deavel reflects on apeirophobia.

And the BBC meets an Ethiopian priest who has to scale a cliff to reach his church.

Follow me on Twitter @lukecoppen for updates throughout the day.

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Morning Catholic must-reads: 20/02/18

A daily guide to what’s happening in the Catholic Church

The Holy See and China could reportedly sign a deal “before the end of March”.

Five women have been shot dead outside a church in Dagestan.

Cardinal John Onaiyekan has urged Nigerians to “get involved in the rough arena of politics”.

Andrea Tornielli explains why the Pope accepted the resignation of the Bishop of Ahiara.

Christopher Altieri asks if Cardinal Cupich’s Amoris Laetitia seminars “will come to much theologically”.

David Paul Deavel reflects on apeirophobia.

And the BBC meets an Ethiopian priest who has to scale a cliff to reach his church.

Follow me on Twitter @lukecoppen for updates throughout the day.

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Trying to master a new skill? This technique is the secret to success

Practice does make perfect — but not just any kind of practice will do.

When I first started taekwondo, I was terrible. I’m legally blind in my left eye and I never learned to crawl as a baby, which means I have zero depth perception and terrible hand-eye coordination. Between that and being generally awkward and uncoordinated, I spent the first few months of taekwondo doubting I would ever even master the basics.

My husband kept telling me a story about a kid he knew from his old martial arts studio who started as an awkward, uncoordinated teenager. “He would have made you look graceful,” he promised me. “But he was tired of being picked on and determined to become a martial artist, so he practiced all the time. He did 100 kicks a day on top of regular classes, and after two years he was the best in the school.”

I found the story of this anonymous teenager so inspiring that anytime I felt frustrated and discouraged, instead of giving up I practiced harder and longer. After two years, I had not only mastered the basics but also earned two silver medals at nationals and my first-degree black belt.

According to psychology professor Anders Ericsson, this kind of practice is exactly the secret to success. Ericsson has spent his life studying the science of peak performance, and he recently told Business Insider that practice does indeed make perfect — but not just any kind of practice will do. To be the best of the best, you have to engage in what Ericsson calls “deliberate practice.”

In general, according to Ericsson, deliberate practice involves stepping outside your comfort zone and trying activities beyond your current abilities. While repeating a skill you’ve already mastered might be satisfying, it’s not enough to help you get better. Moreover, simply wanting to improve isn’t enough — people also need well-defined goals and the help of a teacher who makes a plan for achieving them.

At first, the teacher gives feedback on your efforts; eventually, you can spot problems in your own performance and tweak it accordingly. Ericsson’s research has led him to study expert spellers, elite athletes, and memory champions — and he attributes their diverse successes to deliberate practice.

The thing about deliberate practice is that it’s not very enjoyable, a fact Ericsson highlights in his book. That’s actually the hardest thing about becoming excellent at anything — it’s fun to learn a new skill, and in the beginning the learning process is rewarding in itself. But once you’ve mastered the basics it’s time to move on to honing your craft, and that means working especially hard at the parts that are the most challenging for you.

For me, this was spinning kicks. The first hundred times I threw a spin hook I ended up face-down on the ground. Something about the motion made my brain tell both feet to kick instead of just one, and my kids (and teachers) got a kick out of watching me land on my face over and over.

It got to the point where I either avoided spin hooks or did them in extreme slow-motion, because let’s be honest — no one likes falling on their face in front of their own kids. But when it came time to test for my black belt, I knew I had to figure it out.

So I started with a regular hook kick, practicing them again and again until I got the motion down. Then I moved onto practicing just the spin — pivot, spot the target, chamber and spin. I did this over and over until the motion was smooth, then I put them together.

This resulted in an adequate spin hook that let me pass my black belt test, but it still wasn’t a kick I was comfortable throwing in a fight. So every time I worked on the bag, I started and ended with ten spin hooks on each leg.

It took me three months of practicing, studying other people’s spin hooks, and tweaking my own until I figured out how to throw my upper body into the spin at the right angle and release the kick at the right moment. I don’t fall over anymore and could throw it in a fight, but I still don’t land it correctly. I figure it will take me another three months to correct the landing … and even then, I’ll only have mastered the basics of the kick. Perfecting it will take years.

It might seem like a daunting prospect to devote so much time to deliberate practice, but there’s another way to look at it. The science behind deliberate practice means that anyone can become excellent at what they choose to devote their time and effort to — no matter how ill-suited they are at the outset.

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Immigration advocates hold on to hope after Senate DACA failure

Although Catholic immigration advocates are disappointed that the Senate on Feb. 15 voted down multiple proposals for protecting young immigrants who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children, they say they are still holding on to hope and committed to working for a solution.

“We would be crazy to ever say we’re without hope,” said Daughter of Charity Sr. Mary Ellen Lacy. Legislation to protect such immigrants, known as Dreamers, from deportation “is the just thing to happen, this is the right thing to happen and I mostly believe that this is what God wants to happen, so it’s going to happen,” said Lacy, an immigration attorney who does political advocacy for Network Catholic social justice lobby.

Advocates had urged the Senate to pass a bill last week that protected Dreamers without including major anti-immigrant provisions, but even bipartisan compromises failed after the Trump administration attacked all proposals that did not fund a border wall, terminate the diversity visa program and sharply cut family-based immigration.

About 700,000 immigrants currently benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was established by an executive order from President Barack Obama in 2012 and grants them work authorization and protection from deportation. As many as 1.8 million could be protected under some proposals to allow Dreamers a pathway to citizenship.

Advocates decried the Senate’s failure to pass a compromise, and the role that President Donald Trump’s administration played in discouraging consensus.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Senate was not able to come together in a bipartisan manner to secure legislative protection for the Dreamers,” said a joint statement Feb. 19 from Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference; Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, the conference’s vice president; and Austin Bishop Joe Vásquez, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Migration.

“The president tweeted how the Democrats are failing the Dreamers,” said Laura Peralta-Schulte, senior government relations advocate for Network, “and the reality is that we had a bipartisan policy [Feb. 15], we had two of them, and they were completely torpedoed by this administration.”

Social Service Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, said in a Feb. 15 statement that while the compromises were “flawed,” Trump’s opposition to them “made his motive clear: his claims to support a solution for Dreamers are patently untrue. Trump and his accomplices are using this manufactured crisis to radically alter our current legal immigration system.”

Unlike Democrats and some Republicans, “the White House and Republican leaders have acted in bad faith,” Campbell said. “President Trump created this mess by recklessly terminating the DACA program and President Trump once again killed the only viable solution on the table.”

Because Trump ended the DACA program in September 2017, Congress has until March 5 to pass a legislative solution before Dreamers’ status starts expiring, although challenges from the courts have made that deadline less certain.

But after nearly a week of debate, motion to cloture votes on four amendments Feb. 15 all failed to achieve the 60 votes they needed to advance.

The Senate first rejected, by a vote of 52-47, a bipartisan bill from Sens. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware) that would have offered Dreamers a pathway to citizenship and included funding for border security, but not a border wall.

Although many Catholic advocates would have preferred a “clean” Dream Act, with no other provisions attached, others such as Network, the Sisters of Mercy, and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious had supported the proposal because of its relatively limited nature.

Senators also rejected an anti-sanctuary-city measure by a vote of 54-45 before voting on another bipartisan measure from the “Common Sense Caucus,” led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

The “Common Sense” plan included a path to citizenship for Dreamers, $25 billion for border security, a prohibition on Dreamers sponsoring their parents, modest changes to family-based immigration, and a requirement that immigration enforcement prioritize criminals and those who recently entered the U.S.

Catholic advocates were divided on the bill, said School Sister of Notre Dame Ann Scholz, associate director of social mission at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. LCWR made the difficult decision to oppose the bill because of concerns about the effects on family-based immigration and border communities, and the fact that most Dreamers opposed it.

However, some Catholic organizations supported the measure, hoping it could be amended later in the process. Others, such as Network and the Sisters of Mercy, decided not to advocate for or against it.

The plan was sponsored by eight Republicans, meaning that only three more were needed to reach 60 votes if all Democrats voted in favor. But after the Trump administration attacked the measure, threatening a veto, the additional votes did not materialize. Several Democrats ultimately voted against it, making the final count 54-45.

The decisive failure of Trump’s plan was one of the few bright spots advocates saw in the Senate debate. The Senate voted 39-60 against a bill sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that mirrored Trump’s list of demands.

“It’s the only one that got to 60. It got 60 ‘no’ votes. I think that’s a good sign and a pretty clear repudiation of the White House’s attempt to use Dreamers as a bargaining chip to get the kind of immigration reform that they want,” said Scholz.

Jean Stokan, justice coordinator of the Institute Justice Team for the Sisters of Mercy, agreed. “If they want to make a deal … what they were promoting was rejected in the Senate and it’s really up to them to stop blocking solutions and to come up with something else,” she said.

While disappointed in the outcome of the debate, advocates are committed to continuing to promote a solution for Dreamers.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced a National Catholic Call-In day to Protect Dreamers Feb. 26, asking the faithful “to call their Members of Congress … to protect Dreamers from deportation, to provide them a path to citizenship, and to avoid any damage to existing protections for families and unaccompanied minors in the process.”

“We ask once again that Members of Congress show the leadership necessary to find a just and humane solution for these young people, who daily face mounting anxiety and uncertainty,” the bishops’ statement also said.

“We do see that there is the power of solidarity, the power of love with our brothers and sisters,” said Mercy Sr. Aine O’Connor. “We’re all in this together and as the Sisters of Mercy we have a resounding commitment to be in this for the coming weeks, months, day and night, however long it takes.”

Scholz said her group would continue trying to educate staffers and member of Congress, especially making sure Catholic members of Congress “understand their faith in relationship with this particular question.”

The Senate vote “didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped it would, but we’re certainly not going to abandon Dreamers,” Scholz said. “We’re going to listen to Dreamers, we’re going to take our lead from Dreamers, we’re going to take our energy from Dreamers, and we’re going to be here until we get some kind of a solution to the problem our president created.”

For Catholic sisters in particular, “this struggle with Dreamers and the larger struggle for immigrant justice is personal” because most orders initially came to the U.S. as immigrants to serve immigrants, Scholz said.

“We continue to minister to those aspiring citizens,” she added. “So we continue to see the devastating effects. … We see it and we feel it. There’s no way that Catholic sisters are going to give up.”

“How much we lose of ourselves in fighting this … and how much degradation we allow to fall on innocent people before the right thing happens remains a question,” Lacy said, “but I definitely believe, as a follower of Christ, he wants justice and he wants dignity for all of his children. And I just don’t believe that this is not going to happen.”

[Maria Benevento is an NCR Bertelsen intern. Her email address is mbenevento@ncronline.org.]

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Trying to master a new skill? This technique is the secret to success

Practice does make perfect — but not just any kind of practice will do.

When I first started taekwondo, I was terrible. I’m legally blind in my left eye and I never learned to crawl as a baby, which means I have zero depth perception and terrible hand-eye coordination. Between that and being generally awkward and uncoordinated, I spent the first few months of taekwondo doubting I would ever even master the basics.

My husband kept telling me a story about a kid he knew from his old martial arts studio who started as an awkward, uncoordinated teenager. “He would have made you look graceful,” he promised me. “But he was tired of being picked on and determined to become a martial artist, so he practiced all the time. He did 100 kicks a day on top of regular classes, and after two years he was the best in the school.”

I found the story of this anonymous teenager so inspiring that anytime I felt frustrated and discouraged, instead of giving up I practiced harder and longer. After two years, I had not only mastered the basics but also earned two silver medals at nationals and my first-degree black belt.

According to psychology professor Anders Ericsson, this kind of practice is exactly the secret to success. Ericsson has spent his life studying the science of peak performance, and he recently told Business Insider that practice does indeed make perfect — but not just any kind of practice will do. To be the best of the best, you have to engage in what Ericsson calls “deliberate practice.”

In general, according to Ericsson, deliberate practice involves stepping outside your comfort zone and trying activities beyond your current abilities. While repeating a skill you’ve already mastered might be satisfying, it’s not enough to help you get better. Moreover, simply wanting to improve isn’t enough — people also need well-defined goals and the help of a teacher who makes a plan for achieving them.

At first, the teacher gives feedback on your efforts; eventually, you can spot problems in your own performance and tweak it accordingly. Ericsson’s research has led him to study expert spellers, elite athletes, and memory champions — and he attributes their diverse successes to deliberate practice.

The thing about deliberate practice is that it’s not very enjoyable, a fact Ericsson highlights in his book. That’s actually the hardest thing about becoming excellent at anything — it’s fun to learn a new skill, and in the beginning the learning process is rewarding in itself. But once you’ve mastered the basics it’s time to move on to honing your craft, and that means working especially hard at the parts that are the most challenging for you.

For me, this was spinning kicks. The first hundred times I threw a spin hook I ended up face-down on the ground. Something about the motion made my brain tell both feet to kick instead of just one, and my kids (and teachers) got a kick out of watching me land on my face over and over.

It got to the point where I either avoided spin hooks or did them in extreme slow-motion, because let’s be honest — no one likes falling on their face in front of their own kids. But when it came time to test for my black belt, I knew I had to figure it out.

So I started with a regular hook kick, practicing them again and again until I got the motion down. Then I moved onto practicing just the spin — pivot, spot the target, chamber and spin. I did this over and over until the motion was smooth, then I put them together.

This resulted in an adequate spin hook that let me pass my black belt test, but it still wasn’t a kick I was comfortable throwing in a fight. So every time I worked on the bag, I started and ended with ten spin hooks on each leg.

It took me three months of practicing, studying other people’s spin hooks, and tweaking my own until I figured out how to throw my upper body into the spin at the right angle and release the kick at the right moment. I don’t fall over anymore and could throw it in a fight, but I still don’t land it correctly. I figure it will take me another three months to correct the landing … and even then, I’ll only have mastered the basics of the kick. Perfecting it will take years.

It might seem like a daunting prospect to devote so much time to deliberate practice, but there’s another way to look at it. The science behind deliberate practice means that anyone can become excellent at what they choose to devote their time and effort to — no matter how ill-suited they are at the outset.

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