Posted by Kendall Harmon

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that "all states must license marriage between two people of the same sex" and "recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed “out-of-state." Despite this change, the Diocese of South Carolina continues to affirm the historic position of the Christian Church: that God has ordained two states of life for His people, singleness or Holy Matrimony – the joining together of one man and one woman into a holy union. By affirming this position, we stand firmly under the authority of Holy Scripture, in continuity with the two thousand year history of the church, and in accord with the vast majority of Christians around the world. Therefore, it is clear that while the Supreme Court may be changing the civil definition of marriage, it has no authority over Holy Matrimony and the Church’s blessing of the union between husband and wife.

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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

June 26, 2015 at 11:29 am - 14 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

‘For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus sake.’ 2 Corinthians 4:5
Grace and peace to you in the name of our only Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

It is a strange thing that in the Church we can see both extraordinary strength and extraordinary weakness at the same time.

The strength of Christian faith has been revealed in a most profound way by members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston following the shooting of nine of its members during a bible study by a gunman obsessed with white supremacist ideas. The true Christlikeness of this historic church, which has been no stranger to persecution in its past, was summed up by a victim’s relative who faced the gunman in court and said, “I forgive you and my family forgives you. Repent and give your life to Christ”.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & PrimatesFCA Meeting in London April 2012

June 25, 2015 at 11:42 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

"Clergy of the Diocese are entitled to express varying views on the question of human sexuality"

Read it all

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops

June 23, 2015 at 6:06 am - 5 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Written by Mark McCall - Sunday June 21st, 2015

On the eve of a General Convention that will consider several important proposals to change the definition of marriage in the Church’s doctrine, discipline and worship, much attention is directed, perhaps belatedly, to the question of good order. Several bishops generally sympathetic to the idea of same sex marriage have expressed concerns that the way in which that innovation is now being proposed violates “good order.” Rejecting this charge, the Task Force on the Study of Marriage, also sympathetic to same sex marriage, has offered an amendment to the marriage canon that it claims will promote rather than undermine “good order.”
...What are the implications of these canonical provisions for the consideration of “good order” in the re-definition of marriage?

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Polity & Canons

June 22, 2015 at 8:10 am - 4 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

This post is 'STICKY' - new posts are below.

Please remember Bishop John Ellison in your prayers: [George Conger] Border-crossing charges filed against British Bishop

Here are the links to posts that have been recently featured at the top of the blog or on topical issues.

Supreme Court Marriage Ruling
- Statement from the Diocese of South Carolina on Today’s Supreme Court Obergefell v. Hodges Ruling (June 26, 2015)
- President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Statement on Marriage+ the Supreme Court Case (June 26, 2015)
- Prominent Evangelicals issue “Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage” Statement (June 26, 2015)
- Washington Post Article on the US Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Decision (June 26, 2015)
- Supreme Court Ruling in (June 26, 2015)

Top of the pile
+ Statement from the Archbishop of York (June 23, 2015)
+ [ACI] Mark McCall: Good Order And The Re-Definition of Marriage (June 22, 2015)
+ Sunday’s Sermon from Emanuel AME Church in Charleston SC (June 21, 2015 )
+ WOW—A Steven Curtis Chapman song for Charleston South Carolina (June 20, 2015)
+ Dylann Roof Bond Hearing. Victims Address Charleston Shooter In Court With Forgiveness (June 19, 2015)
+ A Call to Prayer from the Bishops in South Carolina (June 19, 2015)
+ Bishop Mark Lawrence Calls for Prayer in Wake of Mass Shooting; Services Today (June 18, 2015)
+ Please Pray—Horrific Charleston SC Shooting Incident kills 9 at AME Church (June 18, 2015)
+ Diocese of South Carolina Files Reply Brief with the South Carolina Supreme Court (June 16, 2015)

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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* AdminFeatured (Sticky)

April 28, 2015 at 7:35 pm - 2 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The critiques of forgiveness in recent days are strikingly similar to the critiques against nonviolence during the civil rights movement. In both cases, some advocates for social justice misunderstood the allegiances of the black Christians they criticized. Dr. King and the Charleston families believed forgiveness and nonviolence are on the right side of history. They believed they would be served well on this earth by those tenets, but also that their reward is in heaven. And, clearly, they saw no conflict between forgiveness and full-throated, sacrificial advocacy for change. People so often underestimate the Christian conviction that the ends do not justify the means. The ultimate goal is not to achieve justice on this world, though we pursue that with all of our souls, but to be faithful to God. We believe, ultimately, that faithfulness is justice.

I do not think I could forgive Roof. Forgiveness is not a burden I would place on anyone in the situation of those families. We should reject all calls from those who wish to sweep under the rug the culture and systems of racism that infect people like Roof. We should reject all calls to make excuses for the evil Roof actively embraced and acted upon. He was no passive actor. He was more than simply a result of cultural, economic, or social circumstances. He had agency. And his actions were evil.

But we should also reject all calls to strip the agency and dignity from the mourning families as well. I am not mature enough in the faith to so quickly pass the burden of judgment to God. But I am inspired by those family members to grow in that direction. I am a Christian because of the black church and black faith. When I was far from God, it was the unashamedly Christian black culture, movies, and music of people like Lauryn Hill and Fred Hammond that introduced me to Jesus. It is the black church that so consistently embodies the confounding, radical love of Jesus. What other American community today displays less shame, less reservation, less self-awareness about proclaiming the Christian faith? I will not turn the Bride of the living Christ into a cultural artifact.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

June 29, 2015 at 5:11 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I do not forgive Dylann Roof, a racist terrorist whose name I hate saying or knowing. I have no immediate connection to what happened in Charleston, S.C., last week beyond my humanity and my blackness, but I do not foresee ever forgiving his crimes, and I am wholly at ease with that choice.

My unwillingness to forgive this man does not give him any kind of power. I am not filled with hate for this man because he is beneath my contempt. I do not believe in the death penalty so I don’t wish to see him dead. My lack of forgiveness serves as a reminder that there are some acts that are so terrible that we should recognize them as such. We should recognize them as beyond forgiving.

I struggle with faith but I was raised Catholic....

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

June 29, 2015 at 4:15 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The result has been an obvious change in tone and emphasis — but not teaching or policy — at many churches. Almost all evangelical churches oppose same-sex marriage, and many do not allow gays and lesbians to serve in leadership positions unless they are celibate. Some pastors, however, now either minimize their preaching on the subject or speak of homosexuality in carefully contextualized sermons emphasizing that everyone is a sinner and that Christians should love and welcome all.

“Evangelicals are coming to the realization that they hold a minority view in the culture, and that on this issue, they have lost the home-field advantage,” said Ed Stetzer, the executive director of LifeWay Research, which surveys evangelicals. “They are learning to speak with winsomeness and graciousness, which, when their view was the majority, evangelicals tended not to do.” A handful of evangelical churches have changed their positions. City Church in San Francisco, for example, has dropped its rule that gays and lesbians commit to celibacy to become members, and GracePointe Church in Tennessee has said gays and lesbians can serve in leadership roles and receive the sacrament of marriage. Ken Wilson, who founded the Vineyard Church in Ann Arbor, Mich., published an open letter calling for a greater embrace of gays and lesbians in evangelical churches. But Mr. Stetzer said they are the exceptions.

“Well-known evangelicals who have shifted on same-sex marriage, you could fit them all in an S.U.V.,” Mr. Stetzer said. “If you do shift, you become a media celebrity, but the shift among practicing evangelicals is minimal.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureRural/Town LifeSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsSupreme Court* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

June 29, 2015 at 3:16 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can almost be as stupid as a cabbage as long as you doubt.”
--Dallas Willard, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God (IVP, 2012), p.283

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooks* General InterestNotable & Quotable* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

June 29, 2015 at 11:26 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

I am very grateful to the Center for Anglican Communion Studies, at Virginia Theological Seminary, and to the Compass Rose Society, for the invitation to attend General Convention and to speak today.

I look forward to the responses from the three Primates here: of Korea, Paul Keun-Sang Kim; of Pakistan, Samuel Robert Azariah; and of Brazil, Francisco De Assis Da Silva; for I have been given an impossibly wide-ranging title!

...Justin Welby, with his wife, Caroline, has visited all 38 Provinces of the Communion in his first 18 months, staying with the Primates and listening attentively to them.
He has written a significant Foreword to the 2014 book, Living Reconciliation by Phil Groves and Angharad Parry Jones. It is entitled ‘Reconciliation is the Heart of the Gospel’, and is worthy of an extended quotation:

We agree on these [five] marks [of mission]. Yet in so many other things, we disagree. Given our transparent and open structures, we often do so loudly. But we do so as part of a family which, however much it falls out, remains linked. We have to deal with the reality that, no matter how strained our relationships may become at times, we belong to each other…

I am not arguing that we should resist making decisions until the whole Anglican Communion (let alone the universal Church) is in total and unanimous agreement. That would be a legalistic and regulatory response to a problem that is relational and missional.

Rather, I am eager to encourage each of us to take full account of the way in which decisions in one province echo around the world. We do not have a volume button that can limit or determine how our voices are heard beyond our own country or region. The impact of their echoes is something to which we must listen in the process of our decision-making, if we are not to narrow our horizons and reject the breadth of our global family. That process requires extensive conversation and prolonged engagement – an honest reinforcement of the bonds of the relationship – amidst the confusing and costly work of common discernment.
Justin Welby, ‘Foreword: Reconciliation is the Heart of the Gospel’ in Phil Groves and Angharad Parry Jones, Living Reconciliation (London: SPCK, 2014), p. x and xi.

Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the new Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion, will be commissioned in September 2015. His long term work of mission and dialogue with Muslims in Nigeria, and on the Network for Inter Faith Concerns of the Anglican Communion, is remarkable.

Frank Griswold, the 25th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, has known him since 1998. He told the Episcopal News Service in April:
Josiah is, above all, a man of communion, a careful listener, and a respecter of the different ways in which we are called to articulate and live the good news of God in Jesus Christ.

Read it all

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby

June 29, 2015 at 9:46 am - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

In this conversation, Azariah outlines the growing need for reconciliation within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

“I also think the Episcopal Church is going through a major time of challenge,” he said. “There is a need of great healing. There is a need for great understanding within the family of the Episcopal Church and within the Anglican Communion here in the United States of America. It is not easy, but it is something which has to be done in love, in faith, in trust upon God, and in not being judgmental to one another.

“I appeal to my brothers and sisters here in the Episcopal Convention — and I also appeal to those Christians and Anglicans who were a part of the Episcopal Church but ... do not relate to the Convention — that the time has come when we cannot live like this. Let us not exhibit a ‘holier than thou’ game over here. … Let us stand together and believe in whatever we believe in and continue to do that — but let us not break up the life of the body of Jesus Christ.”

Read and watch it all

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby

June 29, 2015 at 9:44 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Last week Archbishop Mouneer Anis, the Archbishop of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt, welcomed a Chinese delegation from the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) led by Mr. Jiang Jianyong, Vice Minister of Religious Affairs of the Republic of China. They had a number of important meetings during their visit to discuss religious affairs in both Egypt and China. They were accompanied by Dr. John Chew, former Primate of the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia...

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

June 29, 2015 at 9:38 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At First Baptist Dallas, where the pulpit was adorned Sunday with red, white and blue bunting to honor the Fourth of July, the pastor called the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling “an affront in the face of Almighty God.”

The iconic rainbow colors that bathed the White House Friday night after the court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide represent “depravity, degradation and what the Bible calls sexual perversion,” the Rev. Robert Jeffress said.

“But we are not discouraged,” Jeffress said. “We are not going to be silenced. This is a great opportunity for our church to share the truth and love of Jesus Christ and we are going to do it.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

June 29, 2015 at 8:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I asked Dr. Susan Glisson, executive director of the William Winter Institute of Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi. She and Associate Director Charles Tucker gave me a three-hour tutorial in my Washington living room about how people can have the necessary conversation and work toward true reconciliation. First, said Glisson, it can’t be a national conversation. “The best conversations are the most local,” she says.

To this end, the institute created a portable template for conversation called “The Welcome Table,” a physical table where up to 25 people of all races sit and talk. Really talk. As moderator, Glisson or Tucker might ask each participant to speak for three minutes about when he or she first noticed the elephant of race in the room.

Honesty is crucial, even if it smarts. Sometimes people’s stories lead to tears. Other times, to laughter. People often laugh over what Tucker calls their “nervous stories.” Tucker, who is African-American and grew up on a cotton plantation in the Mississippi Delta, releases a rolling, baritone laugh from deep within his 6-foot-3 frame at my own nervous story. He has had plenty of personal encounters with racism yet seems to have a considerable well of compassion for the most foolish among us. This is in part because he has listened to other people’s stories and really heard them. Something about the telling of stories draws out our more human selves. Empathy displaces cynicism and guardedness.

Glisson, a font of knowledge and wisdom, paraphrases Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, saying, “My enemy is someone whose stories I don’t know.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

June 29, 2015 at 7:31 am - 2 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rejected in 2006, and again in 2009, attempts to introduce assisted suicide are now back on the table. This also follows rejection in Wales, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Rob Marris MP has introduced an assisted dying bill that is expected to be largely the same as Lord Falconer’s previous effort, which ran out of time before May’s general election. It is anticipated the bill will make it legal to assist in the death of people who are terminally ill with six months or less to live, provided they are considered mentally competent by two doctors. The change is presented as a compassionate response to tragic situations. Cases of people in severe continual pain make us want to be compassionate, and that is a good thing.

But this is a wholly wrong way to look after the most vulnerable. In fact, it does the opposite, putting them in mortal peril. The law must stay as it is now to protect those who are least able to have their voice heard: the disabled, terminally ill and elderly, people who might otherwise feel pressured into ending their lives. Campaigners to change the law make grand promises for the modesty of their goals, but I don’t believe them. The parameters set out for who could ask for a doctor’s help in killing themselves are ambiguous, open to challenge, and not unanimously supported among assisted dying advocates.

For example, many campaigners would like the law to apply to chronic non-terminal conditions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

June 29, 2015 at 7:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

June 29, 2015 at 6:30 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tim Stone, superintendent of the Fort Sumter-Fort Moultrie National Monument, said Fort Sumter’s four flags were lowered the day after the shooting.

“The tragedy has made all of us re-evaluate our role in the community and in the nation,” he said.

On Thursday, the National Park Service, which runs the fort, issued a directive to remove Confederate flag items such as banners, belt buckles and other souvenirs from its gift shops, though books, DVDs and other materials showing the flag in a historical context may remain for sale.

On the same day, the Park Service also instructed its parks and related sites to not fly flags other than the U.S. flag and respective state flags outside their historic context.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsViolence* South Carolina

June 29, 2015 at 6:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost on cue, there were three different news stories about abortion and Down syndrome around the time of the encyclical’s release. New blood screening, for instance, has resulted in a 34 percent increase in such abortions in Britain. Just a few days later, a Washington Post guest columnist argued such routine and systematic screening — not least because between 67 percent and 92 percent end up aborting — constitutes the formal “elimination of a group of people quite happy being themselves” under “the false pretense of women’s rights.” And then there was the story of the truly despicable company stealing the image of a child with Down syndrome for their Orwellian-sounding test kit named “Tranquility.”

You couldn’t ask for a more revealing practice of the throwaway culture Pope Francis so strongly decries. It doesn’t matter that people with Down syndrome are happier than those who are “normal;” our consumer culture’s tendency is to turn everything into a mere object or tool of the market, and when the object or tool is no longer useful, we simply discard it. These children don’t meet the quality-control standards of the consumer, and so the product simply gets thrown out as so much trash.

But one of the central themes of Pope Francis’s encyclical is that all creation has value independent of its value within a consumer culture. In response to my sharing the three stories mentioned above on social media, an old friend sent me a touching e-mail (parts of which are shared here with permission) about her sister with Down syndrome. She remembers that her family was initially sad and worried — but now, looking back, “it truly made no sense....”

Read it all from Charles Camosy in the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

June 29, 2015 at 5:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified thee by their martyrdom: Grant that thy Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by thy Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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June 29, 2015 at 4:40 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God in whom all fullness dwelleth, who givest without measure to them that ask; Give us faith to ask, and faith to receive, all that thy bounty giveth; that being filled with all thy fullness we may as thy faithful stewards impart thy gifts to all thy children; for Jesus Christ’s sake.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer

June 29, 2015 at 4:22 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Praise the LORD! O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever! Who can utter the mighty doings of the LORD, or show forth all his praise? Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!

--Psalm 106:1-3

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

June 29, 2015 at 4:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Dan] Price dropped his salary from about $1 million to $70,000 in order to increase pay for many of his employees.

In the weeks that have followed, Price has received hundreds of messages — some from CEOs who followed suit with similar moves and others from critics who feel the decision will destroy Price's company.

Of all the notes that he has received, the most striking to Price was a stack of 33 letters — delivered by mail — from a class of sixth graders at Woodbury Elementary School in Irvine, California.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducation* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

June 28, 2015 at 6:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

June 28, 2015 at 5:29 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the Court majority wrote that gays and lesbians do not want to change the institution of marriage, but rather want to benefit from it. This is hard to believe, given more recent writing from gay activists like Dan Savage expressing a desire to loosen the strictures of monogamy in all marriages. Besides, if marriage can be redefined according to what we desire — that is, if there is no essential nature to marriage, or to gender — then there are no boundaries on marriage. Marriage inevitably loses its power.

In that sense, social and religious conservatives must recognize that the Obergefell decision did not come from nowhere. It is the logical result of the Sexual Revolution, which valorized erotic liberty. It has been widely and correctly observed that heterosexuals began to devalue marriage long before same-sex marriage became an issue. The individualism at the heart of contemporary American culture is at the core of Obergefell — and at the core of modern American life.

This is profoundly incompatible with orthodox Christianity. But this is the world we live in today.

Read it all from Time Magazine.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

June 28, 2015 at 4:05 pm - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Biden’s attendance, along with his son and daughter-in-law Hunter and Kathleen, was a meant to be a show of solidarity, he said, but it was also an effort to lift him and his family up during their time of grief.

“The reason we came was to draw strength from all of you, draw some strength from the church,” he said, noting that he had spoken and or met with each of the nine victim’s families since their losses. “I wish I could say something that would ease the pains of the families and of the church. But I know from experience, and I was reminded of it again 29 days ago, that no words can mend a broken heart. No music can fill the gaping void.”

Biden’s son died May 30 of brain cancer. No stranger to death in his family, Biden said only faith could bring relief during such difficult times.

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* South Carolina* TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicy

June 28, 2015 at 3:20 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mourners filled Emanuel AME Church on Sunday afternoon to pay their last respects to the Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor.

Middleton Doctor is one of nine parishioners fatally shot June 17 during a church Bible study she was leading in the historic Charleston church. She was 49.

The Rev. Margaret Cochran said Middleton Doctor ministered so well that “when I walked out of this sanctuary I was not the same person.”

Several dignitaries also spoke at the services.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* Theology

June 28, 2015 at 3:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

June 28, 2015 at 2:12 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Defenders of tax exemptions and deductions argues that if we got rid of them charitable giving would drop. It surely would, although how much, we can’t say. But of course government revenue would go up, and that money could be used to, say, house the homeless and feed the hungry. We’d have fewer church soup kitchens — but countries that truly care about poverty don’t rely on churches to run soup kitchens.

Exemption advocates also point out that churches would be squeezed out of high-property-value areas. But if it’s important to the people of Fifth Avenue to have a synagogue like Emanu-El or an Episcopal church like St. Thomas in their midst, they should pay full freight for it. They can afford to, more than millions of poorer New Yorkers whose tax bills the synagogue and church exemptions are currently inflating.

So yes, the logic of gay-marriage rights could lead to a reexamination of conservative churches’ tax exemptions (although, as long as the IRS is afraid of challenging Scientology’s exemption, everyone else is probably safe). But when that day comes, it will be long overdue. I can see keeping some exemptions; hospitals, in particular, are an indispensable, and noncontroversial, public good. And localities could always carve out sensible property-tax exceptions for nonprofits their communities need. But it’s time for most nonprofits, like those of us who faithfully cut checks to them, to pay their fair share.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

June 28, 2015 at 1:00 pm - 3 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So many social, political, and sociological assertions have been projected onto the story of the Charleston martyrs that their own story as not untypical followers and seekers of Christ has been obscured. Maybe their martyrdom is only the small part of a vast historical narrative about race and oppression across centuries.

But it’s also about small acts of faithfulness that led to global and eternal significance for God’s Kingdom. A demented young man, escaping his dysfunctional family, pursued darkness, unable to find kindred twisted spirits, instead finds sinister validation on the internet. Committed to murder, he unexpectedly meets friendly saints whose kindness gives him pause before he kills, hoping to spread his poison through publicity.

His crime is instead overshadowed by the faith and hope of his victims and their church. We should join the families of those victims in praying that the killer, before he leaves this world, hopefully in the administration of swift justice, accepts the God whom he defied, and can meet in Heaven the martyrs he sought to destroy, instead falling before them in holy sorrow and recompense, honoring them as the instruments of his own redemption.

The ultimate story about the Charleston martyrs is not about the sins of a particular culture or nation but about the far wider and exponentially more powerful demonstration that God’s love is undefeatable, even in a hail of bullets.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyChristologyEschatology

June 28, 2015 at 12:31 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Though they might have nightmares, give them sweet dreams.”

Jackson was remembered as a gentle, loving figurehead.

“She was a mother to so, so many, this matriarch of the Jackson family,” church member Carlotta Dennis remarked.

Jackson, who was 87 when she died, sang in the choir, was a member of the Woman’s Missionary Society, attended Bible study regularly, was a trustee of the church and volunteered in myriad ways over her many years of constant faith and fidelity, Dennis said. She gave generously, to her church, to her family, even to strangers.

Jackson was deeply rooted in Charleston. She lived in an old single house within walking distance of her church. She attended Buist Elementary School and Burke High School and worked as a beautician and home health care provider. She was always thinking of others, her family said.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* Theology

June 28, 2015 at 12:15 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tywanza Sanders was shot protecting his mother. As he died he reached to help Susie Jackson.

“You don’t have to do this,” he told the man who pulled a gun on the Bible study at Emanuel AME Church. “We are no harm to you.”

Tywanza Kibwe Diop Sanders, 26, was hailed as a hero Saturday at a funeral service for him and his relative Susie Jackson, 87, in the sanctuary. So many members of the large extended family were there that church leaders had to ask mourners to give up seats so that immediate family could be seated.

Felicia Sanders, his mother, who was at the Bible study but not shot, had to be helped to her pew. She paused to gaze at her son but could not bear it for long. She lingered, gazing at Jackson, then leaned over to kiss her forehead.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* Theology

June 28, 2015 at 12:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cynthia Hurd’s love of books couldn’t be limited to a single library, and her “homegoing service” couldn’t be contained in a single church.

Hundreds of mourners showed up Saturday morning for the funeral of the Charleston County librarian, as the city, state and nation continue to grieve for her and the eight other lives lost in the June 17 shooting inside Emanuel AME Church.

Mother Emanuel filled quickly with mourners, and about 200 people unable to get in watched via a video feed from inside the nearby Second Presbyterian Church.

Assistant Democratic Leader U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, said he is a longtime friend of Hurd’s brother, former North Carolina Sen. Michael Graham, and one of his daughters considered Hurd her best friend, “This is a family that makes us all proud,” Clyburn said.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* Theology

June 28, 2015 at 11:45 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Supreme Court prepares to announce its decision on same-sex marriage, religious people are wondering: will we lose our tax-exempt status for our religious institutions? Justice Samuel Alito raised this question during the oral arguments, citing the 1983 Supreme Court case that ruled Bob Jones University could lose its tax-exempt status if it continued to oppose interracial dating and marriage.

The solicitor general, arguing the case for same-sex marriage, responded that it would “depend on how states work out the balance between their civil rights laws.” This sort of reply should do nothing to calm the nerves of those who object to same-sex marriage. When the conscientious objectors become a minority of the voting population, will our rights be protected?

The issue of the tax-exempt status of religious organizations is already a hot topic in some quarters. Those in favor of taxing religious organizations point out the huge financial impact that it would have, anywhere from tens to hundreds of billions of dollars per year.

The confiscation of church property is no new thing.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State Matters* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

June 28, 2015 at 11:28 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:

“Catholic teaching maintains that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman joined in an intimate partnership of life and love—a union instituted by God for the mutual fulfillment of the husband and wife as well as for the procreation and education of children.

“Partnerships of committed same-sex individuals are already legal in California. Our state has also granted domestic partners spousal-type rights and responsibilities which facilitate their relationships with each other and any children they bring to the partnership. Every person involved in the family of domestic partners is a child of God and deserves respect in the eyes of the law and their community. However, those partnerships are not marriage—and can never be marriage—as it has been understood since the founding of the United States. Today’s decision of California’s high court opens the door for policymakers to deconstruct traditional marriage and create another institution under the guise of equal protection.

“Although we strongly disagree with the ruling, we ask our Catholic people, as well as all the people of California, to continue to uphold the dignity of every person, to acknowledge individual rights and responsibilities, and to maintain support for the unique and irreplaceable role of traditional marriage as an institution which is fundamental to society.”

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

June 28, 2015 at 4:40 am - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God, who hast taught us that in thy mysterious providence suffering is the prelude to glory, and hast made much tribulation the entrance to thy heavenly kingdom: May we learn from this thy will, and also from creation around us, to wait for our deliverance from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of thy children; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsSpirituality/Prayer

June 28, 2015 at 4:20 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The promise to Abraham and his descendants, that they should inherit the world, did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants--not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all, as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations" --in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, "So shall your descendants be." He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was "reckoned to him as righteousness." But the words, "it was reckoned to him," were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

--Romans 4:13-25

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

June 28, 2015 at 4:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

June 27, 2015 at 4:44 pm - 6 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Update (June 22): InterVarsity has given CT more details about its reinstatement at 19 California campuses.
"Cal State has not changed the language of their 'all comers' policy," said Greg Jao, vice president of campus engagement. "They have clarified that the policy only requires that (a) we allow all students to become members, which we have always done, and (b) we allow all students to apply for leadership positions.
"We have been assured that we can have a rigorous selection process which reflects InterVarsity’s mission and message as a Christian ministry," he told CT. "We’re confident in our ability to choose leaders who reflect our mission and message."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

June 27, 2015 at 4:12 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

All of us must be full of grief at the attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait. They are intended not only to destroy but to divide, not only to terrify but to take from us our own commitment to each other in our societies....

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

June 27, 2015 at 2:46 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The young daughters of the slain Emanuel AME pastor Rev. Clementa Pinckney wrote heartbreaking letters to their father. The letters were included in the funeral program distributed Friday during services at the College of Charleston arena, where President Obama eulogized Pinckney.

Thousands of mourners flipped through the programs which included photos of the family smiling. One snapshot shows the older daughter wearing a yellow sun dress; her hair twisted with yellow barrettes. The younger daughter with a pink rose hairclip poses in front of Emanuel AME church.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyEschatology

June 27, 2015 at 2:15 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

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