Posted by The_Elves

My ACI colleagues Ephraim Radner and Christopher Seitz have recently published a “Marriage Pledge” in the journal First Things in which they undertake to refrain from serving as agents of the state in marriage by, e.g., signing government-provided marriage certificates. Couples will be asked to contract civil marriage separately from “weddings that seek to establish a Christian marriage in accord with the principles articulated and lived out from the beginning of the Church’s life.” Their reasoning is that as civil marriage has been progressively redefined it no longer coincides with the Christian understanding of marriage: “to continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage.”

...Many of the responses to the Marriage Pledge from both sides of the divide on same sex marriage have reflected substantial confusion over the distinction between Christian and civil marriage and what the role of the clergy is in the marriage ceremony. My purpose here is to clarify that distinction and then to evaluate criticisms of the Pledge in light of this discussion.
..................
...The differences between Christian and civil marriage in New York (and note once again that the nature and terms of civil marriage vary from state to state) could hardly be more stark. Christian marriage is a lifelong union created by God between a man and a woman; New York civil marriage is a terminable contract between any two eligible people—no bigamy or incest—with terms specified and amended from time to time by the legislature and courts of the state of New York.

Practical Implementation of the Marriage Pledge

The purpose of the Marriage Pledge is to keep these radically different concepts of marriage distinct so that no one, whether inside or outside the Church, thinks they are the same. How might the Pledge work in practice?......

Given these considerations, any of the following options would be available to the couple and priest subscribing to the Marriage Pledge:

1.The couple first contracts a civil marriage either by a written contract or oral recitations at the courthouse followed at a convenient time by entering into a Christian marriage using any of the three matrimonial rites specified in the Book of Common Prayer: “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage”; “The Blessing of a Civil Marriage”; or “An Order of Marriage.” All are consistent with the prior creation of a civil marriage contract.

2.The couple first enters into Christian marriage by means of either the first or third of the matrimonial rites followed in due course by contracting a civil marriage at the courthouse. The rite for “Blessing of a Civil Marriage” would not be appropriate for obvious reasons, but neither of the other two prohibits a subsequent civil contract. The rubrics for both require compliance with the civil law, but the civil law does not require a simultaneous—or even any—religious ceremony.

3.The couple could enter into a Christian marriage without entering into a civil contract at all. As noted earlier, one interpretation of the rubric and canonical requirement of compliance with civil law is that a civil contract is necessary, but civil law does not require that all religious marriages also be civil ones. Thus, the most likely effect of this provision is to prohibit bigamous and incestuous marriages.
.......
Objections to the Marriage Pledge

It is in light of the above what to make of the objections made thus far to the Pledge?

What would we be doing in the rite of matrimony if not solemnizing civil marriage? Something new?

Not at all. The couples married in a Christian marriage would be doing what they have always been doing since the earliest days of the church—and doing in the Episcopal Church since the publication of the 1789 Book of Common Prayer: entering into the “holy estate” of matrimony, the physical and spiritual union created by God upon the making of a public covenant by the bride and groom through their vows. In contrast, as the Ponorovskaya court noted, marriage licenses are “a relatively recent innovation, with statewide registration of marriages not having begun until 1881 at the earliest.”

Clergy taking the Marriage Pledge are leaving the distasteful actions to the couple rather than doing that work themselves and getting their hands dirty.

Hardly. Nothing in either the Pledge or the light of reason suggests there is anything “dirty” about civil marriage. It provides tax benefits to many couples and opens up useful strategies for maximizing Social Security benefits. It is often necessary in private commerce for securing benefits such as health insurance. The fact that non-believers, adherents of other religions and those not eligible for Christian marriage enter these civil contracts as well has no moral significance. They also obtain passports and drivers’ licenses, both of which can be useful to Christians as well. Civil marriage is not distasteful; it can be good. But it is not Christian marriage—although many (including some of the objectors) confuse the two. Hence the need for the Pledge.

This means abandoning the fight for traditional civil marriage in the public square.

Not at all. The fight for traditional civil marriage is based on natural law and the protection and flourishing of society. It cannot be based on an identification or conflation of Christian and civil marriage for they are not and never have been the same thing. The fight to preserve civil marriage, however, is not the same as the fight to protect and strengthen Christian marriage. As public surveys, divorce rates and even the responses to the Marriage Pledge demonstrate, too many people both inside and outside the church equate Christian marriage with whatever the state authorities determine civil marriage to be at any given time. The Marriage Pledge is one effort to change that misconception.

Read it all and there is a shortened version without the BCP, canonical and legal references on First Things

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family

November 25, 2014 at 2:44 pm - 6 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

In many jurisdictions, including many of the United States, civil authorities have adopted a definition of marriage that explicitly rejects the age-old requirement of male-female pairing. In a few short years or even months, it is very likely that this new definition will become the law of the land, and in all jurisdictions the rights, privileges, and duties of marriage will be granted to men in partnership with men, and women with women.

As Christian ministers we must bear clear witness. This is a perilous time. Divorce and co-­habitation have weakened marriage. We have been too complacent in our responses to these trends. Now marriage is being fundamentally redefined, and we are ­being tested yet again. If we fail to take clear action, we risk falsifying God’s Word.

Read more...

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family

November 18, 2014 at 9:32 am - 81 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

During the last eighteen months or so I have had the opportunity to visit thirty-six other Primates of the Anglican Communion at various points. This has involved a total of 14 trips lasting 96 days in all. I incidentally calculated that it involves more than eleven days actually sitting in aeroplanes. This seemed to be a good moment therefore to speak a little about the state of the Communion and to look honestly at some of the issues that are faced and the possible ways forward.

Read more...

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

November 17, 2014 at 10:56 am - 31 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I'd buy paracetamol rather than food" says 16-year-old Alice, addicted to painkillers, who can purchase an amazing quantity thereof on her way to school.

Listen to it all (26 1/2 minutes) and you can read a bit about Sally Marlow there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineTeens / YouthYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

November 26, 2014 at 5:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

God of truth and grace, who didst give Isaac Watts singular gifts to present thy praise in verse, that he might write psalms, hymns and spiritual songs for thy Church: Give us grace joyfully to sing thy praises now and in the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipSpirituality/Prayer

November 26, 2014 at 4:40 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Grant us, O Lord our God, ever to find in thee a very present help in trouble.

When we are in the darkness of doubt or perplexity, shed thy light upon our way.

When we are burdened with the affairs of our daily life, lift us to the calm of thy presence.

When we are battling with temptation and the flesh is weak, by the might of thy Spirit make us strong to overcome.

We ask these things through him in whom we are more than conquerors, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer

November 26, 2014 at 4:19 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchae′us; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchae′us, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchae′us stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”

--Luke 19:1-10

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

November 26, 2014 at 4:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...I think Christian community provides something distinctive that you don’t get other places. (Other religious communities provide their own distinctives.)

But I can’t exactly fault young people for not being jazzed about deciding there are better uses of their time than choosing between Corporate Candidate Chet and SuperPAC Steve at the ballot box. And let’s not dump on them for not jumping on board with church, when what “church” often means is “the way we’ve always done it . . . until you’re around long enough for us to trust you to suggest ways we can change.”

The whole Diane Rehm discussion—and the discussion so many churches have—is backward. The question isn’t how to convince young people to show up and vote, or to go to church. The question is, what is it about the “product” that they find utterly un-worth their time?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureSociologyYoung Adults* Theology

November 25, 2014 at 5:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In light of the grand jury decision handed down tonight in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, MO, I think it is of utmost importance that all Christians, but specifically white evangelicals, talk a little less and listen a little more.

Or, put another way, maybe some need to spend less time insisting that African Americans shouldn't be upset and spend more time asking why some are. Yes, this case reminds us again that the racial divide is clear, as a just released CNN poll demostrated.

I wasn't in the grand jury room, and I don't know the evidence, but many godly African American leaders are hurting and they are explaining why.

I think we should listen to them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

November 25, 2014 at 4:30 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I hold in my hands my iphone. Perhaps you have one too. The Apple industry of computers and phones has changed our world out of all recognition. What does this small gadget have in common with the book in my right hand- which is a Bible? There is a direct connection; they are both things that have changed the world. The legendary tale is told of Steve Jobs saying to John Sculley who was at Pepsi Cola and, as you may know, Jobs wanted Sculley to join his firm: "Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?" Sayings rarely get better than that!

Apple and Microsoft combined have done exactly that – but William Tyndale, whom we celebrate today, eclipses both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryPoetry & Literature* Theology

November 25, 2014 at 4:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With public revulsion rising in response to snowballing accusations that Bill Cosby victimized women in serial fashion throughout his trailblazing career, the response from those in the know has been: What took so long?

What took so long is that those in the know kept it mostly to themselves. No one wanted to disturb the Natural Order of Things, which was that Mr. Cosby was beloved; that he was as generous and paternal as his public image; and that his approach to life and work represented a bracing corrective to the coarse, self-defeating urban black ethos.

Only the first of those things was actually true....

We all have our excuses, but in ignoring these claims, we let down the women who were brave enough to speak out publicly against a powerful entertainer.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyMediaMenMovies & TelevisionPsychologyViolenceWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

November 25, 2014 at 3:22 pm - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Does the call for Christians to separate matrimony from government marriage mean we’re retreating from the public square? Damon Linker thinks so. He calls it an “unprecedented retreat of theologically conservative churches from engagement in American public life.”

That’s exactly wrong.

If the Marriage Pledge is a retreat, it’s a retreat from this: the illusion that the Christian view of marriage can comfortably accommodate a definition of marriage that has strayed so far from revelation and reason that it now allows men to marry men and women to marry women. We all have to live with the reality of the sexual revolution, but Christians cannot make peace with it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

November 25, 2014 at 11:34 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It also needs to be kept in mind that apart from the pursuit of truth, each individual becomes the criterion for measuring himself and his own actions. The way is thus opened to a subjectivistic assertion of rights, so that the concept of human rights, which has an intrinsically universal import, is replaced by an individualistic conception of rights. This leads to an effective lack of concern for others and favours that globalization of indifference born of selfishness, the result of a conception of man incapable of embracing the truth and living an authentic social dimension.

This kind of individualism leads to human impoverishment and cultural aridity, since it effectively cuts off the nourishing roots on which the tree grows. Indifferent individualism leads to the cult of opulence reflected in the throwaway culture all around us. We have a surfeit of unnecessary things, but we no longer have the capacity to build authentic human relationships marked by truth and mutual respect. And so today we are presented with the image of a Europe which is hurt, not only by its many past ordeals, but also by present-day crises which it no longer seems capable of facing with its former vitality and energy; a Europe which is a bit tired and pessimistic, which feels besieged by events and winds of change coming from other continents.

To Europe we can put the question: “Where is your vigour? Where is that idealism which inspired and ennobled your history? Where is your spirit of curiosity and enterprise? Where is your thirst for truth, a thirst which hitherto you have passionately shared with the world?

The future of the continent will depend on the answer to these questions.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

November 25, 2014 at 9:01 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

His views on the Middle East have often put him at odds with the Church. In his 20s, he abandoned a career as a doctor to become a vicar, eventually heading up the Church of England's International Centre for Reconciliation (ICR) where his work took him to the Middle East.

He backed the 2003 invasion in Iraq and afterwards restored St George's, the only Anglican church in the country. He has endured kidnappings, bombings and the recent onslaught of Islamic State, which forced him to leave in the face of grave threats to his life. Now, he is pushing for more war, saying the countries that invaded Iraq must go back in force to stop IS.

When he moves outside his church, White was protected by up to 35 Iraqi guards. But when he meets The Huffington Post UK, he is sitting without protection in a leather arm chair, at his home in Liphook, Hampshire. By White's own estimation, he has spent 70 to 80 days of the year at most in the UK since he went to the Middle East.

A family friend of White's told me he seems to know everyone wherever he is, to which White replies: "The only place I've ever been where I don't know everybody is here." The walls of this room are covered in crucifixes he collects, maps of Iraq and Baghdad and a letter from former US President George W. Bush thanking him for his work there.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsIraq WarTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

November 25, 2014 at 8:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Without the hundreds of volunteers who are active before and during the one-day event, the Fayre couldn’t happen. “The event is organised and run by unpaid volunteers from the three churches in the parish of the Anglican Church of Paphos – St Luke’s, Prodromi, St Stephen’s, Tala and Ayia Kyriaki, Kato Paphos,” said Payne. “Most people are retired British expats aged between 50 years and 90 plus.”

On the day, upwards of 100 people are involved manning the stalls and attractions, catering, security, entrance, car parking, first aid and providing general help. Setting up stalls and decor takes all day on the day before.
The event, which has been running for some 20 years, is well-known for loyally raising significant sums for hand-picked lesser-known charities where a little bit of cash can go a long way.
“With the exception of Paphos General Hospital where we donate an item of equipment which they have asked for to the value of a few hundred euros, we give cash,” said Payne. “This is used at the discretion of each charity; some goes towards general running costs, other towards the costs of specific items they need.”

At its peak just before the 2008 economic downturn which gradually impacted locally, the event raised in the region of €17,000 each year for charities. But with many feeling the pinch in recent years, funds have dropped considerably. “This year we will be delighted if we make the same €10,000 as in 2013,” said Payne.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry

November 25, 2014 at 7:20 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Suspected Boko Haram militants attacked a Nigerian border town in the restive northeast on Monday, setting fire to houses and killing an unknown number of people, witnesses and government sources said.

Hours after the raid started on Damasak, gunmen still roamed the area, with many locals seeking to flee into neighbouring Niger, just to the north of the town.

It was the third major attack over the last week in Nigeria's Borno State, which have already seen close to 100 people die, including more than 25 people, mostly fishermen, shot dead in a remote community over the weekend.

Read it all.

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

November 25, 2014 at 6:30 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sunday morning is an inconvenient time for church services because people are busy shopping and doing DIY, the Church of England has admitted.

Worshippers are increasingly turning their backs on the centuries-old practice of attending worship on Sundays because of other leisure and social “commitments”, it said.

The admission came alongside new figures showing that attendances at midweek services in cathedrals have doubled in a decade while numbers in the pews in parishes on Sundays continue to fall.

The Dean of Lichfield, the Very Reverend Adrian Dorber, said many people still crave quiet reflection, but are seeking out less “pressurised” times in the week to worship than Sunday mornings.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

November 25, 2014 at 6:00 am - 4 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A wrongfully convicted man who spent 36 years behind bars in California was set free Monday.

In Ventura, Superior Court Judge Donald D. Coleman ordered Michael Ray Hanline, 68, to be released but required that he still wear a GPS monitoring device.

It was found that DNA evidence collected at the crime scene did not match Hanline's or that of his alleged accomplice, according to court documents. Also, a key witness was found to be under the influence of drugs when she testified against him.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchCapital PunishmentHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

November 25, 2014 at 5:30 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

All of St. Louis owes a debt of gratitude to the 12 St. Louis County citizens who served on the grand jury that has decided that Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson will not stand trial for the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown.

The debt is owed not for the decision. The debt would have been owed had the grand jurors come back with an indictment.

The debt is owed for hanging in there while all about them the experts and would-be experts speculated about what happened on Canfield Drive shortly after noon on that warm Saturday afternoon.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

November 25, 2014 at 5:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O loving God, by whose grace thy servant James Huntington gathered a community dedicated to love and discipline and devotion to the holy Cross of our Savior Jesus Christ: Send thy blessing upon all who proclaim Christ crucified, and move the hearts of many to look unto him and be saved; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer

November 25, 2014 at 4:40 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Almighty God, who by thy holy apostle hast called upon us to present our bodies to thee a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is our reasonable service: Graciously hear us, we beseech thee, O Lord, and grant that we may so dedicate ourselves wholly to thy service that henceforth we may live only to thy glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

--Liturgy of the Catholic Apostolic Church

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November 25, 2014 at 4:20 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber.

--Psalm 121:1-3

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

November 25, 2014 at 4:01 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

German bond yields are to fall below Japanese levels and plumb depths never seen before in history as Europe becomes the epicentre of global deflationary forces, according to new forecast from the Royal Bank of Scotland.

“We are seeing `Japanification’ setting in across Europe,” said Andrew Roberts, the bank’s credit strategist. “We expect 10-year Bund yields to cross the 10-year Japanese government bond and we are amply positioned for such an outcome.”

Mr Roberts said it is a “weighty win-win” situation for investors. If the European Central Bank launches full-blown quantitative easing, it will almost certainly have to buy large amounts of German Bunds, and these are becoming scarce.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsEuroEuropean Central Bank* International News & CommentaryAsiaJapanEuropeGermany* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

November 24, 2014 at 7:20 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The development and application of such techniques is risky - it is after all humans in their current morally-inept state who must apply them - but we think that our present situation is so desperate that this course of action must be investigated. We have radically transformed our social and natural environments by technology, while our moral dispositions have remained virtually unchanged. We must now consider applying technology to our own nature, supporting our efforts to cope with the external environment that we have created.

Biomedical means of moral enhancement may turn out to be no more effective than traditional means of moral education or social reform, but they should not be rejected out of hand. Advances are already being made in this area. However, it is too early to predict how, or even if, any moral bioenhancement scheme will be achieved. Our ambition is not to launch a definitive and detailed solution to climate change or other mega-problems. Perhaps there is no realistic solution. Our ambition at this point is simply to put moral enhancement in general, and moral bioenhancement in particular, on the table.

Last century we spent vast amounts of resources increasing our ability to cause great harm. It would be sad if, in this century, we reject opportunities to increase our capacity to create benefits, or at least to prevent such harm.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

November 24, 2014 at 5:05 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As St. Louis-area clergy urge a nonviolent response to a grand jury’s decision about whether to charge a white police officer in the killing of an unarmed black teenager, they’re re-evaluating their role in the struggle over race relations.

Religious leaders have become complacent in the decades since the civil-rights movement ended legal segregation, said Carl Smith Sr., 59, pastor at New Beginning Missionary Baptist in Woodson Terrace, Missouri. The August shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson and the weeks of unrest that followed awakened people of the cloth, he said. A decision on charges that could come any day and the prospect of renewed violence have forced religious leaders to the forefront and, for some, into a period of introspection.

“We have stopped doing what we were supposed to do,” Smith said in an interview after an interfaith service Nov. 22 in St. Louis. “We have stayed confined to our four walls, instead of coming outside of these four walls.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

November 24, 2014 at 4:20 pm - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

November 24, 2014 at 3:40 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

About a week after Tara Elonis persuaded a judge to issue a protective order against her estranged husband, Anthony, her soon-to-be ex had this to say:

“Fold up your PFA [protection-from-abuse order] and put it in your pocket

Is it thick enough to stop a bullet?”

Anthony Elonis didn’t deliver the message in person, by phone or in a note. Instead, he posted it on his Facebook page, for all to see, in a prose style reminiscent of the violent, misogynistic lyrics of rap artists he admired.

In its first examination of the limits of free speech on social media, the Supreme Court will consider next week whether, as a jury concluded, Elonis’s postings constituted a “true threat” to his wife and others.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & Family* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

November 24, 2014 at 11:08 am - 2 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Europe weary with disorientation. And I don't want to be a pessimist, but let's tell the truth: after food, clothing, and medicine, what are the most important expenditures? Cosmetics, and I don't know how to say this in Italian, but the “mascotas,” the little animals. They don't have children, but their affection goes to the little cat, to the little dog. And this is the second expenditure after the three main ones. The third is the whole industry to promote sexual pleasure. So it’s food, medicine, clothing, cosmetics, little animals, and the life of pleasure. Our young people feel this, they see this, they live this.

I liked very much what His Eminence said, because this is truly the drama of Europe today. But it's not the end. I believe that Europe has many resources for going forward. It's like a sickness that Europe has today. A wound. And the greatest resource is the person of Jesus. Europe, return to Jesus! Return to that Jesus whom you have said was not in your roots! And this is the work of the pastors: to preach Jesus in the midst of these wounds. I have spoken of only a few, but there are tremendous wounds. To preach Jesus. And I ask you this: don't be ashamed to proclaim Jesus Christ risen who has redeemed us all. And for us too that the Lord may not rebuke us, as today in the Gospel of Luke he rebuked these two cities.

The Lord wants to save us. I believe this. This is our mission: to proclaim Jesus Christ, without shame. And he is ready to open the doors of his heart, because he manifests his omnipotence above all in mercy and forgiveness. Let's go forward with preaching. Let's not be ashamed. So many ways of preaching, but to mama Europe - or grandma Europe, or wounded Europe - only Jesus Christ can speak a word of salvation today. Only he can open a door of escape.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriology

November 24, 2014 at 8:00 am - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Evangelism is not a survival strategy for the church, but is instead an activity “central to being the people of God”, the Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday.

Because we worship a God revealed in Jesus Christ who was “sent out to sow, to gather, and to draw back in”, as Christians when we evangelise we reflect the nature of God, he said.

Archbishop Justin, who has made evangelism a priority for his ministry, was speaking at the Church Army’s annual general meeting in central London, where he addressed evangelists from across the UK and Ireland.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* TheologyChristologySoteriology

November 24, 2014 at 7:30 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The number of people attending midweek services at cathedrals has doubled in the past 10 years, show new figures published today from the Church of England's Research and Statistics department. One of the factors attributed is the need for a place of peace in increasingly busy lives.

Midweek attendance at cathedrals was 7,500 in 2003 rising to 15,000 in 2013 (compared to 12,400 in 2012). In a Church of England podcast published today the Dean of Lichfield, Adrian Dorber, said he has seen the need for people wanting a short snatch of peace midweek in what are now very pressurised lifestyles. "At the weekend you've got commitments with children doing sport, shopping, household maintenance - life's run at the double these days and weekends are very pressurised and committed. Taking out half an hour or an hour every week is much more negotiable."

Anecdote to Evidence research published earlier this year showed that that the highest motivating factors for Cathedral attendance were peace and contemplation, worship and music and friendly atmosphere.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

November 24, 2014 at 7:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr. Basuki, a 48-year-old Protestant whose grandfather was a tin miner from Guangzhou, China, was sworn in Wednesday [of last week] at the State Palace by President Joko Widodo.

None of Jakarta’s previous governors have been Christian or of Chinese ancestry, except for one who served briefly as an appointee half a century ago (like Mr. Basuki, he was both). And despite Indonesia’s history of discrimination — and, at times, savage violence — against ethnic Chinese, Mr. Basuki says he considers neither his faith nor his ethnicity to be a political handicap.

“When people told me ‘the Chinese are a minority,’ my father would say to tell them that we are more patriotic,” Mr. Basuki said in a recent interview. “If one day Indonesia is occupied by a foreign country, my father said he would be in front of the front line to fight for our independence again.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaIndonesia* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

November 24, 2014 at 6:30 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Waking up during a surgery would be a nightmare, yet that's a regular problem for patients in low-income countries. Sketchy power grids mean the lights often go out, and with them, the anesthesia machine. In other cases, there are too few oxygen tanks for a surgery, so it's canceled.

Two decades ago, Dr. Paul Fenton faced those hurdles almost daily while working as an anesthesiologist at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. The hospital had plenty of anesthesia machines, each provided by a well-intentioned western charity, but none were practical for his clinic.

"So I began tinkering with these old machines, and took a few bits and pieces from each," recounts Fenton.

The result was a prototype for the Universal Anesthesia Machine (UAM), which delivers anesthesia without oxygen tanks or the need of stable power grid

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAfricaMalawi* TheologyAnthropology

November 24, 2014 at 5:59 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

PROFESSOR MIA BLOOM (Center for Terrorism and Security Studies, University of Massachusetts at Lowell): They really don’t have the ballast to be able to say, “No, I don’t think that’s what the Sura al-Tawba says.” They don’t really have the knowledge-base to be able to fend off that kind of manipulation of the religion that these groups are doing to convince them that this is the way that they can be the best Muslims they can be.

LOTHIAN: But some of the foreign recruits join the fight in Syria and Iraq with their eyes wide open. True believers in radical Islam. Professor Asani says they’re also lured by money, housing, wives, and a sense of belonging.

ASANI: You come and fight with us, and your visions, your ideas—you’re going to be valued. You’re going to be at the center of power.

LOTHIAN: And it’s not just young men. Three teenage girls from Denver, Colorado were detained in Germany after apparently trying to join Islamic militants in Syria. It’s reported dozens of French girls have also run away from home to sign up with ISIS.

Mia Bloom, professor of security studies at the University of Massachussetts, Lowell, has been investigating the recruiting of Western girls.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMenReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomenYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

November 24, 2014 at 5:42 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Robert completed the third of his official Cathedral installations on Saturday 22 November 2014 with a rousing service in the Pro-Cathedral of Holy Trinity, Brussels – the church where before consecration he served as Parish Priest.

You can find pictures here and his sermon there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium

November 24, 2014 at 5:20 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

She notes with sadness the general absence of religious coverage in the media – “until there is a crisis, and then, all of a sudden, our voice is needed”. But rather than complain of prejudice, this practical, roll-up-your-sleeves -and-get-on-with-it Christian feels the onus is on churches to say something that is worth printing and broadcasting. And she doesn’t mean Thought for the Day. The mere mention makes her shudder.

Many of the first wave of women priests in the Church of England had been waiting for years, even decades, to be allowed the chance to follow their vocation. Alison Joyce, though, grew up in Sussex, in a house where religion was rarely mentioned.

“My parents were occasional churchgoers, but had no sense of Church membership. I can remember, when I was exploring faith in my mid-twenties, pinning my poor mother to the kitchen wall and saying: ‘Explain the doctrine of the Trinity to me.’ There was fear in her eyes.”

Canon Joyce, you may have gathered, is not one for half-measures. It was during her postgraduate studies at Bristol that she found Anglicanism, but only after “a church crawl. I also went to the Orthodox, the Methodists, the Catholics and the Plymouth Brethren. As a non- churchgoer, I needed to know what was out there.”

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchWomen

November 24, 2014 at 5:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Teenagers carrying weapons stand at checkpoints and busy intersections in Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul. Patched onto the left arms of their black uniforms are the logos of the Islamic Police.

In Raqqa, the Islamic State group's de facto capital in Syria, boys attend training camp and religious courses before heading off to fight. Others serve as cooks or guards at the extremists' headquarters or as spies, informing on people in their neighborhoods.

Across the vast region under IS control, the group is actively conscripting children for battle and committing abuses against the most vulnerable at a young age, according to a growing body of evidence assembled from residents, activists, independent experts and human rights groups.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

November 24, 2014 at 4:39 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards; give us an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; give us an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God, understanding to know thee, diligence to seek thee, wisdom to find thee, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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November 24, 2014 at 4:20 am - 2 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

--Galatians 6:6-10

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

November 24, 2014 at 4:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Will Vancouver's experiment work? Studies conducted in Europe—where prescription heroin is common—reveal that the programs have produced improved public health outcomes as well as reduced crime. Prescription narcotic abuse has been a significant problem in the United States, and heroin abuse is a large and growing problem in the country. A recent study from the Center on Disease Control found that heroin use increased 74 percent from 2009 to 2012, and that in 2012 Americans were twice as likely to suffer a fatal overdose than they were in 2010.

While the success of Vancouver's experiment is far from assured, the city's willingness to offer prescription heroin reflects a willingness to provide new opportunities for beleaguered addicts.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionLaw & Legal IssuesUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryCanada

November 23, 2014 at 5:20 pm - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A cyber snooping operation reminiscent of the Stuxnet worm and billed as the world’s most sophisticated computer malware is targeting Russian and Saudi Arabian telecoms companies.

Cyber security company Symantec said the malware, called “Regin”, is probably run by a western intelligence agency and in some respects is more advanced in engineering terms than Stuxnet, which was developed by US and Israel government hackers in 2010 to target the Iranian nuclear programme.

The discovery of the latest hacking software comes as the head of Kaspersky Labs, the Russian company that helped uncover Stuxnet, told the Financial Times that criminals are now also hacking industrial control systems for financial gain.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

November 23, 2014 at 5:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

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