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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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from Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council
‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’ Romans 12:2
As I send this first pastoral letter of 2015, receive greetings in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday, today and forever!
As we begin a new year, we thank God that through Christ he has rescued us from futile ways and taken us up into his eternal purposes. Our new life in Christ brings a fresh dimension to even the most ordinary work because it is now done for God and his glory. What marks out a disciple of Jesus Christ is that this is a person who has not just had a conversion experience, but a person whose whole way of thinking has been radically changed.
One of the great challenges for African Christianity is for the many who identify as ‘born again’ to become mature disciples of Christ. This is especially necessary given the challenge of what Pope Francis last week described as ‘ideological colonisation’, which is the practice of tying aid and development resources to the promotion of alien understandings of gender, the family and sexual behaviour.
Money is a very powerful tool and manipulation can happen with varying degrees of subtlety. Such practices must be challenged, but the best defence is for ordinary Christians to have renewed minds that are profoundly shaped by the Bible. When each local church is able to see itself as a colony of heaven, its members will be much more resistant to being colonised by non-Christian ideologies.
In this respect, the Churches of Africa need the GAFCON movement’s emphasis on restoring the Communion’s commitment to biblical truth just as much as the Churches of the West. We are committed to equipping the Anglican Communion as a whole to survive and thrive in the face of many twenty-first century challenges, of which ‘ideological colonisation’ is just one, and to do this we are building global partnerships and support networks.
So I am very encouraged that connections made at GAFCON 2013 continue to bear fruit. For instance, a few weeks ago, a team from Australia participated in a youth convention in the Church of Uganda’s West Ankole Diocese with over 10,000 attending and next month a mission team from All Saints Cathedral here in Nairobi will be flying to Chicago as part of a reciprocal mission partnership with the Anglican Church in North America’s ‘Greenhouse’ church planting initiative.
We shall also be strengthening the work of our global fellowship with the launch of the Australian Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in March and an expanded GAFCON Primates Meeting in London the following month.
Read it all
Colin Coward reports:-
David began by outlining the history which has brought us to where we are from the much more optimistic beginnings nearly a year ago.
It began with the Pilling Report which was struggling to land (as he put it) at the time he was appointed. The Pilling group was an ill-conceived exercise in the first place, ill-conceived in part because formulated by a male only group initially. It was marked by a lack of coherence and incompetence in the Church.
David expressed the hope that things are changing and that we are getting to a more emotionally and relationally intelligent place. I suspect all of us present were profoundly reassured to hear this.
The College of Bishops trial the process
Moving on to the College of Bishops meeting in September when the Shared Conversation process was trialled, David said it didn’t work as hoped because the culture of good facilitation met the culture of the College of Bishops and some of the old school bishops refused to play ball. Good process hit the dysfunctional nature of the Church of England.
The Church of England is the primary problem Province for the Anglican Communion because the other Provinces no longer really know what the Church of England is.
The bishops only allowed a day and a half for the process and ran out of time. Now the regional Conversations will involve 2 nights away to ensure proper process. The intention is to have equal numbers of laity and clergy and men and women, with 20% under 30 and a minimum of two who are openly LGBT or I, together representing the known views around the diocese.
Planning for fracture
The intention is to change the tone of the conversation and take some of the toxicity out of it, acknowledging that there is no agreement between, say, us and Reform. David assumes there will be a fracture and when it happens, it will be small and done with profound sadness, with a measure of grace, disagreeing well. The Conversations are a process in which it is hoped to find grace in each other where there are profound disagreements. Maybe 80% of the C of E will hold together with fractures at either end of the spectrum.
Where do we go from here?
A regional advisory group is being formed, composed of one representative, probably a bishop or senior. Part of the purpose of this group seems to be to reassure the rump of bishops who still don’t want to engage with the process.
David believes the General Synod can’t put off a debate and vote on the core issues affecting the place of LGBTI people in the Church of England beyond the February 2017 meeting. This for me was the most significant new piece information I gained on Tuesday. David does not control the timetable or agenda of General Synod but he does have direct authority from the Archbishop of Canterbury, so this ambition may well be realised...
Read it all [Update: Googlecached or Googlecache pdf]
In the years since, nondenominational Christianity became more popular and loose. Informal networks of churches, groups and individuals have formed, such as the Vineyard, Willow Creek and the Gospel Coalition — the last of which Mahaney and Harris were leaders. But these are akin to social groups and not meant to hold one another accountable as denominational organizations often do....
Harris said he expects that studying at Regent College, a graduate school of theology, will broaden his perspective, including on accountability.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Education Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Canada * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
In 2001, Steve made the transition from the academic world to parish ministry. He became the Senior Associate Pastor at High Point Church and the Associate Pastor at the Fountain of Life Family Ministry Center, both in Madison, WI. Alex Gee, Founder & President of the Nehemiah Community Development Corporation, is a friend and partner from that time, “Steve was our founding board chairman… [and] served as a volunteer Associated Pastor at our cross-cultural, multi-class congregation. He helped me to create an in-house urban leadership training program for developing our folks. Steve’s brilliance is only eclipsed by his humility! I’m a better man because of my accountability to Steve and his love for me.”
In 2003, he was called as the Peachtree Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA, while also serving as Scholar in Residence at Peachtree Presbyterian Church. In 2009, he was called as the Seminary’s ninth President.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
Lots of questions arise. Is this a great historical paradox - the consolidation of a sentimental tie based on common Orthodox Christianity, under a secular Greek government and a stridently pious Russian one? That would be an interesting reversal of the cold war. Or is the relationship more cultural and historical, based on common memories of shimmering mosaics and swirling incense, rather than actively religious? If that is true, then it is not particularly dependent on what people on either side now believe.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Germany Greece Russia * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Orthodox Church
The inaugural prayer Friday marked the launch of the Women's Mosque of America, a nonprofit that hopes to create a space where Muslim women can "bring their whole self," learn more about their faith and foster bonds of sisterhood.
"Muslim women haven't had a forum," Yasmeen Ruhge, a cardiologist from Pasadena, said as she waited for the service to begin. "When we go to the mosque we have to sit on one side. Not that we aren't equal, but this gives us a freedom to talk as all women and create an independent role."
Read it all.
Many experts conclude that cohabitation puts children at risk for instability. As the rate of couples who live together without being married rises radically, children in America are more likely to experience cohabitation than divorce, according to W. Brad Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. Wilcox posits that they're also at risk for potential psychological and academic problems, poverty, instability, and child abuse. He writes, "Compared to marriage, cohabitation furnishes less commitment, stability, sexual fidelity, and safety for romantic partners and their children."
Consequently, cohabiting couples are more than twice as likely to breakup and four times as likely to be unfaithful to one another, compared with married couples. A recent study from Drs. Sheela Kennedy and Larry Bumpass found that 65 percent of children born to cohabitating parents saw their parents' breakup by age 12, compared to 24 percent born to married families.
Read it all.
The black church’s unique history and culture help to explain why it is keeping millennials while other traditions are losing them. In the Antebellum Era, the black church was a place of “communal and spiritual encouragement” for slaves, says University of Albany professor Roxanne Jones Booth. And during Jim Crow, the church was one of the few institutions that let blacks lead.
Consequently, the church “served more than a religion function,” said apologetics pastor and researcher Carl Ellis. “There are institutional, social, and cultural reasons why people attend church. They’re not all theological.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Sociology Young Adults * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
“We thought she’d be really strict and not fun at all,” said eighth-grader Chloe Morycz.
“I thought she’d be really old and have a big veil covering her whole face, but then she turned out to be really young. Like 20,” said fourth-grader Damien Szuch.
Read it all.
Exodus 31:18 (NIV)
When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.
Father, inscribe upon the hearts of the people of the Diocese of South Carolina Your covenant law.
Mark 7:33-35 (NIV)
After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
Open their ears and loosen their tongues to advance the kingdom of God.
Luke 11:20 (NIV)
But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Drive out the demons blocking the advancement of Your kingdom in this diocese. Your kingdom come and Your will be done in the Diocese of South Carolina as it is in heaven. Amen.
Please pray it all and there are more prayers for South Carolina here
Os Guinness is an author and social critic. Born in China, educated in England, he has lived in the US since 1984 and is a member of the Falls Church Anglican in Virginia. His latest book is ‘Renaissance — The power of the gospel however dark the times
You can find the download there and you may listen directly here from Saint Michael's, Charleston, SC.
That’s when the U.S. Supreme Court will decide if customers who shop on HealthCare.gov can use federal financial aid to lower the amount they pay for insurance. Those customers include 37-year-old Erin Johnson and more than 140,000 other low- to middle-income South Carolinians who already receive those health insurance subsidies.
“If it’s full price, I honestly don’t think I could do it. I really don’t make much,” said Johnson, a medical courier from Goose Creek. She receives a federal discount worth more than $100 and pays only $56 a month for her policy. Before she purchased the plan in October, she was uninsured. “I needed it. It was pretty awesome.”
Read it all from the local paper.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance Politics in General State Government * South Carolina
I face every day something very like what you face. I see and talk with people who are sick in their souls, sick with fear, sick with resentment, sick with futility, sick with dishonesty about themselves. They come to me with problems I cannot solve, as they come to you with sickness you cannot heal. The first thing I have to do is to get their confidence, so that they can tell me the things that are really on their hearts. And often...then I have to reach into my own experience for something like their problem, so that they know I have faced a similar thing. And then I begin telling them what I, and others, have found as a way out. That brings us right back to Christ. Because, while I cannot answer their problems, He can. There is no joy in the world like watching Him begin to come into somebody's life through the contagion of one's own faith, and then watch them begin spiritually to get well. That is the thrill of my job, as watching them get well in health is the thrill of yours.
But my job isn't just confined to the soul, it has to take in the mind and the body. The other day I sent a friend of mine to one of this city's great-hearted psychiatrists, because I knew he could help in a way I could not. And I am constantly working with medical doctors, so that we can heal people all round. In the same way you cannot confine your healing to the body only. You know how much the mental attitude has to do with getting well, how fear, or not wanting to live, pull people down, and how wanting to live and be well, and faith, pull them up. Sometimes it seems that these attitudes are determinative in what happens to sick people. What do you feel about them? Can you do anything to help? Are they just chemical reactions? Or does the power of suggestion lie very close to faith, and is that power in the hands of everyone who sees a sick person, especially in the hands of the persons who see them most, namely, yourselves?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
"This nation has had the greatest privileges ever given to any nation in all time. America has been God's privileged child. But America has become a spoiled child. We have been ungrateful to the God under whom our liberties were given to us. I believe it is high time for someone to say that this war today is God's judgment upon a godless and selfish people."
Shoemaker did support the war effort; in his sermon, "What Are We Fighting For?" he admitted that the war was a "grim necessity," the means by which nations would once again have the opportunity to choose democracy. But he abhorred any self-righteous cause:
"No war can ever be a clear-cut way for a Christian to express his hatred of evil. For war involves a basic confusion. All the good in the world is not ranged against all the evil. In the present war, some nations that have a great deal of evil in them are yet seeking to stand for freedom … against other nations which have a great deal of good in them but yet are presently dedicated to turning the world backwards into the darkness of enslavement."
Read it all (emphasis mine).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
--New Every Morning (The Prayer Book Of The Daily Broadcast Service) [BBC, 1900]
Borno and the northeast generally support the political opposition instead of the governing power. A credible presumption is that most Nigerians in the northeast would support Mohammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) against incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). However given Boko Haram’s presence, it is unclear whether many in Borno will actually be able to cast ballots. Indeed, a large scale Boko Haram attack on Maiduguri, with the loss or destruction of the airport and the airbase, would be a major blow to the Nigerian government and could have consequences for the February 14 elections. It would also reinforce the widespread view among Nigerians outside the northeast that the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan is failing to provide for the security of its citizens, a view that increases support for Buhari in parts of Nigeria that have previously not supported him.
In this pre-election period, Boko Haram has been a political football between the PDP and the APC. Boko Haram’s perspective appears to be ‘a plague on both your houses.’ It may have tried to assassinate Buhari and the Shehu of Borno, and it has also threatened death to Jonathan many times.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
More technology in the classroom has long been a policy-making panacea. But mounting evidence shows that showering students, especially those from struggling families, with networked devices will not shrink the class divide in education. If anything, it will widen it.
In the early 2000s, the Duke University economists Jacob Vigdor and Helen Ladd tracked the academic progress of nearly one million disadvantaged middle-school students against the dates they were given networked computers. The researchers assessed the students’ math and reading skills annually for five years, and recorded how they spent their time. The news was not good....
Read it all.
This issue is one that the Telegraph exposed. It is about the abortion of girls purely on the ground of their sex – the first form of violence against women and girls.
The academics’ letter shows beautifully the need to clarify the law. For too long, confused interpretations of the 1967 Abortion Act have passed unchallenged. Professor Sheldon herself has written elsewhere that the idea that sex-selective abortion is illegal is “far from clear”. We cannot sit idly by as a preference for sons results in selective abortion of daughters.
The letter claims that action will require ethnic profiling. This was not true for female genital mutilation – a predominantly cultural practice – and need not be true for sex-selective abortion....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Religion & Culture Women * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
At that time, the writer assumed that we left because of the consecration of a... bishop [in a same-sex partnership]. We were pretty clear with that writer that we left for reasons much greater than one bishop. We left because the hierarchy of the Episcopal Church had left us with its swing to modify, even deny, much of the story of salvation through Jesus Christ. The writer, to her credit, presented our rationale relatively fairly.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Departing Parishes Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
Where the heart and soul of the Christian faith is embraced, there is life aplenty. It is where the people forget, and like the Jews of Jerusalem may well have to be carried off to Babylon in order to begin to remember again. Even in the places where there are brutal regimes and a spiritual desert, the river of God still flows and its life overwhelms the death of empty messages.
In some places, the church is attempting to modify its charter from the Lord Jesus and seeks to present another message. Sadly, it is neither respected or effective. What is effective is fidelity and the Power of the Cross.
Those from Christian origins who stray make a mistake in thinking that there is not a problem. Another mistake is assuming that there is nothing we can do about the struggle. Those grave errors are compounded when the Church fails to tap into the life that God offers.
Read it all.
The critique of parenthood as selfish relies on a strong distinction between becoming and being a parent, so that a parent's own selfless dedication to their children cannot count in their favour. The charge is that the decision to become a parent is a selfish one because it effectively hijacks society's sense of justice towards the needs of children once created to socialise the costs of a private and therefore necessarily self-interested lifestyle choice.
My concern in this article has been to reject the strong distinction between the ethics of becoming and the ethics of being a parent, and hence the claim that parenthood is selfish.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
A new survey from the Pew Research Center shows 76 percent of Americans know of the Jan. 7 attack, and among this group 60 percent of Americans support the magazine’s right to publish these controversial images, while 28 percent disapprove.
However, one in four Americans overall offered no opinion because, they said, they had not heard about the violent attack where 10 artists and writers and two policemen were murdered.
Read it all.
Fortunately, some Muslims have begun to reinterpret ancient traditions in light of modernity and begun their own, albeit often-quiet reformations, distressed by the authoritarian elements smuggled into their tradition. They are intent on synthesizing—as have so many branches of Judaism and Christianity—features of their religious traditions with democratic ideas. Such reformations have been institutionalized successfully in several countries with significant Muslim populations, such as Turkey and Tunisia.
We can only hope that, with the quickening pace of historical change in modernity, Islam can adjust more rapidly than Christendom, so that a broad-minded form of the religion will prevail. Muslims will have to recognize what the West, through many centuries of hard experience and reflection, has learned: that religious texts arose in a particular context and must be reinterpreted in the new context of modernity; that pluralism within one’s own tradition and the tolerance of other faiths must be appreciated anew; and, finally, that the coercive imposition of faith will generate only nominal or hypocritical, not authentic, conversions.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Haley said the task force would focus on cultural issues contributing to the state being among the deadliest in the nation for women at the hands of husbands and partners while the Legislature continues its efforts to toughen penalties for batterers.
“Everybody in South Carolina knows about domestic violence, but nobody talks about it — they whisper,” Haley said during the announcement at the Statehouse. “That’s what we’re going to change in South Carolina.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Men Violence Women * Economics, Politics Politics in General State Government * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
As the Church prepares to begin its "shared conversations", a formal process aimed at reconciling Anglicans with differing views on sexuality, it is being acknowledged that the fundamental nature of the division, rooted in different understandings of scripture, identity, and obedience, is likely to prove too much for those at both ends of the spectrum to agree to differ.
The difficulty appears to have been acknowledged by David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury's director for reconciliation, according to a Changing Attitude blog published last week.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Aaqil Ahmed, the first Muslim to hold the post, and one of the most outspoken BBC executives, has been told his role in commissioning programmes is to be axed as part of a shake-up.
Religion is to make an unlikely alliance with science, business issues and history under the oversight of a new head of “factual” programming.
The Church of England has voiced alarm at the move, arguing that Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris illustrates starkly how it is impossible to understand world events without a grasp of religious motivation.
Read it all from the Telegraph.
As a starting point for understanding the age we live in, he recommended philosopher Charles Taylor's definitive work, A Secular Age (2007). There Taylor carefully traces the "shift in master narratives" which has taken place since the 1500's: then it was difficult not to believe in God, while today people find it difficult to believe in God.
Taylor draws a sharp distinction between natural and supernatural. While the latter used to be regarded as not impossible, the concept was undermined beginning with the modern philosophies of Descartes and Spinoza, which were amplified by the post-moderns Heidegger and Wittgenstein. But post-modernism asks us to accept things which cannot be proved, based wholly on assumptions. (Philosophy, like theology, is fiduciary in that it asks us to trust the philosophy that is expressed. Yet philosophy will not accept or trust in the existence of God, which likewise cannot be proved.)
C.S. Lewis, said McGrath, is neither modern nor post-modern. He bridges both camps -- he mingles reason with imagination. And this insight will help us break the power of today's master narratives ("metanarratives") over the popular imagination.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Seminary / Theological Education Theology: Scripture
"Where is your mother's bill of divorce,
with which I put her away?
Or which of my creditors is it
to whom I have sold you?
Behold, for your iniquities you were sold,
and for your transgressions your mother was put away.
Why, when I came, was there no man?
When I called, was there no one to answer?
Is my hand shortened, that it cannot redeem?
Or have I no power to deliver?
Behold, by my rebuke I dry up the sea,
I make the rivers a desert;
their fish stink for lack of water,
and die of thirst.
I clothe the heavens with blackness,
and make sackcloth their covering."
The Lord GOD has given me
the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word
him that is weary.
Morning by morning he wakens,
he wakens my ear
to hear as those who are taught.
The Lord GOD has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious,
I turned not backward.
But that’s not good enough for Hanby, Weigel, and Dreher. They are in mourning for Christianity’s loss of cultural hegemony in the United States.
I’d like to suggest that they should get over it — that, rightly understood, Christianity can be most fully itself when it relinquishes political and cultural rule, when it ceases to identify itself so closely with any particular political order.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
On Thursday, school President Philip Hanlon announced that starting March 30, all students, regardless of age, will be prohibited from possessing hard alcohol on campus. The school’s Greek societies have also been warned that they need to improve their behavior or risk being banned.
The measures come at a time when school officials across the United States are considering ways to crack down on a culture of excessive partying found at many colleges. The White House says the behavior has led to an “epidemic” of sexual assault on school campuses.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Alcohol/Drinking Alcoholism Education Law & Legal Issues Men Sexuality Violence Women Young Adults * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Christian university had asked the court to review the society's decision to deny accreditation to its graduates. It argued the law society overstepped its jurisdiction and failed to comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Canada * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
This disengagement from mainstream politics echoes the growing detachment from mainstream religious groups. White, working-class Brits have deserted the pews, which are now occupied by immigrants from India, Nigeria and the Philippines. In England’s former Catholic heartlands, such as Liverpool archdiocese, fewer than one in 10 baptised Catholics attend Mass. Nearby in Preston – the very heart of recusant Catholicism – a historic church was about to close before the Syro-Malabar faithful from India agreed to take it on.
The trend is clear: more and more British people no longer belong to our country’s great institutions and care little for our leaders, whether they are bishops or politicians. Instead, they believe in nothing and everything.
Out of this political wasteland has emerged Nigel Farage, whose chief attraction is his very unpolitical way of saying what many think and his ability to annoy the po-faced liberal establishment.
Nigel Farage is not especially religious, though he describes himself as an Anglican. But recently he has started talking about Britain’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage, a phrase associated with the American religious Right. Woolfe also drops the term into our conversation. For him, the party is more than just a working-class protest vote. He regards Ukip as a true “one-nation party”, with support across the country, and “a natural party for Roman Catholics like myself”.
Catholic bishops would dispute that – but not, it seems, by engaging with representatives of Ukip. If they do regard voting for the party as un-Christian, they have yet to explain precisely why. The same is true of their Anglican counterparts. Ironically, the only Church leader to have met representatives of Ukip, and debated Britain’s Christian heritage with them is the Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, a Pakistani immigrant.
Read it all
Christians, we have to take this seriously. For the past three years or so, at apologetics conferences across the country, I’ve asked numerous groups this question: “How many of you who have a real interest in apologetics, worldview, and other aspects of Christian thinking feel very alone in your church?” In every case, at least three-quarters of the people raise their hands.
That’s the loneliness of thinking Christianly. It’s wrong. In fact, in view of Christianity’s heritage, it’s downright strange.
Christianity is a thinking religion, or at least it was until the late 19th and early 20th centuries...
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Education History Religion & Culture * Theology Apologetics Christology Seminary / Theological Education Theology: Scripture
Bloggers have become more influential. A small sign of this is the daily Church of England media release, which alongside newspapers reports and news items includes a number of blog posts. Bloggers' influence is particularly strong in the States, where there are a good number of serious bloggers, and some substantial discussion takes place.
Perhaps the most striking thing I have gained in blogging is the sense of disciplining my thoughts. It is one thing to have a view; it is quite another to put it in writing for all the world to see, read, and comment on. I have found this has fed back into my other speaking and ministry. Every time I preach or speak, I am drawing on a number of things I have written about in the blog—which I hope gives substance and plausibility to what I say, but also gives me resources to draw on and confidence in what I present. The blog has become, for me, a personal library of written resources. Perhaps it is the diary or reflective journal that I have never kept...
Read it all
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