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.

The new definition of marriage no longer coincides with the Christian understanding of marriage between a man and woman. Our biblical faith is committed to upholding, celebrating, and furthering this understanding, which is stated many times within the Scriptures and has been repeatedly restated in our wedding ceremonies, church laws, and doctrinal standards for centuries. To continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage.

Therefore, in our roles as Christian ministers, we, the undersigned, commit ourselves to disengaging civil and Christian marriage in the performance of our pastoral duties. We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage. We will no longer sign government-provided marriage certificates. We will ask couples to seek civil marriage separately from their church-related vows and blessings. We will preside only at those 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.

Please join us in this pledge to separate civil marriage from Christian marriage by adding your name.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family

November 18, 2014 at 9:32 am - 61 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.

A Flourishing Communion

First of all, and this needs to be heard very clearly, the Anglican Communion exists and is flourishing in roughly 165 countries. There has been comment over the last year that issues around the Communion should not trouble us in the Church of England because the Communion has for all practical purposes ceased to exist. Not only does it exist, but almost everywhere (there are some exceptions) the links to the See of Canterbury, notwithstanding its Archbishop, are profoundly valued. The question as to its existence is therefore about what it will look like in the future. That may be very different, and I will come back to the question.

Secondly, Anglicanism is incredibly diverse. To sit, in the space of a few months, in meetings with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Primate of Australia, the Primate of South Africa, the Moderator of the Church of South India, the Primate of Nigeria and many others is to come away utterly daunted by the differences that exist. They are huge, beyond capacity to deal with adequately in the time for this presentation...
.....
In an age of near instant communication, because the Communion exists, and is full of life, vigour and growth, of faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and love for him, everything that one Province does echoes around the world. Every sermon or speech here is heard within minutes and analysed half to death. Every careless phrase in an interview is seen as a considered policy statement. And what is true of all Provinces is ten times more so for us, and especially us in this Synod. We never speak only to each other, and the weight of that responsibility, if we love each other and the world as we should, must affect our actions and our words.
.....
At the same time there is a profound unity in many ways. Not in all ways, but having said what I have about diversity, which includes diversity on all sorts of matters including sexuality, marriage and its nature, the use of money, the relations between men and women, the environment, war and peace, distribution of wealth and food, and a million other things, underpinning us is a unity imposed by the Spirit of God on those who name Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. This diversity is both gift and challenge, to be accepted and embraced, as we seek to witness in truth and love to the good news of Jesus Christ.

Thirdly, the potential of the Communion under God is beyond anything we can imagine or think about. We need to hold on to that, there is a prize, the quest for which it is worth almost anything to achieve. The prize is visible unity in Christ despite functional diversity. It is a prize that is not only of infinite value, but also requires enormous sacrifice and struggle to achieve. Yet if we even get near it we can speak with authority to a world where over the last year we have seen more than ever an incapacity to deal with difference, and a desire to oversimplify the complex and diverse nature of human existence for no better reason than we cannot manage difference and dealing with The Other.
.....
the future of the Communion requires sacrifice. The biggest sacrifice is that we cannot only work with those we like, and hang out with those whose views are also ours. Groups of like-minded individuals meeting to support and encourage each other may be necessary, indeed often are very necessary, but they are never sufficient. Sufficiency is in loving those with whom we disagree. What may be necessary in the way of party politics, is not sufficient in what might be called the polity of the Church.

In this Church of England we must learn to hold in the right order our calling to be one and our calling to advance our own particular position and seek our own particular views to prevail in the Church generally, whether in England or around the world. We must speak the truth in love.

In practice that has to mean the discipline of meeting with those with whom we disagree and listening to each other carefully and lovingly
.....
I have not called a Primates’ Meeting on my own authority (although I could) because I feel that it is necessary for the Anglican Communion to develop a collegial model of leadership, as much as it is necessary in the Church of England, and I have therefore waited for the end of the visits to Provinces.

If the majority view of the Primates is that such a meeting would be a good thing, one will be called in response. The agenda for that meeting will not be set centrally, but from around the Primates of the Communion. One issue that needs to be decided on, ideally by the Primates’ meeting, is whether and if so when there is another Lambeth Conference. It is certainly achievable, but the decision is better made together carefully, than in haste to meet an artificial deadline of a year ending in 8. A Lambeth Conference is so expensive and so complex that we have to be sure that it is worthwhile. It will not be imposed, but part of a collective decision.

The key general point to be established is how the Anglican Communion is led, and what its vision is in the 21st century, in a post-colonial world? How do we reflect the fact that the majority of its members are in the Global South, what is the role of the Instruments of Communion, especially the Archbishop of Canterbury, and what does that look like in lived out practice?

Read it all from CofE General Synod 17th to 18th November 2014 Links

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

November 17, 2014 at 10:56 am - 27 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, welcomed the news today that the Obama administration will defer deportations for many undocumented immigrants and their families.

“We have a long history of welcoming and aiding the poor, the outcast, the immigrant, and the disadvantaged. Each day, the Catholic Church in the United States, in her social service agencies, hospitals, schools, and parishes, witnesses the human consequences of the separation of families, when parents are deported from their children or spouses from each other. We’ve been on record asking the Administration to do everything within its legitimate authority to bring relief and justice to our immigrant brothers and sisters. As pastors, we welcome any efforts within these limits that protect individuals and protect and reunite families and vulnerable children,” said Bishop Elizondo.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

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November 22, 2014 at 5:50 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Barack Obama’s immigration plan offers “a word of mercy and a measure of justice,” said United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño, co-chair of the denomination’s interagency task force on immigration reform.

The plan means undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years and have children who are U.S. citizens or residents “can now come out of the shadows,” said Carcaño, episcopal leader for the California-Pacific Conference.

The United Methodist Council of Bishops has long supported immigration reform and encouraged local communities “to participate in ministries of mercy and justice,” said Bishop Julius C. Trimble, co-chair of the interagency task force on immigration reform and episcopal leader of the Iowa Conference.

Trimble said critics have attacked the president’s action before, saying reform is the responsibility of Congress.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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November 22, 2014 at 5:45 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian and Muslim leaders fear more violence in the coastal city of Mombasa after the government indefinitely closed four mosques over suspected terror activities.

On Friday (Nov. 21), religious and political leaders united to urge the government to reopen the mosques. Muslim leaders accused the government of insensitivity, while Christian leaders feared being targeted in revenge attacks.

“We have always advised the government against adopting these counterproductive and draconian measures. It is unfortunate they ignored the Muslim leaders,” said Sheikh Abdulghafur El-Busaidy, the chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

November 22, 2014 at 4:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In one of Ross’s most effective chapters, she argues that low-church evangelical liturgy has taken many of its cues from the Gospel of John, while more high-church traditions have tended to look toward the synoptics. She cites John’s emphasis on personal faith, de-emphasis of high offices, and prioritization of Christology as ways in which this particular gospel has deeply influenced low-church liturgical practices. Ross’s goal here, she tells us, is not to establish which reading or which liturgical practice ought to be favored. She seeks instead to highlight that the breadth of scripture suggests that a breadth of interpretations can be welcomed and affirmed by the Christian church. Ross writes, “Nonsacramental Christianity is one faithful way of embodying the shared confession of faith. My hope is that the discipline of liturgical studies is wide enough to embrace ‘both-and’ without mandating ‘either-or.’”

Yet for all the book’s strengths, it is one thing to demonstrate that a system of thought or group of practices are coherent; it is quite another to demonstrate that they are good. While any fair-minded high-church reader of Ross’s work should be able to finish this book with a greater understanding of evangelical liturgical practices, I am not sure that he will come away from this book feeling more sympathetic to low-church evangelicalism. It is possible, in fact, that greater theological clarity might bring about greater discomfort, as some high-church readers may see their worst fears being confirmed in these elucidating pages, particularly by phrases like “nonsacramental Christianity.” Furthermore, those already suspicious of the excesses of Finney and Whitefield are unlikely to be persuaded otherwise by Ross’s discussion of their role in the formation of evangelical liturgical practices.

Still, it is better to have an informed conversation than an uninformed one.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

November 22, 2014 at 3:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the weeks following the initial 2013 publication of my book, The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy, I received hundreds of emails, letters, and tweets. Many were filled with personal reminiscences and heartfelt emotion, but mainly the communications demonstrated that people who have followed the assassination story these many years have long since chosen sides.

The concrete is so set that even if a time machine existed, and we could go back and videotape the Dallas event from every conceivable angle, some would not be convinced unless their preferred conspirators were caught red-handed. The controversy about the assassination shows few signs of fading away, especially because (according to a Peter Hart poll commissioned for my book), three-quarters of Americans do not believe the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

A handful of the messages I’ve received were sent by individuals who insisted they had revelations about President Kennedy’s assassination. I met, spoke by phone, or exchanged correspondence with the most credible of them. After passage of more than a half-century, it is almost impossible to separate fact from fiction, and some intriguing leads proved impossible to confirm because the principals refused to cooperate or are deceased. Nonetheless, some worthwhile particulars emerged.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryPsychologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

November 22, 2014 at 2:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recently, I played the role of father of the bride for the first time in my life. It was a life-changing event for me; I barely survived. I suspect it was an important day for my daughter too; she was quite animated and very interested in every detail. Months of planning and purchasing led steadily to the special day. Flower choices were debated, color schemes considered and rejected, songs chosen, an organist identified, a soloist, a photographer, a videographer, a caterer, a baker, greeters, readers, feeders, eaters—Eisenhower spent less time planning his visit to Normandy. It was the usual, once-in-a-lifetime kind of event in the chapel of the small liberal-arts college where I teach and the betrothed couple met, graduated and learned about lifelong commitment—like the legal obligations inherent in student loans.

Of course, there was the Friday-night rehearsal. My part was easy enough: Walk slowly down the aisle with a beautiful woman on my arm. After two walk-throughs, I was confident I could handle it. Although I had major parts, both onstage in a tuxedo and as the signer of numerous bank drafts, I had only one line, “Her mother and I,” in reply to the query, “Who gives this woman?” I delivered my line at the rehearsal in a strong, confident voice, accompanied by the thought, “I can do this tomorrow.”

But at 3 a.m., I awoke with a panic attack. I could not do this.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

November 22, 2014 at 1:29 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Enjoy it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & Television* General InterestHumor / Trivia

November 22, 2014 at 1:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The choir of Somerville College, Oxford in Coventry Cathedral

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship

November 22, 2014 at 11:21 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A local school's fund drive for a church has caught the attention of the American Humanist Association, a secular group concerned about the separation of church and state. The group is threatening legal action.

The student council of Oakbrook Elementary School in Ladson is raising money and encouraging donations to Old Fort Baptist Church's food pantry. The efforts were publicized on the school's website and in fliers as supporting "Old Fort Baptist Missions."

The Humanist Association, whose slogan is "good without God," said they sent a letter on Thursday by email to Dorchester District 2 Superintendent Joe Pye and Principal Monica O'Dea claiming that it was unconstitutional for a school to raise money for a church.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* South Carolina

November 22, 2014 at 9:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Every one there is filled full of what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world. No one's eyes can see very far beyond that: lots of people's eyes can see further than mine.
--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Chapter 12 ("Faith"; emphasis mine) [Hat tip:JH]

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Theology

November 22, 2014 at 8:30 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

James Houston knew C.S. Lewis well during their time at Oxford, and here he comments on the great impact of Lewis on Christian spiritual formation.

Listen to it all, conducted by Bruce Hindmarsh.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* TheologyApologeticsSeminary / Theological Education

November 22, 2014 at 8:15 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

November 22, 2014 at 8:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused be wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.
--C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy (Harcourt Brace, 1956), p.228

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* TheologyChristologySoteriology

November 22, 2014 at 7:40 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is hell.
--C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1960), pp. 138-139

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* TheologyAnthropologyEschatology

November 22, 2014 at 7:15 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God of searing truth and surpassing beauty, we give thee thanks for Clive Staples Lewis whose sanctified imagination lighteth fires of faith in young and old alike; Surprise us also with thy joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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

November 22, 2014 at 6:56 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Teach us, O God, to walk trustfully today in thy presence, that thy voice may encourage us, thine arm defend us, and thy love surround us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer

November 22, 2014 at 6:35 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the wickedness of its inhabitants. He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields, and plant vineyards, and get a fruitful yield. By his blessing they multiply greatly; and he does not let their cattle decrease. 39 When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, trouble, and sorrow, he pours contempt upon princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; but he raises up the needy out of affliction, and makes their families like flocks. The upright see it and are glad; and all wickedness stops its mouth. Whoever is wise, let him give heed to these things; let men consider the steadfast love of the LORD.

--Psalm 107:33-43

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

November 22, 2014 at 6:05 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

November 21, 2014 at 4:32 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The celebration after the College of St. Scholastica won its fourth consecutive conference football championship resembled an extended family gathering this month. Oblivious to the numbing cold, players, coaches, family members and students lingered on the field, exchanging hugs and posing with the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference championship banner.

In the midst of it, Mike Lehmann, a beefy reserve offensive lineman, approached an assistant coach with a request. “Coach, my mom wants a picture,” he said.

So Lehmann wrapped an arm around the diminutive coach in the dark blue winter jacket and matching fleece headband, who is beloved around this little Catholic school for a quick smile and inspiring manner — Sister Lisa Maurer, the Benedictine nun who coaches kickers and punters for the 10-0 Saints.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureSportsYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

November 21, 2014 at 3:58 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A further step in the Organizational Mediation Process by the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center at the General Theological Seminary took place on Thursday, November 20, with the first meeting of the Logistics Committee via conference call facilitated by Bill Blank, the LMPC Associate Director.

The 14 members of the Logistics Committee represent all stakeholders in the GTS community: current students, staff, faculty, Board of Trustees members, spouses and partners, and alumni. Each member of the committee was appointed by their respective group.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Conflicts* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

November 21, 2014 at 3:35 pm - 2 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the last few decades, there has been much talk about “Six Degrees of Separation,” which is the idea that any person in the world can be introduced to any other person in the world, by being introduced through our networks of friends. Statisticians have demonstrated that anyone in the US can be introduced to almost anyone else in the US by going through only two or three friends. But as often as we hear such things, it is still amazing when it happens “in real life.”

This week I received a private message on Facebook from a woman I never met. And that was the beginning (or possibly the end) of an unusual series of connections through my life and through social media. To understand the connections that led to this message, let me go back in time to high school.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

November 21, 2014 at 3:20 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

November 21, 2014 at 11:18 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On a Sunday morning this past October, some 1,500 preachers and ministers across the country joined in a nationwide protest they called Pulpit Freedom Sunday. They spoke defiantly from their pulpits about political campaigns and pending legislation. They even endorsed politicians, knowingly violating laws meant to prevent such mixing of church and state. Organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom, this group of evangelicals targeted the Johnson Amendment, which forbids tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates and getting involved in campaigns. By violating these rules in an act of civil disobedience, they hoped to trigger a court case to get the amendment overturned. The issue, as they see it, is too much involvement by the government in religious life. The government should not tell Christians how to run their businesses, how to teach their children, or—as the Pulpit Freedom Sunday protesters asserted—how to write their sermons.

These sermons of protest were part of a broader political mobilization among religious institutions in the United States in recent years. The number of “Nones”—those professing no religious affiliation—is on the rise, and a small but vocal group of atheists are challenging Christian displays in public spaces. And the Christian Right appears to be losing the battle on gay rights. In response, many of the leading conservative religious organizations are mobilizing politically while also shifting their strategy. Their new aim is to mark off a part of life that can remain Christian, to protect Christians as a minority that can stand apart from the demands of a national culture they see as being dominated by secularism. The Hobby Lobby case was only the most prominent example of this trend.

On the other hand, a broad swath of American Christians sees things entirely differently. Although they receive far less attention, members of the religious left do not feel besieged by their country. Instead, they are pushing law and politics in the very directions the religious right is resisting. The United Church of Christ filed suit in April 2014 to overturn the prohibition on gay marriage in North Carolina. In the same state, many ministers are participating in the “Moral Monday” campaigns, a movement that is saturated in religious language. And Jim Wallis and Cornel West were arrested last month for protesting police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri. Although the left differs with the right on cultural policy, both groups see political mobilization as being at the heart of religious thought and practice.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

November 21, 2014 at 9:01 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Admissions officers at Morehouse College in Atlanta were shocked several years ago when a number of high school seniors submitted applications using email addresses containing provocative language.

Some of the addresses made sexual innuendos while others invoked gangster rap songs or drug use, said Darryl D. Isom, Morehouse’s director of admissions and recruitment.

But last year, he and his staff noticed a striking reversal: Nearly every applicant to Morehouse, an all-male historically black college, used his real name, or some variation, as his email address.

Morehouse admissions officials, who occasionally dip into applicants’ public social media profiles looking for additional details about them, also found fewer provocative posts.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingEducationYoung Adults* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

November 21, 2014 at 8:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch it and enjoy.

Filed under: * General InterestAnimalsPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

November 21, 2014 at 7:36 am - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Make new Friends… there are some great examples of Church Friends Groups in the diocese. They take a bit of effort to get going, but can typically double the number of people involved in supporting the heritage of the church and help with fund raising. National Churches Trust offers a useful guide – ask us for a copy.

Arrange an exhibition… this can be a great way to engage local people, especially if this can involve children. Is there a local history link that you could make? Don’t forget that the ‘Lindisfarne Legacy’ pop-up exhibition is still available for free use by churches to help complement local events.

Design a trail… what are the ten most interesting things about your church, churchyard or immediate surroundings? Why not create a short trail leaflet to encourage visitors to explore and appreciate the significance of your church? We can send you an advice sheet and a template you could use for this.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Theology

November 21, 2014 at 7:00 am - 2 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dozens of faith leaders and consumer advocates are pressing Congress to create a national interest rate cap for payday lenders instead of the exorbitant three-digit rates currently charged to people in several states. Eighty activists from 22 states came to Washington in hopes of shaping new regulations that are expected from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Many of their congregations are surrounded by payday loan businesses that they say prey on poor residents by charging high interest rates and creating a cycle of debt.

“Together, you guys are really bringing a strong message and a light and a moral perspective about predatory lending that’s valuable,” said Rachel Anderson, director of faith-based outreach for the Center for Responsible Lending, which spearheaded a three-day visit and training session for religious leaders on Capitol Hill. “We hope that your message is heard strongly.”

The leaders asked members of Congress on Wednesday (November 19) to pass legislation capping interest rates, citing a 36 percent interest cap required by the Military Lending Act. “If it’s fair for the military, we felt it should be fair for all people,” said the Rev. Susan McCann of Grace Episcopal Church in Liberty, Missouri.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/SectorPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

November 21, 2014 at 6:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It isn’t hard to figure out what made Mr. Nichols so competitive. Born in Berlin in 1931, he got out of Germany at the age of 7, mere steps ahead of the Holocaust. After that, nobody had to tell him that Jews got no favors. Characteristically, he claimed that it was an advantage. “The thing about being an outsider,” he said in 2012, “is that it teaches you to hear what people are thinking because you’re constantly looking for the people who just don’t give a damn.”

Mr. Nichols made his name in the ’50s by improvising supremely sharp-witted comedy routines with Elaine May. The lightning-quick timing that he cultivated on nightclub stages served him well when he took up directing in 1963. During a rehearsal for the Broadway premiere of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” he got into a shouting match with Walter Matthau. “You’re emasculating me!” the actor shouted. “Give me back my balls!” “Certainly,” Mr. Nichols replied, then snapped his fingers to summon the stage manager. “Props!”

Mr. Nichols’s work was unshowy, even self-effacing. “It’s not a filmmaker’s job to explain his technique, but to tell his story the best way he can,” he said. Hence no one will ever think of him as a groundbreaker, a radically original creative artist. He was, rather, an interpreter, and in the studio he almost always did his best work with familiar material like Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (his first film) and the TV version of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” both of which clearly convey the visceral impact of the plays on which they were based. Few of his other films will be as well remembered. Even 1967’s “The Graduate,” which vaulted him into the pantheon of Hollywood superstars, now looks like a period piece, a carefully posed snapshot of a key moment in postwar American culture.

But the fact that Mr. Nichols did make films means that he himself will likely be remembered longer than any other American stage director of his generation.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionTheatre/Drama/Plays* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

November 21, 2014 at 5:30 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Archbp Justin Welby]...also told reporters that he could not say with any certainty when the first women might be appointed bishop. "The Archbishops have just one vote out of 14 [on the Crown Nominations Commission], and our ability to control or prevent appointments is very limited. I know there are some very good people, and we hope that some will also find their way on to the bishops' bench."

If bishops retire as expected, Archbishop Welby said, women could make up half the College of Bishops within ten to 15 years.

Campaigners for women bishops reacted with pleasure to the news that the long road to allowing women into the episcopate had now ended. The chairwoman of WATCH (Women and the Church), Hillary Cotton, told the BBC that the move was highly significant.

"It is not just about having women wearing purple, it is about changing the culture of the Church to be more equal."

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

November 21, 2014 at 5:16 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I had the privilege of being part of a Fordham University event last night on the future of religion, responding (along with a rather more distinguished fellow panelist) to remarks by the religion journalist and academic Molly Worthen on the roots of institutional faith’s present-day developed-world decline. There was, I think, some basic agreement among all of the panelists about some of the patterns and shifts we’re experiencing right now (the decline of institutional authority, the working out of the sexual revolution, the rise of the so-called “nones”), and then a number of interesting things were said about the possible unknowns that might either accelerate or redirect current trends: There was discussion of how institutional-cum-orthodox forms of faith might experience some sort of revival, of how spiritual-but-not-religious forms of faith might represent the vanguard of an entirely new era of religious understanding, and of how religious forces outside the developed world (Islam, Pentecostalism, Chinese Christianity) might matter more to the West itself than a Western-centric vision allows.

All of us were trying, I think, to escape a little bit from the tyranny of extrapolation — the tendency to assume that today’s trends will necessarily be tomorrow’s, and that history happens in a relatively linear and Whiggish fashion. But reflecting on the discussion afterward, it seems worth dwelling a little more the importance of the unexpected in religious history, the ways in which various forms of rupture and reversal can make punditry look foolish.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropology

November 21, 2014 at 5:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The human head weighs about a dozen pounds. But as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds.

That’s the burden that comes with staring at a smartphone — the way millions do for hours every day, according to research published by Kenneth Hansraj in the National Library of Medicine. The study will appear next month in Surgical Technology International. Over time, researchers say, this poor posture, sometimes called “text neck,” can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, degeneration and even surgery.

“It is an epidemic or, at least, it’s very common,” Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, told The Washington Post. “Just look around you, everyone has their heads down.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropology

November 21, 2014 at 4:40 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God our Father, let us find grace in thy sight so as to have grace to serve thee acceptably with reverence and godly fear; and further grace not to receive thy grace in vain, nor to neglect it and fall from it, but to stir it up and grow in it, and to persevere in it unto the end of our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer

November 21, 2014 at 4:20 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They will perish, but thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment. Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away; but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.

--Psalm 102:25-27

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

November 21, 2014 at 4:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nobody can deny that Mr Welby has tried hard to keep the family intact. He has visited Anglicans in almost every part of the globe and was well received everywhere. But this week he acknowledged the deep divisions which, he told the synod, may be “too much to manage”. Anglicanism, he went on, is in a state so delicate that “without prayer and repentance, it is hard to see how we can avoid some serious fractures.” Mr Welby also acknowledged for the first time that the splits are so great that the Lambeth conference, a once-a-decade gathering of global Anglican bishops, might never happen again.

The split is mainly but not solely over same-sex relations. At one end of the spectrum, the Episcopal church in America has consecrated an openly lesbian bishop; at the other end, African bishops have supported harsh anti-gay laws. By comparison, the issue of female bishops is not so divisive. But developing-world conservatives are also dismayed when their northern colleagues make liberal theological noises—by suggesting, for example, that Jesus might not be the only way to salvation.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)

November 20, 2014 at 5:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Much has been made of the growing post-Christian sentiment among America's youngest generation of adults. But how has this well-documented turn away from religion affected Millennials' views of Christianity's most sacred text?
Has the "brand" of the Bible suffered or significantly shifted among young adults?

In a recent study among Millennials, conducted in partnership with American Bible Society and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Barna Group sought to discover how changing ideas about Christianity might be affecting perceptions of the Bible. This study—the largest Barna Group has ever done on a single generation's view of the Bible—looked at Millennials' beliefs, perceptions and practices surrounding Scripture. Three significant—and surprising—insights emerged. 1) Practicing Christian young adults maintain a traditional, high view of Scripture. 2) In contrast, non-Christian Millennials hold ambivalent and sometimes extremely negative perceptions of the Bible and of those who read it. 3) And while the screen age has impacted Bible engagement, print remains Millennials' favored format for Bible reading.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociologyYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyTheology: Scripture

November 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A shuttered church could soon shine a light on Rhode Island’s dark role in the slave trade.
Church leaders hope it will also help heal a divided state and nation.

The Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island wants to use part of the Cathedral of St. John for a museum that will look at those who made money in the slave trade — and those who opposed it. Churchgoers and clergymen filled both camps.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

November 20, 2014 at 1:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Austria’s Muslim community is incensed over the government’s plans to amend the country’s century-old law on Islam.

The new bill, championed by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Sebastian Kurz, forbids foreign funding of mosque construction or of imams working in the country and requires a unified German-language translation of the Quran.
The government argues the legislation, which Parliament will vote on this month, will help combat Islamic radicalism. Muslim groups and civic activists say it flouts the principle of equality.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeAustria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

November 20, 2014 at 11:30 am - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I’m Nur. I’m 19. I’m an Arab, I’m a Muslim,” says a young man in a hoodie and grey sweats. “I’m a good person living in a bad area,” he pauses and looks up from his script. “Can someone listen while I speak?” Nur asks.

This is a rehearsal for Conflict of Silence, a radio play to be performed — and recorded — in Birmingham on November 17. The three stars, all unemployed, are different ages and of different ethnic backgrounds. What they share is religious faith: Derek, who reads his script straight, then in West Indian patois, is Christian. Nur and Hanna, a tall, leggy girl in a magenta hijab, are Muslim. And they could not be more different. “What I’ve learnt is the strong effect that different cultures have on Islam,” says Derek. Hanna is of Somali origin, Nur’s family are from Yemen. “We had a bit of a disagreement about women staying at home,” says Hanna lightly.

And that is the point. This is a project for InterFaith Week (which runs from tomorrow until next Satuday), and the aim is to air differences and have open debate. The audience will be invited to respond afterwards, ask questions, share thoughts. “The play is a question mark rather than a full stop,” says Steve, the Christian co-ordinating the play for Soul City Arts. The hope is to spark dialogue between polarised faith communities. He explains: “Our [faith] communities aren’t talking because we are afraid to challenge each other.” People remain polite, he adds, but, often in Muslim majority areas, community relations are perceived “as a question of them and us”.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / Youth* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

November 20, 2014 at 8:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

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