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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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America's ambassador to the UN has warned Syria not to intensify violence in the days leading up to a ceasefire proposed by the UN and Arab League.
Susan Rice said the Security Council must respond urgently if Syria failed to keep its pledge to end military operations by 10 April.
Syria says it will honour the deadline, but Ms Rice said she doubted this.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Middle East Syria
But perhaps even more urgent for the Church in England than addressing this issue is the need to amend the growing incompetence and theological incoherence on the ground. There are three crucial elements that stand out:
--Almost ubiquitous liturgical chaos, where many evangelicals and liberals alike have little sense of what worship is for.Read it all.
--The increasing failure of many priests to perform their true priestly roles of pastoral care and mission outreach, in a predominantly "liberal" and managerialist ecclesial culture that encourages bureaucratisation and over-specialisation. This has often led to a staggering failure even to try to do the most obvious things - like publicising in the community an Easter egg hunt for children in the bishop's palace grounds! To an unrecognised degree this kind of lapse explains why fewer and fewer people bother with church - though the underlying failure "even to try" has more to do with a post 1960s ethos that assumes decline and regards secularisation as basically a good thing, or even as providentially ordained since religion is supposedly a "private" and merely "personal" affair after all.
--Perhaps most decisive is the collapse of theological literacy among the clergy - again, this is partly a legacy of the 1960s and 70s (made all the worst by the illusion that this was a time of enlightening by sophisticated German Protestant influence), but it has now been compounded by the ever-easier admission of people to the priesthood with but minimal theological education, and often one in which doctrine is regarded almost as an optional extra.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ecclesiology
(Blog readers please note that Father Henderson is a 2009 Graduate of General Theological Seminary currently serving a parish in Connecticut--KSH).
I joined a church that valued tradition and yet was engaged with modernity. I joined a church that embraced the timelessness of dignity and beauty. I joined a church that was engaged theologically and reasonably rather than emotionally in issues of doctrine and order. I joined a church that was a true blend of Catholic and Reformed. I joined a church that valued the uniformities of the Prayer Book even as it explored how to plumb its depths in manifold ways. I joined a church that was sacramentally grounded. I joined a church that believed that how we pray says something about what we believe.
Just as when I went to General [Seminary], finding the Episcopal Church was a joy and it felt exactly like where I was called to be. I felt at home and it was a place that made sense because there was a there there.
I am not sure where the there is now.
As I talk to priests too happy to ignore rubrics and ordination vows to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Church because they have decided their sense of “welcome” is more important than the church’s call to common identity,
as I attended a Diocesan Convention at which we sang treacly hymns with narcissistic lyrics,
as I talk to priests in pitch battles in their dioceses about baptizing in the name of the Trinity,
as I attend Eucharists where priests make up the Eucharistic Prayer on the spot (“meal of power” not Body and Blood and “the systems of the world are broken” at the Fraction),
and as I watch the Church one more time hurtle into a divisive squabble, I am feeling profoundly out of place.
The Church that is slashing funding for Christian formation and youth ministry while hurtling toward... “[the Communion of the Unbaptized]” is not the Church I thought I was joining. The Church that has a diocesan convention at which we sing “Shine, Jesus Shine” and ignore the Prayer Book is not the Church I thought I was joining. The Church that is defining sainthood as anyone who has done something good and worthy rather than someone who has done good and worthy things because of their faith in Christ is not the Church I thought I was joining.
Read it carefully and read it all and many of the comments are well worth the time.
While millions of workers used money from their retirement savings to pay expenses during the Great Recession, African Americans and Hispanics dipped into their 401(k) plans at a much higher rate.
The rise in 401(k) withdrawals, loans and cash-outs among African Americans and Hispanics represents a major setback for their long-term retirement security, says Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments, co-sponsor of a survey on the recession's impact on retirement plans.
Makes the heart sad. Read it all--KSH.
Walking down the tree-lined streets where she grew up, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley remembers the day she was presented with a beach ball at the Wee Miss Bamberg pageant -- not for winning, but as a consolation prize when she and her sister were disqualified.
"They pulled my parents aside and said they had a white queen and they had a black queen and they didn't want to upset either side by putting us in that category," she recalls, not the first time nor the last that their Indian heritage made it hard for her family to fit in this small town. "My mom said, 'Can she at least do her talent?'"
So she sang (irony alert) "This land is your land, this land is my land. …" A family photo from that day shows a solemn Nikki in a ruffled dress and black patent-leather shoes, accepting the gift-wrapped package on stage as the other little girls squirm and chatter, waiting for the contest to continue.
How times have changed.
Read it all.
As the total amount of student debt topples over $1 trillion, many have begun to question just how expensive a college degree is. The Student Loan Forgiveness Act was proposed in Congress at the beginning of March, but in spite of the large number of students facing debt, the bill has received much opposition.
When a bill to forgive student debt was proposed, some complained that students who had less money should have attended a public University, assuming that the large debts were the result of a private education. That is not necessarily the case, however. USA Today revealed that at the end of 2011, the cost of public universities and colleges had increased by more than 8 percent.
In 2004, tuition at public schools increased a shocking 11 percent. One couple commented on Forbes that the cost of their son's tuition nearly doubled during his 4-year tenure....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Law & Legal Issues Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Two fighters from the Islamist group Boko Haram were killed in a shootout Monday that reveals mounting frustration among residents of northern Nigeria with the group's campaign of violence.
The two came into the Sheka neighborhood of Kano on a motorcycle, shooting bullets into the air, according to an eyewitness who requested anonymity for safety reasons. "People in the area summoned courage and nabbed them. As they were planning to hand them over to the police, gunmen came from nowhere and shot them instantly to death," the witness said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations
Under daily observation from thousands of surveillance cameras mounted everywhere from street corners to taxicabs to public parks, Britons rank among the most-watched people on Earth. But a new government plan is poised to take the gaze of this nation’s security services dramatically deeper: letting them examine the text messages, phone calls, e-mails and Web browsing habits of every person in the country.
The “snooping” proposal set to be presented in Parliament later this year is sparking an uproar over privacy in Britain, fueling a debate over the lengths to which intelligence agencies should go in monitoring citizens — a debate that has resonance on both sides of the Atlantic.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Law & Legal Issues Psychology Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
For Episcopalians, Holy Week is under way with a pilgrimage from Los Angeles to the Mexican border to pray for the plight of immigrants.
About 50 people – led by Episcopal bishops of Los Angeles and San Diego – held a prayer Monday morning in Los Angeles' MacArthur Park and then drove in a caravan down I-5 through Orange County, led by a pickup laden with a life-size wooden statue of Jesus.
"It's not what you're used to seeing when you are driving down the 5," said the Rev. Tom Callard, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Highland Park. He was among about 50 Episcopalians who gathered at St. Clement's Episcopal Church in San Clemente for a "way of the cross" service before heading to Chula Vista for the next prayer session in a series.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Immigration Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Books on the decline of America are coming thick and fast. The latest, Time to Start Thinking: America and the Spectre of Descent, by The Financial Times’s chief US commentator Edward Luce, is published this week....In summary, he concludes that global economic dominance, having quit Europe around the end of last century, moved west to the United States and now, after another hundred years, is relocating to Asia. Nothing can be done about this, he says. It is just the way it is. China and India (and he throws in Indonesia for good measure) are simply too big and too industrious not to fight it out for the soon-to-be vacated Number One slot.
But – and this is where it gets interesting – Luce is frustrated by the way in which the US, outside of rhetoric, is capitulating to the inevitable, giving up almost without a fight. Were its leaders to defy history, he suggests, they would quickly regain the world’s respect and write a new and valuable interpretation of the American dream.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books Education Globalization History Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Politics in General
An atheist-themed festival drew hundreds of people to an Army post in North Carolina on Saturday for what was believed to be the first-ever event held on a U.S. military base for service members who do not have religious beliefs.
Organizers said they hoped the "Rock Beyond Belief" event at Fort Bragg would spur equal treatment toward nonbelievers in the armed forces and help lift the stigma for approximately 295,000 active duty personnel who consider themselves atheist, agnostic or without a religious preference.
Read it all.
A new officer has been appointed to inspire spiritual and numerical growth in the Anglican diocese of Portsmouth.
The Rev Charlie Peer (right) will start work as Mission Development Officer in August, with a brief to promote the Anglican Diocese of Portsmouth’s Ministry for Mission initiative. The post is full-time and he will be spending much of his time in parishes from a base in the diocesan offices.
He will work closely with a number of parishes with differing challenges. The work will be proactive, although there may be some cases where deaneries and parishes ask for support in creating and implementing strategies.
Read it all.
E-prayers, cabaret-style worship, video sermons and tongue-in-cheek advertisements are just some of the ways local Christian churches are boosting their numbers....
St Thomas’ Anglican Church in Werribee, which has the largest Karen refugee congregation in Victoria, is among them.
Its 150 Karen worshippers have breathed new life into a church that has been part of Werribee since 1856.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Media Science & Technology * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches
“There is only the human race,” he said, “and when you divide it into groups, you get a rat race.”
Mr. George remains silent and solemn on his thrice-weekly sermon-walks through the neighborhood, preferring to let the mixtapes speak for him. The portable radio and tape player hangs around his neck and delivers the day’s sermon as he clasps his hands over it and walks in rhythm to the music, stopping at red lights and bobbing to the blaring beat of soca, calypso, ska or reggae — anything with a spiritual or positive social message and a West Indian feel.
Before immigrating, Mr. George spent 15 years carrying a tape player through the streets of Georgetown, the capital of Guyana. In New York, he worked as an accountant and electronics repairman. Now he lives on Social Security, and stays in touch with his ex-wife in Queens, also a street preacher, and his three grown sons.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ:
Greetings in the precious Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The House of Bishops met together on March 29, 2012, during which time we seriously and prayerfully considered how to respond to the desire of those in the Anglican Mission in the Americas who wish to disaffiliate from the Province de l’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda (PEAR). Those AMiA missionary bishops who resigned on December 5, 2011 have maintained their credentials in the Province of Rwanda up until now. However, in a meeting of delegates from PEAR and AMiA in Johannesburg earlier this month, they asked to be “released” from the PEAR.
According to our Provincial Canons, there are only three ways that we may “release”clergy affiliated with us:
1. By transferring them to another jurisdiction within the Anglican Communion;
2. By their voluntary renunciation of orders;
3. By formal ecclesiastical discipline.
Today we wrote to those AMiA missionary bishops who resigned and asked that if they wish to continue in episcopal ministry within another Anglican jurisdiction, that they please inform us of that jurisdiction immediately so that we may translate them appropriately.
For the time being, all remaining AMiA clergy continue to have canonical residence within the PEAR. Any clergy who wish to withdraw their credentials are free to do so in writing. We encourage all North American clergy credentialed in the PEAR to join PEARUSA, which is our missionary district in North America, unanimously erected by our House of Bishops in our today’s meeting.
We pray that you will not be distracted from the higher calling of Jesus’ Great Commission. Preach the good news, love the poor, plant healthy churches, and disciple Christ’s flock.
The grace and peace of God be with you all.
--(The Most Rev.) Onesphore Rwaje is Archbishop of Rwanda
Santa Muerte has various names: she is la Flaquita (Skinnybones) or la Huesuda, the Bony Lady, and she has attracted many other euphemisms in the centuries that she has enjoyed underground devotion. But whatever we call her, this sinister folk saint has acquired astonishing popularity in very recent years. During the present century, she has become an unavoidable presence across Mexico and Central America. As Chesnut writes, "In just ten years, Santa Muerte has become one of the most important religious figures among Mexicans from all walks of life and thousands of Mexican and Central American immigrants in this country." Many specialized stores cater to the needs of devotees in search of herbs, potions and powders, votive candles and statuettes, many of which bear threatening slogans: "Death to my enemies!" or "Law, stay away!" Increasingly, such items appear in the religious goods sections of U.S. supermarkets as well (I have seen them in Texas, Arizona, and California). Although we have no exact idea of the scale of her following, Chesnut deliberately errs on the side of caution when he estimates a constituency of perhaps five percent of all Mexican citizens, some five million people. In underclass and criminal settings, she has far outpaced the Virgin of Guadalupe in popularity. In fact, she can well be considered an anti-Guadalupe, a dark shadow of Mexico's beloved mother figure.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Central America Mexico
Mexican prosecutors are investigating a poor family living near the Mexican border in connection with the ritual killings of three people.
It was a family people took pity on, one the government and church helped with free food, used clothes, and farm animals. The men were known as trash pickers. Some of the women were suspected of prostitution.
Mexican authorities are now investigating whether the any of them are tied to the sacrifices of two 10-year-old boys and a 55-year-old woman to Santa Muerte, or Saint Death, a figure adored mostly by outlaws but whose popularity is growing across Mexico and among Hispanics in the United States....
Read it all.
Lord God, whose blessed Son, our Saviour, gave his back to the smiters, and hid not his face from shame: Grant us grace to take joyfully the sufferings of the present time, in full assurance of the glory that shall be revealed; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Zion stretches out her hands, but there is none to comfort her; the LORD has commanded against Jacob that his neighbors should be his foes; Jerusalem has become a filthy thing among them. "The LORD is in the right, for I have rebelled against his word; but hear, all you peoples, and behold my suffering; my maidens and my young men have gone into captivity. "I called to my lovers but they deceived me; my priests and elders perished in the city, while they sought food to revive their strength. "Behold, O LORD, for I am in distress, my soul is in tumult, my heart is wrung within me, because I have been very rebellious. In the street the sword bereaves; in the house it is like death. "Hear how I groan; there is none to comfort me. All my enemies have heard of my trouble; they are glad that thou hast done it. Bring thou the day thou hast announced, and let them be as I am. "Let all their evil doing come before thee; and deal with them as thou hast dealt with me because of all my transgressions; for my groans are many and my heart is faint."
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