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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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St. Peter once: ‘Lord, dost thou wash my feet?’—
Much more I say: Lord, dost thou stand and knock
At my closed heart more rugged than a rock,
Bolted and barred, for thy soft touch unmeet,
Nor garnished nor in any wise made sweet?
Owls roost within and dancing satyrs mock.
Lord, I have heard the crowing of the cock
And have not wept: ah, Lord, though knowest it,
Yet still I hear thee knocking, still I hear:
‘Open to me, look on me eye to eye,
That I may wring thy heart and make it whole;
And teach thee love because I hold thee dear
And sup with thee in gladness soul with soul,
And sup with thee in glory by and by.’
--Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
This bread I break was once the oat,
This wine upon a foreign tree
Plunged in its fruit;
Man in the day or wind at night
Laid the crops low, broke the grape's joy.
Once in this wine the summer blood
Knocked in the flesh that decked the vine,
Once in this bread
The oat was merry in the wind;
Man broke the sun, pulled the wind down.
This flesh you break, this blood you let
Make desolation in the vein,
Were oat and grape
Born of the sensual root and sap;
My wine you drink, my bread you snap.
--Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)
Dear friends, I would like briefly to touch on two more key phrases from the renewal of ordination promises, which should cause us to reflect at this time in the Church’s life and in our own lives. Firstly, the reminder that – as Saint Paul put it – we are “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor 4:1) and we are charged with the ministry of teaching, the (munus docendi), which forms a part of this stewardship of God’s mysteries, through which he shows us his face and his heart, in order to give us himself. At the meeting of Cardinals on the occasion of the recent Consistory, several of the pastors of the Church spoke, from experience, of the growing religious illiteracy found in the midst of our sophisticated society. The foundations of faith, which at one time every child knew, are now known less and less. But if we are to live and love our faith, if we are to love God and to hear him aright, we need to know what God has said to us – our minds and hearts must be touched by his word. The Year of Faith, commemorating the opening of the Second Vatican Council fifty years ago, should provide us with an occasion to proclaim the message of faith with new enthusiasm and new joy. We find it of course first and foremost in sacred Scripture, which we can never read and ponder enough. Yet at the same time we all experience the need for help in accurately expounding it in the present day, if it is truly to touch our hearts.
Read it all (my emphasis).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI
In the story of the footwashing, then, we have the most profound revelation of the heart of God apart from the crucifixion itself. We also learn more of the relation between Jesus and his disciples, the relation of the disciples with one another in humble service and the mission of the disciples to the world. These themes are similar to those of the Eucharist developed earlier (see comments on 6:52-59). The community that Jesus has been forming here takes more definite shape, revealing more clearly "the law of its being" (Bultmann 1971:479), which is humble, self-sacrificing love.
An abundance of resources here--check it out.
Wherever in the world Catholics may be preparing to celebrate Easter, their thoughts and prayers will go to the Holy Land, the land of Christ’s birth. In order to help us enter into this season’s mysteries, what better place to go than to Jerusalem – the city of the Lord’s Passion, death and Resurrection?
Fr. David Neuhaus, the Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew speaking Catholics there, takes us on Holy Thursday to the cenacle – the room of the Last Supper where the sacrament of the Eucharist was first instituted, and then on to the Garden of Olives...
Listen to it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Liturgy, Music, Worship Spirituality/Prayer * International News & Commentary Middle East Israel * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
O Christ, the true vine and the source of life, ever giving thyself that the world may live; who also hast taught us that those who would follow thee must be ready to lose their lives for thy sake: Grant us so to receive within our souls the power of thine eternal sacrifice, that in sharing thy cup we may share thy glory, and at the last be made perfect in thy love.
As is our custom, we aim to let go of the cares and concerns of this world until Monday and to focus on the great, awesome, solemn and holy events of the next three days. I would ask people to concentrate their comments on the personal, devotional, and theological aspects of these days which will be our focal point here. Many thanks--KSH.
The U.N. Security Council demanded Thursday that Syria “urgently and visibly” halt its attacks on opposition targets as special emissary Kofi Annan told the U.N. General Assembly that Syrian “military operations in civilian population centers have not stopped.”
The 15-nation council’s demand was aimed at bolstering Annan’s efforts to secure a cease-fire that would end the government’s year-long crackdown on dissent and prevent a descent into all-out civil war. It also appeared intended to press Syria to honor a four-day-old commitment to stop shelling residential areas and withdraw its heavy weapons and troops from urban areas by an April 10 deadline.
Read it all.
With PowerPoint presentations and political promises, Egypt's influential Muslim Brotherhood made its US diplomatic debut this week hoping to persuade Washington that the Islamist group is committed to democracy and rule of law.
A delegation from the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political wing of the once-banned Islamist movement, has been making the Washington rounds talking to officials and think tank experts about their growing role as Egypt heads toward presidential elections.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Middle East Egypt * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam
(The full title is: "White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters to You")--KSH
What was the main difference between Great Britain and France? It -wasn’t the size of their national debts: at the time of the French Revolution, Great Britain’s debt per person was much larger than France’s. The difference was politics. In Great Britain, the political system was dominated by elected representatives who supported an activist government and were willing to endorse the taxes necessary to pay for its resulting debts. In France, the government did not have the legitimacy necessary to raise the money to service its smaller debts. And although its tax rates were lower than Britain’s, the problem of taxation without representation was an important cause of the Revolution.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes The U.S. Government Budget The National Deficit * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK Europe France
...a painful part two of the slump looks set to unfold: Many more U.S. homeowners face the prospect of losing their homes this year as banks pick up the pace of foreclosures.
"We are right back where we were two years ago. I would put money on 2012 being a bigger year for foreclosures than 2010," said Mark Seifert, executive director of Empowering & Strengthening Ohio's People (ESOP), a counseling group with 10 offices in Ohio.
"Last year was an anomaly, and not in a good way," he said.
Read it all.
According to the U.S.Census Bureau's figures, Nebraska has grown in population from 1,711,263 in 2000 to 1,826,341 in 2010. This represents a population growth of approximately 6.7% in this time frame. (Of passing interest, please note that the population of the United States as a whole went from 281,421,906 in 2000 to 308,745,538 in 2010, an overall American growth for the decade of 9.7%).
According to Episcopal Church statistics, the Diocese of Nebraska went from Average Sunday Attendance (or ASA) of 4,022 in 2000 to 2,814 in 2010. This represents a decline of 30.0% during this decade.
To see a pictorial representation of some of the statistics for the diocese of Nebraska you may examine the graph here.
While the ancient Christian communities around Jerusalem await the miracle of the Holy Fire this week, I pray for another miracle -- one that would give full religious freedom to the Christians in the West Bank and Gaza. Holy Week has long been a time of pilgrimage to Jerusalem; Christians have worshiped there since the birth of the church, and these sites are a core aspect of the devotion of Palestinian believers.
The restrictions on travel for worship are not only in force during Holy Week, but also for routine Sunday services, weddings, funerals, and baptisms throughout the year. Certainly, Israel can take care of its own security concerns while accommodating peaceful Palestinian Christian worship.
In a recent letter by 80 Palestinian Christian leaders, including the Greek Orthodox archbishop of Jerusalem, Palestinian Christians spoke out against the lack of religious freedom inside Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. They complained of being forced to endure an "assault on our natural and basic right to worship."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Middle East The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches
When the European Union's finance ministers met in Copenhagen on 30 March they gave the clearest indication yet of what has been clear to most observers for months: that the 27 member states cannot agree a tax on financial transactions. A tax on share deals modelled on the UK's stamp duty might be possible, but a wider tax on financial trades is off the agenda for the foreseeable future. The German finance ministry, one of the strongest supporters of the tax, admitted as much at the meeting, calling for work to focus on a tax on share transactions.
Since June 2011, when the European Commission announced it would propose an FTT, it had been obvious that the plan would not fly...
Apparently heedless that the object was immoveable, José Manuel Barroso, the Commission president, last week made yet another attempt to exert irresistible force in support of the tax. He told members of national parliaments and the European Parliament that the revenue raised by the tax would allow member states a cut of up to 50% in their contributions to funding the EU.
Perhaps Barroso's intransigence is inspired by the unfortunate fact that the FTT proposal was central to the Commission's plans for financing the EU's multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2014 to 2020. Removing the idea of an EU-wide tax from the agenda leaves a big hole in Barroso's plans for financing the MFF.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Euro European Central Bank Stock Market Taxes The Banking System/Sector The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe
Does this mean we should not enjoy all the earthly riches and goods? No. Enjoy them. Earn them. It is a misconception that one has to be poor to be spiritual, and that hard work should not be rewarded. What is important is finding the balance between greed and having enough, and defining what a joyful life means to us....
So how are we to correct the negative traits of capitalism? A Robin Hood tax, or Tobin tax, has been suggested. Yet there is a risk that such a tax is more likely to hit investors than banks. And it is not yet clear how it would discourage risky behaviour by banks.
We cannot tax ourselves out of this and hope that this will solve the problem because we are not addressing the root cause of the behaviour. We are in self-denial because we are treating the symptoms, not healing the patient.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of South Africa * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance Stock Market The Banking System/Sector * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
As our Eureka science magazine notes today, we waste 100 million tonnes of food a year. To throw away so much at a time when 925 million people are classed as hungry, and a further one billion are thought to be suffering from malnutrition, is as senselessly profligate as running a bath without inserting the bath plug. But eliminating the waste will never be enough to fill the world’s bellies.
Yes, selective breeding is starting to boost crop yields and improve food security in sub-Saharan Africa, just as it has been so successfully doing across Asia and the Americas over the past four decades. But without increased use of genetically modified crop varieties it seems inconceivable that food production will ever be abundant enough to keep pace with population growth.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Frederic and Anne-Laure Pascal are devout Roman Catholics who built their lives around their religion. When she lost her job last year, the young couple decided on an unlikely expression of their religious commitment: a worldwide "interfaith pilgrimage" to places where peace has won out over dueling dogmas.
Since October, the French couple has visited 11 nations from Iraq to Malaysia in an odyssey to find people of all creeds who have dedicated their lives to overcoming religious intolerance in some of the world's most divided and war-torn corners.
Read it all.
Just hours after it was revealed that American soldiers had burned Korans seized at an Afghan detention center in late February, Iran secretly ordered its agents operating inside Afghanistan to exploit the anticipated public outrage by trying to instigate violent protests in the capital, Kabul, and across the western part of the country, according to American officials.
For the most part, the efforts by Iranian agents and local surrogates failed to provoke widespread or lasting unrest, the officials said. Yet with NATO governments preparing for the possibility of retaliation by Iran in the event of an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities, the issue of Iran’s willingness and ability to foment violence in Afghanistan and elsewhere has taken on added urgency.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General War in Afghanistan * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia Afghanistan Middle East Iran
In 1956, [William] Shockley won the Nobel Prize for co-inventing the transistor. His next dream was to make transistors out of silicon; he decided to set up his lab in Mountain View — near Palo Alto — largely for personal reasons.
"He'd grown up in Palo Alto," Berlin says. Most importantly, she says, "his mother was still living in Palo Alto."
Of course, it helped that nearby Stanford University was also doing federally funded electronics research. Shockley was a magnet who drew more brilliant scientists to the valley. Among them was Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel and the man who would come up with Moore's Law — the observation that the number of transistors on a chip doubles about every two years.
Read or listen to it all.
Tim Sims recently shared some statistics on the lostness of Australia at a recent conference there. Scott Sanders provided these highlights of that research which I'd like to share with you:
"Church" has a negative perception among Aussies due to: church abuse, religious wars, hypocrisy, judgmentalism, and issues around money, as well as being seen as outdated, authoritarian and exclusive. Those not attending church have issues-- real or perceived-- which need to be addressed. The great news is Jesus is still viewed positively by the average Australian.Read it all.
There have been little change in 'Christian' beliefs during the last 50 years: 74% of Australians still believe in God, 53% in heaven, 45% in life after death and interestingly 43% in the resurrection of Jesus. Yet as a church we tend to agree with the media's perception that there is widespread disbelief. The reality is "Australians are very concerned about religion, just not sure that the religion we promote in our churches is the religion of Jesus."
As a giant tornado bore down on his southwest Arlington church Tuesday, the Rev. Will Cotton led 82 children in day care singing Jesus Loves Me.
Windows broke, rainwater covered the floors, and winds ripped up trees and tore the roof off the St. Barnabas United Methodist Church early education center.
Later, even as Cotton sorted through his own wrecked home nearby, the tune didn't change.
"Even in the midst of this, we see the hope of Easter in the faces of all the people coming together, the neighbors rallying around each other," said Cotton, in his second year in Arlington after moving from blustery Lubbock.
"We take hope in the risen Christ. That is the very message of Holy Week."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Music * General Interest Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist * Theology Pastoral Theology
O Lord Christ, who in the days of thy flesh didst hallow bread and wine to be a perpetual memorial of thy passion, and a never-failing means of fellowship with thee: Make us so to thirst after thy righteousness that through these holy mysteries we may be filled with all the fullness of thy divine life, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; for thy glory’s sake.
Therefore, my beloved, shun the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
--1 Corinthians 10:14-17
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