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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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On Easter Sunday, the great hall of Grace Episcopal Church was quiet. The choir wasn't singing, the Rector wasn't preaching and Sunday school wasn't ending because it hadn't begun in the 166-year-old building in almost a year.
Last August, an earthquake centered in Virginia shook the congregation out of their home at Grace Episcopal in downtown Charleston.
Instead of pews, there's scaffolding. Red 'danger, do not enter' tape covers the hall instead Easter decorations.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * General Interest Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc. * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Judaism * South Carolina
As the oldest Protestant church continuously operating on the same site in Detroit, Christ Church Detroit has a long history.
But the Episcopal congregation is moving forward with new programs to engage with the city. It recently started a reading camp that teaches about 40 to 50 children from poor backgrounds. And it plans to start this year a center for homeless people in the daytime.
Currently, there are overnight facilities for the homeless in Detroit, but they often don’t have a place to go in the morning.
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This morning the smoke of incense is still dissipating from thousands of churches around the country and the world where, last night, the Great Vigil of Easter was celebrated. This service — which begins with a bonfire and continues with readings, psalms, prayers, baptisms and the first mass of the Easter season, all ending (typically) with a big late-night meal to break the fast of Lent — was, in the first centuries of Christian history, the central event in the worshiping life of the Church. Today it’s an observance that appeals primarily to liturgy geeks (myself very much included), an unwieldy and time-consuming festival that dramatically complicates one’s plans for baked hams and Easter baskets.
Strange as the Easter Vigil may seem today, it hasn’t lost its original purpose: welcoming new believers into the body of the faithful. What is so powerful about the Easter Vigil, apart from the sheer sensory experience of it, is the way it intertwines the whole story of the Bible with the passing over of Jesus from death on Good Friday to resurrection on Easter. And the men and women who have been preparing for baptism (called “catechumens,” or hearers) step into these entwined stories on Saturday night, just as men and women did back when Christianity was a minor cult of the Roman world.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Easter Liturgy, Music, Worship * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Orthodox Church * Theology Sacramental Theology Baptism
Theft of Internet service is on the rise, and experts say only a few of the culprits are being caught.
Many of the tech-savvy thieves get their free-ride through IP theft — the stealing of another person's paid Internet access by tapping into their home router or cable modem. When someone uses your Internet connection for illegal activity, it could leave you as the unwitting target of a police investigation.
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The resurrection of Jesus that we celebrate today shows us that nothing is beyond God’s power to make a difference, not even death. Because He went to hell and back and that means that there is always hope.
My prayer is the same for all people. I pray that you will know that God loves you and has a purpose for you. I pray that you will be inspired to become all that God has created you to be. I pray that you will be enabled to change your environment and to make it the place that God wants it to become. The challenge starts now and it is a challenge for you and for me!
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Hearkening back to Cold War anxieties, growing signs of spying on U.S. universities are alarming national security officials. As schools become more global in their locations and student populations, their culture of openness and international collaboration makes them increasingly vulnerable to theft of research conducted for the government and industry.
“We have intelligence and cases indicating that U.S. universities are indeed a target of foreign intelligence services,” Frank Figliuzzi, Federal Bureau of Investigation assistant director for counterintelligence, said in a February interview in the bureau’s Washington headquarters.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Globalization Science & Technology Young Adults * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia China
...whatever we believe in or don't believe in, we should suspend our disbelief about the power of this Easter story that has shaped some of the greatest imaginings of our civilisation. It was Thomas, the doubter, who said that unless he could put his hands in Jesus' wounds, he wasn't having a bar of it. And it was Thomas, humbled, who said: ''Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief.''
When it comes to the great religions, the affinities between Christianity and Judaism and Islam, the twinned spiritualities of Buddhism and Hinduism, there are a lot of people who would like to get beyond their ''unbelief''.
And there are plenty, too, who want to crow their unbelief like a creed that could move the stars. But this can't change the power of the story of the man who was done to death and rose again.
Read it all.
Higher commodity prices, however, are a cost borne by businesses and consumers and this has mitigated the economic stimulus provided by prior bouts of QE. Higher equity prices, alas, can’t offset pain at the petrol pump and the supermarket for many consumers.
All that raises the prospect that introducing QE3 simply runs the risk of entrenching the economy in its post-financial crisis mode of a stop and start recovery.
In fact, advocates of QE3 are really betting that the Fed will err far more on the side of risking much higher inflation in the long run as it seeks to lower the unemployment rate towards 7 per cent.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- The U.S. Government Federal Reserve * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
...if anyone is eager for encouraging signs, it’s worth pointing out that the very broadest measure of unemployment actually improved this month. This is the U-6 metric, which tallies up all unemployed persons, plus people marginally attached to the labor force, plus people employed part-time for economic reasons. Jim Pethokoukis likes to call this “perhaps the truest measure of the labor market’s health.” And U-6 dropped from 14.9 percent in February to 14.5 percent in March. Anyone trying to dig around for optimistic signs should start there.
Still, it’s a weak report all around. And we’ll know in a few months if March was actually as tepid as everyone thinks. In theory, the real significance of this report should be whether it convinces Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve that a little more monetary stimulus is needed. But how likely is that? The unemployment rate is roughly in line with what the Federal Open Market Committee has been expecting. And if the Fed’s content with the current state of affairs, then more help may not be on the way after all.
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Banking System/Sector The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- The U.S. Government Federal Reserve Politics in General
Reason can be a corrective to the blind acceptance of certain religious beliefs and practices and atheists are correct to employ it in that service, particularly in the face of a growing fundamentalist mentality. But serious, thoughtful Christians do no less. They know that biblical scholarship can refine our understanding of the extent to which the Gospel accounts are meant to serve as recorded history and the extent to which they have been written to construe the key characters and events into the prophetic narratives of Old Testament texts. They accept that, eventually, forensic archaeology may help unravel important questions about the ultimate (human) fate of Jesus. And they encourage moral theologians in their continued speculation about the prescriptions for modern living that flow from the witness of Jesus' life and death. Not to accept these things is to substitute the dead hand of dogma for a genuinely living faith.
But such a faith draws strength from its own internal consistency rather than historical or cultural attempts to articulate its detail. The internal consistency of Christianity was highlighted by the Kantian scholar Herbert James Paton in The Modern Predicament: A Study in the Philosophy of Religion, which was published in 1955. "It is hard to see why [people] should abandon the hope of immortality," wrote Paton, "if their assumption of human freedom has led them to a belief in the goodness of God." Again, this proves nothing but it captures a certain logic that only the truly irrational would deny.
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Filed under: * By Kendall Sermons & Teachings * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Easter Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * South Carolina
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St. Margaret’s Anglican Church, one of seven Anglican congregations that are parties to the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, celebrates taking a stand for the Gospel truth amidst settling its property involved in the case.
The settlement calls for St. Margaret’s Anglican to turn over to the Diocese its real property, including the parcel the parish bought, improved and maintained for fifty years. St. Margaret’s Anglican will vacate the property by April 30, and will turn over to the Diocese a portion of the liquid assets on hand when the lawsuit commenced in early 2007. St. Margaret's will retain a portion of those liquid assets and a valuable hand bell collection that was a gift to St. Margaret's from a parishioner.
St. Margaret’s was one of many Virginia Episcopal congregations who voted overwhelmingly to disassociate from The Episcopal Church and the Diocese in order to remain faithful to the historic doctrine of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
“This settlement is good news to us,” stated Alan Clark, Senior Warden of St. Margaret’s Anglican. “We are ready to move on in our mission of proclaiming Jesus Christ. Together, putting the legal dispute behind us, we celebrate who we are as Anglicans and followers of Christ. We trust in the path God has laid for St. Margaret’s Anglican, and look forward to where He plans to use our congregation to spread His transforming love.”
The Rt. Rev. David Bena, Interim Rector of St. Margaret’s Anglican, added, “Throughout these past several years of costly court battles, I have been humbled to bear witness to St. Margaret’s faith-filled stand for the Gospel truth at whatever expense.”
“We appreciate the good faith of Diocesan officials in negotiating the settlement, and we’re thrilled to be part of growing entities such as the regional Anglican Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic (a member diocese of the Anglican Church in North America) and the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. The death and resurrection of our Lord this Holy Week remind us that God is ultimately in charge. Our parishioners are ready to fully focus our energies on preaching, teaching, healing and making disciples in Jesus’ name. We may have lost the buildings, but we’ve kept the faith!” concluded Bishop Bena.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Virginia * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market
Every Christian relives the experience of Mary Magdalene. It involves an encounter which changes our lives: the encounter with a unique Man who lets us experience all God’s goodness and truth, who frees us from evil not in a superficial and fleeting way, but sets us free radically, heals us completely and restores our dignity. This is why Mary Magdalene calls Jesus “my hope”: he was the one who allowed her to be reborn, who gave her a new future, a life of goodness and freedom from evil. “Christ my hope” means that all my yearnings for goodness find in him a real possibility of fulfilment: with him I can hope for a life that is good, full and eternal, for God himself has drawn near to us, even sharing our humanity.
But Mary Magdalene, like the other disciples, was to see Jesus rejected by the leaders of the people, arrested, scourged, condemned to death and crucified. It must have been unbearable to see Goodness in person subjected to human malice, truth derided by falsehood, mercy abused by vengeance. With Jesus’ death, the hope of all those who had put their trust in him seemed doomed. But that faith never completely failed: especially in the heart of the Virgin Mary, Jesus’ Mother, its flame burned even in the dark of night. In this world, hope can not avoid confronting the harshness of evil. It is not thwarted by the wall of death alone, but even more by the barbs of envy and pride, falsehood and violence. Jesus passed through this mortal mesh in order to open a path to the kingdom of life. For a moment Jesus seemed vanquished: darkness had invaded the land, the silence of God was complete, hope a seemingly empty word.
And lo, on the dawn of the day after the Sabbath, the tomb is found empty. Jesus then shows himself to Mary Magdalene, to the other women, to his disciples. Faith is born anew, more alive and strong than ever, now invincible since it is based on a decisive experience...
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Easter Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI
Gracious Lord, we remember that thou didst accompany thy two disciples as they journeyed to Emmaus. Do thou go with us, O Lord, on our journey through this world. Guide us, uphold us, strengthen us; make our hearts to burn within us; and evermore manifest thyself to our souls in gracious and heavenly power. For thine own name’s sake we ask it.
Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
--1 Corinthians 15:1-7
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