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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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Along with their 3-10 record, the Cubs entered Thursday ranked last in National League home runs, 14th in slugging percentage, 13th in runs scored and 15th in pitching.
"You never want to start out poorly," baseball President Theo Epstein said. "There are a lot of things we can improve upon, and we will. But you also don't want to read too much into one homestand and one road trip. Certainly crystalize some areas we need to continue to strive to get better at."
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Christ Fellowship exemplifies most of the latest ways churches dramatically extend their reach of church beyond any one time or local address. Such congregations signal "a willingness to meet new challenges," says Scott Thumma, of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. He's the author of a study by Faith Communities Today (FACT) of how churches, synagogues and mosques use the Internet and other technology.
FACT's national survey of 11,077 of the nation's 335,000 congregations, released in March, found seven in 10 U.S. congregations had websites, and four in 10 had Facebook pages by 2010, Thumma says.
Read it all.
Church officials said the new bishop will face daunting tasks, including turning around congregations with massive membership declines and repairing deteriorating church plants.
Over the past 10 years, average Sunday attendance has plummeted and 15 congregations have been deemed “at risk.”
A number of Episcopal churches have also closed over the past few years.
Read it all.
With the incorporation of the former DDR into the Federal Republic, Germany has become a more Protestant country in demographic terms. But there has been no lasting “Protestant revolution”. West Germany is somewhat less secularized than the East, but it too partakes of the overall Eurosecularity. It seems likely that the parsonage still resonates, even if faintly, in the minds of Angela Merkel and Joachim Gauck. Does this mean a new cultural influence of the Protestant church? Probably not. More likely what we hear are the last echoes of a Bach chorale that has ended. All the same, it is useful to recall that history always has surprises.
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The reports of the band playing “Nearer, My God, to Thee” [as the Titanic sank] were enthusiastically received. The gist of the song is that whatever hardships befall us, they can only serve to bring us closer to God. In terms of the Titanic disaster, the image was of people being dragged to the depths of the sea and yet, paradoxically, scaling the heights of heaven. It was based in part on the story of Jacob’s dream (Genesis 28:10-22), in which he sees “a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.” It may have been a particular favorite at the Bethel Chapel in Colne [where the band leader became a Christian] because Jacob marked the spot where he had the dream with a stone “and he called the name of that place Bethel.”
It was the best-loved hymn of Hartley and had been introduced to the Bethel Chapel by his father, Albion Hartley, when he was choirmaster. Ellwand Moody, Hartley’s friend [and fellow ship musician], told the Leeds Mercury in April 1912: “I remember one day I asked him what he would do if he were ever on a sinking ship and he replied, ‘I don’t think I would do better than play “Oh God Our Help in Ages Past” or “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”
It was also the favorite hymn of many in New York. President McKinley supposedly used the words as a form of prayer as he lay dying after being shot by the anarchist Leon Czolgosz at the Temple of Music in Buffalo, New York, in September 1901.
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The reply brief attaches the latest annual report of the Episcopal remnant congregation as an exhibit, and it is very telling. While some 3,250 Anglicans attended Easter services at The Falls Church two weeks ago, the Episcopal parish's report shows that it has a total membership of exactly 178 as of the end of 2010, and that its total annual budget has income of $233,641, but expenses of $249,306 (i.e., it is out-of-balance by some $16,000). That is less than what has to be paid each year just to keep up the property -- let alone pay for salaries, insurance, retirement benefits and all the other expenses of operating a full-time parish.
But that reality does not stop the Episcopal Diocese from asking Judge Bellows to let it have every conceivable benefit from its victory, pending the appeal. Instead of settling simply the amount of the appeal bond, stipulating to a stay and allowing the appeal to go forward (or not, as the Virginia Supreme Court decides), Bishop Johnston and his Diocese are continuing to pay their attorneys to oppose the Anglicans in court every step of the way, by every argument imaginable, whether meritorious or not.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Virginia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues
The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council began its last meeting of the 2010-2012 triennium contemplating its leadership role — and emotional investment — in the church’s journey to its future.
The council has spent much of the last three years exploring how the Episcopal Church must change in response to the challenges facing all mainline churches, including declining memberships and thus declining finances, demographic shifts and cultural changes in the place and authority accorded to religious communities in society. When General Convention convenes in July in Indianapolis, deputies and bishops will grapple with a variety of calls...for changes in the church’s structure that their proposers say will help the church meet those challenges.
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Herewith the BBC summary:
In 1943, a group of Belgian Jews escaped from a train bound for the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.Listen to it all (10 minutes). I caught this by accident yesterday in the car driving to a meeting, and it left me shaking in silence. Do take the time to give your attention to it--KSH.
In the only incident of its kind, they were helped by members of the Belgian resistance.
Witness speaks to Simon Gronowski, who at the age of 11, jumped from the train to safety.
Well-integrated business leaders can respond to the rigorous demands placed upon them with a servant attitude, recalling Jesus who washed the feet of His disciples. Leadership in this servant spirit is different from the authoritarian exercise of power too often present in business organisations. It distinguishes Christian executives and the work environment which they seek to foster. In living business responsibilities in such a manner, in developing true servant leadership, they give freely of their expertise and abilities. In figuratively washing the feet of their collaborators, business leaders realise more fully their noble calling.
An important part of the business leader’s vocation is practising ethical social principles while conducting the normal rhythms of the business world. This entails seeing clearly the situation, judging with principles that foster the integral development of people, and acting in a way which implements these principles in light of one’s unique circumstances and in a manner consistent with the teaching of the Faith. The rest of this document is organised accordingly: see, judge, act.
Read it all (32 page pdf).
“Vocation of the Business Leader” may thus be that rarest of Vatican texts: Something that isn’t just dissected by vaticanisti and other denizens of the church’s chattering classes, but actually used out in the field. One can imagine, for instance, retreats for business leaders organized around the document, culminating in the examination of conscience it invites. One also hopes it becomes a cornerstone of business education, especially in Catholic venues. There are some 1,800 church-affiliated colleges and universities worldwide, roughly 800 of which have business programs, and this text would be a compelling addition to their curricula.
...the real novelty of “Vocation of the Business Leader” is that it manages to bring Catholic social teaching down to earth without actually floating a single concrete policy proposal. Instead, it asks hard questions and trusts people of intelligence and good will to figure out the right answers.
Socrates would be proud.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A new revelation of young American soldiers caught on camera while defiling insurgents’ remains in Afghanistan has intensified questions within the military community about whether fundamental discipline is breaking down given the nature and length of the war.
The photographs, published by The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, show more than a dozen soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Fourth Brigade Combat Team, along with some Afghan security forces, posing with the severed hands and legs of Taliban attackers in Zabul Province in 2010. They seemed likely to further bruise an American-Afghan relationship that has been battered by crisis after crisis over the past year, even as the two governments are in the midst of negotiations over a long-term strategic agreement.
The images also add to a troubling list of cases — including Marines videotaped urinating on Taliban bodies, the burning of Korans, and the massacre of villagers attributed to a lone Army sergeant — that have cast American soldiers in the harshest possible light before the Afghan public.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Psychology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy The U.S. Government Foreign Relations Politics in General War in Afghanistan * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia Afghanistan Pakistan
The Nigerian religious sect Boko Haram had been sporadically attacking police stations and people for years with machetes and sometimes guns to create an Islamic state in its corner of Africa's largest nation.
Then, in 2010, the group exploded into violence with suicide bombings, car bombs and coordinated assaults, months after an al-Qaeda leader in Algeria disclosed that the terror group had decided to help the Nigerian radicals....
"This new Jihadist nexus in Africa" is a rising danger that the West has yet to fully comprehend," said Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Read it all (my emphasis).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations
“The University should be thinking about what its heart is,” [Sam] Wells said. “If you don’t have a heart, you simply commit yourself to a commodity culture where you are only here to get an investment, a degree.... It’s an impoverished notion of what a university can truly be.” For the Chapel to effectively operate as a church, Wells said that it is important to interact with the people Jesus spent most of his life with—the poor. He tried to accomplish this through outreach to Durham’s more impoverished areas.
“Success is seeing people’s lives change and not just saying so but actually seeing the differences,” he said. “Poverty is a mask we sometimes put on people to [conceal] their real wealth... [but it is important for] a rich person to see how poor they are or for a person coming out of prison to see how rich he is.... That’s what the kingdom of God is about, those kinds of transformations.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Education Young Adults * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Seminary / Theological Education
Sudan's Khartoum government says the country is officially in a state of war with South Sudan.
The top United Nations human rights official confirmed that statement by condemning Sudan's indiscriminate bombing raids that resulted in civilian casualties in South Sudan.
Khartoum began the week with a wave of air raids on Southern border areas, killing several civilians and hitting a UN peacekeeper base. South Sudan struck back with a vow to hold their positions in a contested oil field seized from Khartoum's army.
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What does it mean to be a Catholic university? This well-worn question emerges even more than usual these days in the face of budget cuts and increasing competition in higher education, as these universities have to identify what unique feature they offer prospective students that justifies their higher tuition costs. Alasdair MacIntyre, perhaps the most influential living philosopher, believes the answer to this question involves a significant place for the Catholic philosophical tradition.
MacIntyre begins his excellent book by raising a paradox for the Catholic Christian: her faith requires her to give unqualified trust to God but she simultaneously poses systematic questions about the God she claims to trust. These questions take the form of traditional philosophical problems for theists, such as the problem of evil, the relationship of body and soul, and how to speak meaningfully of a transcendent being. Thus MacIntyre identifies an apparent tension between faith and reason, a tension that the Catholic philosophical tradition wishes to dissolve.
Read it all.
The Vatican has launched a crackdown on the umbrella group that represents most of America's 55,000 Catholic nuns, saying that the group was not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, abortion and women’s ordination.
Rome also chided the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) for sponsoring conferences that featured “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”
The Vatican’s disciplinary action against the LCWR was announced on Wednesday (April 18), one day before Pope Benedict XVI marked seven years as pontiff.
Read it all.
O loving God, whose martyr bishop Alphege of Canterbury suffered violent death because he refused to permit a ransom to be extorted from his people: Grant, we pray thee, that all pastors of thy flock may pattern themselves on the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for the sheep; through him who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.
O Lord God, who never failest both to hear and to answer the prayer that is sincere: Let not our hearts be upon the world when our hands are lifted up to pray, nor our prayers end upon our lips, but go forth with power to work thy will in the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD, who addressed the words of this song to the LORD on the day when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said: I love thee, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
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