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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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At the agency, “I was fascinated by the creative guys,” he said, especially the copywriters. While there was a lot of interesting characters to be seen at such a firm, there were less savoury aspects of the job that he, as a Christian, had to learn to contend with.
“I went to the cathedral at the time,” he remembered. “I was the only person in the agency who went to church…I was always perplexed by people my age who had no ethical qualms about how we did our business and who we represented.”
Around this time, the United Church of Canada was taking part in a boycott of Nestle, the chocolate maker, for their role in milk formula sales to Third World countries. Nestle was one of his clients and a friend asked a co-worker of his, “ “‘Doesn’t that bother you?’ She said, ‘No, this was business.’”
He began to question his direction in life, wondering: “Maybe it’s not possible to live in this world and be a Christian.” (He now believes it is so.)
It was at this time that “God moved me to look somewhere else.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary Canada
Concerned with what she calls the "increasing rhetoric about the wearing of the niqab by Muslim women," an Anglican priest in Regina decided to take matters into her own hands. She wore a hijab for a day to see what's like.
In a post on Facebook, Cheryl Toth said she's "uncomfortable with the way the debate focuses on what women wear (or decide not to wear). I am afraid that [the rhetoric] will increase hostility towards women who choose to wear a hijab, a niqab or a burka."
She said she sees her trial run with the hijab as a way "to contribute to the conversation."
She wore it around Regina including on campus at Luther College, walking around her neighbourhood, at a public lecture and while shopping at a mall.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Women * International News & Commentary Canada * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology
"It is a matter of deep shame and regret that a Bishop in the Church of England has today been sentenced for a series of offences over 15 years against 18 young men known to him. There are no excuses whatsoever for what took place and the systematic abuse of trust perpetrated by Peter Ball over decades.
We apologise unreservedly to those survivors of Peter Ball's abuse and pay tribute to their bravery in coming forward and also the long wait for justice that they have endured. We note that there are those whose cases remain on file for whom today will be a difficult day, not least in the light of the courage and persistence that they have demonstrated in pressing for the truth to be revealed. We also remember Neil Todd, whose bravery in 1992 enabled others to come forward but who took his own life before Peter Ball's conviction or sentencing.
As the Police have noted Peter Ball systematically abused the trust of the victims, many of whom who were aspiring priests, whilst others were simply seeking to explore their spirituality. He also abused the trust placed in him by the Church and others, maintaining a campaign of innocence for decades until his final guilty plea only weeks ago. Since that plea was made processes in the Church have begun to initiate formal internal disciplinary procedures against Peter Ball.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Sexuality Violence * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
After second baseman Starlin Castro squeezed the line drive for the final out in the Cubs' 4-0 victory Wednesday over the Pirates, teammates danced around the field like the kids they still are.
In the middle of the mania, first baseman Anthony Rizzo lifted Jake Arrieta and put the pitcher over his shoulder for a few steps of frolicking. The man who had carried the Cubs this far was getting a well-deserved ride.
"Three cheers for Jake Arrieta!" a voice in a jubilant Cubs clubhouse yelled.
Three collective claps later, bedlam ensued. Rookie star Kris Bryant sprayed champagne and President Theo Epstein chugged it as teammates hugged and music blared. The pleasure easily exceeded the pressure.
Read it all.
Americans' search for the divine is alive and well, although it looks different than it has in the past, according to Diana Butler Bass, a prominent commentator on religion and culture, and author of nine books about American Christianity.
Her latest book, "Grounded: Finding God in the World — A Spiritual Revolution," published Oct. 6, explores how people are finding God in nature and fellowship with friends and neighbors, whether or not they attend church.
Nearly 23 percent of U.S. adults did not identify with any organized religion in 2014, a 7 percentage-point increase from 2007, Pew Research Center reported in May. However, only 3 percent of Americans say they don't believe in God, The Associated Press noted earlier this year.
In "Grounded," Bass, who holds a doctorate in religion from Duke University and identifies as Episcopalian, investigates the spiritual lives of contemporary believers, questioning what happens when people expand their search for God beyond church buildings to the world around them.
Read it all from the Deseret News.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture Sociology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths * Theology
But the Elle essay suggests yet another understanding of how secularism interacts with spiritual experience. In this scenario, the key feature of the secular world-picture isn’t that it requires people to reinterpret their numinous experiences as strictly psychological events; it’s simply that it discourages people who have such experiences from embracing any kind of systematic (that is, religious/theological) interpretation of what’s happened to them, and then as a corollary discourages them from seeking out a permanent communal space (that is, a religious body) in which to further interact with these ultimate realities. Under secularism, in other words, most people who see a ghost or have a vision or otherwise step into the supernatural are still likely to believe in the essential reality of their encounter with the otherworldly or transcendent; they’re just schooled to isolate the experience, to embrace it as an interesting (and often hopeful) mystery without letting it call them to the larger conversion of life that most religious traditions claim that the capital-S Supernatural asks of us in return.
What secularism really teaches people, in this interpretation, isn’t that spiritual realities don’t exist or that spiritual experiences are unreal. It just privatizes the spiritual, in a kind of theological/sociological extension of church-state separation, and discourages people from organizing either intellectual systems (those are for scientists) or communities of purpose (that’s what politics is for) around their sense, or direct experience, that Something More exists.
This interpretation – which I think is clearly part of the truth of our time — has interesting implications for the future of religion in the West....what you see in the Elle piece is that in the absence of strong institutions and theological systems dedicated to the Mysteries, human beings and human society can still make sense of these experiences through informal networks, private channels, personalized interpreters. And to the extent that these informal networks succeed in satisfying the human hunger for interpretation, understanding and reassurance — as they seem to have partially satisfied Peter Kaplan’s widow — then secularism might be more resilient, more capable of dealing effectively with the incorrigibility of the spiritual impulse, than its more arid and strictly materialist manifestations might suggest.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Multiculturalism, pluralism Psychology Religion & Culture Science & Technology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Secularism * Theology Eschatology
Short on savings? You're not alone.
Twenty-eight percent of Americans have nothing in their savings accounts and another 21 percent don't even have a savings account, according to a new survey from GOBankingRates.
The rate comparison website surveyed 5,000 people and found just 29 percent of them had $1,000 or more in savings account.
Read it all.
Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told Congress on Tuesday that the deadly U.S. airstrike on a civilian hospital in Kunduz was a mistake, but he declined to endorse calls for an outside investigation.
Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Campbell said the hospital was "mistakenly struck" and that the decision to carry out the attack was made through the U.S. military chain of command.
Campbell thus offered a further refinement of previous Pentagon claims. On Monday, he told reporters that Afghan forces had called in the airstrike. The Pentagon initially had said the attack by an AC-130 gunship was ordered to protect U.S. forces on the ground.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Charities/Non-Profit Organizations Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General War in Afghanistan * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia Afghanistan * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Coates’s Between the World and Me appeals to readers’ desperation to see more clearly, feel more definitely, in a time of terrible racial violence. It resonates, too, with our doubts that justice is near, or possible, or even something much of the country wants. Ferrante’s novels — particularly her Neapolitan series, the final volume of which was just published — touch a nearer and quieter desperation. As Joanna Biggs wrote in a brilliant review essay, everyone she knows seems to have tumbled from Ferrante’s pages to some intense recollection of their own formative friendships and losses, their own most private and defining confusion and pain.
Yet in these books, both authors, seemingly knowing what readers have come asking of them, refuse to give it. They refuse on grounds that are formal, political, and, in a fashion, ethical. What joins these very different works is their refusal to be our books, to offer an easy connection, a place to rest that feels like clarity.
This is what makes the books documents of the moment. Their resistance to making connection and meaning co-exists with hunger for these. These authors argue, in their language as well as their stories and assertions, that you do not really know others, or yourself. They argue that all experience is violated and corrupted even before it happens. They claim that this condition is intolerable but also inescapable. The work of trying to escape it nonetheless and the desperate, inevitable frustration of that work are the books’ theme and also, simply, what these books are.
Read it all.
Sorting out the specifics of the shooter’s background and motivation will take investigators some time. Those who have studied mass killings say it’s not uncommon for the perpetrators to harbor anger against society and express hatred toward various groups. Yet harboring such views doesn’t necessarily mean they were the prime motivation for the crime, they say.
Usually it’s “a toxic cocktail of factors,” says Christopher Kilmartin, a professor of psychological science at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va.
But there’s one topic that’s not getting enough discussion, he and some others say: masculinity. “The elephant in the room with ... mass shootings is that almost all of them are being done by men,” Professor Kilmartin says. Male shooters often “project their difficulties onto other people.... In this case, it sounds like he was blaming Christians for his problems, but the masculinity piece is what is really missing in the discussions about the equation.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Men Psychology Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Sex abuse victims of former Sussex bishop Peter Ball are suing the Church of England for hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Ball, 83, who admitted offences against 18 teenagers and young men in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, is being sentenced at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.
Lawyer David Greenwood who represents four victims said legal action had been lodged against the Chichester diocese
The Church of England has not yet commented.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Sexuality Violence * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
As an ecologist - I studied Ecological Science at university - I take an interest in the evidence about climate change. Overwhelmingly it shows that we are seeing major climatic effects from increased carbon in the atmosphere and these effects will increase unless something major is done. Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si wrote, ‘A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system’. I hope that his important contribution to the current debate will make more people wake up.
Many have already. They see daily the devastating effects of climate change in terms of increased sea levels, major weather events, flooding and drought. A defence strategist told me recently about the impact that climate change is having, and he predicted will increasingly have, in fostering future wars and world tensions. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, picked this up as a theme in his speech during the debate about the environment at the General Synod in July, saying, ‘Climate change is both a driver of conflict and a victim of conflict’. No wonder the military are taking it seriously.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources * International News & Commentary Europe France * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Since he was a teenager, Kim Min-hwan knew he would have to make a choice: abandon his religious convictions or go to prison.
Mr. Kim is a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who for decades have faced jail terms as conscientious objectors under South Korea’s Military Service Act. Since his release from prison in 2013, Mr. Kim has found the stigma too great to find a meaningful job, though he was a chemical engineering major. He spends his days volunteering at the Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters south of Seoul.
“I was predestined to become a convict because I believed in the creator,” Mr. Kim, 31, said in an interview. “I want South Korea to recognize that there are other, nonmilitary ways for us to serve the community.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Politics in General * International News & Commentary Asia Korea * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A few months before 9/11, when I first moved to downtown Los Angeles, the city’s high rises teemed with lawyers and bankers. The lights stayed on late — a beacon of industriousness. But as I quickly discovered, they rolled up the sidewalks by sundown. No matter how productive and wealthy its workers, downtown was a ghost town. LA’s urban core was no place to raise a family or own a home. With its patchwork of one-way streets and expensive lots, it was hardly even a place to own a car. The boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s that had erected LA’s skyline had not fueled residential growth. Angelenos who wanted to chase the dream of property ownership were effectively chased out of downtown.
But things change. Last month, I moved back to “DTLA,” as it’s now affectionately known. Today, once-forlorn corners boast shiny new bars, restaurants, and high-end stores. The streets are full of foot traffic, fueled by new generations of artisans, artists, and knowledge workers. They work from cafés or rented apartments, attend parties on hotel rooftops, and Uber religiously through town. Yes, there are plenty of dogs. But there are babies and children too. In a little over a decade, downtown’s generational turnover has replaced a faltering economy with a dynamic one.
What happened? Partly, it’s a tale of the magnetic power possessed by entrepreneurs and developers, who often alone enjoy enough social capital to draw friends and associates into risky areas that aren’t yet trendy. Even more, it is a story that is playing out across the country. In an age when ownership meant everything, downtown Los Angeles languished. Today, current tastes and modern technology have made access, not ownership, culturally all-important, and LA’s “historic core” is the hottest neighborhood around. Likewise, from flashy metros like San Francisco to beleaguered cities like Pittsburgh, rising generations are driving economic growth by paying to access experiences instead of buying to own.
Read it all (emphasis mine).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Psychology Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Pastor Jesse’s mud-plastered Mitsubishi SUV jolted wildly along the newly dug dirt road that zigzagged up the mountainside toward the construction site of the new church. We stopped to let a pedestrian squeeze by, a middle-aged Lisu woman with a pink, checkered headscarf and a giant bamboo back basket which was strapped to her forehead. The Lisu are one of the 55 ethnic minorities of China and the predominant tribespeople in Gongshan, which nestles on the slope of the Gaoligongshan mountain range. Only 30 miles to the north, these mountain peaks reach more than 16,000 feet. Beyond that is Tibet.
It was a sun-drenched Saturday morning in December 2014. I had arrived the night before on my first visit to the area after reading Chinese media reports of the explosive growth of Christianity among the Lisu people in the “Gospel Valley,” as the Upper Salween River Valley is known. The church under construction is called Zion. It replaces a smaller one built in 1998 with members’ shovels, picks, baskets, and bare hands.
“Brothers and sisters brought their own bedrolls and woks and camped over there during construction of the first church,” Pastor Jesse said, gesturing toward the terraced fields up the slope. “Almost all the construction material was carried up here in bamboo baskets.”
Read it all.
In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg on Monday declared the Safe Harbor data-sharing deal as invalid.
The agreement, signed in 2000 between Brussels and Washington, enables companies and international networks to easily transfer personal data to the United States without having to seek prior approval, a potentially lengthy and costly process.
"The Court of Justice declares that the (European) Commission's US Safe Harbour Decision is invalid," it said in a decision on a case brought against Facebook by Austrian law student Max Schrems.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Law & Legal Issues Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Another day, another bishop trying to tell us that the church has had it wrong for 2,000 years.
The latest is the Anglican bishop of Wangaratta, the Most Rev. John Parkes, who has gotten himself into the newspapers and on the radio to tell us that not only is same-sex marriage inevitable in Australia, but that it might actually be compatible with Christian doctrine.
He is, of course, not the first to make the argument in one form or another, and none of his arguments are new so they serve as good example of this tendency of the theologically liberal wing of the church - and, not least, the Anglican Church of Australia - to keep pushing contrived arguments that are less likely to make the grade than that famous strained gnat of which Jesus spoke.
Read it all from ABC religion and Ethics in Australia.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Benefit cheats should be allowed to get away with fraud to stop innocent people being punished with sanctions and late payments, a leading bishop has said.
The Rt Rev David Walker criticised the "Kafkaesque" workings of the welfare system which he said produced too many wrongly imposed sanctions and delays.
The Bishop of Manchester made the remarks at a Conservative Party conference fringe event in the city.
He claimed innocent people are trapped in the drive to catch fraudsters.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Why are you now taking up the issue of guns?
Our perceived need for self-defense discounts the life of the person on the other side of the gun. I’m really limiting my message to my fellow Christians, especially evangelicals. And we have a massive presence of lethal weapons in our Christian communities. I’m aware of some pastors who now go into the pulpit armed and ready to use their weapons to defend their congregants. That sets up, in my mind, a disaster.
What do you say to people who say they need a gun to protect themselves and their families?
I like to ask people the last time they faced a mortal threat in their life. Most people can’t think of one. Within our conservative ranks, there seems to be an almost rampant fearmongering that’s used as a device to build audiences and readership. And I think it’s contrary to the optimism of the Gospel.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo travelled to Finland last month to receive the award and to give a speech entitled "the Suffering Church’s message for us."
“I am very much honoured to receive this award from you,” Archbishop Kondo said. “This Award is not only to me but it is for all the faithful Sudanese Pastors who work in a very difficult situations and some with no salary!
Read it all.
South Sudan is the kind of place where a sermon anecdote about gunfire draws hearty laughter. The sound of a firearm is such an everyday occurrence that South Sudanese only question whether it came from a pistol, an AK-47, or an M-16. “Many people right now are praying, ‘Thank you God for not making me South Sudanese,’ ” says the pastor.
Listening near the back of the sanctuary in Juba is Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision. He is visiting the world’s newest and most fragile state in his quest to revive the compassion American Christians had for Sudan years ago. The South gained independence from the Muslim-dominated North in 2011 with the solid backing of evangelicals. But two years later, a political power struggle engulfed the Christian-majority nation in bloody conflict.
“It’s a hard sales pitch,” he told Christianity Today as he stood among 50 mothers with malnourished children at a clinic. He said South Sudan is a perfect example of how enormously difficult it is to fulfill both the Great Commission and Great Commandment amid chronic conflict and violence.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary Africa Sudan --South Sudan * Theology
It is now public knowledge that prominent figures, notably the television personality Jimmy Savile and the Liberal MP Cyril Smith, took advantage of their celebrity to abuse children. It was also public knowledge at the time that they were committing these appalling acts; yet those who knew chose to protect the information, and those who merely suspected were given no official encouragement to investigate.
An independent inquiry into historical sex abuse is being led by Justice Lowell Goddard, who has already said that it may last till 2020. That is not her fault, given the scale of the task, but it is scant consolation for the victims whose lives have been ruined and psyches scarred. Archbishop Welby is right to take the initiative in the Ball case and in doing so has signalled a huge change in the way that the clerical establishment approaches these matters.
The Church of England remains the established church and an integral part of the life of the nation, even in an age of secularism and pluralism. The notion that it provided cover for crimes against the vulnerable by the sexually rapacious and that the perpetrators gained the protection of their posts is abhorrent. It must be aired and investigated.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Men Sexuality Violence * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The Church of England said the review, which will be published next year, will examine its co-operation with the police and other statutory agencies and the extent to which it shared information.
It will also consider whether it properly assessed the possible risk that Ball posed to others and whether it responded adequately to the concerns of survivors.
The Archbishop of Canterbury in 1993, George Carey, now Lord Carey, was aware of the case at the time and has denied interfering in it.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Men Religion & Culture Sexuality Violence * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
How do we live together in love and charity? Honesty and open debate must be part of that. I hope these further thoughts will be accepted in a spirit of the deepest possible love for my brothers and sisters who cannot yet receive the ordination of women. I will do everything I can to ensure that we can disagree well and live together in our church with our differences.
I am not an academic theologian, it is over 20 years since I studied academic theology. I have never studied academic theology beyond undergraduate level.
My apologies for talking of women as ‘them’ in this piece, I can’t see a better or more straightforward way of using language. This piece is about, I hope, getting everything on the table, including that type of language.
The recent statement by the bishops of The Society of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda makes several (31) references to the idea of validity and sacramental assurance.
With all humility, as a Catholic Christian, I think the logic of the Society bishops’ argument is flawed.
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 Blogging & the Internet Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
The eight-hour workday hasn't changed much since Henry Ford first experimented with it for factory workers. Now, Americans work slightly longer—an average 8.7 hours—though more time goes into email, meetings, and Facebook than whatever our official job duties actually are. Is it time to rethink how many hours we spend at the office?
In Sweden, the six-hour workday is becoming common.
"I think the eight-hour workday is not as effective as one would think," says Linus Feldt, CEO of Stockholm-based app developer Filimundus. "To stay focused on a specific work task for eight hours is a huge challenge. . . . In order to cope, we mix in things and pauses to make the workday more endurable. At the same time, we are having it hard to manage our private life outside of work. We want to spend more time with our families, we want to learn new things or exercise more. I wanted to see if there could be a way to mix these things."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine History Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary Europe Sweden * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Both Kunduz and Russia’s bombing are symptoms of the same phenomenon: the vacuum created by Barack Obama’s attempt to stand back from the wars of the Muslim world. America’s president told the UN General Assembly this week that his country had learned it “cannot by itself impose stability on a foreign land”; others, Iran and Russia included, should help in Syria. Mr Obama is not entirely wrong. But his proposition hides many dangers: that America throws up its hands; that regional powers, sensing American disengagement, will be sucked into a free-for-all; and that Russia’s intervention will make a bloody war bloodier still. Unless Mr Obama changes course, expect more deaths, refugees and extremism.
Having seen the mess that George W. Bush made of his “war on terror”, especially in Iraq, Mr Obama is understandably wary. American intervention can indeed make a bad situation worse, as odious leaders are replaced by chaos and endless war saps America’s strength and standing. But America’s absence can make things even more grim. At some point, extremism will fester and force the superpower to intervene anyway.
That is the story in the Middle East. In Iraq Mr Obama withdrew troops in 2011. In Syria he did not act to stop Mr Assad from wholesale killing, even after he used poison gas. But when IS jihadists emerged from the chaos, declared a caliphate in swathes of Iraq and Syria, and began to cut off the heads of their Western prisoners, Mr Obama felt obliged to step back in—desultorily.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Europe Russia Middle East * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
(Warning--very disturbing content-KSH).
He was our man in Africa.
Hissene Habre, who ruled Chad in the 1980s, was a U.S. ally in good standing even as his government killed tens of thousands of people and filled prisons with enemies who were starved, beaten and tortured.
Last week he finally had to face victims of those times in court. There was frozen silence as former prisoners testified for the first time against the man who was feted at the White House in 1987 by President Reagan and was armed and supported in a covert CIA operation to fight Libya's Col. Moammar Kadafi.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Chad Libya America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Their church, Turning Point Adventist, was located in an old Moose Lodge a few miles from Umpqua Community College, where a gunman had allegedly asked victims about their religion and then targeted Christians during a massacre Thursday that left nine dead. Now the sidewalk on the road between the church and the college had become one long memorial, chalked with Bible verses and visited by prayer groups who sang hymns into the night.
It seemed to Wibberding and many others here that the target of America’s latest mass shooting had been not just a classroom or a college or a town, but also a religion. Now, in a church near the shooting, it was left to Christians to ask hard questions about their faith and decide how to respond.
“If he had been pointing that gun at you, asking if you were Christian, what would you have said?” Wibberding asked. “How much does this mean to you? Imagine you were there.”
Read it all from the Washington Post.
A Former Archbishop of Canterbury has urged Prime Minister David Cameron to do more to help Christians in the Middle East saying "time is running out".
Lord Carey said more had to be done to support followers of Christ who face persecution or death at the hands of Islamic terrorism.
"Time is running out for Christians in the region," he said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary England / UK Middle East Iran Iraq Syria * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Doctors Without Borders is calling for an independent investigation of the deadly bombing of its hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz, which it says is no longer operational.
Aerial bombardments blew apart the medical facility about the time of a U.S. airstrike early Saturday, killing at least 19 people, officials said.
The blasts left part of the hospital in flames and rubble, killing 12 staffers and seven patients -- including three children -- and injuring 37 other people, the charity said.
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THE tendency to ignore bisexuals seems particularly prevalent in Christian circles. The Pilling report made almost no reference to bisexuality...It repeatedly used the phrase “gay and lesbian”. At certain points, it seems that this is meant to mean “people who are not straight” or “people in same-sex relationships”. At other points, it seems to involve the more usual meaning of “people attracted only to others of the same sex”.
Church discussions on sexuality are confusing and controversial enough without using sloppy language and ignoring a sizeable number of people. The Pilling report is far from being the only culprit.
Campaigners on both sides of the argument say “gay marriage” when they mean same-sex marriage. As a bisexual Christian, I know that marrying a man would not make me gay, nor would marrying a woman make me straight.
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The pope has returned to Rome after his historic trip to the United States, but the message and meaning of his words and actions are still being debated. We are joined by John Carr, director of Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought, and Pat Zapor, who covered the pope’s trip for Catholic News Service, about how the pope was received, what he said and did, and what the impact of his message may be on the Catholic Church and beyond.
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In 1975, as desperate Vietnamese sought to escape Communist rule, the U.S. embarked on what remains one of the greatest humanitarian rescue missions in history. Over the span of several weeks, Operation Frequent Wind, Operation Babylift and other missions by air or on sea saved and resettled tens of thousands of Vietnamese in the U.S., where they would become thriving American citizens.
Now another desperate population needs rescuing: persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Could there be an Operation Frequent Wind for them?
Mark Arabo thinks so. He is a Chaldean-American and the founder of the Minority Humanitarian Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to get Iraqi Christians out before it’s too late. “There is historical precedent for this,” he says from his base in San Diego. “President Ford airlifted thousands during the Vietnam War and we need to do the same.”
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A hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in Kunduz was badly damaged early Saturday after being hit by what appears to have been an American airstrike. At least 19 people were killed, including 12 hospital staff members, and dozens wounded.
The United States military, in a statement, confirmed an airstrike at 2:15 a.m., saying that it had been targeting individuals “who were threatening the force” and that “there may have been collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.”
The airstrike set off fires that were still burning hours later, and a nurse who managed to climb out of the debris described seeing colleagues so badly burned that they had died.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Missions * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia Afghanistan * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Forget the 26-year-old zero who murdered 10 innocents at Umpqua Community College on Thursday morning.
The one to remember is 30-year-old Chris Mintz, the student and Army vet who was shot at least five times while charging straight at the gunman in an effort to save others.
Mintz did so on the sixth birthday of his son, Tyrik.
“It’s my son’s birthday, it’s my son’s birthday,” he was heard saying as he lay wounded.
When word of Mintz’s heroism reached his kin in his native North Carolina, his cousin Derek Bourgeois was hardly surprised.
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Growing numbers of Church of England schools are failing to appoint heads of the same faith, according to a study.
A new Church of England report into the training needs of its schools reveals “a significant shortage of leaders [nationally] which is felt even more acutely” by church schools.
“There was clear consensus across school leaders and diocesan officials that recruitment of school leaders with the necessary understanding and commitment is proving increasingly difficult and sometimes impossible,” says the report.
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I did know that the whole student body had been summoned to the auditorium—and I was one of a few people who knew why. All morning long I’d known what was coming, much as I would have liked to stay in the dark. I got a tip the day before that Sweet Briar’s board had determined the college’s financial challenges to be insurmountable. I knew the board had voted to close the school, effective at the end of the semester. I knew that the students and staff whose names I was just learning were on the brink of having their world torn apart. And I knew that I was the chaplain, and that I was going to have to watch it happen.
During lunchtime, while the president delivered the fatal news to the faculty and staff, I attended the regular meeting of students working for the Office of Spiritual Life. My secret charge was to gather as many as possible into the auditorium for the chance to hear the news directly from the president, before it hit Twitter with explosive force. But as we walked up the hill to the auditorium, my phone was already lighting up. A friend at a nearby college forwarded her own faculty announcement: “Is this for real? What’s going on out there?” I responded with brevity bordering on hostility, typing as I walked: “Students don’t know yet. We need ten minutes. Stay off Facebook.”
The assembly was brutal. I sat with a few friendly students but could hardly engage, knowing what I knew and they didn’t. I stared at my phone, waiting for social media to beat the president to his own job. The sound system wasn’t working, and we waited for an eternity of troubleshooting. And then there was no more time, and the president came out and spoke without a mic, projecting his voice. He said he wanted to get right to the point. He said it broke his heart to be there. Then he said Sweet Briar would close its doors. The class of 2015 would be the last graduating class.
And then the whole auditorium burst into tears.
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“We call on Nigerians to support the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and be patient with him as we urge him to fulfill his campaign promises to Nigerians. “President Buhari should see himself as president of the whole nation and not a sectional or religious president”, he admonished.
He cautioned that despite the myriad of challenges confronting the nation, dismemberment of the country remains a ridiculous thinking, adding that it is an unthinkable idea after shedding innocent blood through the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War to keep Nigeria one.
The religious leader commiserated with the families of those that have lost their lives in the North through the activities of Boko Haram insurgency, and called on the governments at all levels, religious organizations and philanthropists to come to the aid of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) who have been dehumanized by the activities of insurgents.
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The roads that wind north from Lagos, Nigeria, toward the headquarters of the Winners’ Chapel mega-church are lined with unusual testaments to Nigerians’ religious fervor.
There’s the Amazing Grace Hair Salon and the No King But God Driving School, My God Is Able Furniture Makers and God’s Grace Multipurpose Hall. And wedged between these omnipotently styled businesses are the churches themselves, hundreds of them, carrying on tenaciously in a sweltering tin shack or a room balanced atop a gas station, in the parking lot of a half-finished shopping mall or perched on stilts above Lagos’s thick, viscous lagoon.
But even in a country so devout, Canaanland stands out. The headquarters of one of the most powerful churches in Africa rambles out across 10,500 acres and includes not only a massive church – the 50,000 seat Faith Tabernacle – but a fully stocked company town complete with schools and a university, a bottled water processing plant, restaurants, shops, and residential neighborhoods. Every weekend, hundreds of bus loads of Nigerians, regally coiffed in vividly patterned, tailor-made suits and dresses, pour through its gates for Sunday service.
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The next point I want to make I think is one that is of increasing importance in a time when there is a certain set tendency to say that religion should be privatised. To use an old expression, many think religion should be only between consenting adults in private.
Far from it, the faith communities are those who provide the glue in society in so many ways, from their social action through to the eternal values which they reflect and support, and which eternal values are themselves the foundation for British values of which we’ve heard a lot over the last few months. Because of what the Scriptures teach us, especially from the prophet Jeremiah, we are committed to seeking the welfare of the place where we live, the common good.
Christians and Muslims are not called to a ghetto-like existence, although both our faiths have from time to time acted in that way, through fear or defensiveness. We are called by contrast to be actively involved in our society not for our own good but for the common good. We are called to seek the flourishing of the society, as Jeremiah said to the Jewish exiles: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” [
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Islamic State combatants have shown themselves to be resilient, and the group is adept at attracting adherents through social media.
At least eight Islamic State branches in the Middle East and Afghanistan have cropped up in recent years or have redefined themselves as allies, such as the Boko Haram insurgency group in Nigeria.
At the same time, international efforts to combat the Islamic State’s online propaganda messaging has been an abysmal failure, according to a recent State Department assessment.
So far, the Islamic State’s violent narrative — promulgated through thousands of messages each day — has effectively “trumped” the efforts of some of the world’s richest and most technologically advanced nations, the State Department assessment said.
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The gunman who opened fire at Oregon's Umpqua Community College singled out Christians, according to the father of a wounded student.
Before going into spinal surgery, Anastasia Boylan told her father the gunman entered her classroom firing.
"I've been waiting to do this for years," the gunman told the professor teaching the class. He shot him point blank, Boylan recounted.
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The crisis in Lebanon, where 1.2 million Syrian refugees are competing for limited resources with host communities, is a “ticking time bomb”, two aid workers gave warning this week.
The country, which is the size of Yorkshire, has the highest number of refugees per capita: a quarter of the population. Of these, 70 per cent live below the poverty line. Since the UN’s Syria regional-response plan is less than half-funded, and the influx costs the country a third of its GDP, communities are in crisis.
“It’s more than just tension: I think it is a ticking bomb,” the communications manager for World Vision in Lebanon, Patricia Mouamar, said on Tuesday. “It’s like the whole country of Greece moving into UK. . . If no funding is made available to us, it will explode at a certain time.”
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A shooter described as a 20-year-old man opened fire on a rural community college campus in Oregon on Thursday morning, killing multiple people and injuring even more.
Ellen F. Rosenblum, the Oregon attorney general, said her office believed that 13 people were killed in the shooting and another 20 people were injured.
“We are just heartbroken here in Oregon that an act of this magnitude has occurred in our state,” Rosenblum said in an interview on MSNBC. She said the figures were from the Oregon Department of Justice’s Criminal Justice division. She cautioned that the situation was still developing, and other officials confirmed few details.
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You have to give Vladimir Putin credit—he has a special talent for changing facts on the ground and daring others to do something about it. Russian bombs are now falling on Syria, though Putin’s intentions remain a subject of debate. But here’s the bottom line: Russia’s strongman has restored his country’s status as a major international player. These 5 facts explain Putin’s calculations for joining the fight for Syria.
1. Putin’s Popularity
Putin has used tough foreign policy words and deeds to boost his popularity at home from the very start.
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A parish is in uproar after a crematorium's cross was taken down and stuffed in a cupboard to avoid offending non-religious visitors.
Around 40 per cent of funeral services held the crematorium are non-Christian so it was decided that the cross should be kept in a storage cupboard rather than behind the alter.
It will be brought out of the cupboard and put up on the wall for services at Accrington Crematorium in Burnley, Lancashire, only when requested.
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Doctors have been granted approval to carry out the UK's first 10 womb transplants, following the success of the procedure in Sweden.
The go-ahead has been given by the Health Research Authority - as part of a clinical trial - which launches in the spring.
Around one in 7,000 women are born without a womb, while others lose their womb to cancer.
If the trial is successful, the first UK baby could arrive in early 2018.
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Those of you who are shortly going to be commissioned as Church Credit Champions have heard God’s call, as the whole church has in recent years, to be a church of the poor for the poor; to seek justice and the common good for all in our society.
You have set up credit union access points in your churches, brought new people onto the boards of local credit unions, supported people struggling with debt through signposting them to debt advice resources.
You have seen the need, and you have met it with love, grace and hope.
We all know that the Christian relationship with money is, at best, slightly ambivalent. We recognise when it’s got the wrong place, but we find it quite hard to find the right place.
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The church has heard a fresh call to be “a church of the poor for the poor” in recent years, the Archbishop of Canterbury said last night as he commissioned volunteers to help churches engage with issues of credit and debt in their communities.
Speaking during a special service at St George-in-the-East in Shadwell, London, the Archbishop told more than 50 volunteers – who have taken part in a pilot scheme in London, Southwark and Liverpool dioceses – that they had “seen the need, and met it with love, grace and hope.”
The first phase of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Church Credit Champions Network is on course to secure benefits worth over £2million for local communities.
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One such place was Holy Trinity Brompton whose leaders had experienced a measure of frustration in their dealings with the Kensington Area hierarchy. Alpha was beginning to develop into the global movement that it is today, and there were voices within HTB urging that a base outside the Church of England would be more conducive to growth. The local hierarchy was unwilling to see HTB as much more than a conventional parish in the Area, and in particular was keen to restrict the numbers of curates that the Church could employ, even though there was finance available to enlarge the staff. The restrictions were fuelled by a liberal distaste for charismatic evangelicalism and a conviction that the supply of curates should be evenly spread throughout the Diocese, irrespective of the capacity to pay.
There was an important principle here, also expressed in the Common Fund system. The Diocesan budget was calculated on the basis of the establishment figure for clergy numbers, together with elements for administration and national church obligations. The total sum was then divided between parishes by reference to a complex formula which relied heavily on electoral roll numbers, with the consequence that a church in decline would be more and more heavily subsidised by any that were growing. There was in effect a tax on growth and an incentive to be less than candid in declaring parochial resources. This may have been tolerable when the Diocese still enjoyed a substantial benefit from the distributions of the Church Commissioners but, as these declined in significance and pension obligations in particular mounted, the contributors to the system were increasingly restive as they saw that they were being asked to subsidize less active neighbours. It was clear that a crisis of consent could not be long delayed.
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....there’s no way to view the encounter other than as a broad gesture of support by the pope for conscientious objection from gay marriage laws, especially taken in tandem with his statement aboard the papal plane that following one’s conscience in such a situation is a “human right” – one, he insisted, that also belongs to government officials.
So what does it mean?
First, it means that Francis has significantly strengthened the hand of the US bishops and other voices in American debates defending religious freedom.
In the wake of a massively successful trip in which Francis was lauded for his stands on issues ranging from climate change to immigration to fighting poverty, it will be more difficult for anyone to wrap themselves in the papal mantle without at least acknowledging his concerns vis-à-vis religious freedom.
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The synod of the Anglican Church's Sydney diocese will next month consider a report from a senior bishop which argues that wedding service providers should have the "religious freedom" to refuse to cater for gay couples.
While some believe that such laws would set a dangerous precedent, Australia's Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson argues the rights of both groups can be protected.
The Anglican Bishop of South Sydney Robert Forsyth heads up the Religious Freedom Reference Group within the church's conservative Sydney diocese.
He is personally opposed to gay marriage and wants any new laws to offer an opt-out for those opposed to [same-sex marriage].
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“Anti-access/area denial, or A2/AD, is a growing problem,” Gen. Philip Breedlove, supreme allied commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, told an audience in Washington on Monday. Kaliningrad has given Moscow the ability to better defend the Baltic, while the annexation of Crimea has done the same on the Black Sea, he said.
“The geography of Europe has changed” since the end of the Cold War, Benitez said. “The geography of NATO has changed. In the Cold War NATO’s borders were in the center of the continent, but now the front lines are the Baltics, and you’re drawn to that small land bridge [near Suwalki].”
“The Russians have chosen to make this the new zone of friction, that’s where you’re seeing the air provocations,” such as Russian warplanes flying with transponders off, said Benitez.
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A poll by Populus for ACS, undertaken online among 1,864 adults in England and Wales on 2-3 September 2015, revealed that a majority (58%) of the public still thinks that Sunday is different from the rest of the week, 61% because it is a shared time with family and friends, and 58% because it is a day of relaxation. Two-thirds (67%) supported the current legislation permitting large stores to open up to six hours on Sundays while 23% opposed it, presumably because they thought it was either too strict or too liberal. Three-fifths agreed that the existing laws provide sufficient opportunities to shop on Sundays (with just 12% dissenting) and a similar proportion felt that, if the laws were relaxed, shop staff would be forced to work longer and their family life would suffer. At the same time, 25% agreed that the present legislation is not convenient for people like themselves and a plurality of 42% that it constrains customers’ choice when they can go shopping. Sunday trading is one of those topics where the outcome of surveys can be radically different dependent upon the question-wording and context.
An online survey by Research Insight for ACS of 70 local authority chief executives in England and Wales between 6 August and 4 September 2015 found that 64% were likely to support deregulation in some form in their own local authority, typically in an out-of-town location. However, 64% were concerned that having different Sunday trading regulations within their local authority would cause confusion for consumers and 69% that it would displace trade from some zones to others.
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Of all the European countries, Greece bears the heaviest refugee burdens. Malcolm Bradshaw, our Athens chaplain, relates that between 1 and 14 September 54,000 migrants arrived in Greece from Turkey. These were people whose hopes of a better life had been cruelly raised.
For the last eight years, we have helped run a soup kitchen that delivers 800 meals a day to poor people in central Athens. In Greece, refugees are at the bottom of the pecking order. Earlier this year, I visited a large detention centre north of Athens where refugees were being held in the kinds of cages where we might more usually house animals. I was distressed to see two cages where unaccompanied minors were being held. They had broken shoes and torn trousers, and appeared dazed and confused.
We have provided clothes, toiletries, sleeping bags and phone cards to the residents of the detention centres. We are working with UN and Orthodox Church representatives to provide food and shelter to new arrivals. Of course the fundamental problems that lead people to leave their countries need to be dealt with at a political level. But Christians are enjoined to help those who are casualties of forces far beyond their control.
Yet, strangely, we ourselves are being blessed....
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Virgin mothers having IVF, three-parent babies, transgender gold medallists . . . the new sexual politics is changing so rapidly that few can keep up. Facebook now has more than 71 terms for gender identity including gender fluid, hermaphrodite, polygender, asexual and two-spirit person. Google has increased its coverage of transgender healthcare for employees to include genital surgery, facial feminisation and pectoral implants.
In America they are increasingly clued up about these new sexual identities. Caitlyn Jenner — formerly known as Bruce — the Olympic decathlete and reality TV star, came out in July as transgender and said she was tired at 65 of telling lies. The arguments have now moved on to whether you have to be biologically female for the ladies’ loos. Campaigns have been launched, #weneedtopee and #occupotty, as states such as Florida and Kentucky struggle to work out what is appropriate in schools, hospitals and prisons.
The acronym LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) doesn’t trip off the tongue so easily here, but slowly the discussions are reaching Britain. The comedian Eddie Izzard, whom I interviewed, explained that he now sees being a transvestite as a gift, “because women talk to me in a different way”. Grayson Perry’s art transcends what he wears. Gender is increasingly no longer about men v women, Mars v Venus, but where you are on the spectrum.
The young are much more likely to challenge their sexuality. The number of children under ten being seen for transgender treatment on the NHS has quadrupled in the past five years.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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The gulf is widening among the world’s 80 million Anglicans and now the Archbishop of Canterbury has called a summit of church leaders to work out a new way of running the divided church.
Archbishop Justin Welby has asked Anglican primates from each major region to meet in London in January 2016.
He will discuss religiously motivated violence and the protection of children. But it’s the issue of sexuality and same-sex relationships that’s most divisive.
Is Archbishop Welby trying to achieve the impossible—satisfying the demands of liberal and conservative Anglicans for a church that’s totally inclusive or Biblically conservative? The Rev Dr Stephen Burns, associate dean of Trinity College Theological School in Melbourne and an expert in the worldwide Anglican communion, discusses the dilemma.
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With civil war in Syria, the emergence of ISIS, and the growing power of Iran, a new Middle East seems to be in the making. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become in some ways a sideline to these other developments. What do you see emerging out of these developments with regard to Israel/Palestine?
For the first time since the collapse of the Oslo process in 2000, I feel a small stirring of optimism and can see a way out. The defining conflict in the Middle East is no longer between Arabs and Israelis but between Sunnis and Shi‘ites. Much of the West hasn’t yet internalized this historic shift. The Saudis are now meeting regularly with Israelis and even allowing those meetings to become public knowledge. This is unprecedented.
During the Gaza War last year, even as anti-Israel demonstrations were happening in the West, Israel was receiving urgent messages from Sunni leaders demanding that it destroy the Hamas regime. Hamas is especially detested by many Sunnis for making common cause with Shi‘ite Iran—it’s the only Sunni Muslim Brotherhood organization to break ranks in the Sunni-Shi‘ite war.
All of which is to say that the Middle East looks very different from the Middle East than it does from the West. When Israelis looks around the region, what we see is that the most intact society left is Israel. I say that with more anxiety than pride, because this is the region in which I live, in which I’m raising a family. My prayer is for a Middle East in which all its peoples will find their safe place. Ultimately, the success of the Jewish homecoming depends on our finding our place in the Middle East.
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A former Anglican church in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's that was the source of deep division in the community is being demolished.
A demolition crew arrived at the property Monday and made short work of the steeple, which had become a symbol of a bitter feud that has raged since 2009 when the diocese approved a plan to remove the 120-year-old former sanctuary.
Someone took a saw to the steeple in March 2010 and used a vehicle to pull it down to the ground. That's where it rested until it was hauled away and later reduced to splinters by a backhoe.
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Richard Dawkins and the other prophets of atheism love to tell us that in the fabricated battle between religious belief and rationalism, there can be only one winner, and that their side is finally gaining the upper hand; the days of superstitious belief in sky pixies and the like are numbered – at least in the enlightened West. The tide is turning, and it is their hope that, in time, all religious belief, including Christianity, will be seen as little more than a dwindling remnant of the age of ignorance. This is the dawning of the Age of the Nones, where science and technology are the new gods to be worshipped and revered.
Certainly Christianity, though still the dominant faith in the United Kingdom, is in a bad way. Those who never progressed beyond the linear graphs of GCSE Maths will look at the decline in the number of professing Christians and calculate that, based on Census numbers going down from 72 per cent of the population in 2001 to 59 per cent in 2011, Christians will be about as common as chicken teeth by about 2060. If you happen to be a Methodist, things are even worse: your obituary is being readied for 2035.
But once you start digging deeper, the picture tells a set of more intricate stories. Even within the United Kingdom there are significant regional differences. A recent poll for the Theos think-tank found that Scotland is far more irreligious than the rest of the country, with 50 per cent of respondents having no religious faith compared to 35 per cent nationally. A quarter of the Welsh still attend a weekly service, almost double that of England and Scotland, and only 27 per cent of 18-24-year-olds actually describe themselves as Christian, compared to 79 per cent of the over 65s.
Read it all from the Archbishop Cranmer Blog.
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The daily spiritual exercises Dietrich Bonhoeffer expected of all members of Finkenwalde created some controversy at the time.
Bonhoeffer required silence before the morning service, which consisted of Bible reading, prayers and hymns. He also required a time of silent meditation and intercession after breakfast before lectures began. The community had a similar evening service, and at times readings during lunch.
Though these exercises were balanced by study, lectures and recreation, many objected to such "Catholic" practices. Others considered them evidences of legalism at Finkenwalde. Why did Bonhoeffer require these aspects of the community's day together and its day alone?
He did so because he believed that students were members of Christ's body preparing to be shepherds of the body of Christ.
Read it all from ABC Australia.
...research suggests that while it’s true that lawmakers passed a lot of measures calling for long prison sentences, if you look at how much time inmates actually served, not much has changed over the past few decades. Roughly half of all prisoners have prison terms in the range of two to three years, and only 10 percent serve more than seven years. The laws look punitive, but the time served hasn’t increased, and so harsh laws are not the main driver behind mass incarceration, either.
So what does explain it? Pfaff’s theory is that it’s the prosecutors. District attorneys and their assistants have gotten a lot more aggressive in bringing felony charges. Twenty years ago they brought felony charges against about one in three arrestees. Now it’s something like two in three. That produces a lot more plea bargains and a lot more prison terms.
I asked Pfaff why prosecutors are more aggressive. He’s heard theories. Maybe they are more political and they want to show toughness to raise their profile to impress voters if they run for future office. Maybe the police are bringing stronger cases. Additionally, prosecutors are usually paid by the county but prisons by the state, so prosecutors tend not to have to worry about the financial costs of what they do.
Read it all from the New York Times Op-ed page.
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Sir Hector Sants is calling upon the wealthy to lend to credit unions and help run co-operatives in an attempt to raise their profile and fill the vast gap left by the shrinking payday lending sector.
The former chief executive of the City watchdog was appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury last year to lead the Church of England’s task force on credit unions, but said they need greater support to help borrowers seeking short-term loans.
In an interview with FT Money, Sir Hector said: “Join a credit union — it doesn’t have to be your sole bank — and deposit money, which can then be lent out. There are often good terms if you need a loan.”
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American families are under assault from an Islamic extremist group that is quietly turning young minds against their parents, against their religious faith, and against their country.
The group, the self-proclaimed Islamic State in occupied sections of Syria and Iraq, is using social media and the worldwide reach of the Internet in a sophisticated recruitment campaign that is making families feel helpless to stop a slow-motion kidnapping of their children.
So far this year, 58 Americans – more than half under 25 – have been arrested for attempting to travel to Syria or for plotting violence in the US. That is more than twice the number of similar arrests for the entire year in 2014, and more than twice the number for all of 2013, as well.
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There has always been a fierce debate about the relationship between cohabitation and divorce risks. Some argue that cohabitation lessens people’s commitment to partnership and thus increases their risk of divorce, while others believe that a cohabitation phase before marriage (as a trial marriage) would strengthen marital stability. In the United States, data suggest that the effect of cohabitation on marriage is at best neutral; however, in European countries, the effect of cohabitation on marital stability varies markedly, according to a study covering the last decade of the twentieth century (Liefbroer and Dourleijn, 2006).
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Vladimir Putin certainly knows how to steal a show. The Russian president will speak today at the UN General Assembly for the first time in a decade. The rapid build-up of Russian military force in Syria in recent weeks has turned Mr Putin into the centre of attention in New York, as rivals and allies both speculate about his intentions.
To his delight, he has managed to put the US on the back-foot. After a year of trying to freeze out Mr Putin over his military intervention in Ukraine, US President Barack Obama has decided he has little choice but to meet the Russian leader to discuss Syria.
The Russian intervention in Syria — in support of the isolated regime of President Bashar al-Assad — has come at a time when Washington’s own strategy for resolving the conflict is in tatters. The US-trained force of Syrian fighters numbers in the dozens, not the planned thousands, while air strikes have had only a limited impact on the Syrian operations of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis.
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"Church schools continue to be oversubscribed and popular with parents and pupils, opting for a Christian based education whatever their own faith. Both community and church schools increasingly testify to difficulties in recruiting headteachers and our recent consultation has shown a strong desire for more support in training new leaders. Heads and teachers have told us that they want more help and better training to enable them to promote the Church of England's vision for education. To this end we are consulting about plans to better equip and support leaders and teachers across the country in a fast-moving educational environment."
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A panel of six different faiths found commonality during a religious conference that tasked its speakers to discuss God as myth or reality.
"I don't think it's possible to prove or disprove the existence of God in any rational way," said Anglican priest Peter Zimmer, who presented before an audience of about 80 people Sunday evening at the University of Northern B.C.'s Canfor Theatre for the World Religions Conference.
The question, to him, is the difference faith can make in a person's life.
Zimmer suggested all major religions attempt to answer three questions: where do we come from, where are we going, and what must we do on our way.
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What spurred him on his journey to the priesthood was a growing realization of how poorly Canadian students are taught about the aboriginal experience. His mother went to a residential school, as did most of his relatives. Talking to elders to learn more about Cree history, he was drawn into “the story of the land.” Meanwhile, his Christian faith was nurtured by his mother and grandfather, both “hard-core Anglican.”
“That’s the work I’ve been doing, trying to reconcile those two things: the work of Jesus Christ, the history of Canada, the impact of both of those questions on Cree people. How can we as Cree people be fully engaged in our identity and be connected to the land, and still be connected to Jesus Christ?”
After graduating from university, he briefly worked for Revenue Canada until, wanting more human contact, he turned to hairdressing, eventually buying his own shop. It proved to be an inspiration for the next step in his life: seminary.
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First we need to welcome and help refugees.
In order to do this we need to put more and more pressure on governments in developed countries to accept more refugees. Lebanon, such a small country, with a population of 5 million people and a weak economy is hosting 1.5 million Syrian refugees. The rest of the neighbouring countries did the same. In Egypt we accepted a quarter of a million Syrian refugees in addition to 2.5 African refugees. After welcoming refugees in the country the churches can then cooperate with the government and UNHCR to provide for the needs of the refugees in a more holistic way. I was so encouraged by the appeal of Pope Francis when he asked every parish to host refugee family. It is so important that these refugees may encounter the love of Jesus in us.
In our refugee program in Egypt and Ethiopia we deal with thousands of refugees. We help them to find accommodation and shelters. In fact some of our churches in Ethiopia became shelters for the thousands who walked in from South Sudan. We also have programs to build their capacities so that they can find jobs. And we provide education for their children as well as health care through our clinics. I am sure you [others] do better than us in these areas. Let us see Jesus in each one of them and let us hear Him saying, “I was a stranger and you invited me in” when we meet them.
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Nearly 30,000 foreign recruits have now poured into Syria, many to join the Islamic State, a doubling of volunteers in just the past 12 months and stark evidence that an international effort to tighten borders, share intelligence and enforce antiterrorism laws is not diminishing the ranks of new militant fighters.
Among those who have entered or tried to enter the conflict in Iraq or Syria are more than 250 Americans, up from about 100 a year ago, according to intelligence and law enforcement officials.
President Obama will take stock of the international campaign to counter the Islamic State at the United Nations on Tuesday, a public accounting that comes as American intelligence analysts have been preparing a confidential assessment that concludes that nearly 30,000 foreign fighters have traveled to Iraq and Syria from more than 100 countries since 2011. A year ago, the same officials estimated that flow to be about 15,000 combatants from 80 countries, mostly to join the Islamic State.
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Pro-independence parties in Spain's Catalonia region have won an absolute majority in regional elections, near complete results show.
With more than 90% of the votes counted, the main separatist alliance and a smaller party won 72 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament.
They said earlier a majority would allow them to declare independence from Spain unilaterally within 18 months.
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As Christians we have a responsibility, not only to give generously to address immediate social need, but to work with political leaders and the wider community to change the structures that are trapping people in cycles of poverty.
‘Local communities are ready to be active partners in tackling the root causes of social exclusion and are best placed to inform and shape this work. In community and faith–based organisations, volunteers are working quietly and effectively to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable and marginalised, including the basic necessities of food, shelter and much–needed emotional and psychological support. As demands continue to rise, charities are stretched beyond capacity and facing difficult decisions about the future.
‘The unacceptable level of child poverty, affecting over 100,000 children, roughly 6% of Northern Ireland’s population, constitutes a real crisis. Supports that have proved to be effective in recent years in addressing inequality and closing the gap in crucial areas such as educational disadvantage are now being withdrawn through lack of funding. The failure to invest adequately in the future leaders of our society is a cause of deep frustration among young people, leaving many feeling disconnected from political processes.
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Most people like the Christians they know while the vast majority of the population still identify with the Christian faith.
Fifty-seven percent of people in England call themselves Christians (though a fraction of those would be described as "practicing"), and one in five of those who don't is open to finding out more about Jesus after hearing Christians talk to them about their faith.
These are some of the findings of a new study looking at perceptions of Jesus, Christianity and evangelism.
A coalition of church groups, supported by the majority of the mainstream denominations in the United Kingdom (including the Baptist Union of Great Britain) commissioned the first-of-its-kind survey in the hope it will be a major catalyst for effective and focused evangelism in the years to come. It intends to track the data over the next 30 years.
Read it all and please note the link to the full report.
America is a Christian country. This is true in a number of senses. Most people, if asked, will identify themselves as Christian, which may mean only that they aren’t something else. Non-Christians will say America is Christian, meaning that they feel somewhat apart from the majority culture. There are a large number of demographic Christians in North America because of our history of immigration from countries that are or were also Christian. We are identified in the world at large with this religion because some of us espouse it not only publicly but also vociferously. As a consequence, we carry a considerable responsibility for its good name in the world, though we seem not much inclined to consider the implications of this fact. If we did, some of us might think a little longer about associating the precious Lord with ignorance, intolerance, and belligerent nationalism. These few simple precautions would also make it more attractive to the growing numbers among our people who have begun to reject it as ignorant, intolerant, and belligerently nationalistic, as they might reasonably conclude that it is, if they hear only the loudest voices.
There is something I have felt the need to say, that I have spoken about in various settings, extemporaneously, because my thoughts on the subject have not been entirely formed, and because it is painful to me to have to express them. However, my thesis is always the same, and it is very simply stated, though it has two parts: first, contemporary America is full of fear. And second, fear is not a Christian habit of mind. As children we learn to say, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” We learn that, after his resurrection, Jesus told his disciples, “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Christ is a gracious, abiding presence in all reality, and in him history will finally be resolved.
These are larger, more embracing terms than contemporary Christianity is in the habit of using. But we are taught that Christ “was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made….The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” The present tense here is to be noted. John’s First Letter proclaims “the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us.” We as Christians cannot think of Christ as isolated in space or time if we really do accept the authority of our own texts. Nor can we imagine that this life on earth is our only life, our primary life. As Christians we are to believe that we are to fear not the death of our bodies but the loss of our souls....
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The effort to demolish the church has been a source of controversy in the community for the past five years.
Townspeople and historians fought to save and restore the structure, even while the head of the Anglican church for eastern Newfoundland endorsed tearing it down.
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...the biggest argument against the “perpetual peace” hypothesis is ideological. Since the Iranian revolution of 1979, we have been witnessing the revival of an old ideology — political Islam — that may ultimately prove to be as violent and menacing to western values as fascism and communism once were. Already that ideology has been in large measure responsible for a marked upturn in war, political violence and especially terrorism since around 2010.
War is back, and much of it is holy war. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, total fatalities resulting from armed conflict have increased by a factor of four since 2010. In 2000, according to my calculations, 35 per cent of the fatalities in armed conflicts were in wars involving Muslims. In 2014 it was 79 per cent.
This is not the clash of civilisations Samuel Huntington prophesied. Much of today’s conflict is between Muslims. Religion is certainly not the sole cause for increasing conflict, but it is more than a coincidence that global warfare is so concentrated in the Islamic world.
Read it all from the FT.
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After two days of denials, the Pentagon disclosed late Friday that a U.S.-trained and equipped proxy force in Syria had turned over some of its supplied weapons to an Al Qaeda affiliate.
U.S. officials said rebels told them a commander of a group of trained fighters gave six pickup trucks with mounted machine guns and a portion of their ammunition, or about 25% of their issued equipment, to Al Nusra Front in exchange for safe passage within their operating area in northern Syria.
The information "is very concerning and a violation of Syria train and equip program guidelines,” said Col. Patrick Ryder, spokesman of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the military effort in the Middle East.
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Over 180 bishops, laity and Clergy of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) converged on Akure, the Ondo State capital from Monday to Thursday last week to seek the face of God over the challenges of insurgency and kidnapping in the country.
Primate of the church, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh said the only way out of the current spate of terrorism is “to look up to Jesus in simple faith and obedience.”
Speaking at the Cathedral Church of Saint David, Diocese of Akure, the venue of meeting of the church standing committee titled; “Look and live”, Okoh expressed worries over “the poisonous serpent of insurgency and kidnapping ravaging the country”, lamenting that “these people kill, maim and destroy without the slightest qualms and most times in very crude and dastardly manner...."
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It was 60 years ago this week that an all-white jury acquitted two white men in the murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy visiting Mississippi from Chicago.
The case shocked the nation — drawing attention to the brutal treatment of African-Americans in the Deep South, and the failure of the justice system. The men later confessed to killing Till for whistling at a white woman.
Today, about 400 people live in Sumner, Miss., where the trial was held. The town sprouts up amid vast expanses of cotton land in the Mississippi Delta — the fertile northwest corner of the state.
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DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
Well, I thought it’s so clear how countercultural he is. We have ideological fights. He’s anti-ideological. He’s personalist. Somebody once said, souls are not saved in bundles, and he’s with each individual human being.
I loved the moment, little girl on the street, she came up to his caravan, and he embraced her. That was a moment, the pope and the individual. And so he represents community an ethos of community and uplift, which is just different than our horizontal politics.
It’s a vertical axis he’s on. And so, whether you’re Republican or Democrat, I think everybody felt uplifted, and both uplifted by his example and his humility, but also humbled by — he believes that the church is a hospital for the souls, and so he offered that as well.
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When he was 8 years old, my son, Noah, a true-blue New York Yankees fan, visited his pediatrician for a physical exam before starting day camp. His doctor found a lump in his neck.
The evaluation began with a chest X-ray, which showed a mass; the CT scan confirmed a large lesion in his chest. As a physician, I prayed to God that it would be tuberculosis. Perhaps I was the only doctor ever to ask God to give his son tuberculosis. The biopsy revealed Hodgkin’s disease, a form of lymphoma, and I quickly began to pray for my son’s life. A deep, gut-penetrating fear seared through my body.
Tefillah is the Hebrew word for prayer. The Torah, also referred to as the Old Testament, begins with: “When God began to create.” And how did God create? With words. Genesis 1:3 “God said ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” Genesis 1:26 “God said: ‘Let us make man in our image.’ ” Thus, we see that God used words to bring all that we know into existence.
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On a few topics, Riley was brief and to the point.
Invest in early childhood education, he urged, and increase the amount of money available for public infrastructure, perhaps through an increase in the state’s gas tax.
It is imperative that communities have well-functioning roads, bridges and public transportation, Riley said. “We have to have thriving, livable metropolitan areas that are creating jobs, and transportation is a very important part of that.”
Riley also mentioned the importance of attracting high-tech jobs, naming a handful of technology companies headquartered in Charleston, including Blackbaud, maker of fund-raising and nonprofit software; BoomTown!, purveyor of real estate software; and Benefitfocus, which specializes in human resources software.
Read it all from The State newspaper in Columbia, SC.
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It might not be well-publicised by the church, but every diocese in Britain has its own deliverance minister. Each is appointed, personally, by the Bishop. Many, like Stephen, become interested in taking on the role after having their own experience of some apparently supernatural phenomena . “I used to live in a house that seemed to have some sort of presence,” says Stephen. His haunting, though, was mild: more pest than pestilence. “Even though it was a relatively modern house it was always very cold, particularly in my children’s bedroom,” he says. “We bled the radiators, we looked for a draft and there was none. The place just had an atmosphere. I went away for a couple of nights and my wife, who’s fairly level headed, was freaked out just by being left in the house with my child.” At a loss, he called in a deliverance minister who told him, ‘Don’t worry, I can deal with this,’ and blessed the house. As he said his prayers everyone gathered felt the temperature rise around them, right where they stood. “It went from cool to being very warm, and it wasn’t just me that felt it,” he says. “This is something I’ve experienced a few times. The house is actually quite a pleasant place to live now.”
Becoming a deliverance minister not only requires selection by the bishop, but the attendance of a compulsory training course. “It lasts three or four days,” he says. “It gives you a huge amount of input along the lines of, ‘these are things you may not have experienced before and how you go about dealing with them.’ There’s also a very heavy emphasis on the difference between people who are psychotic and people who might be manifesting evil influences.” As part of his general training, Stephen says he completed an extended placement working at a mental health facility. “I have quite an extensive knowledge and experience of people who’ve got various psychiatric problems.”
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Religious Education is not a soft option, it is a vital subject for promoting understanding. But there will be no option to choose the subject of Religious Studies as one of the humanities in the proposed compulsory English Baccalaureate (EBacc). Having worked so positively with government for the reform of RS GCSE and A-levels to ensure the new qualifications are rigorous and have much greater theological depth, this is hugely disappointing.
In fact today, the head of Osted, Sir Michael Wilshaw has also challenged the Government over the Ebacc.
The numbers of students opting to take RS as a GCSE has been steadily rising, because they recognise the important role the subject plays in equipping them for life in today’s world. But by not including RS in the EBacc options, the government is limiting choice. Schools will obviously be swayed by which measures are used to hold them accountable. For example, the fact that the RS GCSE short course is no longer included in those measures has resulted in a 67% fall in the numbers of students taking the qualification. Many have switched to the full course RS GCSE, which is obviously a good thing, but the move to make the EBacc compulsory (for those taking GCSEs in 2020) will then have a dramatic impact on the courses students are able to choose.
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The leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Britain, Bishop Angaelos, has called on the Government to multiply its efforts to resettle Middle Eastern refugees in the UK.
Bishop Angaelos visited a transit camp for refugees on the border of Greece and Macedonia earlier this month, and said that the people he met were desperate to find a safer life.
He spoke on Tuesday about a conversation with a young Syrian. “He said: ‘In Syria we are used to quick deaths through bombs and bullets, but we are embarking on a slow death.’ He was referring to the trip by sea.”
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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that inspired by the devotion of thy servant Sergius of Moscow, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
The U.S. Catholic Church is expanding quickly in the South and West, largely driven by immigrants from Latin America filling pews in Atlanta, Houston and in Southern California.
Meanwhile, the church is contracting in the East and upper Midwest, where historic Catholic strongholds like Boston, Detroit and New York City are closing parishes as population or attendance declines.
The result: Old-line dioceses are battling to keep their doors open, even as fast-growing ones are scrambling to meet the needs of the growing faithful.
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Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.
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An enthusiastic crowd of 11,000 ticketed guests gathered on the South Lawn of the White House this morning as President Obama officially welcomed Pope Francis to the United States.
Among the overwhelmingly Catholic audience there to greet him on his first US visit was a smattering of evangelical leaders.
Leith Anderson and Galen Carey from the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Gabriel Salguero of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition. David Anderson, pastor of Bridgeway Community Church. Lisa Sharon Harper from Sojourners. Joel Hunter of Northland Church.
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Long before he became celebrated for his wayward way with words, Berra was hailed as one of baseball’s best players and fiercest competitors.
Berra starred on Yankees teams that dominated baseball during his 18 years playing in pinstripes, from 1946 to 1963. He played in 14 World Series and was on the winning side 10 times, both records. He also holds World Series career records for at-bats (259) and hits (71).
The American League Most Valuable Player in 1951, 1954 and 1955, he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, the same year the Yankees retired his uniform, No. 8.
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The church of Nigeria Anglican communion Wednesday went spiritual as it prayed for the quick release of the former Secretary to the Government of Federation SGF) Chief Olu Falae.
Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) Most Rev’d Nicholas Okoh led Standing Committee of the Anglican Church consisting of 180 bishops and Laity to pray and plead that his abductors should have a rethink and set him free forthwith.
Okoh was in Akure for a four day meeting of the standing committee of the Anglican Church.
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Mary Irwin-Gibson, the bishop-elect, was born in Sarnia, Ont., but grew up around Montreal. Before her election, the 59-year-old served as the dean and rector of St. George’s Catherdral in Kingston since 2009. She was ordained a priest in 1982, just six years after Canada’s Anglican church allowed women to serve in the role.
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Spong will lecture on "CHRISTPOWER in the Radical Center of Life--A New Christianity for a New World," followed by a question and answer session with the audience. Spong always promises to provide a provocative, thoughtful, and enlivening experience for seekers from all faiths and denominations (or none) and across all religious and political spectrums.
His appearance in Columbia is a cooperative effort of several local congregations including St. Luke's, St. Martin's in the Fields, Church of the Cross, and St. Simon & St. Jude Episcopal Churches, as well as the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia and the Jubilee! Circle, Columbia.
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(Archbishop Fred Hiltz writes) Dear Friends in Christ,
Today the Council of General Synod received The Report of The Commission on The Marriage Canon. The report is very comprehensive and reflects the commitment of the members to address General Synod 2013’s Resolution C003 in its fullness.
You will recall that the resolution requested consideration as to whether the proposal for amending The Marriage Canon would contravene The Solemn Declaration of 1893; and called for a theological and biblical rationale for the blessing of same sex marriages. The Commissioners take us into a deep exploration of the theology of marriage and present several models for understanding same sex marriage. In accord with the request in Resolution C003 for broad consultation throughout the Church the report includes a succinct summary of feedback received from Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners.
Read it all and yes you need to look at the whole report (64 page download).
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The Ashley Madison hack has spurred a national debate on data privacy as well as the state of marriage in society. Pundits like Fredrik deBoer, Dan Savage, and Glenn Greenwald wasted no time commenting on the controversy by pushing several familiar narratives:
1. Adultery is a victimless and harmless act and therefore within the bounds of morality. If two (or more) people consent to sexual activity, that is their prerogative, and society must be accepting of that choice or at the very least respectful and understanding.
2. The fact that many conservative people do not accept adultery is a function of their religious prudery. That is the only reason anyone could possibly have for opposing consensual sex, which, in the final analysis, is a private matter that ought to remain beyond the scrutiny of others.
3. By insisting that adultery is immoral, religious groups are imposing their puritanical beliefs on others, stigmatizing the innocent lifestyles of certain people, and dehumanizing those who engage in otherwise harmless intimate relationships in pursuit of love and happiness.
We know these arguments so well because they are endlessly rehashed to defend the morality of homosexual acts and the push to redefine marriage. Simply replace every instance of the word “adultery” in the above with “homosexual act” or “same-sex relationships” and the parallels become undeniable.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Men Psychology Sexuality Sociology Women * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
(Readers are cautioned about the difficult content in this--KSH.
In his last phone call home, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father what was troubling him: From his bunk in southern Afghanistan, he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys they had brought to the base.
“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Sexuality Teens / Youth Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General War in Afghanistan * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia Afghanistan * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
A new message is being hinted at to orthodox Christians by the secular state: get with the programme, or we will treat you as extremists.
Thirdly, the episode is an example of revisionist episcopal hypocrisy. David Walker (whose views are well known) claimed on one hand that the “gay” issue was not going to split the church, and that unity in the Anglican Communion was his priority. But then he joined in an attack on the Church of Uganda using false information. If his aim is unity, this will surely have the opposite effect – unless of course he thinks he can bully African churches into following his revisionist views, and creating ‘unity’ that way? Rather than discuss the theological issues behind the fracture in the Communion, the Bishop of Manchester chose to use the radio interview to solicit support from the secular liberal audience for his own brand of Christianity, by demonizing African Anglicans and so further hardening the divisions in the Communion. To what extent does this reflect his own view, or part of a more organized policy?
We are seeing a combination of spin, intimidation and hypocrisy as revisionist church leaders join with the secular media in creating distance between (in their narrative) ‘good religion’ of liberal Western Anglicanism, and the ‘bad religion’ of the orthodox version in the developing world. In North America the faithful confessing Anglicans have faced this, taking a public, costly stand, articulating the Bible’s clear teaching about sex, marriage and what it means to be human as part of a fully-orbed presentation of the counter cultural Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have not been ashamed of association with African Christian leaders, warmly welcoming close fellowship and even oversight from them. The Archbishop of Canterbury needs to show at the January meeting that he rejects the revisionist tactics of the BBC/Guardian/Bishop of Manchester (that is, if the GAFCON Primates accept the invitation). Otherwise English evangelical Anglicans and orthodox anglo-Catholics will need to be moving ahead organizationally along the same lines as ACNA.
Read it all and followi the links, especially noting the one to the detailed background to the situation in Uganda.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Primates Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Global South Churches & Primates Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Media Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Amidst our joys and struggles how are the people and places of our daily lives encountering the light of Jesus love and hope in word and action -where we live, or work, or shop, or spend leisure time? How does who we are as followers of Christ impact on the hopes and needs of those around us... and even in the way we engage with complex wider world issues such as those people drowning at sea?
Let me read some more words, which should also be unsettling and challenging. This time words from the diocesan vision statement:
The Diocese of Gloucester seeks under God to be a resilient, dynamic and transforming gospel presence in and around Gloucestershire.
Surely, this is all about being salt and light; letting our light shine before others; being those 'ambassadors for Christ'.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
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