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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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The experiment with human embryos was dreaded, yet widely anticipated. Scientists somewhere, researchers said, were trying to edit genes with a technique that would permanently alter the DNA of every cell so any changes would be passed on from generation to generation.
Those concerns drove leading researchers to issue urgent calls in major scientific journals last month to halt such work on human embryos, at least until it could be proved safe and until society decided if it was ethical.
Now, scientists in China report that they tried it.
The experiment failed, in precisely the ways that had been feared.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Science & Technology * International News & Commentary Asia China * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Few people will pity the dual-earner couples earning more than $100,000 and paying a penalty for being married. But at a time when lower-earning couples are struggling to get by and less likely than ever to be reaping the benefits of marriage for themselves and their children, more should be done to ensure that the tax and welfare system doesn’t punish them for tying the knot.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
A street vendor from Mozambique, Emmanuel Sithole, lay begging for his life in a gutter as four men beat him and stabbed him in the heart with a long knife. Images of his murder have shaken South Africa, already reeling from a wave of attacks on foreigners, mostly poor migrants from the rest of Africa. Soldiers were deployed on April 21st to Alexandra, a Johannesburg township, and other flashpoints to quell the violence, though only after seven people had been killed. Thousands of fearful foreigners, many from Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, have sought refuge in makeshift camps. Others have returned home.
South Africa has experienced such horrors before. During widespread anti-foreign violence in 2008, 62 people were killed and some 100,000 displaced. Photographs of the murder of another Mozambican man, Ernesto Nhamuave, whom a jeering mob burned alive in a squatter camp, led to declarations that such atrocities would never happen again. Yet no one was charged in Mr Nhamuave’s death: the case was closed after a cursory police investigation apparently turned up no witnesses (who were easily found by journalists earlier this year). The latest violence flared up in the Durban area earlier this month after King Goodwill Zwelithini, the traditional leader of the Zulus, reportedly compared foreigners to lice and said that they should pack up and leave.
His comments poured fuel on an already-smouldering fire. Jean Pierre Misago, a researcher at the African Centre for Migration and Society in Johannesburg, estimates that at least 350 foreigners have been killed in xenophobic violence since 2008.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Immigration Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
It’s a myth to suggest people on benefits must be scroungers. Most people in poverty in the UK are working. Of the children living in poverty, 61% have working parents.
When the Living Wage is introduced, everyone benefits. Morale goes up.
When work feels worthwhile, its quality improves. Raising pay to a living wage would reduce the benefits bill, increase tax receipts and boost the economy by stepping up workers’ spending power.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
One of the joys of traveling is seeing how other people worship. On vacation my daughter and I visited a shul in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands that had sand on the floor to represent either the Israelite journey through the desert or a homage to the congregants’ Murano Jewish ancestors who used sand to muffle the sounds of their secret prayer services during the Spanish Inquisition. They lived as Catholics publicly, but returned to their Judaism in their basements.
We happened to attend this Caribbean synagogue when the head of the women’s club was having an adult bat mitzvah. The highlight came during her speech, when she surveyed the crowd, appeared to do a mental calculation and announced: “Family hold back!” The lox was delicious, and the whole experience was so great—how could we not join for the off-island rate of $72 a year?
So if you are traveling to the ’burgh and looking for that special something from your synagogue experience: Ask and I’ll set you up. Just not during services. I’ll be busy talking to Finkelstein.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Judaism
I AM surely not alone in thinking that there is something desperately lacking in politics today. I have found much of the output from the political parties in the current election campaign deeply depressing. They seem determined to treat voters as children looking for handouts of sweets, concerned with what’s in it for them, rather than as adult human beings who are interested in the kind of world we are making, both for our own generation and for those who will come after us.
For the most part I find it very difficult to work out what people stand for, and so much of the debate is couched in intensely negative terms, focusing on instilling fear about what the other lot might do if they get into power. It is divisive and it is corrosive – and somebody needs to say “Stop!” and then to try and set us off in a different direction.
Christians cannot of course (thank goodness) impose their moral and political vision on the life of our nation. But we can and must seek to contribute to the formation of a new vision for our shared life and a new way of doing politics. This needs to happen right down at the level of every local church and parish – and at the level of our contribution to political debate.
Churches must seek to become beacons of hope and communities of people who are learning to live differently and to refuse the culture of fear and suspicion which so characterises much of life today.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
That need to connect—to bridge the divide between reader and writer, between me and you, between me and everyone—is there from the first. In Wallace's first novel, The Broom of the System (which also started life as an undergraduate thesis: he was double major, in philosophy and English), one man is so scared of loneliness that he intends to eat until his body fills the entire world, so he won't be alone anymore. The novel betrays a clever author very pleased with his own cleverness, but you can forgive a 21-year-old the narcissism when you realize the question at the book's core—can we ever really connect with other people?—was an obsession for Wallace, even as his style matured from a theory-based sophomoric snickering to an empathetic, impassioned searching.
"In dark times," Wallace told McCaffrey, "the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what's human and magical that still live and glow despite the times' darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it'd find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it."
I guess you can't properly call David Foster Wallace a religious writer, at least not with the definitions of religion we usually employ. Then again, when I first read him, I sensed a presence beyond the words on the page, a writer who was desperate to connect with the reader but also said what needed to be said. His questions are what I struggle with, too. Who am I? How do I connect with other people? What or who are we headed for, together? How do we get there? What is the best life?
Read it all.
Welby’s visit was to offer condolences for Egypt’s most recent witnesses, the twenty Coptic Christians and one Ghanaian martyred in Libya in February. The word ‘martyr’ is derived from a Greek word meaning ‘witness.’
Symbolically, Welby delivered to Pope Tawadros twenty-one letters written by grieving British families. One is believed to have been related to David Haines, the aid worker captured in Syria and beheaded last year.
“Why have the martyrs of Libya spoken so powerfully to the world?” Welby asked. “The way these brothers lived and died communicated that their testimony is trustworthy.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Ethiopia Middle East Egypt * Theology
Almighty God, who didst commission thy holy martyr George to bear before the rulers of this world the banner of the cross: Strengthen us in our battles against the great serpent of sin and evil, that we too may attain the crown of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The US shale industry has failed to crack as expected. North Sea oil drillers and high-cost producers off the coast of Africa are in dire straits, but America's "flexi-frackers" remain largely unruffled.
One starts to glimpse the extraordinary possibility that the US oil industry could be the last one standing in a long and bitter price war for global market share, or may at least emerge as an energy superpower with greater political staying-power than Opec.
It is 10 months since the global crude market buckled, turning into a full-blown rout in November when Saudi Arabia abandoned its role as the oil world's "Federal Reserve" and opted instead to drive out competitors.
If the purpose was to choke the US "tight oil" industry before it becomes an existential threat - and to choke solar power in the process - it risks going badly awry, though perhaps they had no choice. "There was a strong expectation that the US system would crash. It hasn't," said Atul Arya, from IHS.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Energy, Natural Resources Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa America/U.S.A. Middle East Saudi Arabia South America Venezuela * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Last year in his maiden speech in the House of Lords, the Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell spoke of the importance of chaplaincy and how the role in schools and colleges should be seen as essential not an irrelevant luxury. As co-sponsors of a new technical college in East London, Bishop Stephen described how his diocese was not just committed to the best technical training but also to enable pupils to understand the modern world. One of the first things the college did was recruit a chaplain, he said.
Although each chaplaincy is very different, what they all have in common is a commitment to serving the needs of the whole school or college. Where their independence and integrity have earned it, they may be the one person the Principal can unburden themself to, or the one person who is able to say that a proposed course of action is not the right one in the light of the college’s values.
Perhaps it’s not surprising after all that chaplaincy is growing - while hard data are not easy to assemble, some 80% of colleges have some level of chaplaincy provision. The number of volunteers in school chaplaincy is also growing, as our last Report ’ The Public Face of God’ illustrated.
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 Children Education Religion & Culture Teens / Youth * International News & Commentary England / UK
Nigeria’s military announced last week that it was raiding the Sambisa Forest, one of the last strongholds of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. Liberating the forest might be the hardest part of the campaign against the group.
Aided by regional troops and foreign mercenaries, Nigeria’s military has managed to take back nearly all of the towns and villages controlled by Boko Haram in Nigeria’s northeast over the past few months.
But one area remains mostly under their control: Sambisa, a massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s Mayor Moses Tucker had to abruptly end Tuesday night’s council meeting when it devolved into yelling, cursing and personal verbal jabs.
As the full house poured out of the council chambers — many livid with council’s decision to approve the demolition of the St. Philip’s Anglican church built in 1894 — two police officers were on hand in the lobby in case the jabs became physical.
Several residents who wanted to attend the meeting were locked out, as the town wouldn’t allow more than 50 people in the room, citing fire regulations.
The Anglican church building became the centre of contention in the town in 2010 when the steeple was toppled after being partially sawed off in the middle of the night. Church officials wanted to tear down the building, and the group Church by the Sea Inc. wanted to turn it into a museum.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary Canada * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
French anti-terror police believe they have foiled an 'imminent" terrorist attack against "one, maybe two churches" in Paris, the interior minister revealed on Wednesday.
"A terrorist attack was foiled on Sunday morning," said France's interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve in an impromptu media briefing.
Cazeneuve revealed announced that a 24-year-old IT student, of French Algerian origins, was arrested on Sunday in possession of a significant arsenal of weapons. It is believed he was intending to carry out an attack that very day.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Europe France * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
When a school learns that one of its alums has achieved great things, the institution will usually seek to promote those accomplishments. But there are exceptions. If it's discovered, for example, that the former student also happens to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan, or a neo-Nazi, or a convicted felon, then the school will naturally seek to downplay the connection — and to sever any explicit ties between them.
To this list of offenses — normally reserved only for bigots and criminals — we can now apparently add opposing same-sex marriage.
Consider the recent experience of Ryan T. Anderson.
A graduate of the Quaker Friends School of Baltimore, Anderson has achieved far more than most 33-year-olds. He completed his undergraduate education at Princeton and earned a Ph.D. from Notre Dame. He has been cited by a Supreme Court justice (Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in his dissent from the majority opinion in United States v. Windsor, which struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act). He was recently named the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation. And last week he was profiled fairly and respectfully in The Washington Post. (Headline: "The right finds a fresh voice on same-sex marriage.")
No wonder someone thought it made sense to post a link to the profile on the school's website.
But then the predictable uproar began. Before long, head of school Matthew W. Micciche had taken down the link and published first a brief and then a lengthier apology for having posted it in the first place. (Both statements were subsequently deleted. The longer one is quoted in its entirety on Anderson's public Facebook page.)
In his longer apology, Micciche expressed "sincere regret" for his "lack of sensitivity" and the "anguish and confusion" and "pain" the link inflicted on members of the school community who thought the link implied that the school was standing behind Anderson's views....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Education Marriage & Family Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
The Anglican Bishop for Ethiopia has hailed as martyrs 28 Ethiopian Christians shot or beheaded in Libya by members of the terrorist group known as ISIS or ISIL.
"I have just learned the horrifying news that as many as twenty-eight Ethiopian Christians have been shot or beheaded in Libya by members of the terrorist group known as ISIS or ISIL. This alarming act of violence against those that ISIS calls “people of the cross” comes just two months after twenty-one other Christians - twenty Egyptians and one Ghanian, were beheaded on a Libyan beach." Bishop Grant LeMarquand said in a letter to be read in Ethopian churches and distributed overseas.
Bishop LeMarquand is Anglican Area Bishop for the Horn of Africa (Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Ethiopia) and Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Ethiopia * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A robust defence of the Archbishops' programme Reform and Renewal was delivered at a gathering of Evangelicals last week, addressing critics who have questioned everything from its theology to its methodology.
Organised by the Evangelical group Fulcrum, the event, which asked whether the Church of England was "drinking in the last-chance saloon", was addressed by the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, and the Revd Dr Ian Paul, associate minister of St Nicholas, Nottingham, and lecturer at the University of Nottingham.
The audience heard an unapologetic defence of the drive to tackle numerical decline, and a frank dismissal of some of the programme's most vocal critics.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Sociology * International News & Commentary England / UK
Watch it all.
Speaking on a visit to religious and political leaders in Egypt, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, told the BBC's Lyse Doucet that the whole of Europe must share responsibility in dealing with the problem.
''It will be demanding, and that's why the burden must be spread across the continent, and not taken by just one country or one area, '' he said.
Read it all and listen to the whole BBC video piece (just under 2 1/2 minutes).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Immigration Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Europe Middle East Egypt * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
“It’s my prayer for them and what I know about their lives,” Ms. Jones said in the hushed aftermath of the ceremony. “It’s being present, being attentive, letting the spirit speak. It’s just wanting to be a blessing to my friends.”
Ms. Jones meant those words in concrete as well as ineffable ways. As the founder of a group of young black churchwomen, which she named Shepreaches, she aspires to ease the difficult path of African-American women into the pulpit. For the past two years, her signal event has been a Good Friday service with sermons by seven women.
This year’s preachers range in age from late 20s to early 40s. Some are ordained, others still in seminary, and their affiliations range across traditionally black denominations. What they share in common is that none have served as senior pastors in a field still dominated by men. A few had privately doubted their own right to the pulpit until Ms. Jones issued her call.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Women * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
How many megacities does China have? The United Nations puts it at six [that's incorrect]....
China is urbanizing at a staggering rate—in 35 years, it has added more than 500 million people to its cities. As a result, it looks like the world has vastly underestimated the size and scope of growth in China's megacities, defined as those with more than 10 million people, according to a new report by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development.
Please guess the answer before you go and read it all.
Kenneth Morgan, a Gulf War veteran, returned to Detroit four years ago after 30 years away. He left when he was nine years old, traveling the world with his military father, but chose to settle his family in Detroit because, he says, “it’s home. There’s no place like home.” Morgan, his wife, Robin, and their children, Gary Effler and Kenneth D. and Korey Morgan, are renovating a duplex they bought on the East Side for $1,800 plus back taxes.
Read it all.
Our analysis of the number of missing African-American men relies on the 2010 census, the government’s most recent attempt to count all residents. The census also contains counts of people in prison and in other institutions such as homeless shelters, hospitals, nursing homes and domestic military barracks.
According to the Census Bureau, there were 7.046 million black men 25 to 54 who were not incarcerated in 2010 and 8.503 million black women in this category. The difference between these two figures leads to our headline of 1.5 million missing black men.
Demographers refer to the 25-to-54 age group as prime age, a term this post will use frequently.
Read it all and there is there is more to read there.
A generation ago Ethiopia's Tigray province was stricken by a famine that shocked the world. Today, as Chris Haslam reports, local people are using ancient techniques to turn part of the desert green.
In the pink-streaked twilight, a river of humanity is flowing across Tigray's dusty Hawzien plain. This cracked and desiccated landscape, in Ethiopia's far north, occupies a dark corner of the global collective memory. Thirty years ago, not far from here, the BBC's Michael Buerk first alerted us to a biblical famine he described as "the closest thing to hell on earth".
Then Bob Geldof wrote Do They Know It's Christmas? - a curious question to ask of perhaps the world's most devoutly Christian people - and thereafter the name Tigray became synonymous with refugees, Western aid and misery. The Tigrayan people were depicted as exemplars of passive suffering, dependent on the goodwill of the rest of the planet just to get through the day without dying.
But here, outside the village of Abr'ha Weatsbaha, I'm seeing a different version. From all directions, streams of people are trickling into that human river. You hear them before you see them - some chatting excitedly, others singing hymns - as they converge on a viciously steep valley at the edge of the plain.
Read it all.
Read it all.
Q: You even seem to take certain satisfaction in the disasters of the twentieth-century and to savor the imminence of world catastrophe rather than world peace, which all religions seek.
A: That’s true.
Q: You don’t seem to have much use for your fellow Christians, to say nothing of Ku Kluxers, ACLU’ers, northerners, southerners, fem-libbers, anti-fem-libbers, homosexuals, anti-homosexuals, Republicans, Democrats, hippies, anti-hippies, senior citizens.
A: That’s true – though taken as individuals they turn out to be more or less like oneself, i.e., sinners, and we get along fine.
Q: Even Ku Kluxers?
Q: How do you account for your belief?
A: I can only account for it as a gift from God.
Read it all.
The Archbishop of Canterbury was in Cairo yesterday to show solidarity with Egyptian Christians murdered by jihadists two months ago. His visit was made more timely even as it was overshadowed by yet more murders. As he gave letters of condolence to the families of the victims of Islamic State’s last massacre of Christians, IS released sickening video footage of the next.
The latest film from the terrorist organisation holding the Middle East to ransom is as barbaric as anything it has produced. Prefaced with footage of jihadists vandalising Christian churches, the 29-minute video shows militants holding two groups of prisoners who they claim are members of an “enemy Ethiopian church”. Twelve are shown being beheaded on a beach. At least 16 more are shot in the head elsewhere. Both groups are thought to have been murdered in Libya.
Subject to verification of the footage this brings to more than 50 the number of Christians killed by IS in recent weeks. The strategy is clear. The leadership of the so-called caliphate, under pressure in Iraq, is seeking to expand its reign of terror in North Africa and in particular to sabotage efforts to bring stability to Libya.
Read it all (subscription required).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Ethiopia Libya * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
WHO said in a statement in April that the organization's Ebola response was "slow and insufficient." "We were not aggressive in alerting the world," and poor communication caused confusion, it said.
Internal WHO emails show that the organization's leadership put off declaring Ebola an international emergency for at least two months starting in June 2014, the AP said March 20. Among the rationales used in the emails was that a declaration "could be seen as a hostile act" to some West African nations.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine History * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The confirmation of the murder of Ethiopian Christians by Daesh (IS) in Libya has been received with deep sadness. These executions that unnecessarily and unjustifiably claim the lives of innocent people, wholly undeserving of this brutality, have unfortunately become far too familiar. Once again we see innocent Christians murdered purely for refusing to renounce their Faith.
The Christians of Egypt and Ethiopia have had a shared heritage for centuries. Being predominantly Orthodox Christian communities with a mutual understanding of life and witness, and a common origin in the Coptic Orthodox Church, they now also share an even greater connection through the blood of these contemporary martyrs.
This sad news came on the day that His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury visited His Holiness Pope Tawadros II in Egypt to personally express his condolences following the similar brutal murder of 21 Coptic Orthodox Christians in Libya by Daesh in February of this year.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Ethiopia Libya * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Orthodox Church Other Faiths Islam * Theology
A sharp-eyed visitor to Havana and other Cuban cities will notice some odd things: the carcasses of birds strewn at intersections, insignias consisting of a single eye and dagger affixed to doorways and displayed in taxis, people dressed head to toe in white. All are emblems of Santería, a religion with roots in the culture of Yoruba slaves who came to Cuba from Nigeria from the early 18th century. After a period of suppression, it appears to be making a comeback.
Santería is a blending of the Yoruba religion, which acknowledges 401 orishas, or deities, with the Catholicism of the Spanish colonisers. Although at least 60% of Cubans today call themselves Catholics, far fewer are regular churchgoers. Many see no reason not to incorporate Santería rituals into their spiritual lives. A Catholic priest will marry a couple, but a santero might foretell their destiny and, later on, counsel them on how to revive their flagging sex life.
Read it all.
Early indications from [a] new project by the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) think-tank showed the number of people convicted of terrorism offences has increased in the last five years, as police make growing use of new legislation to disrupt extremist networks.
Hannah Stuart, research fellow at the HJS, said: “We are starting to see with lower level offences and those with a high degree of ideology behind them that there is a revolving door for them.
“We are seeing cases of terrorism recidivism – they serve a sentence and are released, then commit another crime and are jailed again.
Read it all.
On a moment that Lauryn Hill's "Just Like Water" reminds her of:
"When I was on spring break, I went to Miami. And I went to South Beach at night. And I was having this moment just by myself with God. I was just looking at the waters. I was feeling the sand and the sky and the moon. ...
"I was just so in awe of creation and it was beautiful. When you're in a place of God's presence there's just total peace. Whenever I'm going through anything crazy at Howard, because crazy things happen all the time, whenever I can just center myself and drown in God's presence, I know that things are well and all is amazing."
Read it all and you can listen to the music also.
What sort of ministers does RME believe the Church needs? Like the Green report, RME is pragmatic in its outlook, favouring a corporate, management-driven institutional approach to ministerial training. It makes a respectful nod towards the words of Jesus in Matthew 9.37, in its single reference to scripture.
Yet, on the whole, it avoids advocating any explicitly theological engagement with ministry, apparently seeing this as peripheral (something the Church doesn't need), a luxury (something the Church can't afford), or - crucially - divisive (causing needless controversy within the Church).
To be asked to minister without an informing vision of God (which is what theology is really all about), however, is like being told to make bricks without straw. What keeps people going in ministry, and what, in my experience, congregations are longing for, is an exciting and empowering vision of God, articulated in a theology that is integrated with worship, prayer, and social action.
Ministry has both vertical and horizontal dimensions, standing at the intersection of God and the world. Both those dimensions need to be sustained. RME's exclusively pragmatic approach to ministerial training risks the loss of its core motivation and inspiration for Christian ministry.
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 Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
Mario Draghi said the euro area was better equipped than it had been in the past to deal with a new Greek crisis but warned of “uncharted waters” if the situation were to deteriorate badly.
The European Central Bank president called for the resumption of detailed discussions aimed at resolving the country’s debt woes and urged the Greek authorities to bring forward proposals that ensured fairness, growth, fiscal stability, financial stability.
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Credit Markets Currency Markets Euro European Central Bank The Banking System/Sector Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Greece * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
During an era under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, when Catholicism was trying to swim against an increasingly secular tide in the Western world, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago was the American prelate trusted by those two popes, almost above all others, to spearhead that project in the United States.
George, who stepped down in November 2014, died at 10:45 a.m. Friday at his residence in Chicago of a cancer that originated in his bladder but spread to other parts of his body, rendering treatment ineffective. He was 78.
He had been on home care since April 3 after being hospitalized for hydration and pain management issues, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Widely acknowledged as the most intellectually gifted senior US prelate of his generation, George was once dubbed the “American Ratzinger.”
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United, who began the day eight points behind, dominated the opening period, but their only chance of note saw Wayne Rooney shoot narrowly wide.
Hazard then showed why he is favourite for the PFA Player of the Year prize, netting his 18th goal of the season on the counter-attack following Oscar's fine flick.
The strike, seven minutes before half-time, shifted the momentum of the contest in Chelsea's favour.
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South African President Jacob Zuma has visited a refugee camp in the port of Durban after a fresh outbreak of anti-foreigner violence.
Mr Zuma told those who had fled the violence that it went against South African values and he would bring it to an end.
But he was jeered by some in the crowd who accused him of acting too slowly.
At least six people have died in xenophobic attacks in Durban, with violence spreading to other areas.
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Look at them all.
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Police in Australia say they have foiled an Islamic State-inspired plot to carry out an attack at a World War One centenary event.
Police arrested five teenage suspects, charging one 18-year-old with conspiring to commit a terrorist act.
The men were planning to target police at an Anzac memorial event in Melbourne next week, police said.
About 200 police officers took part in the counter-terrorism operation in the city early on Saturday.
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Dan Price was about a mile into a Sunday hike on scenic Mt. Si when he knew what he had to do to change his life — and the lives of others.
His hiking partner and close friend had just been notified that her rent was going up. She had no idea how she would afford the extra couple hundred dollars a month on her salary as the hardworking manager of a luxury spa in pricey Puget Sound.
That's when it hit him. Many of his own employees at Gravity Payments had similar money problems. He was making $1million a year, and the lowest-paid of his workers was averaging about $35,000.
So he decided he would cut his pay, first to $50,000, rising to $70,000 by the end of 2017.
CEO raises workers' minimum pay to $70,000 a year
Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, reportedly stunned his employees with the announcement that workers' minimum wage would rise over the next few years to $70,000.
That would make his compensation mirror his company's lowest-paid employees — after he gave them generous raises.
Read it all and take the time to see this brief video report so you can see the worker's reactions.
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We take you to Buffalo, New York where a growing grassroots movement has begun among large—and often empty—urban churches across the country. Old and struggling houses of worship have adopted the popular flash mob idea to encourage larger numbers of people to show up at a specific church and attend Mass on a given Sunday. Using social media to organize participants, the goal of a Mass mob is to fill empty pews and collection plates, inspire parishioners to return to church, and support significant sacred sites and houses of worship that have helped define their cities. But some say Mass mobs are not enough of a long-term solution to the many problems historic old city churches face
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The baby boom generation is set to leave one last burden to its children and grandchildren – a wave of funeral debt.
The cost of paying for rising numbers of deaths as the unprecedented numbers of post-World War Two babies come to the end of their lives may be too much for many families, a report said.
It predicted that numbers of deaths in Britain, which have been falling for 40 years, will start to go up and increase by 20 per cent over the next two decades.
At the same time the price of a funeral is rising fast, thanks to higher costs for cremation, rising undertakers’ bills as funeral firms are faced with bad debts, and the increasing fees demanded by churches.
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Some religious leaders have been quick to bless the “framework agreement” with Iran that emerged from deliberations earlier this month in Switzerland over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. That was a mistake.
Christian pastors and lobbyists representing various factions of Mennonites, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists and other denominations took out a full-page ad in Roll Call this week to “welcome and support” a deal they say “offers the best path to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed state.” The letter cited Matthew 5:9—“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God”—as one Biblical motive for endorsing the framework. It also ticked off reasons why it was “better than alternatives” like “yet another U.S. war with a Muslim country.”
Pope Francis lent his imprimatur to the framework during his Easter blessing, and in an April 13 letter to Congress the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops went so far as to oppose congressional review. The bishops wrote: “Our Committee continues to oppose Congressional efforts that seek to undermine the negotiation process or make a responsible multiparty agreement more difficult to achieve and implement.” Bishops also reminded Congress not to “take any actions, such as passing legislation to impose new or conditional sanctions on Iran.”
The mullahs don’t seem moved by the display of Christian charity.
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Armen Keteyian: Describe your emotional state at that point in time.
Mike Pressler: Really pissed. Really shocked that they would have this party first and foremost. But anyway, I asked each one of 'em to their face, one at a time. The astonishment on their face. And when you know your people, I knew exactly from their reaction to the allegations this was absolutely untrue.
The problem was, few others did. This is how the late Ed Bradley described the media storm surrounding the Duke rape case here on "60 Minutes":
The district attorney, Mike Nifong, took to the airwaves giving dozens of interviews, expressing - with absolute certainty - that Duke lacrosse players had committed a horrific crime.
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On bringing back certain moral vocabulary
There are certain words that have been passed down through the generations that we've sort of left behind. And some of them have quasi-religious connotations, but I don't think they need to. Those are words like grace — the idea that we're loved more than we deserve — redemption and sin. We now use the word sin in the context of fattening desserts, but it used to be central in the vocabulary, whether you're religious or not; an awareness that we all sin and we all have the same sins — selfishness, self-centeredness. And I think rediscovering that word is an important task because without that you're just too egotistical. You don't realize how broken we all are at some level.
On how writing and researching the book changed his religious life
I'm a believer. I don't talk about my religious life in public in part because it's so shifting and green and vulnerable. And so I've spent a lot of time in this book — and if you care about morality and inner life and character, you spend your time reading a lot of theology because over the last hundreds of years it was theologians who were writing about this. Whether you're a believer or not, I think these books are very helpful. It's amazing to read [The Confessions of St. Augustine, about] a guy who got successful as a rhetorician but felt hollow inside; a guy who had a mom, Monica, who was the helicopter mom to beat all helicopter moms, and how he dealt with the conflict with such a demanding mother. And so I read a lot of theology — whether it's C.S. Lewis or Joseph Soloveitchik, a rabbi — and it's produced a lot of religious upsurge in my heart. But it's also fragile and green [and] I don't really talk about it because I don't want to trample the fresh grass.
Read it all (or better) listen to it all (Hat tip: CM).
link is fixed
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When a Latin American theologian reads Luke, what themes get noticed that others might underplay?
When you read Luke with poor people who have no hope, or with people hiding from dictators and death patrols, you see things you might not see otherwise. The most important underappreciated theme is what’s often called “the great reversal.” This is the idea, from Luke 13, that when the kingdom of God arrives, the last shall be first and the first shall be last.
Or take Mary’s song (the Magnificat) from Luke’s first chapter (vv. 46–55). It talks about God filling the hungry with good things and sending the rich away empty. Traditional readings of this passage aren’t necessarily wrong, but they can neglect the themes of wealth and poverty. We need a variety of perspectives, including the poor’s, to get at the full meaning.
What are American evangelicals most apt to overlook?
Compared to the other gospel writers, Luke takes care to emphasize the word salvation. We tend to overlook the economic, political, and social implications of this salvation. Luke helps us to see what it looks like for the poor.
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A rector in Chester diocese, the Revd Dr Mark Hart, has challenged the measures of church growth which are at the heart of the Church of England's "Reform and Renewal" programme.
Dr Hart, Rector of Plemstall and Guilden Sutton, trained as a mathematician and engineer. He completed a paper last Saturday, From Delusion to Reality, which looks critically at From Anecdote to Evidence, the 2014 report that examines evidence for which factors cause churches to grow.
The findings in From Anecdote to Evidence are being used as the basis for a re-orientation of central church funding, under plans put forward by the task groups.... The report Resourcing the Future proposes that half the funds should go to projects that show "significant growth po-tential". Another report, Intergenerational Equity, proposes spending Church Commissioners' capital - £100 million has been mentioned - to support diocesan growth plans.
In other words, Dr Hart says, "an awful lot is hanging on this single piece of research."
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The Committee meets at least twice. Its discussions are kept confidential.
The first meeting is aimed at members getting to know one another and for the committee to elect a deputy chair. At a future meeting, the national Appointment Secretaries attend to clarify the process and answer any questions members of the Committee might have.
At this meeting the Committee elects the six members to serve on the CNC of which at least three must be lay people. Only one member of the Bishop’s senior staff team may be elected. After the meeting, the Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary briefs the diocesan CNC representatives on the next steps.
The description of the Diocese and the Statement of Needs prepared by the Vacancy in See Committee are considered by the Crown Nominations Committee (CNC) together with feedback from the Appointment Secretaries on the consultation process and information about the needs of the national church. The CNC normally meets twice, and on the second occasion interviews potential candidates.
Read it all and note the timescale.
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Eight goals, a big upset and two wonder strikes from Luis Suarez highlighted a pulsating night of Champions League quarterfinal action Wednesday.
Both first leg ties ended 3-1, but Porto's home win over 2013 champion Bayern Munich was predicted by few, while Barcelona is a warm favorite to progress with a two-goal cushion after its away leg victory against depleted Paris Saint Germain.
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The Anglican Church in Malawi has appealed to all Malawians to take part in protecting people living with albinism and reporting any criminal acts by any suspects in our society.
The Church said it is sickened with reports that people living with albinism are still living in fear because some segments in the society continue hunting for their lives or body parts.
Chairman of the Anglican Council in Malawi, the Right Reverend Vitta Brighton Malasa, who disclosed that the Anglican Communion is monitoring the events and constantly engaging relevant sectors, observed that it is high time the nation joined hands in “uprooting this evil” so that sanity returns in the country.
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Beer has its Budweiser. Cigarettes have Marlboro. And now, from Nevada to Massachusetts, pioneers in the legal-marijuana industry are vying to create big-name brands for pot.
When the legalization movement began years ago, its grassroots activists envisioned a nation where mom-and-pop dispensaries would freely sell small amounts of bud to cancer patients and cannabis-loving members of their community. But the markets rolling out now are attracting something different: ambitious, well-financed entrepreneurs who want to maximize profits and satisfy their investors. To do that, they’ll have to grow the pot business by attracting new smokers or getting current users to buy more.
To hear these pot-preneurs talk is to get a better sense of how the legalized future could unfold and just how mainstream they believe their product can become. Says Joe Hodas, chief marketing officer at Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, a Denver maker of pot food products: “I want to get that soccer mom who, instead of polishing off a glass of wine on a Saturday night, goes for a 5-mg [marijuana] mint with less of a hangover, less optics to the kids and the same amount of relaxation.”
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Canada’s Supreme Court has ruled that a small town in Quebec may not open its council meetings with prayer.
In a unanimous ruling Wednesday (April 15), Canada’s highest court ruled that the town of Saguenay can no longer publicly recite a Catholic prayer because it infringes on freedom of conscience and religion.
The case dates back to 2007, when a resident of Saguenay complained about public prayer at City Hall.
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South Australia's first Aboriginal Anglican bishop says he plans to use his new role to focus on reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
Reverend Christopher McLeod, who is of Gurindji descent and whose mother was a member of the Stolen Generations, has been ordained as Assistant Bishop at St Peter's Cathedral.
He has most recently served as the rector at St Jude's Church at Brighton, and becomes the only Aboriginal bishop currently serving in Australia.
The appointment is considered a landmark for the church because Reverend McLeod is only the third Anglican bishop of Aboriginal descent in Australia's history.
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One of the key challenges confronting society today is how we can maintain a high-quality, responsive and publicly-funded health service. With an ageing population and more complex and costly medical treatments, it seems inescapable that the NHS will become increasingly stretched. However, not all pressures on the NHS are inevitable.
One of the biggest avoidable drains on NHS resources is alcohol.
From vomiting, unconsciousness, violence and injuries, to long-term, disabling illnesses including liver disease and cancer, alcohol puts a huge strain on all our frontline services. Last year there were more than 36,000 alcohol-related stays in Scottish hospitals and the vast majority of these resulted from an emergency admission.
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Days after Islamists killed 148 people at Garissa university, Kenya's president held out an olive branch to Muslims and urged them to join Nairobi in the struggle against militant Islam by informing on sympathisers.
But as Uhuru Kenyatta launches a battle for Muslim hearts and minds, his security forces must first reckon with the deep mistrust among ethnic-Somali Muslims in the country's northeast regions bordering Somalia.
Kenyatta also faces an uphill task in reforming the violent ways of troops on the ground. A day before he spoke, a soldier in Garissa was seen by a Reuters reporter lashing at a crowd of Muslim women with a long stick.
"We live in fear," said Barey Bare, one of a dozen veiled Somali-Kenyan women targeted by the soldier.
"The military are a threat and al Shabaab are a threat. We are in between."
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A handful of families have taken refuge in the monastery, as Christians have done for centuries since Islamic armies first swept across the plain in the 7th Century with the Arab conquest.
Thirteen-year-old Nardine is all too aware of what IS fighters do to girls they regard as infidels. "They are very cruel, they are very harsh," Nardine whispered fearfully. "Everyone knows, they took the Yazidi girls and sold them in the market."
"Isis have no mercy for anyone. They select women to rape them," said Nardine's mother. "We were afraid for our daughters so we ran away."
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Love is a very powerful motivator. Their love had made them brave, but now it seemed there was nothing left to love. Even Jesus’ body was gone and the manifestation of love they’d intended was redundant. Love had brought these remarkable women back to the tomb that first Easter morning, but now, in the midst of their confusion, they ran and said nothing.
Except, of course, at some point they must have stopped running and told their story because it is their story we’ve heard this morning, their story that is recorded and honoured in Scripture, their story that gives account of the greatest demonstration of love ever known. ‘This is what love really is’, we heard in the letter of John, ‘not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his son … to atone for our sin’. And the story of that first Easter morning from Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, shows us the dumbfounding extent of God’s love.
‘He has been raised’ the women are told. And eventually it is that good news that filters through to them, and renews their courage. Jesus was not where they expected because he is alive, victor over death and sin, and he’s gone ahead to where he promised, to be with us always. God’s love, made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth, experienced the fear we all know and overcame it.
These women, the first to witness the empty tomb are not listed among the disciples nor named as apostles, but, in their faithful following of Jesus to the bitter end and in the fulfilment of their commission to go and tell, they are both.
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The global economy was more likely to enjoy a reasonable recovery over the next two years benefiting from recent falls in energy prices and exchange rate movements, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.
The twice-yearly forecasts show India is expected to outperform China in growth for the first time in 16 years.
Although the fund has recently told countries they “could do better” to improve medium-term prospects, the World Economic Outlook is the first since 2011 to suggest economies are putting the 2009 financial crisis behind them.
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"It is impossible to go there, and to meet especially the children, without being determined that they must have a future," the Cardinal said.
But the task ahead is vast: regaining land from Islamic State, rebuilding ruined town and cities, establishing law and order and rebuilding society.
Nichols said that in the project to rebuild Iraq, "the presence of the Christian community is essential".
"I say that not out of a nostalgic sense that this is a Christian community that's 2,000 years old. This not a cultural, historical, or an archaeological issue. This is an issue of how do you build a stable, balanced society, in that region, and I think... the Christian presence is essential to that mosaic."
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Three decades ago, plainclothes Syrian agents went door to door in this border village seeking out young Christian men, who were abducted and killed in a notorious chapter of Lebanon’s 15-year civil war.
The village’s nearly 2,000 Christians now find themselves siding with the same Syrian regime they blame for what many call the 1978 massacre.
That is because a few miles away, hundreds of Islamist extremists tied to al Qaeda and Islamic State stalk the porous border region separating Lebanon and Syria. Standing between the militants and the village are Lebanese troops aided by the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, whose men are also fighting for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Yes, I prefer the Syrian regime over these terrorist groups,” a 45-year-old Al-Qaa resident said, but it is a choice “between the bitter and more bitter.”
Read it all from the WSJ.
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The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have invited the "Dowager Countess of Grantham" to dine at Windsor Castle this evening.
Acclaimed actress Dame Maggie Smith - who plays acerbic matriarch Violet Crawley in the hit period drama Downton Abbey - is among 20 guests the monarch and Philip have asked to a private dinner party at the historic Berkshire residence.
Among those at the soiree will be the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney and his wife Diana, and the Archbishop of Canterbury and his wife Caroline.
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Tumbling interest rates in Europe have put some banks in an inconceivable position: owing money on loans to borrowers.
At least one Spanish bank, Bankinter SA, the country’s seventh-largest lender by market value, has been paying some customers interest on mortgages by deducting that amount from the principal the borrower owes.
The problem is just one of many challenges caused by interest rates falling below zero, known as a negative interest rate. All over Europe, banks are being compelled to rebuild computer programs, update legal documents and redo spreadsheets to account for negative rates.
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There's a new development in the five-year-old stalemate over what to do with an old Anglican church in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's.
The church parish and a local committee have been in disagreement over what to do with the church.
The parish has applied for a permit to demolish the building, much to the dismay of the committee that wants it preserved.
Now, the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, which has found itself caught in the middle of the dispute, is proposing a mediation meeting with the two groups.
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Events are taking place around the world to mark one year since Boko Haram militants abducted nearly 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria, sparking global outrage.
The girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok, in the northeast of the country, leading millions around the world to call for their return as the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag exploded on social media.
A number of girls later escaped the militants, who often force those abducted to convert to Islam and fight or work as sex slaves, but 219 remain missing.
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I have little in common, politically or theologically, with evangelicals or, while I’m at it, conservative Roman Catholics. But I’ve been truly awed by those I’ve seen in so many remote places, combating illiteracy and warlords, famine and disease, humbly struggling to do the Lord’s work as they see it, and it is offensive to see good people derided.
On a recent trip to Angola, the country with the highest child mortality rate in the world, I came across a rural hospital run by Dr. Stephen Foster, 65, a white-haired missionary surgeon who has lived there for 37 years — much of that in a period when the Angolan regime was Marxist and hostile to Christians.
“We were granted visas,” he said, “by the very people who would tell us publicly, ‘your churches are going to disappear in 20 years,’ but privately, ‘you are the only ones we know willing to serve in the midst of the fire.’ ”
Foster, the son and grandson of missionaries, has survived tangles with a 6-foot cobra and angry soldiers. He has had to make do with rudimentary supplies: Once, he said, he turned the tube for a vehicle’s windshield-washing fluid into a catheter to drain a patient’s engorged bladder.
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Yet failure and smallness is only one part of the story. In contrast to John's depiction of Jesus as a lonely hero, the synoptic gospels frequently emphasise the size of the crowds that follow him and hang on his every word. And the account in Acts is punctuated by summary statements showing how much the message has spread and how many have come to follow 'The Way'. A recent critique of Church of England statements dismissed the language of discipleship and growth as belonging to 'only one section of the New Testament'. But when that section is the synoptic gospels and Acts, I think we need to take notice of it! Even today, this fondness for failure is in marked contrast to the vibrant growth of Christian faith seen in many parts of the world.
And the focus on failure doesn't actually make much sense. Fraser comments that, on the cross, 'failure is redeemed'. But redeemed into what exactly? More failure? Held Evans notes that 'the New Testament church grew when Christians were in the minority' but that very growth changed the church's minority status. This highlights a basic misunderstanding of a key saying of Jesus in which he explains in advance the meaning of Easter: "Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" (John 12:24).
The 'failure' here is not about lack of growth or fruitfulness; the death of the grain of wheat is about rejecting self-interest and turning from attempts at self-preservation. As we let go of our own agenda and focus on God's agenda in the kingdom (Matt 6:33), the result will be fruitfulness. And the whole purpose of fruit is the production of more seeds, more plants and further fruitfulness. Dying to self, in Jesus' teaching, should not lead to empty churches, but to a crop of thirty-, sixty- or a hundred-fold (Mark 4:8).
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Britain is one of the least religious countries in the world, with two thirds of the population describing themselves as atheist or "not religious", a new survey has disclosed.
Only 30 per cent of Britons interviewed by pollsters as part of a world-wide project said they would describe themselves as religious, regardless of whether they attended a place of worship.
It compared with 53 per cent who said they were “not religious” and 13 per cent who said they were a “convinced atheist”. The remainder were “don’t knows”.
The study appeared to show significantly different results to other research conducted in 2013 - the British Social Attitudes Survey - which said 52 per cent of the population associated with any religion while 48 per cent described themselves as having no faith.
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On January 7, 2015, two Islamist terrorists stormed into a small publisher's office in Paris and murdered 12 people. The world reacted swiftly and forcefully. Within a few days, an estimated 3.7 million freedom-of-speech sympathizers, joined by 40 world leaders, thronged the streets of Paris as a show of solidarity.
A few days earlier, some 3,000 miles to the south, the terrorist group Boko Haram swarmed into a small town in the northeast corner of Nigeria and slaughtered up to 2,000 villagers. Amnesty International called the attack "catastrophic." An eyewitness reported that the terrorists were killing people "like animals."
But the world hardly noticed.
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The western church typically criticises the eastern view for having a “free lunch” view of salvation. No pain, no gain, insists Anselm. The eastern church says that the west fetishises suffering and is more committed to some iron logic of cosmic necessity than to God for whom all things are possible.
Atheists such as Alexis Tsipras, the Greek leader, may think both of these are fantasies. But for present purposes that’s beside the point. It’s worth recognising that these two completely different stories support two contrasting moral worldviews and different attitudes towards economics in general and capitalism in particular. Tsipras – like me – is very much more in the Greek Orthodox camp when it comes to salvation. And the Lutheran minister’s daughter Angela Merkel is very much in the western one. He wants to leap free from death-dealing debt. She believes it must be paid back, no matter how much blood and pain is involved.
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The Islamic State has allegedly burned boxes of food aid coming from the United States that were intended for Syrian civilians.
The Independent reports that two trucks containing the food parcels were intercepted at an ISIS checkpoint manned by the group's "Hisba" police force in Syria's Aleppo province. The boxes had the markings of Koch Foods, a chicken company based in the state of Illinois in the US.
According to The Independent, the Islamic State seized and burned the boxes, which contained chicken meat, claiming that the animal products were not slaughtered according to Islamic law.
The International Business Times, however, said that the boxes had markings to show that the chicken meat was "halal," or had been slaughtered according to the dictates of Islamic Law.
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In the wake of last week’s deadly attack against Christians at a college in Kenya, we talk with Father Thomas Reese, senior analyst at the National Catholic Reporter and a member of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, about growing concerns over anti-Christian violence around the world and the need for governments to protect religious communities.
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Three thoughts on Manchester United's 4-2 win vs. Manchester City in the Premier League.
1. Man United claim derby day honours
Now the balance of power has changed. For the first time since 2012, Manchester United have won a derby and, with the victory, have gone four points clear of Manchester City. They have recorded six straight league wins, whereas their neighbours' slump continues. A sixth defeat in eight fixtures meant it wasn't only the Mancunian downpour that made Manuel Pellegrini look a beleaguered figure as he stood on the Old Trafford touchline.
Predictably, the Chilean was serenaded with chants of "You're getting sacked in the morning" after losing both the match and his 100 percent derby record. It meant there was no record fifth consecutive win for City in this fixture and no fourth successive triumph at Old Trafford.
Read it all.
2) Finances cripple us.
Years ago, it didn't cost upward of $200,000 for an education. It also didn't cost $300,000-plus for a home.
The cost of living was very different than what it is now. You'd be naive to believe this stress doesn't cause strain on marriages today....
3) We're more connected than ever before, but completely disconnected at the same time.
Let's face it, the last time you "spoke" to the person you love, you didn't even hear their voice.
You could be at work, the gym, maybe with the kids at soccer. You may even be in the same room....
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You may read the Episcopal Bishop here and and the Roman Catholic Bishop there.
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Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America will be attending the GAFCON/Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Primates meeting in London next week. The gathering set for 13-17 April 2015 is expected to plot the future course of the global Anglican reform movement as well as review the agenda set by its 2013 Nairobi Conference.
Next week’s London meeting is expected to discuss the issue of whether to support a parallel Anglican jurisdiction akin to the Anglican Church in North America for England, and how such support should be shown.
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More to the point, the Paris attack struck close to home. The victims were journalists and journalists write the news. The terrorists hit a major Western city like the ones where the political leaders and opinion-makers live. The victims were aggressively secular. In marching for the victims, the famous and powerful were marching for themselves and their own.
Which does not apply to the victims in Nairobi and northern Nigeria. They were black Africans, not white Europeans; students, not journalists; living in the developing world, not Europe; and Christian, not modern and secular. No high official is going to fly to east Africa and march for them. The Kenyan and Nigerian victims are not their people.
They are ours. If someone could measure the amount of time American Christians spent reading about the three attacks, and the depth of of our emotional reaction, he would almost certainly find our time and emotional investment nearly as tilted to Paris as the secular Americans’. The more successful in the world, say in academia and publishing, the more this will be true. As a test, ask yourself what details of the Nigerian massacre you remember, compared with how much you remember of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. I remember a lot about the Nigerian massacre, but only because I read about it while writing this. Western journalists, even anti-Christian ones, are “our” people, Africa’s Christians a little less so.
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This month The Library of America will publish Reinhold Niebuhr: Major Works on Religion and Politics, which gathers four of his books, along with writings on contemporary events from the 1920s to the 1960s, a selection of prayers, and sermons and lectures on faith and belief.
The volume is edited by Niebuhr’s daughter Elisabeth Sifton, an editor and book publisher for forty years and the author of The Serenity Prayer: Faith and Politics in Times of Peace and War. We recently interviewed Sifton on why Niebuhr’s writings continue to fascinate and challenge today’s readers.
What’s the aim of this collection, what sorts of pleasures, discoveries, and insights do you hope readers will find?
Reinhold Niebuhr, my father, was a writer and thinker who engaged fully in his times—from 1914 and World War I, through the heady 1920s, into the Great Depression, then World War II, the “nuclear age” and the Cold War. This book shows how he wrestled with the spiritual and political issues of those times: many of them are with us still, and some are with us always. In America—where he was born and raised, his very German name notwithstanding—he worked for better working conditions for people caught up in the rush of industrialization, he called for social justice in all our communities, and he strove for better relations between races. In international affairs, he ceaselessly advocated policies that would lessen the risk of war, and he argued that a rich and newly powerful nation like the US should learn better how to conduct itself vis-à-vis other nations. I hope readers will find wisdom here that deepens their understanding of our world today.
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In an interview with SAT-7, the Christian TV station based in the Middle East, Archbishop Justin spoke about the suffering of Christians in the region, among other topics.
Watch and listen to it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Forty years ago, Lee Elder became the first black golfer to play in the US Masters - but when he qualified for the tournament, he received death threats and wondered whether taking part might cost him his life.
The crowds gathered at the opening hole of the Masters in 1975 were used to watching a black man stride on to the first tee. But Lee Elder was not there to carry the clubs of a white competitor - he was there to play.
It was one of the last colour barriers in US sport.
"When I arrived at the front gate and drove down Magnolia Lane that's when the shakes began. It was so nerve wracking. I said a prayer and asked for help to get me through the day," says Elder.
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A Presbyterian Church (USA) regional body located in California has been accused of putting a Korean congregation's effort to leave the mainline denomination to a standstill.
Last year, Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church of Rowland Heights voted overwhelmingly to seek dismissal from PCUSA over the denomination's growing acceptance of homosexuality.
Out of 817 votes casted in the March 2014 vote, 738 voted to leave, 74 voted to stay, and 5 votes were dismissed.
Despite that, the PCUSA Presbytery of San Gabriel has not apparently finalized the dismissal as of this month, according to the Korean-American Christian publication Christianity Daily.
Read it all from the Christian Post.
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Well, that discomfort may seem religious, but segregationists felt justified by scripture too. They got over it; their churches got over it; so will yours.
It’s not that simple. The debate about race was very specific to America, modernity, the South. (Bans on interracial marriage were generally a white supremacist innovation, not an inheritance from Christendom or common law.) The slave owners and segregationists had scriptural arguments, certainly. But they were also up against one of the Bible’s major meta-narratives — from the Israelites in Egypt to Saint Paul’s “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free.”
That’s not the case with sex and marriage. The only clear biblical meta-narrative is about male and female. Sex is an area of Jewish law that Jesus explicitly makes stricter. What we now call the “traditional” view of sexuality was a then-radical idea separating the early church from Roman culture, and it’s remained basic in every branch of Christianity until very recently. Jettisoning it requires repudiating scripture, history and tradition in a way the end of Jim Crow did not.
Except we know now, in a way people writing the Bible couldn’t, that being gay isn’t a choice.
I take a different view of what they could have known. But yes, the evidence that homosexuality isn’t chosen — along with basic humanity — should inspire repentance for cruelties visited on gay people by their churches.
But at Christianity’s bedrock is the idea that we are all in the grip of an unchosen condition, an “original” problem that our wills alone cannot overcome. So homosexuality’s deep origin is not a trump card against Christian teaching.
I know smart Christians who disagree with you.
So do I. I just think their views ultimately point in a post-biblical, post-Christian direction.
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Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, “Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good - ” At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is knocked down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.
Let the reader understand.
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...it is delusional for these terrorists to think that those who were killed in the line of “duty” are considered martyrs and will be rewarded with paradise. The terrorists who are killed aren’t considered martyrs according to Islamic law, even if they considered their act to be a form of jihad, had sincere intentions and were acting out of ignorance. Good intentions don’t justify illegal acts—and it is totally prohibited by Islam to kill innocent people. Thus terrorist acts like 9/11 in the U.S., 7/7 in London or any other similar horrendous attacks are sheer murder and have nothing to do with jihad.
In sum, the noble form of physical jihad—which is waged by legitimate state authorities to fend off aggression and establish justice—has nothing to do with the supposed jihad of these terrorists, who practice nothing more than the ruthless mass murder of innocents. Jihad is a war fought with honor and guided with moral codes of conduct.
Since terrorist groups have the audacity to interpret from the Quran selectively to suit their own agendas, their deviant ideology must be debunked by intellectual responses. The fight will be stronger with the help of the international media and academia in publishing and broadcasting the voices of authentic Muslim scholars who can counter the extremists’ false claims and their warped interpretation of the Quran.
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Three in four people believe that the UK has become less of a Christian country over the past five years, a new poll has suggested.
Seventy-three per cent of those questioned said that they agreed that Britain had lost some part of its Christian heritage and culture since 2010. Just 15 per cent disagreed.
The poll was commissioned by Christian Concern at the end of March. It found that people were more split on whether Britain's Christian heritage still mattered.
Forty-seven per cent said that it continued to bring benefits to the country; 32 per cent (including one fifth of those who identified as Christians) said that the UK's Christian heritage was "largely outdated".
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At campuses across the country, traditional ideals of freedom of expression and the right to dissent have been deeply compromised or even abandoned as college and university faculties and administrators have capitulated to demands for language and even thought policing. Academic freedom, once understood to be vitally necessary to the truth-seeking mission of institutions of higher learning, has been pushed to the back of the bus in an age of “trigger warnings,” “micro-aggressions,” mandatory sensitivity training, and grievance politics. It was therefore refreshing to see the University of Chicago, one of the academic world's most eminent and highly respected institutions, issue a report ringingly reaffirming the most robust conception of academic freedom. The question was whether other institutions would follow suit.
Yesterday, the Princeton faculty, led by the distinguished mathematician Sergiu Klainerman, who grew up under communist oppression in Romania and knows a thing or two about the importance of freedom of expression, formally adopted the principles of the University of Chicago report. They are now the official policy of Princeton University. I am immensely grateful to Professor Klainerman for his leadership, and I am proud of my colleagues, the vast majority of whom voted in support of his motion.
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The country’s divorce laws should be overhauled to remove the need for allegations of adultery and blame, Britain’s most senior woman judge has said.
Baroness Hale of Richmond said that she wanted to see the acrimony taken out of most matrimonial disputes with divorces granted without a person being held at fault.
At present the 120,000 couples who divorce in England and Wales each year have to cite one of five reasons: adultery; unreasonable behaviour; desertion for two or more years; two years’ separation with consent; or five years’ separation without consent.
Those who want to divorce quickly are encouraged to cite unfaithfulness or unreasonable behaviour, which encourages recriminations, critics argue.
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The Assyrian Christians of northern Iraq are among the people who have been massacred and kidnapped by ISIS militants in recent months. Such accounts are depressingly familiar to anyone who knows the region’s history. In fact, this year marks a grim centennial. Besides being the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, it’s the centennial of the year that the Ottoman Turkish regime struck at other Christian minorities whom it suspected of being sympathetic to Russia. The Assyrians call 1915 Sayfo, the Year of the Sword.
Assyrian Christians had very deep roots in the region, and their churches use a Semitic language related to Jesus’ own Aramaic. In late antiquity, believers divided over the Person of Christ. The Monophysite branch evolved to become the modern-day Syrian Orthodox Church. Their Nestorian rivals formed the Church of the East, which remained a flourishing transcontinental institution through the Middle Ages.
By the 20th century, the Assyrian community had declined, split between believers affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church (Chaldeans) and the independent Assyrians. For historical convenience, the Assyrian label is often applied to all the Syriac-speaking denominations, including the Syrian Orthodox. Their combined population in 1914 was around 600,000, concentrated in what is now northern Iraq and the borderlands of modern-day Syria and Turkey.
These people were the targets of the Assyrian genocide.
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Despite the images we’ve seen splashed across the web of Islamic State fighters driving around Syria and Iraq in American Humvees and waving U.S.-made weapons, there really isn’t all that much American military gear floating around out there.
But what equipment has been captured by the radical Islamists has the tendency to float upward toward the leadership who covet the “elite” U.S. gear, according to a group cataloging illicit arms transfers.
Speaking to a small April 7 gathering at the Stimson Center in Washington, Jonah Leff, director of operations for Conflict Armament Research said that American equipment actually “represents a small fraction” of the 40,000 pieces of gear his teams have cataloged in northern Iraq and Syria since last summer. He said that includes only about 30 U.S.-made M-16s and roughly 550 rounds American-produced ammunition.
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As I am in the US for the first time in many years, I find myself longing for the simplicity of Maua, Kenya, during Easter time. There Easter has none of the commercial trappings we find here. As I enter grocery stores, discount stores, and department stores I am shocked at the amount of space taken by the Easter candy, bunnies and stuffed animals, baskets, decorations, and new spring clothing. These items take more space than any grocery store has for all their goods in Maua.
I recently read that an estimated $2 billion will be spent on Easter candy this year in the US. Two billion dollars to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who asked us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty, house the homeless, care for the sick and imprisoned, and welcome the stranger.
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A pastor's daughter has been killed in an arson attack on a church and manse in Kano state in north-western Nigeria.
The Baptist Church at the village of Gidan Maso was attacked by arsonists whose aim was to murder a young man who converted back to Christianity after embracing Islam.
The pastor, Rev Habila Garba, lost his daughter to suffocation when the two young men set fire to his home as well as to the church.
Read it all.
Islamist Boko Haram militants disguised as preachers killed at least 24 people and wounded several others in an attack near a mosque in northeast Nigeria's Borno state, a military source and witness said on Monday.
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Abdia Noor Abdi sat in the yard, exhausted after all the questions from the authorities. When she saw the face of her son on the front page of a daily newspaper, she pushed it aside and began to tear up.
He was not poor or marginalized, and did not seem especially angry. He strutted around in $200 suits, the son of a local chief.
But now her son, Abdirahim Abdullahi, has been identified as one of the four gunmen who killed nearly 150 people at a university in eastern Kenya last week, the authorities say.
Once a promising student himself, Mr. Abdullahi was killed along with the other gunmen as Kenyan forces stormed the campus in Garrisa. Police officers later paraded his naked, bullet-riddled body in the back of a pickup truck.
“He was a polite and obedient son,” his mother said. “We are in shock.”
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There was a dispiriting little survey the other year conducted by YouGov which suggested that 28 per cent of our children think the fable of the tortoise and the hare is part of the Easter story, while almost a third appeared to be totally ignorant of the resurrection. More than a quarter thought that the Golden Goose is part of Easter, presumably on account of the egg motif.
That, in fact, was an improvement on an earlier survey, which suggested that 43 per cent of young people aged eight to 15 had never read or heard of the crucifixion of Jesus. It seems, at the very least, a bit of an indictment of Ofsted and the National Curriculum. Britain may be increasingly a post-Christian society, but it would be nice to think people knew a bit more about Christianity before deciding to move on.
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The Easter message, which is the core of the Christian story, must be applicable to humanity in its deepest distress. I was told of a recently bereaved widower who looked out on his garden ablaze with hundreds of daffodils, his eyes full of tears. “How she loved this view each Spring”, he said. Grief at the death of his wife had eclipsed the beauty of the moment. What for others would have been a glorious scene was a painful reminder to him of his loss.
Christians are not excused suffering. Indeed, in many parts of the world right now, Christians are actually at greater risk because of their followership of Jesus Christ. It is in the midst of all this that the virtue of Christian hope, grounded in the Resurrection of Jesus, comes from the contagious conviction that death, grim as it may be, is actually the prelude to something else. A comma, not a full stop, a pause, not the end.
If you take a glance at the New Testament, in the Bible, you will see that it all stems from encountering Jesus of Nazareth alive again from the dead. His followers would have all abandoned his mission of God’s love if he was not Risen from the dead. They would not have endangered their lives to preserve the memory of a dead man who had been condemned for treason! He had invited everyone to trust him from here to eternity. A number did.
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In every town and village in this country, in almost every country round the world churches stand as mute confession of the resurrection. They stand, but like the stone at the tomb they cannot speak. Only witnesses can speak, and in God's values no witness more or less important than any other. Mary Magdalene became a witness of what she had experienced: "I have seen the Lord".
Cathedrals and churches make great statements, but without words. Witnesses are those people who know Christ; lay or ordained, old or young, gender, politics, sexuality or whatever irrelevant - all are equally witnesses. The resurrection happened, and it changes our view of the universe. Once we have seen the reality of the risen Jesus nothing else should be seen in the same way as before.
To witness is to be a martyr. I am told by the Coptic Bishop in England that the Coptic Christians murdered in Libya last month died proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord. They are martyrs, a word that means both one that dies for their faith and one that witnesses to faith. There have been so many martyrs in the last year. On Maundy Thursday, three days ago around 150 Kenyans were killed because of being Christian. They are witnesses, unwilling, unjustly, wickedly, and they are martyrs in both senses of the word.
Christians must resist without violence the persecution they suffer and support persecuted communities, with love and goodness and generosity.
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[Shusaku] Endo locates the point of contact between Japanese life and the Gospel in what he observes, and has experienced personally, to be the essence of Japanese religious awareness. This he sees as the sense of failure in life and the subsequent shame and guilt that leave a lasting impact upon a person's life. Such theological notions as love, grace, trust, and truth are intelligible only in the experience of their opposites. Endo sees them incarnate in the person of Jesus through his own experience of failure, rejection, and, most of all, ineffectualness. Only rarely has modern Christianity presented the story of Jesus as the one to whom those who had failed, were rejected, lonely, and alienated could turn and find understanding and compassion. Endo argues that it is our universal human experience of failure in life that provides us with an understanding of Christian faith in its depth.
--Fumitaka Matsuoka, The Christology of Shusaku Endo, Theology Today (October 1982) [emphasis mine]
On this Good Friday we gather in our churches across Kenya in the shadow of a great and terrible evil. People who deal in death have slaughtered 147 people in Garissa, most of them students, and brought wrenching anguish to their families and a deep sadness to our nation.
These young people died because they were Kenyans and they were Christians. This attack was a calculated manifestation of evil designed to destroy our nation and our faith, but on this Good Friday we are reminded that the very worst evil can do is not the last word.
Through spite and blatant miscarriage of justice, Jesus dies the agonising death of the cross, but his last words are ‘it is finished’. The cross was not a tragic accident, but the fulfilment of God’s purpose to reconcile men and women to himself through the atoning death of his Son, a reality gloriously confirmed by his resurrection from the dead.
But we must not rush on to Easter Day too quickly. Today we stand at the cross with Mary and the other women, heartbroken by loss and suffering and despite the horror before their eyes, not running away.
Horror is fresh in our minds too and let us not run away or deny it, but stay by the cross. We stay with Jesus, the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, we share in the grief of Mary and we share in the grief of those who have been so shockingly bereaved, but as Mary was to discover, we know that this is not the end of the story.
Jesus death upon the cross was not in vain. By his death, death has been destroyed. The stone rolled away and the empty tomb of Jesus assures us that death does not have the last word. As we think of those dear ones who died at Garissa because they were Christians, let us remember the promise of the Lord Jesus that nothing can separate them and us from his love.
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At least 70 hostages have been killed in an attack by al-Shabab Islamist militants on a university in north-eastern Kenya, officials say.
At least 79 were injured while more than 500 students were rescued from the Garissa University College campus, disaster management officials said.
Interior Minster Joseph Nkaiserry said four of the attackers had been killed, and security operations were ongoing.
Read it all and there are live updates here. Please pray for the situation.
Canada’s medical schools are preparing for what was once unimaginable — teaching medical students and residents how to help patients take their own lives.
As the nation moves toward legalized physician-assisted death, Canada’s 17 faculties of medicine have begun to consider how they will introduce assisted dying into the curriculum for the next generations of doctors.
It is a profound change for medical educators, who have long taught future doctors that it is immoral to end a life intentionally.
“If legislation passes, and if it becomes a standard of practice in Canada for a small subset of patients who desire assisted death, and where all the conditions are met, would we want a cadre of doctors that are trained in the emotional, communicative and technical aspects of making those decisions, and assisting patients,” said Dr. Richard Reznick, dean of the faculty of health sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston. “We would.”
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Praying? What kind of people are you?
Well, the kind of people who built our civilisation, founded our democracies, developed our modern ideas of rights and justice, ended slavery, established universal education and who are, even as I write, in the forefront of the fight against poverty, prejudice and ignorance. In a word, Christians.
But to call yourself a Christian in contemporary Britain is to invite pity, condescension or cool dismissal. In a culture that prizes sophistication, non-judgmentalism, irony and detachment, it is to declare yourself intolerant, naive, superstitious and backward.
It was almost 150 years ago that Matthew Arnold wrote of the Sea of Faith’s ‘melancholy, long, withdrawing roar’ and in our time that current has been replaced by an incoming tide of negativity towards Christianity.
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