Posted by Kendall Harmon

Users should note that the extent of the data is too large to provide online as a page–turnable pdf, but once they have identified an item of interest within a particular issue, it is possible to browse through the contents of that issue as each individual page appears as a thumbnail along the top of the search box.

The Gallipoli Campaign by the Allied forces began on Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula on 25 April 1915, (and would continue for over 8 months until 9 January 1916). Five days after it began, the Gazette edition for Friday 30 April 1915 was published. Its by now weekly column “The War Week by Week” (narrating the latest news on the war) carried an interesting analysis of the operation to attack German and Ottoman naval vessels at sea, and land British and French troops on both sides of the Dardanelles Straits (of vital strategic importance as the main sea route into the Russian Empire).

Wow-just wow. Read it all and follow the links.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Ireland* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland

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Posted April 1, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A study guide designed to promote discussion about the House of Bishops' Pastoral Letter for the General Election has been issued by the Church of England.

The online document, aimed at individual and group study, includes a short summary of each section of the Pastoral Letter and offers questions for consideration and conversation.

Read it all and follow the link to the guide.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 31, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Harmful alcohol use has been identified as one of the leading preventable causes of death and a key risk factor for chronic diseases (such as cancer) and injuries worldwide. Specifically, alcohol use is responsible for 5.9% – about 3.3m – of deaths across the globe every year. While there is an existing body of research on the economic impacts of sustained heavy drinking, however, less is known about the economic cost of binge drinking and the size of its impact on road traffic accidents and arrests.

Binge drinking is characterised by periods of heavy drinking followed by abstinence. It generally results in short-term acute impairment and is believed to contribute to a substantial proportion of alcohol-related deaths and injuries. Overall, ONS statistics would suggest a falling trend in the number of people who binge drink but it is still a sizeable problem – with four in ten young adults consuming up to eight units on at least one day in the week before being interviewed by the ONS.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 31, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop of Sheffield Dr Steven Croft says preparations are under way for the Queen's visit to the city's cathedral for her Maundy Thursday service.

The Queen will hand out Maundy money to 89 men and 89 women, the first time the service has been held in Sheffield.

Maundy Thursday recognises the service of elderly people to their community and their church.

Dr Croft said it had been a "huge amount of work for several months - in secret".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted March 30, 2015 at 3:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An influential group of bishops have called on Anglican churches to remove their investments from the fossil fuel companies that are driving climate change.

In a declaration and set of requests aimed at focusing the church’s attention on the “unprecedented climate crisis”, the 17 bishops and archbishops said investments in fossil fuel companies were incompatible with a just and sustainable future.

“We call for a review of our churches’ investment practices with a view to supporting environmental sustainability and justice by divesting from industries involved primarily in the extraction or distribution of fossil fuels,” they said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted March 30, 2015 at 12:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Nicholas has is one of 17 Anglican bishops from all continents who have produced a Declaration calling for urgent prayer and action to tackle what they call an “unprecedented climate crisis”. Their declaration The World Is Our Host: A Call to Urgent Action for Climate Justice, released on Monday in Holy Week, sets a new agenda on climate change.

Bishop Nicholas was the Church of England’s representative on the group that produced the Declaration. Speaking after its launch, he said, “We accept the scientific evidence that human activity is more than 95% likely to be the main cause of global warming. This century began with fourteen of the fifteen hottest years ever.

“That our Declaration is issued in Holy Week and addressed to the Church on Good Friday is a mark of the seriousness with which we view the crisis of climate change.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 30, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the prospects for a free and fair Presidential election in Nigeria in 2015, and (2) progress made by the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission towards minimising the possibility of electoral fraud. [HL5761]

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The British Government is closely following developments ahead of Nigeria’s presidential and gubernatorial elections on 28 March and 11 April respectively. This vote will set Nigeria’s course for the next five years and beyond and as Africa’s largest democracy its impact will be felt well beyond its borders. It is vital the elections go ahead without any further delay on 28 March.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaEngland / UK

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Posted March 28, 2015 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the challenge to be a Church with a mission to the nation grows more complex as society and communities change, and the size, strength and make-up of our churches also change.

50 years ago churches largely reflected the demographics of their context; today they are markedly different. Put simply, churches have not successfully retained young people as they move into adulthood.

Numbers attending Church of England services have declined at an average rate of 1% a year in recent decades. In any given week, less than 2% of the overall population attend our churches. In some areas, particularly outer estates and the inner city, this is less than 1%. The age profile of our membership is now significantly older than that of the population.

As I said in my Synod address in December, the harsh truth is that there is a massive cultural gap between what we do in our churches and the subcultures amongst whom we dwell.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

3 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 4:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Most of the music for compline was by English composers, all immaculately sung as plainsong by the senior trebles and adults of the cathedral choir. The centrepiece of the service was Herbert Howells's motet, "Take him, earth, for cherishing", based on a poem by the Roman Christian poet Prudentius, and composed for John F. Kennedy's memorial service.

The RC Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, preached a sermon that emphasised the brutality of medieval wars and the tumultuous life and times of Richard III, a "child of war", a "refugee in Europe", whose reign was marked by unrest and who remained a controversial figure in the continual re-assessment of the Tudor period, "when saints can become bones and bones can become saints".

Baptism did not give holiness of life but gave it enduring shape, he reflected, describing the king as "a man of prayer, of anxious devotions". The Franciscans, Cardinal Nichols believed, would have buried Richard with prayer, even though that burial - which followed the ignominious parading of his naked and violently wounded body through the streets after the battle - had been hasty. He ended with the prayer that Richard "be embraced in God's merciful love".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

4 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is doubtless crucial for the Church of England to reconsider its form and presentation, but it cannot do this until it has established what its essential core actually is, and made every effort to communicate and inspire the next generation to its identity. Unfortunately, many of the panellists remained so unified on their desire for radical change, that the real debate about what this core might actually be rarely reared its head. So is there something about the church’s liturgy and worship, its structure and communion, its history and heritage that remains important? If so, is the radical task not to discard these in the name of modernisation, but to excite those to whom they appear foreign? Several times during the proceedings, the discrepancy between the beliefs and opinions of the clergy and those of the laity were noted—evidence again of a church that is lost to its academics and fatally disjointed from its people. But is the radical task, therefore, to give the church up to the people, or to inspire those same people about the riches, dynamism, and truthfulness of the doctrines and Scriptures that lie behind it?

As the church considers its future, one thing is certain: it must not fight for its own survival. Perhaps it will have the strength to realise that there is, actually, nothing distinctive about it that truly needs preserving amongst the denominations, and will show the greatest sacrifice for others by facilitating its own demise. Or, perhaps, it will understand that there is something about the Church of England as the Church of England that is important—something that is not worth fighting for in itself, but which is so crucial to its illuminating truth, so essential to its gospel message, and so intuitive to its mission, that it becomes the foundation of its fighting “for others.” But have we given up on this task? Doubtless reform is needed. But what is the core on which it must be founded? Are we so clear on our own ideas of what needs changing that we can no longer see what doesn’t? Perhaps we still need to ask: What does the Church of England offer the next generation?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureTeens / YouthYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted March 26, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Councillors are to discuss how best to manage large-scale funerals after one for a traveller from Cheshire attracted hundreds of mourners.

Holy Trinity Church in Blacon and Chester Crematorium were packed for the service marking 54-year-old Elton man "Pudgie" Evans's life on 30 January.

Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire Constabulary worked together to manage the funeral.

Local residents were advised beforehand and roads shut for the funeral cortege....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 25, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Ministry Division of the Church of England has expressed confidence in St Stephen's House, Oxford, in an inspection report which praised the college for its "clear and distinctive identity which informs all aspects of its life".

The report published today spoke of "a community at ease and comfortable with embracing a variety of perspectives and traditions on numerous issues whilst situated clearly within a distinct theological and spiritual tradition."

St Stephen's House received 12 out of a possible 16 'confidence' outcomes, covering a range of criteria including practical and pastoral theology, teaching, and ministerial, personal and spiritual formation. The report also made 20 recommendations, noting that "the majority of these are for making good practice better rather than highlighting substantive problems."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted March 25, 2015 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Michael Geoffrey Hare Duke was born in Calcutta; his father was a Scots/Irish civil engineer who helped build the Indian railway system. He would become well-known in Lancashire for the welcome he afforded members of the Indian and Pakistani communities in the cotton towns when he was Vicar of St Mark's, Bury, from 1956-62. He would also recall the kindnesses of the Indian women who had administered to his every need as a child.

Sent home to Bradfield at the age of 12, he was much influenced by the robust Christian views of his headmaster, TD Hills, who had been a House Master at Eton. Duke recalled to me with embarrassed pleasure how he had thrilled both Hills and himself by beating his Etonian opponent in the Quadrangular boxing competition, and going on to a points victory against an even tougher opponent from Haileybury and Imperial Services College.

From Bradfield Hare Duke became a sub-lieutenant in the Navy towards the end of the Second World War. "When as a 19-year-old you have gone to your bunk every night wondering whether a U-Boat would strike your ship, you become a bit cautious of sending a huge armada to the South Atlantic."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Theology

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Posted March 24, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Both Stephen Cottrell and Michael Kitchen were born in Essex, both are the sons of non-religious parents and both went on to study religion. But that is where the similarities end.

Michael Kitchen laughs and shakes his head when asked the inevitable question: do you have a light sabre?

He does not. In fact he is not particularly keen on the Star Wars films. Though he does have a robe.

Born and raised in Saffron Walden, Mr Kitchen has been a member of the Temple of the Jedi Order for seven years. His Jedi name is Akkarin and he is a member of the order's inner sanctum, the council.

Stephen Cottrell was born in Leigh-on-Sea and has been the Bishop of Chelmsford since 2010. A founding member of the College of Evangelists, he has also served on the Church of England's Mission, Renewal and Evangelism committee.

But how do their spiritual journeys compare, what do they make of each other's beliefs and does Jediism shed any light on the world of "new religions"?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted March 23, 2015 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Steven Gerrard's final appearance as a Liverpool player against bitter rival Manchester United lasted just 38 seconds as his side slipped to a 2-1 defeat in a crucial English Premier League game Sunday.

Gerrard, introduced as a second half substitute to revive the flagging home side, was given his marching orders for a stamp on Ander Herrera.]

Down to 10 men, Liverpool quickly fell 2-0 behind to a second from Juan Mata before a 69th minute goal from Daniel Sturridge ensured a rousing finale at Anfield.

Manchester United nerves were hardly helped by Wayne Rooney's failure to convert a penalty in injury time, but Louis van Gaal's men held on for a crucial three points in the battle for Champions League spots.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted March 22, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When she repeated this belief at school, the teacher ridiculed her in front of the class and said only "religious nutters" held such beliefs.

This is just one of the stories of discrimination against Christians in the workplace uncovered in a new consultation, which also found evidence that atheists were being discriminated against by some Christians.

Employees feel under increasing pressure to keep their religion hidden at work and they also feel discriminated against when it comes to wearing religious symbols or expressing their beliefs, the consultation found.

Christians in particular feel discriminated against.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted March 21, 2015 at 12:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A £100m recruitment plan for the Church of England has been criticised as a raid on church assets that has not been properly thought out and amounts to “spending the family silver”.

The proposals, submitted last month, are intended to address what Andreas Whittam Smith, head of the Church Commissioners, calls a “relentless decline in membership”. Mr Whittam Smith has previously said this has resulted in the average age of Anglican congregations approaching 70.

The commissioners manage the Church’s historic and investment assets, worth slightly more than £6bn at the end of 2013. Mr Whittam Smith wants to use about £100m of that to boost the number of ordained priests by 50 per cent.

This is in addition to the £2m already approved to train senior clergy and potential leaders in a “talent management” programme, a controversial proposal made in a report chaired by Stephen Green, the former chairman of HSBC and an ordained minister in the Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the OrdainedStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 21, 2015 at 10:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new project bringing together science and religion is unlikely to end the long and sometimes bitter debate over the relationship between the two.

However, it will offer trainee priests and Christians who are scientists the chance to engage with contemporary science.

The project - backed by the Church of England - is to receive more than £700,000 to promote greater engagement between science and Christians, as part of a three-year Durham University programme.

Trainee priests and others will be offered access to resources on contemporary science, and the scheme will research attitudes towards science among Church leaders.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted March 21, 2015 at 10:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to Bishop Lesslie Newbigin, “there is not and cannot be a gospel which is not culturally embodied”. He maintained that the missionary task of the Church is to challenge the “reigning plausibility structure” by examining it in light of the revealed purposes of God contained in the biblical narrative. He advocated a scepticism which enables one to take part in the life of society without being deluded by its own beliefs about itself.

Easier said [than done]....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 20, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Rochester has addressed more than 2,000 people at a rally pressing for all political parties to commit themselves to a long term plan for ending the housing crisis.

The Rt Rev James Langstaff, who is chair of Housing Justice, the national voice of the churches on housing and homelessness, told the Homes for Britain event in central London that ensuring decent and secure housing in the right place and at an affordable cost is one of the most important issues for our society.

Read the whole address there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 18, 2015 at 4:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churches are being encouraged to talk about the relationship between science and faith through a project backed by the Church of England.

The Templeton World Charity Foundation has awarded £700,000 to a three-year Durham University programme which aims to promote greater engagement between science and Christians.

Churches will be able to apply for grants of up to £10,000 for "scientists in congregations", and more than 1,000 people training for Anglican ministry will be offered access to training and resources on contemporary science and the Christian faith as part of the project.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted March 18, 2015 at 3:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Patrick was 16 years old in about the year 405, when he was captured in a raid and became a slave in what was still radically pagan Ireland. Far from home, he clung to the religion he had ignored as a teenager. Even though his grandfather had been a priest, and his father a town councilor, Patrick "knew not the true God." But forced to tend his master's sheep in Ireland, he spent his six years of bondage mainly in prayer. He escaped at the suggestion of a dream and returned home.

Patrick was in his mid-40s when he returned to Ireland.

Read it all and for the ambitious there is a lot more there.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland

0 Comments
Posted March 17, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty God, who in thy providence didst choose thy servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of thee: Grant us so to walk in that light, that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland

0 Comments
Posted March 17, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England's Chief Education Officer Nigel Genders has contributed to a book by education experts and commentators on selection in secondary schools which explores the complexity of the present system. He concludes that the solution to the extremely complex arrangements caused by parental choice in school admissions and the oversubscription criteria that schools use, is to not focus on admissions but rather on quality of provision.

Published today The Ins and Outs of Selective Secondary Education: A Debate, edited by Anastasia de Waal of Civitas is a wide-ranging collection of essays showing how the old divide between comprehensive and grammar schools has been supplanted by a range of much broader selection processes, across school types.

In his chapter Nigel Genders states: "In those early years (when the CofE was the first body to provide education for all), being able to access any education at all was the pressing concern, not the choice of school. The issue of admissions, as we define it today, was non-existent. It was only as universal provision was achieved that the question of which school a parent should choose for their children became such a significant matter. Schools operated with a catchment area, but the resulting rise in house prices around good schools meant that parental choice was more limited for those who could not afford to live there. However, the freeing up of the system and a greater expectation regarding parental choice of school has meant that the landscape has become increasingly difficult for many to navigate."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted March 16, 2015 at 1:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A display unlike many in recent times brought back fond old memories as Manchester United swarmed Spurs early and choked them to death to see out the match.

Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick both scored within the opening 20 minutes, and Wayne Rooney dazzled the Old Trafford crowd with a stunning third and an epic celebration to boot. With the game already out of reach at halftime, United controlled possession and smothered the visitors through the final 45.

The Red Devils struck first at home, as (striker!) Marouane Fellaini fired home inside 10 minutes. Michael Carrick found the Belgian bolting through the back line, and Fellaini beat Eric Dier to the ball and finished across the face to the far corner for the lead.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

2 Comments
Posted March 15, 2015 at 1:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Right after Valentine’s Day, the front window of my Brooklyn home sprouts a field of cardboard shamrocks each year. A statue of St. Patrick appears on the bookshelf and a sign is posted on the back door: “If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, you’re lucky enough.”

This is the work of my Irish-American wife in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day. As the Italian-American husband, I have in past years suggested equal attention to St. Joseph, a favorite saint of Italians. Nothing doing.

The proximity of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 and the Feast of St. Joseph two days later leads to a good deal of teasing and ribbing every year between Catholics of Irish and Italian ancestry.

There is nothing extraordinary about this little bit of fun, unless one considers the bitterness that once marked relations between these two peoples.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsImmigration* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEuropeItaly* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 13, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The UK asylum system's "ridiculous" approach to persecuted Christians in the Middle East must be reformed, a conference heard on Saturday.

The speaker, an Egyptian research Fellow at the University of Sussex, Dr Mariz Tadros, also challenged those who caution against Christians' leaving the region.

"I strongly disagree with the idea that, if we let them go, they will not come back," she said. "It's a very male-biased representation of what is going on. [We are hearing from] non-married religious leaders, not the mothers of young daughters at risk of being kidnapped, or of sons feeling almost suicidal."

She described the response of the UK asylum system to Christians seeking asylum as "atrocious", and "ridiculous". She said: "There needs to be pressure on Western governments to say 'Open your borders to allow these people to come.' They are dying of hunger and cold on the borders of Lebanon and Jordan."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle East* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 13, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Latest statistics released by the Church of England show that the number of young people (under 30s) now make up a quarter of all people accepted for training for the Church of England ministry. Figures show for 2014 show that 116 young people under 30 were accepted for training.

This is the highest number of young people accepted for ordination training in the past 25 years.

Read it all and follow the links.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted March 13, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[At the]International Bankers’ banquet on Wednesday night...the evening’s highlight was the speech by (old Etonian) Archbishop of Canterbury, a former school friend of livery master Mark Seligman. Justin Welby mused that “we all inherit baggage from our predecessors” and reassured the audience: “We [the Church] know more about losing the plot than any of you”. Banks should “change the way they operate and interact.” The impact was immediate. One top banker in the audience, who won a sweepstake on the length of the Archbishop’s speech (16m 21s), was about to pocket the winnings. He then thought better of it. And offered the money to charity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 13, 2015 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Armed Forces charity bosses believe the full impact of the Afghanistan conflict is "yet to be seen" as the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and senior members of the Royal Family prepare for a service of commemoration at St Paul's Cathedral.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of Cambridge, his heavily-pregnant wife Kate, and Prince Harry - who served two tours during the conflict - will also attend tomorrow's ceremony, held to mark the end of combat operations in the country, honour veterans of the campaign and remember the servicemen and women who lost their lives.

The families of some of those killed will also take part in the commemorations and v eterans of the 13-year campaign will march past the cathedral in a parade.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 13, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New bells, made from the recycled metal from an old peal, have been hoisted into a church tower in Gloucestershire.

St Andrew's and St Bartholomew's in Churchdown raised more than £80,000 to replace five of its six historic bells, damaged by centuries of ringing.

The new peal of bells is due to be rung for the first time on Friday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchArchitectureReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted March 12, 2015 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury...[Tuesday] night hosted a reception for inter-religious and community leaders at Lambeth Palace.

Speaking at the annual event, which brings together members different faith groups to foster relationships, Archbishop Justin Welby reflected on the theme of reconciliation, which is one of his ministry priorities.

The event was attended by a wide range of people from Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Jain and Christian traditions.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* Theology

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Posted March 12, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The idea that Catholics are being radicalised in state schools is "ridiculous" and "offensive", the Conservative MP for Gainsborough will say today during a parliamentary debate on education, regulation and faith schools.

Sir Edward Leigh, who is also the president of the Catholic Union of Great Britain, will say in a speech that "faith schools should hold their heads up high" and should stand for Christian values, according to fragments of his speech seen by the Telegraph.

"[Faith schools] should not engage in the pre-emptive cringe and kowtow to the latest fashion but should stand by the principles that have made them such a success: love for God and neighbour; pursuit of truth; high-aspiration and discipline," Sir Edward will say.

“The idea that Catholics are being radicalised in state schools is as ridiculous as it is offensive,” he will say.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

1 Comments
Posted March 12, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Zlatan Ibrahimovic was controversially red carded in the first half of Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea’s Champions League second leg game Wednesday, it seemed like the Swedish striker had doomed the French club. PSG was able to keep Chelsea from scoring for the majority of an ugly game that more closely resembled a wrestling match, but Gary Cahill gave Chelsea goal, and a 2-1 lead on aggregate, with just nine minutes to play.

PSG needed a miracle, and former Chelsea centerback David Luiz delivered. Luiz climbed above two defenders and hit a bullet header into the top corner at the near post. Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois didn’t even have time to move his feet.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeFrance

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Posted March 11, 2015 at 6:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...with 10 league games still to play, United sit in fourth position, two points clear of closest challengers Liverpool.

With sixth-placed Tottenham to visit Old Trafford on Sunday, ahead of a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool seven days later, the green shoots of recovery will be close to blossoming should Van Gaal mastermind two victories.

Two defeats, though, would leave United in danger of falling short and set the clock ticking on Van Gaal getting it right next season.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted March 10, 2015 at 6:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Faith schools, specialist provision for children with autism and a “dementia-friendly” primary in Devon are among the latest wave of free schools to be announced by David Cameron. More than 400 free schools have now been approved since the policy was launched in 2010, creating more than 230,000 places across the country.

A diverse list of 49 further new free schools, which are mainly due to open in September 2016, includes:

All-through schools, which combine primary and secondary education in single institutions, where a pupil can be enrolled at three or four – or even younger – and can stay on until 19.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 10, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the economy of great achievement, two things stand out in my own mind:
• A compelling vision, usually involving a big idea;
• A plan that addresses the primary challenge that stands in the way of the realization of that big idea.

It would be very easy for us to imagine that the primary challenge was one of our own internal challenges around finance or church buildings. These are things that we can’t ignore, but surely the big challenge is something more like this:

How does the Church of England re-engage with a culture that is increasingly secular and post Christian?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyApologetics

1 Comments
Posted March 9, 2015 at 4:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hundreds of multi-coloured balloons have been released in memory of murdered Bristol teenager Becky Watts.

The 16-year-old was last seen on 19 February and was reported missing the following day.

Her body was found on Monday after an extensive search of various locations across the city.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted March 9, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nicholas Ferrar, like his great friend, George Herbert, was a courtier turned clergyman. Born in London, he was educated at a boarding school in Berkshire and at Clare College, Cambridge. He was appointed to the service of Princess Elizabeth, daughter of James I, who married the Elector Frederick V, and travelled to the continent. In the coming years, Ferrar travelled widely and, a brilliant scholar, learnt to speak Dutch, German, Italian and Spanish, as well as engaging in the study of medicine in Leipzig and Padua.

On his return to England in 1618, Ferrar was involved with the London Virginia Company, which was the family business, and he was also, for a time, a Member of Parliament. In 1626, following ordination as a deacon by the controversial Bishop (later Archbishop) William Laud, there was a major life-change when he and his extended family moved to the manor in Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire and restored St John’s church for their own use. There they lived a life of extreme simplicity, devotion and practical service.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted March 9, 2015 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some countries want nuclear weapons to prop up a tottering state. Pakistan insists its weapons are safe, but the outside world cannot shake the fear that they may fall into the hands of Islamist terrorists, or even religious zealots within its own armed forces. When history catches up with North Korea’s Kim dynasty, as sooner or later it must, nobody knows what will happen to its nukes—whether they might be inherited, sold, eliminated or, in a last futile gesture, detonated.

Others want nuclear weapons not to freeze the status quo, but to change it. Russia has started to wield nuclear threats as an offensive weapon in its strategy of intimidation. Its military exercises routinely stage dummy nuclear attacks on such capitals as Warsaw and Stockholm. Mr Putin’s speeches contain veiled nuclear threats. Dmitry Kiselev, one of the Kremlin’s mouthpieces, has declared with relish that Russian nuclear forces could turn America into “radioactive ash”.

Just rhetoric, you may say. But the murder of Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader, on the Kremlin’s doorstep on February 27th was only the latest sign that Mr Putin’s Russia is heading into the geopolitical badlands.... Resentful, nationalistic and violent, it wants to rewrite the Western norms that underpin the status quo. First in Georgia and now in Ukraine, Russia has shown it will escalate to extremes to assert its hold over its neighbours and convince the West that intervention is pointless. Even if Mr Putin is bluffing about nuclear weapons (and there is no reason to think he is), any nationalist leader who comes after him could be even more dangerous.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEuropeRussiaMiddle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 8, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A trial in Liverpool for attempted robbery collapsed because a Muslim witness had sworn on the Bible, not the Koran.

“You have heard evidence from the witness on oath, just like you all swore an oath,” the judge told the jury. “Unfortunately it was sworn on the Bible and he just informed us he is a Muslim, which means I can’t accept his evidence and neither can you, because it was sworn on the wrong holy book. We have to start the case again.”

The next day, the judge thought better of it and stated in court that “in hindsight, it is a personal matter for any witness as to how they wish to be sworn”. It was a bit late, as the trial had been stopped. But the incident does show that swearing an oath is not just a quaint custom.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 8, 2015 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Discrimination against Christians is being “ignored” by governments and courts, MPs from across Europe have warned in the wake of a string of cases involving the rights of British workers to wear crosses or discuss their beliefs.

The parliamentary arm of the Council of Europe has issued a formal declaration urging states to recognise the principle of “reasonable accommodation” for the beliefs of traditionalist Christians on issues such as homosexuality for the first time.

The first test of the new call will come as early as this week with the opening of an employment tribunal case involving a London nursery worker who claims she was dismissed for telling a lesbian colleague her beliefs on same-sex marriage.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 7, 2015 at 12:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Would you pretend to be Jewish to secure some sort of advantage for yourself? Would you go even further, attending synagogue once a week for a full year, mouthing the ancient prayers, in order to get what you want?

You might think that such behaviour would be an insult to real Jews in the community.

This prompts the question: why is it socially acceptable for atheists and agnostics to feign their commitment to the Anglican faith to get their kids into a good state school? The answer is that the Church encourages them to do so. This kind of strategic middle-class church attendance produces high-achieving schools and swells congregations in many parishes. It suits the Church and it suits the sharp-elbowed – a formidable alliance. The practice seems particularly widespread in London, where it is standard behaviour among well-heeled, well-informed parents. It’s an unwritten rule of middle-class family life.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

5 Comments
Posted March 6, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Without becoming naïve, people needed to have greater faith in the “other”, Lord Williams said, and reject political and media rhetoric that fosters panic and mistrust of politicians, people in public life, organisations or charities.

“Our politics and our media really thrive on mistrust,” he said. “It seems the basic emotion we’re encouraged to feel by quite a lot of political and media rhetoric is a sort of mild, subdued panic.

“There comes to be a corrosive, circular, enclosed world in which what you are always longing for is a good reason to not trust someone. I don’t think that can be good for us.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan WilliamsAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Faith and desire is, however, no guarantee of ordination. Would-be candidates have first to convince a parish priest that they have the makings of a priest, then pass the scrutiny of a director of ordinands during months of interviews, before enduring a two-day selection conference where a committee endeavours to distinguish between pious enthusiasm and genuine vocation. Undischarged bankrupts are not considered, nor are hopefuls under 18 or over 57, in order to ensure adequate maturity and to justify the enormous training costs with the prospect of a reasonably long ministry.

Many who wish for ordination are deemed unsuitable whether in character, faith or ability; many more are advised to go away and prove themselves before being recommended for holy orders. Those that pass muster embark on a theological degree or diploma course – a non-residential course for married candidates over the age of the 35, residential study in one of the diminishing number of seminaries for those under 30, or the option of either for older single ordinands.

Pike was told to spend six months working in a parish before he could be recommended for training. “I had never done any pastoral work before,” he says. “I went to a deprived parish in Leicester on an estate surrounded by dual carriageways. Quite a few professionals visited it as social workers, speech therapists etc, but the clergy and pastoral assistants were the only professionals who lived there, and I realised that one of the privileges of being a priest is that you are accepted as part of the community – whatever kind of community it is – and there is an instinctively generous welcome into people’s lives.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted March 4, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An urgent national debate is needed to address the disproportionate number of Muslim men among groups convicted of using and selling young teenagers for sex, according to a landmark report.

Failings by police and care professionals led to more than 370 young girls in Oxfordshire falling victim to “conveyor-belt” sex crimes over the past 15 years, a serious case review published yesterday concluded.

It came after six young Oxford girls suffered years of abuse from multiple offenders, some of whom travelled the length of the country for sex in bedsits and guest houses. A review of agencies dealing with the victims identified an “undeniable” link between men of Pakistani heritage and “indescribably awful” crimes across England.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityTeens / YouthViolenceYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 5:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution and, as Ysenda Maxtone Graham made clear, there needs to be a range of solutions, including greater involvement of the laity, the possibility of giving responsibility for more churches to local charities or trusts, and the setting up of ‘festival churches’, which have services only for the major festivals of the Church. We also need to see how we can make church buildings more serviceable to the wider community, so that they can be used as much as possible and not simply for Sunday worship.

For many people the presence of a church in rural England is symbolic of the nation and the rural way of life, and a source of support and comfort even for those who are not regular churchgoers. We should start with the very clear premise that the Church of England is a national church and should therefore ensure a Christian presence in every community.
--(The) Rt Hon. Canon Sir Tony Baldry, MP

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchRural/Town Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

1 Comments
Posted March 3, 2015 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Children who sing in a choir, play in an orchestra or take to the stage are more likely to make good moral choices than their fellow classmates, a study has concluded.

But contrary to belief that sport promotes ideas of fair play and team spirit, the research concluded that playing games does nothing to strengthen people’s moral fibre.

Meanwhile those who go to church or other religious observances regularly emerged more likely to fare better in the face of moral dilemmas than their peers who do not.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMusicReligion & CultureTeens / YouthTheatre/Drama/Plays* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 1, 2015 at 12:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all and follow all the links.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 28, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I fear I will be in trouble once again with some people in the church as I find myself, in conscience, having to go against the line that the churches are taking on so-called three-parent families.

I am, to be clear, firmly in favour despite the opposition shown by some of my colleagues and a powerful lobby of critics from abroad.

A Bill passed by the House of Commons earlier this month will allow for a procedure in which a small proportion of a third person's DNA is used to create an embroyo in order to prevent potentially fatal genetic disorders. Scientists have found techniques to replace faulty mitochondrial DNA - mitrochondria are microscopic energy creating structures in the human cell - with donated DNA, and Britain is set to be the first country to endorse the practice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 28, 2015 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was scrappy and horrible at times but United did enough to win. The first-half was dire with the fans screaming 'attack, attack, attack' at every opportunity. Still, they were much better in the second half and deserved to win.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted February 28, 2015 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Russia has become a danger to Britain and the country must be prepared to take steps to defend itself and its allies, the former head of MI6 says.

Sir John Sawers, who recently retired after five years as chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Russia poses a "state to state threat".

Sir John said dealing with such threats would require more defence spending.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 28, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Westminster Abbey has won planning permission to add its first new tower in almost 300 years, which will create public access to a museum of treasures and curiosities housed in the triforium, the church’s attic gallery.

At present, the public can get only a distant glimpse of the spectacular and shadowy space through the stone arches 70ft up at the top of the walls above the high altar.

The only way in is a perilous journey up narrow spiral staircases and along ledge-like passages high above the nave. The spectacular but vertigo-inducing view down to the altar and nave has mostly been enjoyed by maintenance staff and camera crews covering major state events.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchArchitectureReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted February 28, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For months he taunted, knife in hand, his voice slightly muffled behind the mask that became the grim symbol of Islamic State barbarism.

But when the identity of the killer known as “Jihadi John” was revealed Thursday, the profile that emerged was disturbingly familiar: a young man whose parents’ decision to immigrate to the West afforded him a comfortable life and an education, but who ultimately found identity and succor in extremist ideology.

His name is Mohammed Emwazi. And despite friends’ descriptions of a polite and quiet man not capable of violence, Emwazi’s links to extremist groups appear to have been long-standing, and he was well known to counterterrorism officials in London before he went to Syria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 27, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A vision to create "one of the most significant interfaith centres in the world" in the City of London was unveiled on Wednesday night at the launch of a £20-million fund-raising appeal.

The planned centre, Coexist House, is the idea of Dr David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge; and is supported by the Inner Temple, the Corporation of the City of London, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Coexist Foundation.

"Coexist House is designed as much for a secular audience as a religious audience and will not promote any one particular faith," the trustees say in a summary of their feasibility study. "It is a civic endeavour which would improve the way people understand religions and beliefs in all their variety. Nevertheless, it will offer a spiritual space, hospitable to all, in the heart of London."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* Theology

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Posted February 27, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last month, the speaker of the Russian parliament solemnly instructed his foreign affairs committee to launch a historical investigation: was West Germany’s ‘annexation’ of East Germany really legal? Should it be condemned? Ought it to be reversed? Last week, the Russian foreign minister, speaking at a security conference in Munich, hinted that he might have similar doubts. ‘Germany’s reunification was conducted without any referendum,’ he declared, ominously.

At this, the normally staid audience burst out laughing. The Germans in the room found the Russian statements particularly hilarious. Undo German unification? Why, that would require undoing the whole post-Cold War settlement!

Which is indeed a very amusing notion — unless you think that this is exactly what the Russian speaker, the Russian foreign minister, and indeed the Russian President, a man who once called the collapse of the Soviet Union ‘the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century’, are in fact trying to achieve.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 26, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A book which helped changed the course of English history, part of the evidence Henry VIII and his lawyers gathered in the 1530s to help win an annulment from Catherine of Aragon and ultimately to break with Rome, has turned up on the shelves of the magnificent library at Lanhydrock, a National Trust mansion in Cornwall.

The book, a summary of the theories of the medieval philosopher and theologian William of Ockham, has been newly identified by a US scholar and expert on the history of Henry’s library. The book was damaged but escaped destruction in a disastrous fire at the house in 1881, and crucially the fly-leaf survived. It still carries the number 282, written in black ink in the top right-hand corner, which Prof James Carley identified as corresponding with an inventory taken in 1542 of the most important of Henry’s books, five years before the king’s death.

Paul Holden, the house and collections manager at Lanhydrock, said: “It was an amazing moment. The old long gallery here is about the length of a football pitch, and the professor lapped it about six times when we found the book.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryPhilosophyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 25, 2015 at 4:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The Pastoral letter from the House of Bishops was addressed to churches and encouraged them to implement the living wage. The Living Wage Commission, chaired by the Archbishop of York, recognised in its report last year, that a phased implementation may be necessary in some businesses and organisations. It welcomed employers seeking to implement the pay level progressively. What is important is that those who can, do so, as soon as is practically possible. The vast majority of those employed by or sub-contracted to the Church's central institutions are already paid at least the Living Wage and all will be by April 2017...."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We can only imagine the agony of Edward Mallen’s parents, for whom “a normal Monday afternoon became a horrifying nightmare where one is staring into this appalling abyss of grief” when police knocked on their door last week to say that their 18-year-old son had been killed by a train. Intelligent, gifted, kind and humble, head boy twice over — by all accounts, Edward was a remarkable young man. Twelve A*s at GCSE, a place at Cambridge to read geography, grade eight at piano and popular.

Yet shortly after Christmas depression consumed him. His father said: “Often there is a trigger, some trauma, but there didn’t seem to be in this case. My son had a sickness — a biological sickness — that overtook him very rapidly. It happened over six to eight weeks.” The shocking fact is that this is not an isolated incident. Talking to experts and parents, I get a sense that self-harm, a destructive way of coping with emotional pain, has reached epidemic proportions.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ 2010 report on public mental health, half of those who suffer mental-health problems in adult life display difficulties by the age of 14. Three quarters of mental illness is present by the mid-twenties. While three times as many women as men attempt suicide, Office for National Statistics figures show that 78 per cent of suicides in 2013 were male (up from 63 per cent in 1981).

Read it all (requires subscription).


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHealth & MedicineMenPsychologyStressSuicideTeens / Youth* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

2 Comments
Posted February 23, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am going to speak today, principally, about why discipleship compels us to be concerned with matters of politics and active participation in politics, and a little about some of the issues we face.

We should never lose sight of the fact, when we are engaging in politics as to why it matters so much. We have the great good fortune, whichever party we support, whichever part of politics we come from, to be able to do that without fear in this country. And let us today remember that in many parts of the world, and particularly in Northern Iraq, in parts of Libya, in Northern Nigeria, that were we to gather in a room like this today, it would be almost certainly the cause of our death. And usually in a very terrible way.

And so the business of engagement in politics is in part a celebration of what we have in this country. And a proclamation that we are deeply committed to a society where freedom of expression and justice are at its heart. Where nobody is excluded because they are poor or rich, or one ethnic background or another or a sexuality. But they are all included with equal value in their opinions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 23, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Irish Church today is still marked by relatively high levels of religious adherence and participation compared to most of its fellow European countries. Two of the book’s contributors, Elizabeth Oldmixon and Brian Calfano, find most Irish Catholic priests do not feel “burned-out” and report reasonably high levels of job satisfaction, in line with ministers in other religious traditions.

Another contributor, Bernadette Flanagan, finds a lively spirituality still at work within the Church, one that can now be informed by practices from other cultures as well as from the country’s own past.

Throughout the essays, the writers agree the potential is great for an Irish Catholicism that otherwise stands liberated from long relationships to political power and social privilege.

Read it all from the Irish Times.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted February 23, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What does a Christian mind bring to the debate about the future of our nation? The first thing is the belief that it matters to God, and must therefore matter to us. G. K. Chesterton famously said that the problem with British elections was not that only a small part of the electorate voted, but that only a small part of the elector voted: so little was the lack of conviction about politics and public faith. The Bishops want us to cast our vote, not in a routine, token way, but by giving the whole of ourselves to this privileged task of decision-taking in a free democracy.

Formation in citizenship will motivate us to think and talk about 'a worthwhile society and what it means to serve the common good, and how politics helps serve that end'. The Bishops are not dreaming of the unattainable ideal of Athenian democracy under Pericles. They do however dare to hope that we can shed our cynicism and start believing in politics, politicians and political processes again. 'This letter is about building a vision of a better kind of world, a better society and better politics. Underlying those ideas is the concept of virtue – what it means to be a good person, a good politician, a good neighbour or a good community.' That's a good example of how the letter is motivated by a spiritual concern for citizenship, inspired by the theological ideas of justice and compassion in pursuit of the common good.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 21, 2015 at 11:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Without any doubt, we have to admit that the traditions of the Church are becoming less and less relevant. As we pursue money and happiness, there is a demise in the place of God in our lives.

However, there is something about 
the idea of Lent that appeals to the human condition. Glossy magazines are full of tips on how to detox, to get the body back in shape by watching out what you put in. Getting healthy is promoted through giving up that which is bad for you.

Perhaps this mantra for the modern age should be the public relations tip needed by a Church that is failing to connect with the modern world. Mainstream religion is being quickly replaced by do-it-yourself spirituality. People are looking to other options for filling that God-shaped hole in their lives that cannot be satisfied by anything else.

The Church could tap in to this growth of new spirituality by rebranding Lent for a modern world. The current guidelines by the Catholic Church for Lent are that no meat is to be eaten on a Friday, and meals are to be restricted to one meal a day and snacks at breakfast and tea. This isn’t exactly the kind of thing that will get people queuing to join in.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsLentParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

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Posted February 20, 2015 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The House of Bishops has called on politicians to offer a disillusioned electorate a bigger vision of society in the run-up to May's General Election.

In a pastoral letter to the members of the Church of England, released on Tuesday, the Bishops note how both the Labour government of 1945 and then the Thatcher government from 1979 "changed the political weather". However, neither of these two transformative ideologies - either establishing a welfare state or freeing markets from state interference - is enough today, they say.

"Neither vision addresses our condition," the Bishops write. "Placing excessive faith in state intervention on the one hand or the free market on the other" leads to a narrowing of ambition does not nurture the common good.

This is the first time the House of Bishops has released such a letter before an election. The letter, which is 126 paragraphs long, does not offer support to any party, but seeks to get Anglicans thinking about how best to use their vote on 7 May.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 20, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The suggestion in your leader ("Bishops' Blunder", Feb 18) that the role of the church should be limited to "the soothing and saving of troubled souls" ignores the daily ministry of the Church of England across the country, often in partnership with local government, schools, universities, hospital trusts and other faiths. Research by the Church Urban Fund published last month found that 76 per cent of churches run activities in local schools, 66 per cent help to run food banks, 60 per cent offer parent and toddler groups and 53 per cent organise lunch clubs or drop-ins. A fifth of churches are also involved in helping credit unions in some way - a strong show of support for the Archbishop of Canterbury's initiative.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted February 19, 2015 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bibles could be removed from student halls at Aberystwyth University after more than half of students said they found the presence of the holy book "unacceptable" or "uncomfortable".

A proposal to have the bibles withdrawn will be put forward at the university's student union council later this month, following the results of a survey conducted by the SU.

Only 4% of students said the inclusion of bibles was a "good idea". Student John David Morgan first highlighted the issue last month, where he said the Bible's were "inappropriate in a multicultural university".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksEducationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Wales

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Posted February 17, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch it all and you can also read his statement there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaLibyaEngland / UKMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox Church

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Posted February 16, 2015 at 6:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Manchester United had to come from behind to avoid an FA Cup upset at Preston, rallying with three second-half goals to beat the third-tier club 3-1 and reach the quarterfinals.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted February 16, 2015 at 5:03 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Seventy years ago our nations and peoples were at war. Over three days in February allied bombers brought death and destruction on a scale and with a ferocity it is impossible to imagine. In the rage of war our hearts inevitably harden and increasingly brutal and devastating force is unleashed.

Walking together as friends requires talking together in truth. As Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf challenges us: “To remember wrongdoing untruthfully is to act unjustly.”

Much debate surrounds this most controversial raid of the allied bombing campaign. Whatever the arguments, events here seventy years ago left a deep wound and diminished all our humanity. So as a follower of Jesus I stand here among you with a profound feeling of regret and deep sorrow.

Healing such wounds requires enemies to embark on the journey to become friends, which starts with our memories of the hurt we have suffered and ends with a shared understanding of the hurt we have caused each other.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeGermany

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Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Breaking the rules on borrowing from the future is necessary to stave off the "existential crisis" of ever-declining congregations, members of the General Synod were told this week.

The First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith, said on Tuesday that for 20 years the Church Commissioners had "religiously" maintained the value of their endowment, so that the same lump sum would always be available for future generations.

But the "doomsday machine", by which C of E membership falls year on year as the deaths of older churchgoers is not matched by the arrival of younger people, meant that the Commissioners' rule on intergenerational equity needed to be broken.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 13, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost one in five Britons is now an atheist as a generational shift away from religion gathers force, a poll for The Times has found.

Experts said that the country was becoming more comfortable with atheism than with faith after the data revealed that public figures win approval for questioning the existence of God, while Christians are more than twice as likely as atheists to say that they struggle to speak openly about their beliefs.

A marked divide has opened up between young and old. Almost one in three under-24s declare themselves to be atheists, compared with one in ten over-60s.

The YouGov survey of 1,550 adults is one of the first studies to give a clear impression of the extent of atheism in modern Britain.

Read it all.





Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismSecularism* Theology

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Posted February 12, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to information disclosed by the Church Commissioners, which is responsible for its property portfolio, six out of 10 bishops live in a large official residence.

The details of the comfort afforded to members of the episcopate emerged an official question and answer session to the Synod which is meeting in London.

Andreas Whittam Smith, the First Church Estates Commissioner, outlined details of spending on bishops’ living arrangements in response to a question by Sam Margrave, a Labour councillor and lay member of the Synod from Coventry.

He disclosed that the Commissioners spend just over £207,000 a year providing drivers for 11 of the Church’s 42 diocesan bishops.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 11, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rt Revd Paul Williams has been announced as the next Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham on the 10 Downing Street website

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

1 Comments
Posted February 10, 2015 at 7:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in Iraq "do not have much time left" without direct military action on the ground, the Archbishop of Irbil has told UK peers and MPs.

Archbishop Bashar Warda said air strikes were "not enough" to defeat Islamic State militants and "begged" for Western troops to be deployed.

He said Iraq's Christian population was declining and that he would speak to the UK government about further action.

The government has said efforts to defeat IS were "comprehensive".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 10, 2015 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Mr McKillop stresses that credit unions are only an alternative to payday lenders, not a competitor. “The model of very short-term lending is not good as a form of financial help. So though many credit unions can make instant loans, they will look at your finances and see if this is a one-off, a way for you to get back on top of your money.”

Last June, Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, launched a scheme to promote credit unions in churches and train volunteers to give financial advice. Martin Groombridge, chief executive of London Capital Credit Union, said it “definitely raised our profile”. Piloted in London and Liverpool, the scheme is set to be introduced around the UK in about a year, potentially marketing credit unions to hundreds of thousands more people.

The Rev Paul Collier, vicar at Copleston church and community centre in Peckham, south London, said debt and payday loans came up as a big concern in his conversations with local organisations, schools and other faith communities. “The older members of our congregation were educated by their parents to avoid debt at all costs, but many have seen their children getting into deep trouble,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 9, 2015 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Loneliness and isolation are England’s most widespread social problems and are common even in affluent middle class areas, according to a survey of vicars.

The number of clergy reporting that social isolation is a major problem in their area has risen by ten per cent in the past three years.

The survey published by the Church Urban Fund and the Church of England showed loneliness was the only issue to be cited by clergy as a significant problem in the majority of wealthier, as well as deprived areas.

Social isolation was listed as a more common problem than unemployment, homelessness and poor housing by the 1,812 clergy who completed the questionnaire.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 9, 2015 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The future of religion in Britain will be “black and brown” as Islam and newer forms of Christianity overhaul the Church of England. according to a professor of population studies.

White Britons are losing their taste for worship, in contrast to the UK’s expanding population of ethnic minorities. David Voas, of the University of Essex, believes that the strongest areas of religious growth will be Islam and “black-majority” churches.

“Muslims already contribute 10 per cent of British births; within several decades people of Muslim heritage will form 10 per cent of the population, even if immigration came to an abrupt halt tomorrow,” he writes in a blog published today. “If even half are observant, they will form a substantial proportion of the religiously active population. Ethnic minority Christians will have another large share. The future of religion is black and brown.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted February 9, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pointer One: Dodgy Data

Before anything can be said about Christianity in Britain, there is one key caveat; many of the data are seriously dodgy. A good example is the national data of the Church of England. Recent research commissioned by the Church of England on its ‘greater churches’ had to discount two-thirds of the statistical data due to its poor quality. Overall, Anglican data contain flaws that are serious, widespread, systemic and long-standing.[2] A different example is wider data-sets such as large-scale opinion polls. These have a habit of producing contradictory results – such as the national survey which purported to show a dramatic rise in the number of those espousing ‘no religion’, which also showed that many who now espouse ‘no religion’ also like to pray from time to time.[3] All is not lost. We can say some things. But we need to be keenly alert to the limits of what can be said. Any picture of religion in Britain which treats uncritically such surveys or the national data of major denominations, will be substantially incorrect. Multiple measures and data taken from local studies as well as national datasets are essential to obtain a meaningful picture.

Pointer Two: Ethnic Diversity

The ethnic diversification of Britain is one of the key shifts in recent British Christianity. It is often assumed that as Britain gets more ethnically diverse, it gets less ‘Christian’. But the reverse is the case. Around 500,000 people are members of black majority churches. Roman Catholicism is being significantly boosted due to migration. The Christian communities in key centres, such as London, are now predominantly outside the ‘white British’ sector of the population.[4] Ethnic diversity has provided a marked boost for British Christianity. By contrast, that segment of the population who, in census terminology, are most secular, the ‘white British’, are also a decreasing proportion of the population. This shift is likely to become more marked in coming years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

2 Comments
Posted February 9, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Check it out and see what you think.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted February 9, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Big UK firms face a "crisis of trust" and the next government must prioritise better ethics, a lobby group has said.

In a survey, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) found that over three-quarters of respondents think big firms put profits before ethical standards.

Tax avoidance, treatment of suppliers, and late payment were all areas of concern, the ComRes poll of 2,000 people found.

Politicians must stand up for people who play by the rules, the FPB said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 9, 2015 at 5:47 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The procedure is not yet allowed anywhere else in the world, partly because it is new and untested in people but also because of the opposition that reproductive medicine often inspires. Mitochondria contain DNA, therefore any child born as a result of such intervention will inherit genes from three people—hence the headlines in Britain this week about “three-parent babies”. If the baby is a girl the genetic tweak in her mitochondria will be inherited by her children, and in turn by her granddaughters’ children. It is a “germ-line modification”, and thus irrevocable.

This ethical objection to mitochondrial donation is decisively outweighed by the good that ought to come from it. Mitochondrial disease is a misery to those who have it and a terror to those who fear they might pass it on to their children; curtailing it would be wonderful. The complaint that this is the first step on the road to “designer babies” is as weak as any other slippery-slope argument: approving one procedure does not mean automatically approving others.

A second objection is that this procedure, like any new technique, might not be safe. Those who must bear that risk are not yet born, and so cannot consent to the treatment. But parents already make medical decisions on behalf of their children, even unborn ones....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 9, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Prince of Wales has described the extent to which young people are becoming radicalised as "alarming" and one of the "greatest worries".

In an interview with Radio 2's The Sunday Hour, Prince Charles spoke of his hopes to "build bridges" between different faiths.

He also spoke of his "deep concern" for the suffering of Christian churches in the Middle East.

He is currently in Jordan on a six-day tour of the region.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 8, 2015 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says England should select Harry Kane after the Tottenham striker's two-goal display in Saturday's north London derby.

Kane scored both goals as Spurs came from behind to secure a 2-1 win over Wenger's Arsenal at White Hart Lane.

It takes the 21-year-old's goal tally for the season to 22 in 34 matches.

"When you have scored the number of goals he has scored, if you don't put him in there somebody else will give him a passport," said Wenger.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

2 Comments
Posted February 7, 2015 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An urgent review of parish structure - including the number of churchwardens and other office-holders - is needed to release the time and energy of clergy and lay people for mission in rural areas, a report has recommended.

The report, Released for Mission: Growing the rural Church, will be debated at General Synod next week.

Two-thirds of C of E churches are in rural areas, but fewer than half the clergy serve in them. The vast majority of rural churches are in multi-parish benefices or groupings. They are attracting women clergy, but more than three-quarters of "higher-status" rural posts are still held by men.

Recent research has suggested that single parishes are more likely to experience growth than multi-parish benefices, the report says. Less than one in five churches in rural areas is experiencing growth - a figure matched by urban churches.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureRural/Town Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

1 Comments
Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

MPs have an important free vote in the House of Commons today on the divisive issue of mitochondrial donation, which would allow the creation of IVF babies with DNA from three different people.

The MPs have come under enormous pressure from scientists and charities to support the historic and controversial amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.

Britain will become the first country ever to allow the procedures if MPs vote yes. The amendment is aimed at preventing serious or deadly genetic disease being passed on to the child.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 3, 2015 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Memories of a man known as "the people's bishop" are being sought on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Ian Ramsey was appointed Bishop of Durham in 1966, but died in 1972 from a heart attack.

His ashes are interred at Auckland Castle - the home of the Prince Bishops of Durham for more than 900 years.

Curators are now appealing for films, photographs and recollections to build up a "more complete picture of an extraordinary man".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted February 2, 2015 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Through the MPA, the Church of England contributed to this consultation process, affirming the aim of using mitochondrial replacement (or donation as it is also termed) while also differentiating between the two methodologies being proposed; one of which (pronuclear transfer – PNT) required embryos to be created as mitochondrial donors and recipients, the other (maternal spindle transfer) did not. Although the creation of embryos may be licensed by the HFEA, the MPA pointed out that PNT carried greater ethical concerns for many Christians and, indeed, those of other faiths or none.

More significantly, mitochondrial replacement involves modification of the human germ-line, with donor mitochondria being transmitted to future generations through the maternal line. As well as ensuring the techniques were as safe as possible, concerns were expressed that this would not be taken as approval for modifying defective mitochondrial genes that resided in the nucleus. Other concerns had to do with as yet unknown interactions between the DNA in the mitochondria and the DNA in the nucleus; these might potentially cause abnormality or be found to influence significant personal qualities or characteristics.

Such concerns were recognised by the HFEA in its work and recommendations to the secretaries of state.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineHurricane KatrinaLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyMenReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyWomen* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 2, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The opponents of new technologies are always saying things have been rushed, as they did with fracking last week. It’s the last refuge of the person who wants to oppose something but has seen all his arguments shot down. And the change in the law will not create a free-for-all but merely allow clinicians to apply to the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) for a licence. So each case will be scrutinised and approved by scientists, lawyers and ethicists, who are more competent to do so than your average MP.

Ever since Baroness Warnock’s pioneering report on embryo research in 1984, Britain has regulated advances in genetics and embryology by having parliament set the overall ethical and social tone, then devolving the detail to the HFEA, an approach that is internationally admired. The church is effectively asking parliament to be a regulator of medical research and practice.

Shockingly, I understand that Doug Turnbull, the Newcastle University scientist leading the mitochondrial research, had not once been invited by the archbishops’ council — which advised the Church of England on this decision — to present his case to them before they issued their fatwa against mitochondrial donation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 2, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Changing the human germline represents an ethical watershed; it is right to be cautious, requiring a comprehensive debate and degree of consensus with regard to the ethics, safety and efficacy of these techniques before any change to the current provisions are made.

"We accept in certain circumstances that embryo research is permissible as long as it is undertaken to alleviate human suffering and embryos are treated with respect. We have great sympathy for families affected by mitochondrial disease and are not opposed in principle to mitochondrial replacement.

"A wide number of questions remain to be answered before it would be wise to proceed...."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMenScience & TechnologyWomen* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 2, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

SIR – Professor Sally Sheldon and a group of academics object to an attempt by parliamentarians to stop the selective abortion of girls (Letters, January 28).
This issue is one that the Telegraph exposed. It is about the abortion of girls purely on the ground of their sex – the first form of violence against women and girls.
The academics’ letter shows beautifully the need to clarify the law. For too long, confused interpretations of the 1967 Abortion Act have passed unchallenged. Professor Sheldon herself has written elsewhere that the idea that sex-selective abortion is illegal is “far from clear”. We cannot sit idly by as a preference for sons results in selective abortion of daughters.
The letter claims that action will require ethnic profiling. This was not true for female genital mutilation – a predominantly cultural practice – and need not be true for sex-selective abortion....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & CultureWomen* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 30, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sharp divisions over sexuality mean that as many as 20 per cent of the Church of England may become disaffected, it emerged last week.

As the Church prepares to begin its "shared conversations", a formal process aimed at reconciling Anglicans with differing views on sexuality, it is being acknowledged that the fundamental nature of the division, rooted in different understandings of scripture, identity, and obedience, is likely to prove too much for those at both ends of the spectrum to agree to differ.

The difficulty appears to have been acknowledged by David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury's director for reconciliation, according to a Changing Attitude blog published last week.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The BBC has been accused to treating religion as the “fag end” of its priorities at a time of massive global upheaval after announcing it is to scrap its high-profile position of head of religion to cut costs.

Aaqil Ahmed, the first Muslim to hold the post, and one of the most outspoken BBC executives, has been told his role in commissioning programmes is to be axed as part of a shake-up.

Religion is to make an unlikely alliance with science, business issues and history under the oversight of a new head of “factual” programming.

The Church of England has voiced alarm at the move, arguing that Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris illustrates starkly how it is impossible to understand world events without a grasp of religious motivation.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Ukip is an “anti-politics” movement, appealing to voters who see the old parties as socially liberal, politically correct and captured by minority interest groups. Major party membership has haemorrhaged and many people no longer believe in the messages coming from Westminster, proclaimed by baby-faced politicians who speak as if they are members of another species.

This disengagement from mainstream politics echoes the growing detachment from mainstream religious groups. White, working-class Brits have deserted the pews, which are now occupied by immigrants from India, Nigeria and the Philippines. In England’s former Catholic heartlands, such as Liverpool archdiocese, fewer than one in 10 baptised Catholics attend Mass. Nearby in Preston – the very heart of recusant Catholicism – a historic church was about to close before the Syro-Malabar faithful from India agreed to take it on.

The trend is clear: more and more British people no longer belong to our country’s great institutions and care little for our leaders, whether they are bishops or politicians. Instead, they believe in nothing and everything.

Out of this political wasteland has emerged Nigel Farage, whose chief attraction is his very unpolitical way of saying what many think and his ability to annoy the po-faced liberal establishment.
....
Nigel Farage is not especially religious, though he describes himself as an Anglican. But recently he has started talking about Britain’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage, a phrase associated with the American religious Right. Woolfe also drops the term into our conversation. For him, the party is more than just a working-class protest vote. He regards Ukip as a true “one-nation party”, with support across the country, and “a natural party for Roman Catholics like myself”.

Catholic bishops would dispute that – but not, it seems, by engaging with representatives of Ukip. If they do regard voting for the party as un-Christian, they have yet to explain precisely why. The same is true of their Anglican counterparts. Ironically, the only Church leader to have met representatives of Ukip, and debated Britain’s Christian heritage with them is the Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, a Pakistani immigrant.

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Belief in life after death is as common in Britain as it was 30 years ago in spite of a sharp decline in church attendance, a study suggests.

While the number of people who say they believe in God or call themselves Anglicans has fallen significantly in the course of a generation, some core Christian beliefs appear to be holding their ground.

The proportion of Britons who believe in Hell has risen from 26.2 per cent in 1981 to 28.6 per cent in 2008, while belief in the afterlife held steady over the same period at about 44 per cent.

Over those three decades the proportion of people who hold all five of the religious beliefs covered by the study — God, life after death, Heaven, Hell and sin — has also slightly increased to almost a third of the UK’s population.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEschatology

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain’s most senior judge has claimed that “the peddling of pornography on the internet” was a contributing factor in one of the most gruesome murder cases he had to rule on last year.

Lord Thomas of Cwymgiedd said internet porn “played a real part” in the actions of Jamie Reynolds, 23, who convinced 17-year-old Georgia Williams to take part in a “photoshoot” with a noose around her neck before killing her and taking pictures of her naked body.

Reynolds was found to have 16,800 images and 72 videos of extreme pornography on his computer at the time of his arrest – and the Lord Chief Justice told MPs yesterday that he felt the killer would not have come up with his meticulous plan had he not taken inspiration from the internet.

Read it all from the Independent.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPornographySexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...most viewers are likely unaware of what they are actually seeing. They are not merely watching an historical drama, they are witnessing the passing of a world. And that larger story, inadequately portrayed within Downton Abbey, is a story that should not be missed. That story is part of our own story as well. It is the story of the modern age arriving with revolutionary force, and with effects that continue to shape our own world.

Downton Abbey is set in the early decades of the twentieth century. Though by season four King George V is on the throne, the era is still classically Edwardian. And the era associated with King Edward VII is the era of the great turn in British society. The early decades of the twentieth century witnessed a great transformation in England and within the British Empire. The stable hierarchies of Downton Abbey grew increasingly unstable. Britain, which had been overwhelmingly a rural nation until the last decade of the nineteenth century, became increasingly urban. A transformation in morals changed the very character of the nation, and underlying it all was a great surge of secularization that set the stage for the emergence of the radically secular nation that Britain has become.

Viewers should note the almost complete absence of Christianity from the storyline. The village vicar is an occasional presence, and church ceremonies have briefly been portrayed. But Christianity as a belief system and a living faith is absent—as is the institutional presence of the Church of England.

Political life is also largely absent, addressed mainly as it directly affects the Crawleys and their estate. This amounts to a second great omission.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 24, 2015 at 2:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The proposals are presented in a report written by Lord Green, a former British trade minister and HSBC chairman, and prepared with outside help from Christopher McLaverty, a former talent leadership chief at BP, an oil supermajor. As much as £2m ($3m) has been set aside to enact the “talent management programme”, which will provide 150 bishops with the means to study at INSEAD’s campus in Fontainebleau, France, over the next two years. The aim is that clergy, who often come into a high-profile post within the church with little training, are given more adequate preparation for their role, including the ability to build and manage a high-functioning support team. “Simply arriving at moments of appointment and then looking to see who might or might not, by a process of amounting to chance, have suitable preparation and gifting, is to abandon all responsibility,” Mr Welby wrote in support of the Green report.

Sending bishops to business school will kickstart a “culture change for the leadership of the church”, the report says. But it admits that the preponderance of phrases such as “talent pool” and “alumni network” peppered throughout the paper may put off more staunch theologians. Yet that hasn’t stopped the language of business breaching the pious institution. In an appendix of Lord Green’s report, the net promoter score (NPS), a loyalty metric developed by Bain & Company, a consultancy, is presented with a straight face as a hypothetical way of evaluating the benefit of the mini-MBA. With a fictionalised NPS of +75 (on a scale of -100 to +100), the church appears to be confident its plans will be well-received.
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Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchEducation* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 22, 2015 at 12:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Reading N. T. Wright's latest book, Simply Good News: Why the Gospel is News and What Makes It Good (HarperOne), is somewhat like listening to a compilation album. All the classic hits are here: "the kingdom of God is for earth now," "the gospel is the key moment in a story," "resurrection is about bodies," "something has happened," and, of course, the well-loved ballad "fundamentalists and liberals are both missing the point." For those who are new to Wright, Simply Good News will offer a helpful introduction to and summary of his work. For those who have read plenty of him already, or for those who dislike compilation albums in principle, it will probably have less to offer.

The focus of the book is admirably clear: to explain what the gospel is, and why we should think of it as good news. In eight succinct chapters, Wright explains the nature of good news (chapter one), the essence of what that good news is (chapters two and three) and is not (chapters four and five), and what it means for the way we live now (chapter six), think about God (chapter seven), and pray (chapter eight). Each of these chapters is readable and insightful, characterized by Wright's familiar mixture of rich scholarship, vivid illustration, and contemporary application.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 22, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

n his Preface, the Bishop of Coventry notes that that the report is offered as a resource for theological reflection that can "inform the improvisations the church will continue to require in its practice of leadership and anchor them in faithfulness to the gospel…. How do the dynamics of Church life and leadership in the New Testament apply to the Church today? How might we draw faithfully and creatively on the rich traditions of the church over two millennia around authority, responsibility and service? How can we talk constructively about ambition in church life and deal with the realities of disappointment and the experience of failure? These are not just issues for those who exercise senior leadership in the Church of England. We hope this report can contribute to fostering serious thought and prayer about them."

Professor Loveday Alexander, one of the members of the Faith and Order Commission, comments: "What we are offering, as a gift to the Church and as the result of many years of collective reflection, is a theological contribution to practical thinking about leadership development in the Church. We have tried to set out some of the deep spiritual roots of the Church's understanding of what it means to exercise leadership within the body of Christ."

Read it all and note the whole report is there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 21, 2015 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It should have been a fun ­occasion – a boy’s birthday party at a tobogganing centre, ­complete with tea and balloons.

But the event has now turned into the focus of a public row between two families after the mother of the boy holding the party sent a formal invoice to the parents of his friend Alex for a “party no-show fee”.

The document, which included an invoice number, charged Tanya Walsh and Derek Nash £15.95 for the cost of their five-year-old son’s non-attendance at the event, held during the Christmas holidays.

And the Nashes are now being threatened with action at the small claims court if they refuse to pay up, while the mother of the birthday boy has banned her son from ever playing with Alex again.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 21, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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