Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is a fact well known to certain Episcopalians—both those who have left the Episcopal Church (USA) and those who have remained—that ECUSA and its dioceses have followed a pattern of suing any church that chooses to leave for another Anglican jurisdiction. But the full extent of the litigation that has ensued is not well known at all, either in the wider Church, or among the provinces of the Anglican Communion.

(Otherwise -- one would think -- it would never have been deemed to be conduct to be rewarded by this honorary degree, rather than this one.)

Your Curmudgeon proposes to do what he can to rectify this situation, by publishing an annual update on this site of the current status of all past and present cases in which ECUSA or any of its dioceses has been or is involved, from 2000 to date. Feel free to link to this post, to email links to it to other Episcopalians, and to send it to your Bishop -- and feel free to post any updates or corrections in the comments. In another update to be posted as General Convention approaches, I will publish a revised total for all of the money spent by ECUSA and its Dioceses to date on prosecuting all of these lawsuits (and, in the case of the second group below, defending them).

The lawsuits initiated by ECUSA and its dioceses to date are first listed below. They far outnumber, as you can see, the second list of the eight cases begun by a diocese or parish against the Episcopal Church (or a diocese). The listing endeavors to be as complete as I can make it. The first 83 cases, generally grouped by the State in which they each originated, are the legal actions filed since 2000....

Take the time to read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

39 Comments
Posted February 24, 2015 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an act of extraordinary heroism, a parish warden stopped an Islamist terrorist from detonating a bomb during Sunday worship at Christ Church Youhanabad near Lahore, Pakistan. Fifteen people were murdered during twin attacks on Christ Church and the neighboring St John’s Catholic Church on 15 March 2015, but the heroism of Zahid Yousaf Goga (pictured with his wife, Akash and three children) prevented further bloodshed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted March 29, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a statement released today Church of England's Chief Education Officer Revd Nigel Genders has expressed support for the launch of a new RE teacher recruitment campaign, Beyond the Ordinary is aimed at encouraging new RE teachers who can now access re-instated Government bursary funding.

"I'm delighted to support the Beyond the Ordinary campaign, which highlights the benefits of a career in RE teaching, a career that is far from ordinary. As an RE teacher you'll address topics that go way beyond the everyday, challenging perceptions and exploding stereotypes. You'll embark on a career that will continue to evolve and inspire you as well as the young people you teach. And the government is offering financial incentives to cover training costs, so now is a great time to explore more about this wonderful vocation. You can find out more and direct anyone who is looking for more information about training to be a RE teacher to http://www.teachre.co.uk/beyondtheordinary."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In all of these tragedies, the religious and ethnic minorities continue to be the most vulnerable communities. Among them are the Christians, our sisters and brothers in the Lord. They face the present danger of extermination or exile from their own region, a catastrophic assault on Christian life and witness in those lands. Many churches and Christians around the world have offered signs of solidarity and sympathy through prayer vigils, humanitarian assistance and advocacy for just peace. Despite these efforts, so many still feel powerless and incapable of making any impact and change. Yet we know that we worship a God of hope, in whom there is always cross, always resurrection. As Christians we are called to live in the hope Christ gives us and make this our witness in times of deep pain and strife.

During this Lenten season, the World Council of Churches invites its member churches and Christians worldwide to offer special prayers on Sunday, March 29 for all people affected by these wars. We ask these prayers especially for the countries of Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt, where the indigenous Christian presence and witness have been continuous since the incarnation of our Lord, and from where the Good News has spread all over the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther Churches

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Posted March 28, 2015 at 1:18 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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Under the shadow of Boko Haram violence, Nigerians head to the polls Saturday (March 28) to elect a president and a deputy in a vote observers say is critical for the country’s stability and economic progress.

In a twist that might have been difficult to predict, many Christians in Nigeria’s north are backing a Muslim candidate to lead their country away from the brink of violence and chaos.

Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim from the north and the leader of the All Progressives Congress party, is challenging the leadership of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south who heads the ruling People’s Democratic Party.

Some Nigerians fear that another term for Jonathan would mean institutionalization of corruption and emergence of more Muslim extremist groups in addition to Boko Haram. And they are willing to pin their hopes on a Muslim candidate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 28, 2015 at 10:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Laws that disparately impact Christians can protect others from Christian attempts to take over society. If these laws are couched in terms of religious neutrality—like the “all comers” policies for student organizations—then those with Christianophobia can endorse them without worry about being stigmatized as bigoted. (There is a similar phenomenon noted in race/ethnicity scholarship. Public policy measures that seem racially neutral can work to the disadvantage of people of color. Restrictive immigration policies are theoretically racially neutral, but disproportionally affect Hispanic Americans.)

This helps to crystallize the current conflict in our society between conservative Christians and those with hatred towards them. Christians face economically, educationally, and socially powerful individuals who seek to drive them from the public square. Many with Christianophobia are convinced that conservative Christians will drag our society back into the Dark Ages and must be stopped with any measure that cannot be defined as overt religious bigotry.

An important challenge Christians have is to convince such individuals that they have the same rights to influence the public square as anyone else. Learning how to communicate, and hopefully find ways to co-exist, with them will help determine whether there will be a persistent cultural conflict or if a truce is possible.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The most sharply contested election in Nigeria’s post-independence history wound down to a tense conclusion on Saturday amid fears that a polarized electorate would clash regardless of the outcome in a country split on religious, ethnic and sectional lines.

There appeared to be little middle ground between partisans of the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south hated in the north for mismanaging a bloody Islamist insurgency at steep cost, and his challenger, Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, a northerner and a belated democratic convert whose Muslim faith and authoritarian past are feared in the south.

Voters on Saturday morning crowded around registration stations here in the north’s largest city, a packed metropolis of more than five million, as hitches in the process added to the tension. Election officials were more than two hours late in some places, and malfunctioning electronic registration machines — a new system designed to limit endemic fraud — stymied voters in others.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 28, 2015 at 7:00 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

Philip Jenkins's contribution to The Globalization of Christianity (edited by Gordon Heath and Steven Studebaker) offers sobering and exciting news by turns.

On the sobering side, he describes the statistical stagnation of Christianity, and compares it to the spread of Islam. For the past century, Christianity has held steady at 1/3 of the human population. It's grown, of course, but it has not grown as a proportion of the world's population.

Islam has. “In 1900, the 200 to 220 million Muslims then living comprised some 12 or 13 percent of humanity, compared to 22.5 percent today, and a projected figure of 27.3 percent by 2050. Put another way, Christians in 1900 outnumbered Muslims by 2.8 to 1. Today that figure is 1.3 to 1, and by 2050 it should be 1.3 to 1. Put another way, there are four times as many Christians alive as there were in 1900; but over the same period, Muslims have grown at least seven-fold” (21).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & Primates* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissions* Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Stunningly, Mr Putnam finds that family background is a better predictor of whether or not a child will graduate from university than 8th-grade test scores. Kids in the richest quarter with low test scores are as likely to make it through college as kids in the poorest quarter with high scores....

There are no obvious villains in this story. Mr Murray suggested that the educated classes preach the values they practise by urging the poor to get married before they have children. But the record of those who tell other people how to arrange their love lives is hardly encouraging. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama preached the virtues of responsible fatherhood, to no obvious effect.

Mr Putnam sees “no clear path to reviving marriage” among the poor. Instead, he suggests a grab-bag of policies to help poor kids reach their potential, such as raising subsidies for poor families, teaching them better parenting skills, improving nursery care and making after-school baseball clubs free. He urges all 50 states to experiment to find out what works. A problem this complex has no simple solution.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSociology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last month I visited the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan known as Za’atari. With 80,000 occupants, the camp would be the fourth-largest city in Jordan. It occupies a vast desert plain, filled with endless rows of tents that are gradually being replaced with rows of metal-sided caravans. Za’atari is a dreary place, but it is teeming with resilient people.

Residents of camps like Za’atari make up only 20% of the nearly four million refugees who have fled Syria. The rest live in cities, where they are often unregistered and therefore ineligible for services. These refugees tend to live in squalor and are vulnerable to exploitation. Nearly 80% of the refugees are women and children. These figures don’t include the 12.2 million within Syria who are either internally displaced or in urgent need of help.

About 200,000 people have been killed in Syria, many after torture. A photographer, who documented these horrors for the regime but defected, smuggled his photos out of Syria; they were passed on to me by a Syrian non-governmental organization. These emaciated, disfigured corpses could be skeletal Jewish inmates photographed during the liberation of Dachau, but they aren’t. They are Syrian Muslims and Christians—and this is happening now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The NZ Bible Society has published a commemorative Defence Force New Testament to mark the centennial of WWI.

1500 of the newly minted New Testaments (with Proverbs and Psalms) will be gifted to the NZ Defence Force in an official ceremony next month.

Defence Force Chief, Lieutenant General Tim Keating, says in his foreword to the edition,

"This commemorative edition of the New Testament reminds us of this sacrifice made by New Zealanders 100 years ago, and of the book that brought so many of them peace and comfort as they fought."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

'...Bishop Matthews wrote she had informed the chairman of the commission Bruce Gray QC and Archbishop Philip Richardson “I am aware that this matter in the Diocese of Christchurch is causing a high level of angst on all sides. I decided I would be unable to minister effectively in this Diocese and also have membership on the Way Forward Working Group as time progressed. My resignation was a matter of maintaining my integrity and is in no way a judgment on the work that the Way Forward Working Group is attempting to achieve for the next General Synod.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and PolynesiaSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The National Peace Committee for the 2015 General Elections, headed by former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar, yesterday met behind closed-doors with President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja.

Members of the committee in attendance included the Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, Primate Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, among others.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 5:45 am [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

Much has been written about extremist groups such as IS and al-Qaeda, which directly threaten Westerners at home or abroad. But little is understood about Boko Haram, its leaders and its beliefs. This is partly because it has made little effort to explain itself to the wider world, unlike jihadists such as IS who reach out to potential recruits using social media, and partly because journalists are unable to enter territory it controls safely. Moreover, its limited regional focus means that most Western intelligence agencies have viewed it as posing little international threat.

This book by Mike Smith, a journalist, sheds light both on its crackpot ideas—Yusuf insisted that the world was flat and that rain was made by God—and on the deep contradictions faced by people who propose to return to a sixth-century lifestyle. When asked why he had computer equipment and hospital facilities at his home, Yusuf replied, “These are technological products. Western education is different. Western education is westernisation.”

Yusuf’s successor, Abubakar Shekau, is a particularly enigmatic figure who is known largely through the brief videos his group has released. In one he justifies selling into slavery the schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok: “Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell.” Each time Nigerian forces claim to have killed him, new videos emerge, though security officials question whether the same person appears in all the grainy images.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

America’s churches are in trouble, and they are in trouble in communities that arguably need them the most.

One of the tragic tales told by Harvard scholar Robert Putnam in his important new book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” is that America’s churches have grown weakest in some of the communities that need them most: poor and working-class communities across the country. The way he puts it, our nation’s churches, synagogues and mosques give children a sense of meaning, belonging and purpose — in a word, hope — that allows them to steer clear of trouble, from drugs to delinquency, and toward a bright and better future, warmer family relationships and significantly higher odds of attending college.

The tragedy is that even though religious involvement “makes a bigger difference in the lives of poor kids than rich kids,” Putnam writes, involvement is dropping off fastest among children from the least privileged background, as the figure below indicates.

Read it all from Brad Wilcox in the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyMovies & TelevisionReligion & CultureSexualitySociology* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 26, 2015 at 4:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What difference does a religious tradition make? If it is Christianity, Prof. Jim Papandrea of the Garrett-Evangelical Seminary at Northwestern University says it matters a great deal. Jim returns to our show for the third time (hat trick) and discusses his new book Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It Again, coauthored with Mike Aquilina. The general thrust of the book is that Christian theology introduced to the world (at least) seven new ways to envision human society, starting with the individual person and proceeding up through the state....

Our conversation ends with some reflection on Christianity in the “post-Christian era.” Jim qualifies that term by noting that there have been moments in history that have looked dire for the demise of the Christian faith, but he raises concern about a secular ethos that may be returning our culture towards the mindset of the pre-Christian era. We ruminate about the role that violent sport and reality TV (a form of entertainment that relishes in humiliation) and what role Christianity can play in addressing the contemporary culture. Jim ends on an optimistic note by asserting that Christianity is always primed for a revival and that by joining together across denominational lines, Christianity can remain highly relevant in the world.

Read and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 26, 2015 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anti-IS Sunnis think they should be armed again, as they were when the Americans fought al-Qaeda in Iraq, IS’s predecessor. But nobody is willing to give them weapons. “We wanted a national army,” says Ghazi Faisal al-Kuaud, a tribesman fighting alongside the government in Ramadi. “Instead they formed the Shia equivalent of IS.”

And Shia distrust of the Sunnis grows at a pace that matches that of the losses from its militias. Overlooking Najaf’s sprawling tombs, gravediggers talk of the brisk business they are doing burying militiamen. “I’ve never had it so busy,” says one. “Not even after 2003 or 2006 [the height of Iraq’s civil war].” The Sunnis “never accepted losing power from the time of Imam Ali, so why would they now?” asks Haider, a Shia shop owner. “Wherever you find Sunnis and you give them weapons, you will find IS,” says Bashar, a militiaman. Many Shias feel that the fight against IS justifies them in excluding Sunnis from government and the security apparatus.

The state that IS wanted to build looks more unlikely than ever to become a lasting reality, and that is good. The ruined territory on which it hoped to build, though, may end up even more damaged than it was at the outset.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 26, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Each week that passes we learn of more brutal Boko Haram abuses against civilians,” Mausi Segun, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement. “The Nigerian government needs to make protecting civilians a priority in military operations against Boko Haram.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 26, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Pope Francis's latest gesture towards Rome's homeless, the Vatican said on Tuesday homeless people will get a special private tour of its museums and the Sistine Chapel.

About 150 homeless people who frequent the Vatican area - where Pope Francis has already set up facilities for them to have showers - will make the visit on Thursday afternoon, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeItaly* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 26, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We have no respect for a surgeon who goes in but does not cut deeply enough to cure nor a patient who backs out of an operation because it may hurt; yet people can go through their whole lives attending church, listening to searching exposures of human sin, without ever taking it to themselves, or meeting anyone with skill and concern enough to lay the challenge right in their own laps.
--Experiment of Faith (New York: Harper&Row, 1957), p.22 (emphasis mine)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted March 26, 2015 at 6:00 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

0 Comments
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

So what does our fascination with tales of the afterlife tell us? A few things, but the most important recurring theme in Entertaining Judgment is that we partake in narratives that ease anxiety about our lives. In other words, stories about the hereafter make us feel better about the here.

Tales of ghosts, for instance, “beckon us forward toward our future . . . to become the people we are called to become.” Stories from people who returned from the dead might “shine a light into the unknown and tell us something that might assuage our anxieties”; they tell us that human beings can change and grow. Vampire stories satisfy “our desire for an eternal life in which we will be perfected” and “tap into our spiritual and emotional desires to have that which is good now . . . and could only be better when we are perfected spiritual beings.”

Demons and devils may be symptoms of our failure to “take ourselves and our own evil seriously.” Angels teach us that “we are endowed with choice . . . that it is really up to us.” Tales of a heavenly realm have “helped to dry the tears of the suffering and offered the possibility of some greater meaning in our earthly lives.” Hell, too, can assuage doubts about the world’s goodness: For “every real-life spectacle that appalls or irritates—racial cleansing, chemical warfare, children kidnapped and held as sexual slaves, stop-and-go traffic—hell offers itself as a partial explanation, and as a powerful [image] that helps to explain, at least to some extent, the existence of such cruelty and suffering.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchArtBooksMovies & TelevisionMusicReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEschatology

0 Comments
Posted March 25, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For reporting purposes at Barna, we often combine atheists and agnostics into one group, which we call skeptics....

[There]..are five demographic shifts among skeptics in the past two decades.

They are younger. Skeptics today are, on average, younger than in the past. Twenty years ago, 18 percent of skeptics were under 30 years old. Today that proportion has nearly doubled to 34 percent—nearly one-quarter of the total U.S. population (23%, compared to 17% in 1991). By the same token, the proportion of skeptics who are 65 or older has been cut in half, down to just 7 percent of the segment.

They are more educated. Today’s skeptics tend to be better educated than in the past. Two decades ago, one-third of skeptics were college graduates, but today half of the group has a college degree.

More of them are women....

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism

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Posted March 25, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

look at the "amici" who actually filed the briefs. The ones that argue against redefining marriage can be counted on the fingers of one hand. More than ninety percent of the "friendly" briefs are from people and groups who want the laws against same-sex marriages struck down.

The latter include this particular amicus brief, filed by the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of ECUSA's House of Deputies, and joined by Bishops White and Hahn of Kentucky; Bishops Gibbs, Houghland, Ray and Ousley from Michigan; Bishops Hollingsworth, Bowman, Persell, Williams, Breidenthal, Price and Rivera from Ohio; and Bishops Johnson and Young of Tennessee, along with other denominations, groups and committees. Moreover, there is a list in Appendix A to the brief of nearly 2,000 priests, many of them Episcopal, who have joined in filing the brief as well. All say that they "support equal treatment for same-sex couples with respect to civil marriage" (Brief, p. 1; emphasis added.)

Now these I have mentioned are all bishops and clergy in the Episcopal Church. What business do they have touting their religious affiliation in endorsing the redefinition of civil marriage? Moreover, look at how -- from they very first page -- they disavow and undermine the very authority of any church to define what marriage is (emphasis again added):

While Amici come from faiths that have approached issues affecting lesbian and gay people and their families in different ways over the years, they are united in the belief that, in our vastly diverse and pluralistic society, particular religious views or definitions of marriage should not be permitted to influence which couples’ marriages the state recognizes or permits.

It is not enough for ECUSA's bishops and clergy to say that the Church's traditional definition of marriage is inadequate for "our vastly diverse and pluralistic society." Not only is that definition no longer serviceable to society at large, but also it should not even be "permitted to influence" what society thinks marriage is!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 25, 2015 at 6:15 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

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 24, 2015 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To visualize the antireligion argument, we might think of a video showing the World Trade Center in flames to the accompaniment of John Lennon’s song “Imagine”: “Imagine no religion. . . . Nothing to kill or die for.” Movements like the one behind the so-called Islamic State demonstrate to many people that a world without God would be more peaceful, as it would be a world with fewer reasons to hate. If you are fighting for God against the devil, the argument goes, then there can be no peace short of annihilating the enemy.

Armstrong flatly rejects such easy equations. She admits that wars have often been framed in terms of faith and that none of the world’s religions can boast of clean hands in this regard. But she places the primary blame for violence on changing social and economic circumstances, which create larger and more aggressive political entities, commonly headed by warrior elites and dynasties. Armstrong sees a Darwinian pattern: lands with less determined and less confident elites are rapidly swallowed up by their harder-edged neighbors. For multiple reasons, ancient and medieval states sponsored and supported official faiths, which channeled and consecrated warrior ideals. All religions do this to varying degrees.

To oversimplify Armstrong’s argument: states happen, wars happen, and religion blesses them. Religion thus provides a rhetorical framework for warfare—but not, she argues, the motivation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 24, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The film,Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, is based on Lawrence Wright’s similarly titled book-length exposé and will premiere on March 29.

Since news emerged of the documentary, Scientologists have been trying to counter the film’s arguments which isn’t at all surprising considering Scientology’s notorious methods for dealing with its critics in the past.

The film, itself, covers one such stoush the Church had with the US Internal Revenue Service who was ready to rule that Scientology should pay tax because it isn’t a religion.

David Miscavige, the leader of the Church of Scientology, retaliated by persuading thousands of Scientologists to sue individual officials of the agency.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths

3 Comments
Posted March 24, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The church started Jan. 25, 1980, as a small Bible study in Rick and Kay Warren’s Laguna Hills condo. Today, it includes 10 campuses in Southern California and four in other countries, averaging 27,000 weekly worshippers.

As part of Saturday’s celebration, Rick Warren shared a portion of the first sermon he preached at Saddleback 35 years ago, outlining his vision for the church. The pastor – who delivered the invocation for President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009 – choked up as he said he’s realized that vision and more, encouraging the crowd not to be afraid to aim high.

“I dare you to dream great dreams for God,” Warren said from the pitcher’s mound. “Whatever God asks you to do, do it, even if it’s at great risk.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted March 24, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The road from St. Matthew's brings you to the front line, just six miles from the outskirts of Mosul. Every town and village between here and the occupied city is in the hands of the Islamic State. And now, we're told, for the first time in nearly 2,000 years, there are no Christians left inside Mosul.

Archbishop Nicodemus Sharaf: They take everything from us, but they cannot take the God from our hearts, they cannot.

Nicodemus Sharaf is the Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Mosul, one of about 10,000 Christians who fled the city. We found him living as a refugee in the Kurdish capital, Erbil. He said ISIS fighters were already inside Mosul when he escaped.

Archbishop Nicodemus Sharaf: I didn't have any time to take anything. I was told I had five minutes to go. Just I took five books that are very old.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 24, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was midnight when Babagana crept out of the Boko Haram hideout that had been his home for three days. Once he made his escape, he walked through the forest for hours before he found help. Like the other boys conscripted by the militants, he had been told that he would be hunted down and killed if he deserted.

“I didn’t leave with anything,” Babagana told me. “When the chance came to escape, I only had my pants on. I ran almost naked.”

Babagana was just 16 when militants invaded his town in northeastern Nigeria last May, butchering his parents as he watched, burning down his home, and forcing him to become one of thousands of Boko Haram soldiers.

Babagana still vividly recalls his involuntary induction into a world of misery. Boko Haram militants invaded the rural town of Gamboru in Borno State, burnt down houses and demanded that the local children be handed over to them. Parents who objected were killed, and a couple of children were forcefully taken.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted March 23, 2015 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Shaughnessys celebrate Christmas, Harry says, for some of the same reasons other people do: "Because it's a great time to get together, care for each other and have a party."

"And who doesn't want a tree with pretty lights in their house?" Charlotte chimes in.

Since they aren't Christian anymore, the Shaughnessys shape their own holiday traditions. One year, they stretched Christmas across a week, with celebrations leading up to December 25. "That sounds so Jewish now," Harry jokes. It was anticlimactic, Grace says. When Christmas came, they had nothing left to give, nowhere to go. The ritual was not repeated.

But the Flying Spaghetti Monster stuck.

The Church of the FSM, as "Pastafarians" call it, is a faux religion founded in 2005 to satirize creationism. It has since become a symbol for everything atheists find silly and superstitious about faith.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

2 Comments
Posted March 23, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Kara Tippetts, 38, has died. Metastatic breast cancer took her from her pastor husband, Jason, and their four children on Sunday (March 22).

But in her last years of life, her saga of accepting suffering became, in a quietly powerful way, a cultural force for another way of choosing death with dignity, one that refused to hasten death.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 23, 2015 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Finding the International Museum of the Reformation is almost as complicated as explaining the historical movement it chronicles.

You must first navigate the labyrinth of Geneva’s Old Town, down narrow, cobblestone streets and then up a long flight of stone stairs, skirting the shadows cast by a towering 13th-century cathedral. Finally you arrive at the tranquil courtyard of the Maison Mallet, the 14-room 18th-century mansion housing the museum, which opened in 2005.

From the outset, its director, Isabelle Graesslé, knew she faced a challenge. “It’s not easy to do a museum around a concept,” she said with a chuckle.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeSwitzerland

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Posted March 23, 2015 at 11:09 am [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

Radical Islamic groups are using high-quality videos to recruit young Muslims in the US and Europe to join their fight. Now, a Somali Muslim immigrant in Minnesota is fighting back with his own videos—an animated series called “Average Mohamed” that counters extremist ideas about Islam.

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted March 23, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the beginning of December [2014] I went on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, for a few days to the north of Iraq, to Kurdistan, first to Erbil, the Kurdish capital, and then a three-hour journey to Dohuk. I went to see and know at firsthand the situation of the many thousands displaced by the forces of the Islamic State, which in August last year over-ran Mosul, Iraq’s second city, and then swept across the Nineveh plain, with its many Christian villages.

In one camp, in the grounds of Mar Elias Church, they were putting up their Christmas crib. It was in a tent, a tent like those which had been the shelter for families who had had to flee from their homes, their culture, their churches. As they put up the tent, and placed the nativity figures in it, of Mary, Joseph and the Christ Child, with the shepherds and the angels, it was a indeed a reminder of the reality of the Incarnation: God chose to come down into our midst – he pitched his tent among us.

The advance of ISIS forces, with their distorted fanatical interpretation of Islam, and appalling associated brutality, echoes the invasion of the Mongols centuries earlier, which likewise had devastating consequences for the Christian population of what is now Iraq. Christians and Christianity in the Middle East are under threat as never before. They find themselves ground so often between upper and nether millstones – between the conflict between Sunni and Shia, or between Israel and Palestine.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted March 23, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For all its brutality, ISIS is often praised for its social media savvy and a passion among its members akin to that of a very famous Silicon Valley start-up, says one Muslim social media entrepreneur. The way to defeat the group’s extremism is by harnessing the creativity of entrepreneurs, he says.

Listen to it all (about 4 minutes).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationMediaReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 22, 2015 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In recent years, John Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, has been both lauded and criticized for his interpretation of Genesis 1–2. In his 2009 landmark book, The Lost World of Genesis One (InterVarsity Press), he argued that to rightly understand Genesis 1—an ancient document—we need to read it within the context of the ancient world. Read alongside other ancient texts, he says, Genesis 1 is not about how God made the world, but about God assigning functions to every aspect of it. In 2013, Walton contributed a chapter in Four Views on the Historical Adam (Zondervan). There he argued that Adam was a historical person, but also that Adam’s primary function in Scripture is to represent all of humanity. For Walton, Genesis 1–2 is not concerned about human material origins, but rather about our God-given function and purpose: to be in relationship with God and work alongside him, as his image bearers, in bringing continued order to our world.

Walton spoke recently with CT assistant editor Kevin P. Emmert about his newest book, The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2–3 and the Human Origins Debate (IVP Academic).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted March 22, 2015 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious practice can certainly be targeted as a pursuit of the hopeful, the faith-based and the uncertain. But they badly overreach when they attack the intellectual underpinnings of Judeo-Christianity, from the ancient Judaic scholars and the Apostles to Augustine to Aquinas to Newman; deny the existence of any spiritual phenomena at all; debunk the good works and cultural creativity and conservation of the major religion; and deny that the general religious message of trying conscientiously to distinguish right from wrong as a matter of duty and social desirability is the supreme criterion of civilization. The theists defend their basic position fairly easily and only get into heavy weather when they over-invest in the literal truth of all the scriptures — though the evidence for veracity of the New Testament is stronger than the skeptics admit, including of Christ’s citations of God himself: “And God said …”

It is in the nature of the world that we don’t know, but the decline of Christianity is much more of a delusion than God is and even more wishful, and the serious defenders of a divine intelligence such as the delightful John Lennox almost always win the argument, as he did with Dawkins and the rest. There is a long way between these two poles, and agnosticism is a much more rigorous position than the belligerence of the proselytizing atheists, but that is not a stance that stirs serious people to militancy. They have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsAtheism

0 Comments
Posted March 22, 2015 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the trickle of volunteers has come from across the country. On Tuesday, a 47-year-old Air Force veteran with a checkered work history was charged in Brooklyn with trying to join the Islamic State. Two weeks earlier, a computer-savvy 17-year-old boy in Virginia was charged with helping a man a few years older make contact with the terrorist group and get to Syria.

The cases raise a pressing question: Is the slick online propaganda that ISIS has mastered enough to lure recruits, or is face-to-face persuasion needed? A federal grand jury in Minneapolis is investigating whether an Islamic State recruiter gave Mr. Nur and Mr. Yusuf cash to buy plane tickets.

“No young person gets up one day and says, ‘I’m going to join ISIS,’ ” said Abdirizak Bihi, 50, a Somali activist who has worked against radicalization since his nephew left Minnesota in 2008 and was killed fighting for the Shabab.

“There has to be someone on the ground to listen to your problems and channel your anger,” Mr. Bihi said. “Online is like graduate studies.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 22, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram forcibly married scores of women in Bama after seizing it in September. Nigeria's military announced the recapture of the town on Monday.

Witnesses who were taken under military protection this week to Borno's capital, Maiduguri, 73 kilometres (45 miles) away, said the killing of women began 10 days before Bama was liberated.

The Islamists said if they kill their wives, "they would remain pious until both of them meet again in heaven, where they would re-unite," said Salma Mahmud, another witness.

"He informed them of the situation and the consequence of the takeover of the town by the advancing troops. He warned them that when soldiers killed them, they would take their wives back to the society where they would be forced to marry and live with infidels. The commander said it would be better for them to kill their wives and send them to heaven," the mother-of-seven said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 22, 2015 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tolkien’s political vision doesn’t fit neatly into the simple American two-party system, or into schools of thought developed by others. We wrote a book, The Hobbit Party, to do it justice. In Tolkien’s fiction, that vision involves diverse communities, what we might call “civil society,” and even trade between different species of sentient creatures. If allowed to speak on his own, Tolkien might help bridge the divide between conservative free-market thinkers and distributists.

But there’s a line running through all that nuance that isn’t the least complex, one we tried to capture in the title of the first chapter of our book: “In a Hole in the Ground There Lived an Enemy of Big Government.” Unlike the many self-appointed “radicals” in lockstep with the spirit of his age, Tolkien was the true ­radical—the square peg in the round hole of modernity. In an age of secularism and the growing leviathan state, he was a conservative Catholic calling for the old virtues, a more vibrant civil society, and smaller, less meddlesome government.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 22, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On New Year’s Day, President al-Sisi of Egypt made a remarkable speech. How, he asked, could belief in Islam make Muslim nations a “source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction”?

“Is it possible”, he added, “that 1.6 billion people should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants — that is seven billion — so that they themselves may live?” He was asking where the mechanism of restraining Islamic violence lay.

But this heroic intervention has not sparked a worldwide theological debate among Muslims. The only perceivable response was the slaughter of 21 Egyptian Copts by Isis in Libya.

To understand the lack of protest by moderate Muslims, we need to look at Islam on its own terms and not try to see it through “Christianised” spectacles....

Read it all (requires subscription)

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 21, 2015 at 1:01 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

0 Comments
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

"Matthew was crazy about theology, a total idealist about studying theology. … But he wanted to learn history and philosophy and art and everything else," said Pentiuc. "I don't know anyone else who read so much and absorbed so much, so soon. It was going to take him 10 or 15 years to fully synthesize what he knew and to find his mature voice."

Friends joked that they could say "Go!" and challenge Baker to connect random subjects – such as "Duran Duran," a rock band, "GMOs," a genetics term, and "Apollinarianism," a 4th Century heresy – and "he would come up with authentically deep links between them," said Damick.

It's easy to imagine three or more books emerging from existing lectures, papers and research by Baker, noted Damick. But all the books and academic tributes in the world cannot answer the ultimate questions being asked by loved ones and friends mourning this loss.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

1 Comments
Posted March 21, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the nation awaits legalized doctor-assisted death, the transplant community is grappling with a potential new source of life-saving organs — offered by patients who have chosen to die.

Some surgeons say every effort should be made to respect the dying wishes of people seeking assisted death, once the Supreme Court of Canada ruling comes into effect next year, including the desire to donate their organs.

But the prospect of combining two separate requests — doctor-assisted suicide and organ donation — is creating profound unease for others. Some worry those contemplating assisted suicide might feel a societal pressure to carry through with the act so that others might live, or that it could undermine struggling efforts to increase Canada’s mediocre donor rate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 20, 2015 at 4:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For example, I believe that:

Religion is a human construct
The symbols of faith are products of human cultural evolution
Jesus may have been an historical figure, but most of what we know about him is in the form of legend
God is a symbol of myth-making and not credible as a supernatural being or force
The Bible is a human product as opposed to special revelation from a divine being
Human consciousness is the result of natural selection, so there’s no afterlife

In short, I regard the symbols of Christianity from a non-supernatural point of view.

And yet, even though I hold those beliefs, I am still a proud minister. But I don’t appreciate being told that I’m not truly a Christian.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianOther Faiths* Theology

3 Comments
Posted March 20, 2015 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama last week directed federal agencies to change the way graduates pay back student loans, the latest in a string of measures that aim to make college more accessible and affordable. Governors across the country have echoed the president’s claims that it is time to get college costs under control. Here’s one idea that wouldn’t cost taxpayers a nickel: Stop overregulating Bible colleges.

As it stands, some state education boards are keeping Bible colleges from issuing bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. Instead, such colleges can only give out diplomas or certificates of completion. Bible colleges have an illustrious history in the U.S.—Congregationalist ministers founded Yale to equip young men for the ministry, after all—but many of today’s more than 1,000 Bible colleges are being relegated to second-class status.

In Illinois, our law firm recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of three Bible colleges, with the backing of the nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, against the Illinois Board of Higher Education. The IBHE claims that the Bible colleges do not meet the state’s curriculum requirements, and therefore cannot issue degrees.

That claim is absurd.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaState Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 20, 2015 at 11:04 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 images are meant to create an impression, and in this war of images, they don't miss their mark. Heads are cut off: both the heads of human beings and those of statues. Museums are looted, ancient sites are bulldozed. These images are then dispatched around the world.

It is a calculated escalation that Islamic State is pursuing. It may even be that the images of destroyed artifacts are more effective than those depicting executions, because they are televised everywhere and not relegated to the depths of the Internet. And because we can understand the images of destruction -- unlike the photos and videos of executions, which we see as acts of insanity beyond the scope of rational thought.

We aren't just able to kill in the present, that is the message of these images, we are also able to destroy the past: We are the masters of both time and space. The caliphate's goal is to expand its path of destruction into the fourth dimension.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 20, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Few of those he influenced identified him with the institutions that claimed his leadership. Many knew him as the consultant who came to their towns and churches to listen and recommend—averaging about 150 on-site church consultations per year. I don’t know if the Guinness Book of World Records includes an award for the most parishes consulted, but Lyle Schaller would no doubt hold the record with thousands and thousands of visits to local congregations. At these churches, he took a repeated approach of gathering statistics and interviewing church leaders, youth, ministers’ spouses, non-leader congregants, and pastors from nearby churches. At the end of each consultation, he reported his 360-degree view, analysis and list of practical suggestions for congregational health and growth. Along the way, he pretty much avoided conflicted churches, at least he declined those obviously in a fight; he identified himself as a consultant and not as a conflict mediator.

Tens of thousands of interviews in churches ranging from mainline to independent and liberal to conservative gave him a mental data base to write, co-author, or edit almost 100 books selling over two million copies. Add his monthly monographs of “The Parish Paper” reaching 200,000 subscribers and we’re talking about penning millions of words about and to the churches of America. His writing style was distinctively his own with long, long sentences including long, long lists.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) group may have committed genocide and war crimes against the minority Yazidi community in Iraq, the UN says.

In a new report, it says IS had "the intent... to destroy the Yazidi as a group."

Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled villages in northern Iraq amid IS advances last summer. Many were killed, captured and enslaved.

Yazidis follow an ancient faith that jihadists regard as devil worship.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 19, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Marriage is an inherently public institution designed to recognize and protect natural families, she says—not a “government registry of friendships.” Privatizing wouldn’t get the government out of the marriage business. By removing the presumption of biological parentage, courts would be full of custody battles between unrelated individuals, friends, gamete donors, and whoever else claims parentage. And children would suffer.

That’s isn’t a solution. It creates more problems than it solves.

Read and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted March 19, 2015 at 2:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe is not—or should not be—a surprise. One of the least surprising phenomena in the history of civilization, in fact, is the persistence of anti-Semitism in Europe, which has been the wellspring of Judeophobia for 1,000 years. The Church itself functioned as the centrifuge of anti-Semitism from the time it rebelled against its mother religion until the middle of the 20th century. As Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of Great Britain, has observed, Europe has added to the global lexicon of bigotry such terms as Inquisition, blood libel, auto‑da‑fé, ghetto, pogrom, and Holocaust. Europe has blamed the Jews for an encyclopedia of sins. The Church blamed the Jews for killing Jesus; Voltaire blamed the Jews for inventing Christianity. In the febrile minds of anti-Semites, Jews were usurers and well-poisoners and spreaders of disease. Jews were the creators of both communism and capitalism; they were clannish but also cosmopolitan; cowardly and warmongering; self-righteous moralists and defilers of culture. Ideologues and demagogues of many permutations have understood the Jews to be a singularly malevolent force standing between the world and its perfection....

The Anne Frank House has never had a Jewish director (though Hinterleitner pointed out that at least two members of the board must have a “Jewish background”), and I would learn later that it is widely understood in Amsterdam’s Jewish community that Jews should not bother applying for the job. Hinterleitner said that the museum addresses anti-Semitism in the context of larger societal ills, but also that it recently issued a strong press statement condemning anti-Semitic acts in the Netherlands and elsewhere. He said the museum has made an intensive study of anti-Semitism in the Netherlands, and has learned that most verbal expressions of anti-Semitism in secondary schools come from boys and are related to soccer.

The Anne Frank House is merely a simulacrum of a Jewish institution in part because, as its head of communications told me, Anne’s father said that her diary “wasn’t about being Jewish,” but also, Hinterleitner suggested, because a museum devoted too obsessively to the details of a particular genocide might not draw visitors in sufficient numbers. “We want people to be interested in this issue, people from all walks of life. So we talk about the universal components of Anne Frank’s story as well. Our work is about tolerance and understanding.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 19, 2015 at 1:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s church time, close to 9 a.m. last Sunday.

Katherine Milligan, 66, walks through the central hallway of the Presbyterian Church of Stanley, feeling more uncomfortable, more spurned and more angry than she has in all her 33 years attending this Overland Park church.

“I’m too old. I don’t care what people think,” the Olathe woman said later, defiant in the battle she has joined. “No one is going to tell me I can’t worship in my sanctuary.”

Yet in late April a trial scheduled in Johnson County District Court will effectively determine exactly that. Judge Kevin Moriarty will hear arguments on who owns this $4.4 million house of God, a white modernist building erected in 1978 on a grassy rise at 148th Street and Antioch Road.

For six months, two factions of the church have been embroiled in what both sides agree has been an ugly and hurtful conflict.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/living/religion/article14448485.html#storylink=cpy

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted March 19, 2015 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nothing falls outside God’s creative and redeeming purposes, which include our being created male and female, the complementarity and fruitfulness built into our being created male and female, and the permanence of marriage, which is a sign of God’s own covenant fidelity. God is a communion of loving Persons; thus married love, St. John Paul II taught, is an icon of the interior life of the Holy Trinity. God keeps his promises; thus the promise-keepers among us who live the covenant of marriage bear witness to that divine promise-keeping by their own fidelity.

In light of all this, the Christian idea of chastity comes into clearer focus. In the Catholic view of things, chastity is not a dreary string of prohibitions but a matter of loving-with-integrity: loving rather than “using;” loving another for himself or herself. The sexual temptations to which the Church says “No” are the implications of a higher, nobler, more compelling “Yes:” yes to the integrity of love, yes to love understood as the gift of oneself to another, yes to the family as the fruit of love, and yes to the family as the school where we first learn to love. “Yes” is the basic Catholic stance toward sexuality, marriage and the family. We should witness to that “Yes” with a joyful heart, recognizing that the example of joyful Catholic families is the best gift we can offer a world marked today by the glorification of self-absorption.

In a pontificate that has reminded us continuously of our responsibilities to the poor, for whom God has a special care, preparations for the World Meeting of Families are also an opportunity to remind our society that stable marriages and families are the most effective anti-poverty program in the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyPovertyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 19, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a recent interview in which she announced she had joined the Episcopal Church, Rachel Held Evans said,

Just about every denomination in the American church— including many evangelical denominations — is seeing a decline in numbers, so if it’s a competition, then we’re all losing, just at different rates.

Many Americans, both within and outside the church, share Evans perception of the decline of denominations. But is it true? Are most denominations truly seeing a decline in numbers?...

Mainliners may try to comfort themselves by claiming that every denomination is in decline, but it’s simply not true. While conservative churches aren’t growing as quickly as they once were, mainline churches are on a path toward extinction. The mainline churches are finding that as they move further away from Biblical Christianity, the closer they get to their inevitable demise.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture

0 Comments
Posted March 19, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ZENIT spoke with Father Tarcisio Giuseppe Stramare of the Congregation of Oblates of Saint Joseph, director of the Josephite Movement, about Tuesday's feast of St. Joseph the Worker....

ZENIT: What does “Gospel of work” mean?

Father Stramare: “Gospel” is the Good News that refers to Jesus, the Savior of humanity. Well, despite the fact that in general we see Jesus as someone who teaches and does miracles, he was so identified with work that in his time he was regarded as “the son of the carpenter,” namely, an artisan himself. Among many possible activities, the Wisdom of God chose for Jesus manual work, entrusted the education of his Son not to the school of the learned but to a humble artisan, namely, St. Joseph.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical Seasons* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 19, 2015 at 4:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring theologians?

It is the idiom of Christian thought that it proceeds in respectful dialogue with a canonical text. The theologian must be able to handle that text intelligently. “Exegesis, exegesis, exegesis!” Barth told his students, when he was driven out of Germany in the thirties. One has to learn enough from the professional exegetes to be able to make some crucial judgments for oneself. Yet theology needs more than exegesis; it needs questions formed and re-formed by constant reading of the Bible. My advice to a theologian who does not find that happening quite spontaneously, is to go and do something else. The opportunities for further thought should fly open like doors from the reading of Scripture. Not all the questions you will ever ask are there, of course, and they are not framed in the ways that you will come to frame them; but there are the openings, the questions that will build up in the end into the questions you will ask much later. The dutiful doctoral student will, of course, be told to forget the questions. “Don’t try to talk about God and beauty! Just compare Nicholas Wolterstorff and Synesius of Cyrene’s views on God and beauty!” Good advice for an apprentice, who has to pick up some technique before painting the Mona Lisa. But when the apprentice days are over, the questions must still be there.

And then there are the skills, linguistic skills, above all, of reading and writing, whether in English or any other language. I ought, of course, to insist that to read a text properly you must read it in the original language. But since nobody can do that for all texts, and to spend one’s life trying to would leave no time to read or think, there is a compromise to be reached on that. But thinking itself is a linguistic skill. Few people can think effectively in a language with which they are not natively at home. But how much at home is the average native? In any language we learn, but supremely in our own, we ought to make a practice of reading aloud, to get the music, the vocabulary, the modes of logical structuring deeply within our instinctive responses. I could never be a good horseman, not because I could not (in the end) learn how to stay on, but because I could never interest myself in the grooming and the feeding and the messing-out; the horse would always know I didn’t love it. Language, too, needs constant loving by those who expect to be able to ride it on long journeys to great ends; otherwise it will refuse to produce its turn of speed, will head off onto the wrong road, will perhaps throw them from its back.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchBooksPhilosophyReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 18, 2015 at 5:25 pm [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

Over a quarter of college freshmen say that they have no religion. This makes them the least religious cohort in four decades of the surveys conducted by UCLA.

Researchers at the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA survey college freshmen each year on a range of topics, including religion. The 2014 survey results were released last month (read more here). They show that college freshmen in 2014 had the highest percentage of students identifying with no religion and the lowest percentage who saw themselves as spiritual.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSociologyYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted March 18, 2015 at 9:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Presbyterian Church approved redefining marriage in the church constitution Tuesday to include a "commitment between two people," becoming the largest US Protestant group to formally recognize gay marriage as Christian and allow same-sex weddings in every congregation.

The new definition was endorsed last year by the church General Assembly, or top legislative body, but required approval from a majority of the denomination's 171 regional districts, or presbyteries. The critical 86th "yes" vote came Tuesday night from the Palisades Presbytery in New Jersey.

After all regional bodies vote and top Presbyterian leaders officially accept the results, the change will take effect on June 21. The denomination has nearly 1.8 million members and about 10,000 congregations.

Read it all and there are many more stories there.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

7 Comments
Posted March 18, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Nigerian army said on Tuesday it had repelled Boko Haram from all but three local government districts in the northeast, claiming victory for its offensive against the Islamist insurgents less than two weeks before a presidential election.

At the start of this year, Boko Haram controlled around 20 local government areas, a territory the size of Belgium, in its bloody six-year-old campaign to carve out an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria.

But a concerted push by Nigeria's military and neighbors Chad, Cameroon and Niger has regained considerable ground. At the weekend, Nigerian government forces recaptured the city of Bama, the second biggest in northeasterly Borno state.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 17, 2015 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sometimes a news story drags on bit by bit, piece by piece, over the years and becomes so tedious that reporters miss the dramatic cumulative impact. It also doesn't help that long, slow-developing, nuanced religion stories have been known to turn secular editors into pillars of salt.

So it seems with the lawsuits against conservative congregations and regional dioceses that have been quitting the Episcopal Church, mostly to join the Anglican Church in North America, especially since consecration of the first openly partnered gay bishop in 2003.

The Religion Guy confesses he totally missed the eye-popping claim last year that the denomination has spent more than $40 million on lawsuits to win ownership of the dropouts’ buildings, properties, and liquid assets. If that’s anywhere near accurate it surely sets the all-time record for American schisms. And that doesn’t even count the millions come-outers have spent on lawyers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Departing Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 17, 2015 at 12:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anderson grew up in modern evangelical “purity culture,” with all its widely documented problems. “I listened to story after story of being unable to feel close to God because of shame, being kicked out of one’s home, losing friends, separation from one’s faith community,” Anderson writes. “Many grew up being told over and over that their virginity was the most important thing they could give their spouse on their wedding night, only to reach that point and realize that having saved themselves didn’t magically create sexual compatibility or solve their marital issues.”

With Damaged Goods, Anderson wants to provide healing for those who have suffered from faulty teaching, and help for those who want to find a better, more genuinely Christian way to live. Anderson believes that the purity culture taught her to pride herself on living a celibate life and to look down on others who failed to live up to her high standards. Today, she regrets that prideful and contemptuous attitude and feels compassion for those who were hurt by it.

The church benefits from such course-correction and calls for healing in the wake of false teachings and unhealthy emphases in its teachings on sexuality. However, Damaged Goods goes further than that, conflating the misguided portions of purity culture—a relatively recent and proscribed phenomenon—with the Scripture-based beliefs about sexuality that the church has taught since its founding.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 17, 2015 at 12:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Isis militants have attacked a Christian church and cemetery in Iraq, vandalising crosses and defacing religious artefacts in yet another assault on the country’s rich cultural history.

In pictures released by the groups’s media arm, fighters are seen removing a cross and destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary at a church in Mosul, in Iraq. Another image shows a fighter erecting a black Isis flag in place of a cross.

Other photographs being circulated on social media show paintings depicting biblical events, such as the Last Supper, piled up on the floor. The extremist group attempts to justify this destruction by condemning the statues and religious symbols as idolatrous and therefore forbidden.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq

2 Comments
Posted March 17, 2015 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Punch reports that the bishop said leaders across the nation must come together, stop working against the country and work with one another for the greater good of the country.

He said if such was done, the country would become better for present and future generations, adding that Nigerians must also rally round their leaders to ensure their success.

Adeyemi said, “I believe if our leaders work with a sense of togetherness, Nigeria will be good for us and the future generations.

“I don’t believe in those predicting doom for the nation. Your leaders should allow things to work. They are the enemies of themselves.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

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Posted March 16, 2015 at 5:25 pm [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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As our nation honours at this service all of you who served in Afghanistan – forces personnel and many others, alongside so many of other nations – I ask you to hear those same words today, reverberating around our land: great is your faithfulness. You know about faithfulness.

Today is a moment for us to say thank you: thank you to all who served, whatever your role.

We thank you for your faithfulness: you who left family behind, you who trained hard, you who did not turn from danger, you who suffered injury and you who risked yourselves to care for the injured. I’m told that each wounded person was supported by up to 80 others by the time they got home. Great is your faithfulness.

We also thank those of you who stayed behind, who let your loved ones go

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan

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Posted March 16, 2015 at 1:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is a looming problem in many parts of the world over what to do with dead bodies, as pressure on burial space intensifies.

The industrial revolution, in the 18th and 19th Centuries, saw a mass migration from small villages and towns to cities.

Previously, most people had lived in rural locations and would be buried in the local church's graveyard.

But with a growing urban population, the authorities in Victorian Britain built large cemeteries, often on the outskirts of cities.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 16, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If religions are natural for humans and give value to their lives, why spend your life trying to persuade others to give them up?

The answer that will be given is that religion is implicated in many human evils. Of course this is true. Among other things, Christianity brought with it a type of sexual repression unknown in pagan times. Other religions have their own distinctive flaws. But the fault is not with religion, any more than science is to blame for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or medicine and psychology for the refinement of techniques of torture. The fault is in the intractable human animal. Like religion at its worst, contemporary atheism feeds the fantasy that human life can be remade by a conversion experience – in this case, conversion to unbelief.

Evangelical atheists at the present time are missionaries for their own values. If an earlier generation promoted the racial prejudices of their time as scientific truths, ours aims to give the illusions of contemporary liberalism a similar basis in science. It’s possible to envision different varieties of atheism developing – atheisms more like those of Freud, which didn’t replace God with a flattering image of humanity. But atheisms of this kind are unlikely to be popular. More than anything else, our unbelievers seek relief from the panic that grips them when they realise their values are rejected by much of humankind. What today’s freethinkers want is freedom from doubt, and the prevailing version of atheism is well suited to give it to them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsAtheism* TheologyAnthropologyApologetics

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Posted March 16, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That headline might sound familiar to readers at Faith & Reason. And it should. The sociologist I wrote about last winter when her research showed the majority of scientists identify with a religious tradition, not God-denying atheists, myth-busting again.

Now, the myth that bites the data dust, is one that proclaims evangelicals are a monolithic group of young-earth creationists opposed to theories of human evolution.

Actually, 70 percent of self-identified evangelicals “do not view religion and science as being in conflict,” said Elaine Howard Ecklund, a sociologist and director of Rice University’s Religion and Public Life Program.


Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySociology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted March 15, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last year, the radio host Diane Rehm watched in agony as her husband, John, starved to death over the course of 10 days.

Severely crippled by Parkinson’s disease, his only option for ending the suffering was to stop eating and drinking. Physicians in most states, including Maryland, where he lived, are barred from helping terminally ill patients who want to die in a dignified way.

“He was a brilliant man, just brilliant,” Ms. Rehm said in an interview. “For him to go out that way, not being able to do anything for himself, was an insufferable indignity.”

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two bomb blasts have killed at least 14 people near two churches in a Christian neighbourhood of the Pakistani city of Lahore, local officials say.

More than 70 people were hurt in the explosions, which targeted worshippers attending Sunday mass at the churches in the Youhanabad area.

Violent protests erupted after the blasts, with a mob killing two men accused of involvement in the attacks.

Pakistan's Christian community has often been targeted by militants.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted March 15, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On a damp and dreary Saturday two months ago, several hundred mourners gathered outside City Hall here for a memorial service honoring Dr. Maher Hathout. Born in Egypt and trained as a cardiologist, Dr. Hathout, 79, had devoted decades to espousing a moderate version of Islam and reaching across denominational lines to other faiths.

So there was nothing surprising about the presence of rabbis and priests, Sikhs and Episcopalians at the service. The unexpected moment came when a man in a different sort of vestment, the dark blue uniform of the Los Angeles Police Department, knelt before Dr. Hathout’s widow and presented her with the carefully folded triangle of an American flag.

For the man in the uniform, Deputy Chief Michael Downing, that moment distilled the uncommon role he has within the department. While his full title aptly describes his investigative mission — commanding officer of the counterterrorism and special operations bureau — it omits what has become the signature element of his 33-year career. In a city with a history of traumatic, adversarial relations between the police force and various minority groups, Muslims among them, Chief Downing has forged bonds that are both durable and contentious.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted March 14, 2015 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Winner of two Pulitzer Prizes and scores of other awards, John Updike (1932–2009) is best known for his graphic but lyrical portrayal of the sexual infidelities of middle America. It was not for nothing that he was called the poet laureate of modern adultery. The most famous of his sixty-some books is Couples, the story of a band of spouse-trading friends, one of whom greeted her lover with the legendary words, “Welcome to the post-pill paradise.”

In his December Public Discourse article, Daniel Ross Goodman wrote that Updike’s two favorite themes were theology and adultery, and that in his writings religion “seems to overpower everything, even sex.” While Goodman deftly explored Updike’s literary brilliance and “wager” for faith, he did not unpack the inner dynamics of Updike’s religion or consider the possibility that it might be problematic. The truth of the matter is that Updike’s religion involved inner contradictions that were resolved only by forging a Christianity subordinated to the spirit of the age.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

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Posted March 14, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Theological education is a deadly serious business. The stakes are so high. A theological seminary that serves faithfully will be a source of health and life for the church, but an unfaithful seminary will set loose a torrent of trouble, untruth, and sickness upon Christ’s people. Inevitably, the seminaries are the incubators of the church’s future. The teaching imparted to seminarians will shortly be inflicted upon congregations, where the result will be either fruitfulness or barrenness, vitality or lethargy, advance or decline, spiritual life, or spiritual death.

Sadly, the landscape is littered with theological institutions that have poorly taught and have been poorly led. Theological liberalism has destroyed scores of seminaries, divinity schools, and other institutions for the education of the ministry. Many of these schools are now extinct, even as the churches they served have been evacuated. Others linger on, committed to the mission of revising the Christian faith in order to make peace with the spirit of the age. These schools intentionally and boldly deny the pattern of sound words in order to devise new words for a new age — producing a new faith. As J. Gresham Machen rightly observed almost a century ago, we do not really face two rival versions of Christianity. We face Christianity on the one hand and, on the other hand, some other religion that selectively uses Christian words, but is not Christianity.

How does this happen? Rarely does an institution decide, in one comprehensive moment of decision, to abandon the faith and seek after another. The process is far more dangerous and subtle. A direct institutional evasion would be instantly recognized and corrected, if announced honestly at the onset. Instead, theological disaster usually comes by means of drift and evasion, shading and equivocation.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

2 Comments
Posted March 14, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have been exploring the history of Christianity within the Persian Empire, a subject very well known to specialists working on that area, but less so to their counterparts who study the story in its “mainstream” (Mediterranean and European) forms. Before writing about this in any more detail, it’s important to understand the geographical setting, which means locating some very famous names. Geography may or may not be destiny; but it is very important indeed for the fate of religions.

Anyone even slightly familiar with the ancient world, or with the Old Testament, knows certain names of peoples, regions and great cities – Medes, Persian and Parthians, Susa and Persepolis. Actually placing them in relation to each other is quite a different matter. It matters enormously, though, because each of those regions was differently situated in relation to other nations and cultures. Some, like the Persians, looked west and south, towards Babylonia and the world of the “Persian” Gulf. Others, like the Parthians, never lost touch with Central Asia. At different times, different parts of the broader Persian world dominated, and that shifting emphasis gave a different political and cultural coloring to the empire’s outlook.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaMiddle East* TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted March 13, 2015 at 3:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an effort to block the state’s involvement with...[same-sex] marriage, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday (March 10) to abolish marriage licenses in the state.

The legislation, authored by Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, amends language in the state law that governs the responsibilities of court clerks. All references to marriage licenses were removed.

Russ said the intent of the bill is to protect court clerks caught between the federal and state governments. A federal appeals court overturned Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage last year. Russ, like many Republican legislators in the state, including Gov. Mary Fallin, believes the federal government overstepped its constitutional authority on this issue.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

6 Comments
Posted March 13, 2015 at 11:04 am [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

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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

For his sane and timely books, like 2010’s “Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All,” the pediatrician Paul A. Offit takes much abuse from anti-vaccine activists. He has been called a liar, a profiteer and — in the words of one activist group — a “millionaire vaccine industrialist.”

In “What Would Jesus Do About Measles?,” his New York Times Op-Ed last month, Dr. Offit addressed the false conflict that some perceive between medicine and religious faith, writing that if religion “teaches us anything, it’s to care about our children, to keep them safe.” His new book, “Bad Faith,” offers a history of episodes in which fringe groups abjured modern medicine, with deadly consequences. And he continues his argument that religion, properly understood, should welcome vaccines, as well as other medical interventions.

Unfortunately, Dr. Offit’s book is more a fervent attack job than an earnest attempt to understand people with different, if misguided views. His book is thinly sourced and poorly researched, seeming at times as if he began with a conclusion and then went in search of evidence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHealth & MedicineReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 13, 2015 at 5:00 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

Organisations are constantly playing around with the levers of financial motivation - offering or withholding money as an inducement or a threat. They use individual and team bonuses, cash rewards, profit sharing and company stock as ways of using economic factors to enhance motivation.

But there are some striking examples of motivation outside this system. The military is a central case. In the armed forces, often for very modest pay, people will do extraordinary things. Even die. It's an astonishing contrast. You can pay someone $38,000 a year to die for you. But you struggle to pay someone $45,000 a year to sit in a room and fill in forms.

This tells us that motivation simply cannot be primarily financial. People can be moved by money, but they can be moved and motivated more by other things. The armed forces also tell us something about where the strongest kinds of motivation come from.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed ForcesPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jean Vanier, a Canadian who launched an international network of communities for the mentally disabled, has won the 2015 Templeton Prize worth $1.7 million for affirming life's spiritual dimension.

The U.S.-based John Templeton Foundation announced the award on Wednesday in London, calling him "this extraordinary man" whose message of compassion for society's weakest members "has the potential to change the world for the better".

Vanier, 86, founded the first L'Arche ("Ark") community in 1964 when he invited two mentally disabled men to leave their large institution and live with him in a small house in Trosly-Breuil, a village 95 km (60 miles) north of Paris.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicinePovertyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanadaEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 12, 2015 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Isis is allegedly attacking Iraqi soldiers with roadside bombs containing chlorine gas as allied forces continue a huge assault against the group in Tikrit.

Footage captured by an Iraqi bomb disposal team shows plumes of thick orange gas emerging from a detonated roadside bomb.

The team told the BBC it has diffused “dozens” of chlorine bombs left by Isis militants, which it says are used more as a means to create fear than harm.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 12, 2015 at 6:30 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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 1534, Abbot Paul Bachmann published a virulent anti-Protestant booklet entitled “A Punch in the Mouth for the Lutheran Lying Wide-Gaping Throats.” Not to be outdone, the Protestant court chaplain, Jerome Rauscher, responded with a treatise of his own, titled “One Hundred Select, Great, Shameless, Fat, Well-Swilled, Stinking, Papistical Lies.” Such was the tenor of theological discourse among many of the formative shapers of classical Protestantism and resurgent Roman Catholicism in the sixteenth century. Such rhetoric was brought from the Old World to the New. Fueled by local prejudice and nativist traditions, it continued to deepen the divide between the heirs of the Reformation debates.

Imagine the surprise, then—in some circles the shock—when on March 29, 1994 the statement “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium” was released in New York. Here, the old hostility between Catholics and Evangelicals was replaced by a new awareness of their common Christian identity—a shared life in Jesus Christ. The core affirmation of the first ECT statement, and of the entire project, was this declaration: “All who accept Christ as Lord and Savior are brothers and sisters in Christ. Evangelicals and Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ. We have not chosen one another, just as we have not chosen Christ. He has chosen us, and He has chosen us to be his together.”

On the following day, the story of the new Evangelical and Catholic initiative was carried on the front page of The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and other newspapers across the country. The reaction was immediate and explosive. While some saw this new effort as a hopeful sign, others, especially some conservative evangelicals on the right, were disturbed and distraught. Best-selling author Dave Hunt wrote of the ECT statement: “I believe the document represents the most devastating blow against the gospel in at least one thousand years.” For their part, many left-leaning progressives, both Catholics and Protestants, dismissed the statement as a publicity stunt tied to conservative politics.

It seemed to me that both of these narratives had badly misjudged the situation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 12, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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