Posted by Kendall Harmon

At its recent General Synod the Anglican Church of Canada took the first step in changing its Marriage Canon to allow for the solemnization of same sex marriages by its clergy. The entire process, beginning with the hasty vote in 2013 and concluding with the vote and miscount this past week, has been flawed and has inflicted terrible hurt and damage on all involved. We absolutely condemn homophobic prejudice and violence wherever it occurs, offer pastoral care and loving service to all irrespective of sexual orientation, and reject criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.

Though the change to the Marriage Canon would require a second vote in 2019 in order to come into effect, some bishops have vowed to proceed with same sex marriages immediately, contrary to the explicit doctrine and discipline set out in our constitution, canons and liturgies.

In passing resolution A051 R2 the General Synod has taken a further step in ordaining something contrary to God's Word written and imperils our full communion within the Anglican Church of Canada and with Anglicans throughout the world. We believe that our General Synod has erred grievously and we publicly dissent from this decision. Resolution A051 R2 represents a change to the sacrament of marriage inconsistent with the Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition of the Church Catholic and the Book of Common Prayer. This would be a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of the Anglican Communion on the doctrine of marriage. Sadly, this complicates relationships within the Anglican Church of Canada and as a Province with the Anglican Communion.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of CanadaGlobal South Churches & Primates* Culture-WatchGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2016 at 6:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ST.-ÉTIENNE-DU-ROUVRAY, France — Attendance was sparse at the 9 a.m. Mass on Tuesday at the Église St.-Étienne, a 17th-century church in a working-class town in Normandy. Many regular parishioners were on vacation; so was the parish priest.

Mass was ending around 9:30 a.m. when two young men with knives burst in. They forced the auxiliary priest, the Rev. Jacques Hamel, 85, to kneel. When he resisted, they slit his throat. They held several worshipers and at least one nun hostage, while another nun escaped. Officers from a specialized police unit descended on the church. A short while later, officers shot the young men dead when they emerged from the church.

The brutality in St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen in northern France, was the latest in a series of assaults that have left Europe stunned, fearful and angry. President François Hollande raced to the town and blamed the Islamic State for the attack; soon after, the terrorist group claimed responsibility, calling the attackers its “soldiers.”

It was the fourth attack linked to the Islamic State in Western Europe in less than two weeks

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 26, 2016 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The world that Disney presents to us is one in which all the sharp edges of real life have been smoothed away. For this reason the Magic Kingdom can never truly be the happiest place on earth in a biblical sense. Unlike Jesus, who entered the real, broken world in order to redeem it, the best Disney can offer is a fantasy of a world that never was. It is a nice place to visit but you really can’t live there.

It is common practice for churches to do with their past what Walt Disney did with his. Churches have a tendency to reimagine the past and make it their ideal. It’s not such a problem for a theme park, but it is a real obstacle for a church, especially when that reimagined world becomes the model for its mission. Churches have often spent decades trying to return to a past that never really existed. The “Christian America” churches try to bring back was not that Christian. The fondly remembered pastor of that golden age was not that golden. Those hallowed church ministries were not as effective as we remember, or if they were, they would no longer be effective today. The sweet fellowship of yesteryear was not that sweet.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEntertainmentMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEschatology

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Posted July 26, 2016 at 2:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A notice on a church website, which was removed after The Sunday Times began making inquiries, read: “A ceremony of commitment and blessing . . . Clive will be resigning his post in the church from the day before.”

The notice requested that guests “make a bit of an effort” by bringing “your favourite savoury or sweet dish to share” and suggested bringing “enough [drink] for yourself and maybe a bit extra just in case”.

The service included a blessing from a liturgy originally intended for civil partnerships, beginning: “God the giver of life, God the bearer of pain, God the maker of love, bless, preserve and keep you.”

Larsen said he did not want to embarrass either the Church of England or David Walker, the Bishop of Manchester, by discussing the details of his departure...

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Posted July 24, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Living as I do just east of Seattle, I’ve been waiting for a magazine to do the definitive profile of Barronelle Stutzman, the Richland, Wash., florist who’s getting sued to the nines for refusing to provide flowers for the wedding of a gay friend (and long-time customer).

Whereas the New Yorker and the Atlantic have sat this one out, the Christian Science Monitor team stepped in. Their Stutzman piece, which ran last week, leans over backward to give the facts linked to the florist’s side of the story, as well as the views of her critics.

It is part of an intriguing series of seven stories on religious liberty and gay rights and it’s the best treatment I’ve seen yet. The lead story discusses how gay rights is pushing many religious Americans into a corner where they feel compelled to support behaviors their faith condemns as immoral. Look for the Russell Moore quote about the sexual revolution not tolerating public dissent and the John Inazu quote about what will happen to our society when faith-based organizations – if stripped of their nonprofit status – cease to provide social services to the hungry, poor and homeless.

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Posted July 24, 2016 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I was one of the people moved to tears on the floor of General Synod when the motion to amend the marriage canon failed to achieve the required two-thirds majority in the House of Clergy. I was in shock that, once again, the church had failed to honour the lives of so many people, created in God's image and revealing Christ's love in their loves. I was filled with sorrow that we, as a church, had been unable to follow the leading of the Spirit—because I do not believe that whatever happens on the floor of synod must necessarily be the will of God. God's will and our own interact in ways far more complicated than that.

And then, less than 24 hours later, the story changed. It’s already an old story: one vote, miscounted, tipped the scales, and the just-barely “no” became a just-barely “yes.” It felt like a miracle as my weeping turned into rejoicing.

But, appealing though that story is, it's too simple, too self-congratulatory. The truth of the matter is, almost one-third of the members of synod voted to withhold access to Christian marriage from people who love people of the same gender. That's fewer people than it used to be, but it's still a lot of people. And the people who feel this way use the Bible to justify their position, claiming that it is actually God doing the withholding. And the church, desiring to be inclusive and compassionate, creates space for these arguments to be heard. As a result, LGBTQ2S+ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Two-Spirited] persons and their friends and family members were subjected, yet again, to hearing people and their relationships called unacceptable; in need of disciplining; against the will of God; unnatural; abominations. They were, once again, required to put themselves on display and to make their pain and suffering available for discussion, and compete in the sad sport of comparing oppressions.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted July 23, 2016 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Once a year, Seymour United Methodist Church in Tennessee held a “Laity Day,” in which folks from the pews would handle all the clergy stuff one Sunday -- including the sermon.

The year was 1984, early in the Rev. Charles Maynard’s decade at this fledgling congregation near Knoxville. He already knew that one active member had a knack for motivational speaking, since she coached the University of Tennessee’s Lady Vols basketball team.

“This was before she turned into Pat Summitt, you know? For me, she was just a lady at church named Pat,” said Maynard, now the district superintendent of the region’s Maryville District. “I asked her to speak and she said she didn’t feel comfortable doing that sort of thing. ...

“But the next year, she said ‘yes.’ She talked about teamwork and linked everything to people having their own roles in the Body of Christ. It was all very biblical and she did a great job. I mean, she’s Pat Summitt.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureSportsWomenYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist

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Posted July 23, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For its modest size and relatively apolitical ethos, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod seems to be having more than its share of days in court. Three years ago the Supreme Court unanimously vindicated one of its congregations in Hosanna-Tabor v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which recognized that churches have broad autonomy over whom they hire. This fall the justices will take up Trinity Lutheran v. Pauley, a dispute over whether states can deny funds to schools with religious affiliations.

Now the synod’s two million members may have reason to anticipate yet another day in court. Last week in Milwaukee the church’s triennial convention passed a resolution, by a 946-89 vote, committing to support “those who have a religious and moral objection to women participating in the selective service system and being subject to a possible draft.” The text of the final resolution built on proposals by more than three dozen congregations, circuits, districts, or commissions of the synod.

That such a measure was even brought to a vote indicates how swiftly the country’s legal and political culture has been changing. A similar proposal mooted only three years ago was dismissed as unnecessary.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 22, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Primate of Australia Archbishop Philip Freier has expressed solidarity with Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson and his officers before a Royal Commission public hearing in Newcastle on August 2.

Archbishop Freier said evidence of clergy sexual abuse and predatory behaviour in Newcastle that included a former bishop was “shocking and distressing”.

“We express our solidarity with and prayers for Newcastle Bishop Greg Thompson and his officers who have worked diligently to end the culture of abuse and silence within the diocese,” the archbishop said.

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Posted July 22, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ahead of Monday’s Commons vote on Trident renewal, church leaders from a range of denominations have signalled their opposition to nuclear deterrents.

Speaking in the House of Lords, the Bishop of Chester said it was “not unreasonable at this time to contribute to our ongoing reflection upon why we have a nuclear deterrent at all’.

The Rt Rev Peter Forster went on: “In 1983 there was a report, The Church and the Bomb, in which it toyed with the hope that the UK might in fact unilaterally renounce its nuclear deterrent, but the Church rowed back from that and has never adopted that position, recognising that it was not equipped to reach such a conclusion in such a complex, political set of circumstances as surrounds this debate.

“Clearly today the UK is set upon ordering a new generation of submarines equipped with nuclear missiles, which will renew this country’s nuclear deterrent until 2060 or beyond. I simply express the hope that, during that period, ever greater efforts will be made to reduce the threat to our world from nuclear bombs and that we will continue to keep under review why we are making such significant decisions, which will have an impact into such a far-distant future—a future that will change in ways we cannot anticipate today.”

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Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churches are being urged to climb aboard the Pokémon Go bandwagon, as the game soars in popularity across the UK.

Last week, just hours after the game became available in the UK, the Church of England’s digital media officer, Tallie Proud, published a blog on how churches could use the wildly successful app to evangelise gamers.

Pokémon Go is based on catching Pokémon, animated monsters that first became popular in the 1990s, using the GPS system on a smartphone or tablet, and then battling with them against other players.

Real-life locations and points of interest, including churches, have been designated by programmers as “PokéStops”, or “Gyms”, where gamers can collect resources and fight to establish their team’s control of the area.

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

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Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Diocese of Northern Uganda has been praised by the country’s armed forces for its crisis response in support for the thousands of refugees streaming into the country from South Sudan.

More than 38,000 people have reported fled from South Sudan in the past week, including Kenyans and Rwandans. South Sudanese nationals fleeing the violence were received in Elegu and transferred to the Refugee Camp in Adjumani.

The refugees are being transported in a 3 km-long convoy under police and army escort to provide security from rebel activity.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Uganda* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South SudanUganda

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Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the face of the sexual revolution, the Christian church in the West now faces a set of moral challenges that exceeds anything it has experienced in the past. This is a revolution of ideas—one that is transforming the entire moral structure of meaning and life. These challenges would be vexing enough for any generation. But the contours of our current challenge have to be understood over against the affecting reality for virtually everything on the American landscape, and furthermore in the West. This revolution, like all revolutions, takes few prisoners. In other words, it demands total acceptance of its revolutionary claims and the affirmation of its aims. This is the problem that now confronts Christians who are committed to faithfulness to the Bible as the Word of God and to the gospel as the only message of salvation.

The scale and scope of this challenge are made clear in an argument made by the British theologian Theo Hobson. As Hobson acknowledges, “Churches have always faced difficult moral issues and they have muddled through.” Some will argue that the challenge of the sexual revolution and the normalization of homosexuality are nothing new or unusual. He says, “Until quite recently I would have agreed,” but he also says, “It becomes ever clearer that the issue of homosexuality really is different.”

Why is this challenge to Christianity different? Hobson suggests that the first reason is what he recognizes as the either/or quality of the new morality. I agree with him that there is no middle ground in terms of the church’s engagement with these hard and urgent questions.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 21, 2016 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Sentamu said, “William Wilberforce was one of a team of companions who worked together to further the cause - it took Wilberforce, and his companions,18 years of continuous parliamentary activity before they saw results. Wilberforce’s deep trust in Christ, persistence, courage and determination to transform the lives of many is a wonderful example that should inspire us all today to make a difference”.

The Revd Paul Harford, vicar of Markington expressed delight that the Archbishop is attending and said: “The message we want to convey in our celebration is that the Christian faith isn't just an abstract theory, but something that has had a fundamental impact for good on our culture and society time and time again. Jesus Christ still challenges us to confront the injustices of our society, and work with Him to bring good news to the poor, let the oppressed go free, and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. Reflecting on that, the Archbishop sprang to mind - I have always had great respect and admiration for the way his faith is so apparent in all he does.”

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Archbishop of York John Sentamu* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted July 21, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thirty-nine grants totalling £14.5 million have today been announced by government for urgent repairs to Church of England and Catholic cathedrals in England. This is the second phase of grants awarded by the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund.

Welcoming the announcement Dame Fiona Reynolds, Chair, Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, said: 'Cathedrals are the beating hearts of their communities, offering sanctuary, beauty, collective history, and social and economic support to people of every generation. Cathedrals which benefitted from the first phase of this fund have been repaired and refurbished, and staff and volunteers have time and resources to serve their cities and regions with renewed energy. It is fantastic that more cathedrals are now able to benefit from this scheme. England's cathedrals are a wonderfully diverse group, encompassing not only vast, world-famous medieval buildings such as Durham, Lincoln and Canterbury, but also smaller churches like Wakefield and Leicester which were made cathedrals to serve the growing urban populations of the industrial revolution. These too have become jewels in the centres of their cities and their showcase to the entire nation, as we saw with Leicester Cathedral's events around the re-interment of Richard III.'

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Posted July 21, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England's "Shared Conversations" program to resolve its divide over the moral and doctrinal issues surrounding the new thinking on homosexuality have failed to take the testimony of Scripture seriously, 32 members of the 1990 Group of General Synod said in a letter sent to the College of Bishops on 17 July 2016. While progressive members of Synod have applauded the facilitated conversations on the new ethics, seeing them as a fair representation of their views, traditionalists have been less sanguine. Some members of Synod boycotted the talks stating that it proceeded from the faulty assumption that the new ethic had equal moral and intellectual value as the church's traditional teachings. Others who participated in the discussions noted it was unbalanced, with a preponderance of "experts" offering progressive views, or putting forward arguments that had long been discredited by scholars and theologians. Questions about the funding of the process have been raised, as some have observed that two members of the staff of Coventry Cathedral's reconcillation center, who led the program, have their stipends paid by the Episcopal Church. Not disclosing these interests would be akin to an employee of Shell Oil addressing General Synod on climate change without stating his personal interest in the issue.

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Posted July 21, 2016 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the last few weeks, as children are beginning to accept me and open up to me, I’ve found myself giving dating advice to the group of 8-year-old girls that flock around me. My best advice so far is, ‘If you have a boyfriend, you do actually need to talk to him!’

‘Abi’s dating advice’ has now developed into to sharing Christian values with regard to sex and relationships. These girls are 8 years old and I trained in children’s and family work rather than youth work for a reason, but children are being exposed to what we might class as adult subjects at a younger and younger age. These are issues that need to be addressed.

As I sat down with my scrambled eggs and avocado lunch one day, I began to reflect on this a little more and my heart just began to break for these girls and the society in which they’re growing up. We live in a culture that doesn’t teach ‘love waits’ but one that says its OK to have as many sexual partners as you like as long as you are safe. And this is filtering through to children in primary school.

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Posted July 21, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Statement from Bishop Ron Cutler in regards to General Synod 2016

The triennial meeting of the General Synod of our church met in Richmond Hill, Ontario from July 7-12 under the theme "You are my witnesses" (Isaiah 43:10)

This General Synod bore witness to many significant developments in the life of our church. Changes made in 2013, made this gathering smaller, with 229 voting members. Our diocesan delegation was made up of 8 members. As always when our church gathers in this forum, it was an opportunity to hear stories about the many forms of partnerships we are engaged in, both national and international, within the Anglican Communion and ecumenically. We reflected on ethical investing and passed motions in support of investing in ways that support a low-carbon economy. We witnessed to the tremendous work of PWRDF and the Anglican Foundation, and much more. Our church witnessed further steps in the process of self-determination of Indigenous peoples within the Anglican Church of Canada and authorized new worship rites. We received and adopted financial statements and made housekeeping changes to governing documents. All of our witness was framed by worship, prayer, time to listen and learn from Anglicans from across the country, and deepen our relationships.

While we celebrated the working out of God's mission in our common life, overshadowing everything was the 'issue' of whether to amend the Canon on Marriage to explicitly allow for the marriage of same sex couples within the church. Members spent time in discussion groups to listen to one another before the legislative session on Monday July 11. There was more than four hours of debate involving 60 speakers, which was emotional, passionate, reasoned, mostly respectful (although sometimes not), bringing: scripture, theology, personal experiences, process and pain, hopes and fears followed an appeal from the Primate to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst. The vote on Monday night appeared to have defeated the resolution by one vote in the order of clergy. (To be approved the resolution required a 2/3 majority in each order of Synod: lay, clergy and bishops). When the votes were combined 70% of those present had supported the resolution. The following day, when the paper transcript of the electronic vote was released, it was discovered that there were at least two errors in the electronic system. When the errors were corrected and the votes were properly recorded, the required 2/3 majority in the order of clergy was achieved and the Primate declared that the resolution was in fact carried.
Following the correction of vote, Bishop Jane Alexander of Edmonton wrote: "so yesterday the church tipped in one direction, there was pain and hurt and tears and we all needed one another to hold us up, today the church tipped in the opposite direction and there was pain and hurt and tears and we all needed one another to hold us up. Is it possible that God is telling us that we need one another and for a while we got to stand in the place of the 'other'? May we all reflect on the grace we have been shown." The aftermath of this roller coaster of emotions left most members of synod absolutely drained and like them you might be wondering what we are to do now.
First of all, according to the rules of the General Synod, a resolution which changes the doctrine of the church must be passed by two consecutive meetings of the General Synod by the required 2/3 majorities in order to come into force. Between now and then, it is referred to dioceses and ecclesiastical provinces for consultation - not ratification! Therefore, before General Synod meets again in 2019 we will need to engage in a formal consultative process through our Diocesan Synod. Logically this should happen when our Synod meets in May 2017. With the bruises of this highly divisive debate still fresh, I am hoping that we can take the time to speak and listen to one another, together shaping a diocesan response.
The second outcome to be explored is that the General Synod Chancellor advised us, before the debate began, that there was nothing in the existing Canon on Marriage which explicitly prohibited the marriage of same sex couples in the church. Such exclusions are in the preamble to the Canon. With this knowledge, several bishops have announced that they will immediately give permission for clergy in their dioceses, whose conscience allows them, to begin to officiate at same sex marriages. At this moment I am not willing to give a similar permission. However I will be consulting with persons in leadership throughout our diocese during the summer and will write further on this matter in the early fall. I want to remind you that our diocese currently offers the opportunity for the blessing of same sex couples who have been civilly married. The resolution that asked for this guideline, was approved by an overwhelming majority at our Synod in 2011. I realize that not every member of our diocese will support this change and the current provision in the Marriage Canon that protects the conscience of clergy to not officiate at a wedding, will remain. However the vast majority of people and parishes which wrote to me before General Synod were in favour of this change. All the members of our General Synod delegation, respecting their own consciences, voted to approve the canonical change.
This process has been wrenching for our whole church, especially the members of the LGBTQ2+ community. Yet in the midst of all this, I give thanks for many things. First the way that the General Synod has been surrounded and held up in prayer. Second that we have a process, imperfect as it is, to have this conversation. Third for the leadership of our Primate, who was the epitome of grace under pressure and offered a genuine pastoral presence to both 'sides' of the debate. Fourth for a church which has taken seriously the commandment to love one another. Last but not least, for the engagement of the General Synod members from our diocese, who engaged fully in the process with faith and openness.
Having reflected on Isaiah chapter 43 all week, there are several prophetic words of hope that speak into this moment: "I love you" v.4, "Fear not, for I am with you...I will gather you" v.5, "you are my witnesses and my servants whom I have chosen" v.10, and finally from verse 19: "Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" May the God who still speaks to us, calling us beloved, quelling our fear, gathering us in and sending us out as witnesses to His love, keep us ever mindful of the new things that are spinning forth from God's own heart.

--(The Rt. Rev.) Ron Cutler

(You may find it there among many places).


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Posted July 21, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The recent failed coup attempt in Turkey raises lots of questions, most of which are well beyond the scope of this blog. However, there are two matters that are very much our concern: freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the more general issue of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

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

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 5:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The retirement of the Bishop of London, who has declined to ordain female priests, will open the door for the first woman to be appointed to one of the Church of England’s highest offices.

The Right Rev Richard Chartres, 69, announced yesterday that he would retire in February after more than 20 years, a tenure during which he delivered the sermon at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and led the state funeral for Margaret Thatcher.

In 2002 he said that he was very much in favour of women priests but that in the interests of unity he did not personally ordain men or women. He said yesterday: “It has been a privilege and a delight to serve in the Diocese of London as priest and bishop for well over thirty years. I have seen confidence return and church life revive.”

The bishopric of London is the most senior role to become vacant since the church voted to permit the appointment of women as bishops in 2014.

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

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has welcomed a new scheme to allow community groups to directly sponsor a refugee family.

Archbishop Justin Welby said the scheme would allow churches and other civil society groups “to provide sanctuary to those fleeing war-torn places.”

The Full Community Sponsorship scheme was launched today by Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Archbishop Justin Welby at Lambeth Palace.

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

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Not long ago, my community lost a beloved young member because of his repeated trespassing onto a dangerous train trestle to take selfies. He posted them with the hashtag #liveauthentic. His last time there, he died while trying to outrun the train. (People take such extraordinary measures to get selfies that so-called “selfie-related deaths” are a global phenomenon. Wikipedia now keeps a tally.) For him and for many others, capturing an experience with a photo, video, tweet, or blog post can hold more importance than the actual experience and reflects a phenomenon that the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard called the hyperreal.

In his 1986 book, America, Baudrillard cited the election of a Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan, to the presidency as evidence of the hyperreal. Hyperreality describes a postmodern, highly technological society in which the lines between the real and simulations of the real become hopelessly (although often purposely) blurred to the point that we can no longer distinguish between reality and imitations of reality. When someone believes that reality TV actually represents real life, or when Coca-Cola—which was originally a simulation of cocaine—gets labeled as “the real thing,” or when we really feel liked by the number of “likes” on Facebook, we’re dealing with the hyperreal.

For example, this month’s release of the mobile app Pokémon Go—a video game using “augmented reality” (blending virtual reality with our actual surroundings)— has police cautioning players to be more mindful of the real world. One girl was hit by a car while walking into traffic and two men fell off an ocean bluff while playing. More generally, cell phone use plays a factor in one in four car accidents. Texting by pedestrians has grown into such a significant public safety concern that cities, campuses, and companies are taking measures to curb emergency room visits and even deaths from those “distracted while walking.” (Full disclosure: I once sprained my ankle walking down a grassy bank while reading email on my Blackberry. I know of what I write.)

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEntertainmentReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the following years, the director said, his initial idea of telling Liddell’s story in a film expanded into a more personal project devoted to understanding Liddell’s life in China. He and his collaborators consulted with Liddell’s daughters, who live in Canada, as well as the Eric Liddell Center in Edinburgh. They tracked down survivors of the camp — most were children at the time — and interviewed Chinese people who had lived nearby.

Eventually, in addition to making “The Last Race,” they also produced a documentary and compiled a book using the material they had gathered.

The film first shows Liddell, played by Joseph Fiennes, trudging into an internment camp in 1943, then flashes back to the eastern port of Tianjin and his years in the city as a teacher and missionary after his Olympic victory. After the Japanese invade, he sends his pregnant wife (Elizabeth Arends) and their two daughters to Canada.

At the camp with hundreds of other civilians from Allied countries, including Americans, British, Canadians and Australians, he becomes a quiet but steadfast leader, helping to obtain food and supplies for other prisoners with the assistance of some sympathetic Chinese.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissions* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & CultureSports* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaEngland / UK--Scotland* Theology

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As for Mrs May, she recently (in her old job as home secretary) raised secularist hackles by the emollient terms in which she announced an 18-month enquiry into the operation of Islamic family law in Britain, led by a distinguished Muslim academic, Mona Siddiqui. The adjudication of divorce and inheritance matters by "sharia councils" does pose a dilemma for many liberal-democratic governments. On one hand, Britain (unlike France) allows people to bequeath their property to anybody they choose, and if they choose to make a will on Islamic principles that is formally speaking a free exercise of this entitlement. On the other, a person who grows up deep inside a traditional Muslim sub-culture may feel under overwhelming pressure to accept the adjudication of family affairs on Islamic lines, so there are questions about how free the choice really is.

For secularists (and for Christians of a more militant hue), Mrs May spoke too mildly when she responded by suggesting that the only problem lay in the abuse of a phenomenon which was in itself neutral or benign. What she said, inter alia, was: “Many British people of different faiths follow religious codes and practices, and benefit a great deal from the guidance they offer. [However] a number of women have reportedly been victims of what appear to be discriminatory decisions taken by Sharia councils, and that is a significant concern."

Secularists immediately retorted that some aspects of Islamic family law (for example giving a woman half the inheritance rights of a man, and making it much easier for a man to initiate divorce) are intrinsically discriminatory; the problem lies in the rules, not in their unfair application.

But for someone of Mrs May’s background, there can be no rush to judgment. More than her secularist colleagues, she finds it self-evident that some groups in society can find comfort in “codes and practices” as well as texts, rituals and traditions which seem alien to outsiders.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the first time in its history, the Anglican Church of Canada will enter into a bilateral ecumenical dialogue with Mennonite Church Canada (MCC) following a motion passed at General Synod, July 12.

The motion’s mover, Bruce Myers, coadjutor bishop of the diocese of Quebec and former co-ordinator of ecumenical relations for the national church, explained that as the Anglican church’s relationship to mainstream society changes, it could benefit from talking to a church that has always had a fraught relationship with the mainstream.

“Mennonites have often existed as a church on the margins, both historically and in the contemporary Canadian context,” he noted. “As the Anglican Church of Canada enters a new stage of its life, some of us have been asking if there is something we can learn from our Mennonite sisters and brothers, about living faithfully as disciples of Jesus on the margins of society.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther Churches

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

​Zosima/Dostoyevksy then pushes the idea further:
But when he knows that he is not only worse than all those in the world, but is also guilty before all people, on behalf of all and for all, for all human sins, the world’s and each person’s, only then will the goal of our unity be achieved. For you must know, my dear ones, that each of us is undoubtedly guilty on behalf of all and for all on earth, not only because of the common guilt of the world, but personally, each one of us, for all people and for each person on this earth.
This suggests that, in some sense, we are responsible for police brutality; for the decay of the inner city; for police shootings; for lack of sympathy with law enforcement; for politicians and social activists, left and right, that have inadvertently fostered a culture of violence; and so on—“for all people and for each person on this earth.”

To be honest, I don’t quite know what this fully means. We are so locked into an individualistic worldview, that Dostoyevsky’s idea is hard to grasp. But I sense he’s on to something, and we hyper-individualistic Christians would be wise to heed it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The affirmation culture of pop psychology has made its way into the theological academy, at least at mainline Protestant seminaries. We are told that we can be the leaders who will fix the church and that all of our snazzy ideas are totally going to work, indeed, that they are “prophetic” (please stop using that word to describe anyone you know).

Of course, the problem with this system is that then our seminaries send these “prophetic” newly ordained people into actual churches with actual lay people. And the ability of lay people to spot bad ideas is very strong. This combination usually makes for a painful, short marriage. One need only glance at the numbers of clergy who last less than five years in parish ministry to know that perhaps that professor was right. Maybe we are all idiots for wanting to do ministry in churches; the smart ones got out ahead of time.

Or maybe our seminaries could do better by the people they are training. Why are we not telling people in seminary that if they do not want serve in churches then they should not be pursuing ordination? I understand the practical reasons (mostly money), but I am astonished that we do not see the negative endgame for the church, not to mention the damage it does to the individual paying for an education: Paying student loans for a ministerial education that proved worthless is a sure and certain path to embitterment.

When I was in seminary, I remember having an endless number of conversations with people in their 20s who wanted to be ordained but classified themselves as “just not sure” about the church. Most of them were interested in academics. I wonder how many professors of systematic theology or biblical studies we will need in the future. According to the flood of people in our seminaries, I am guessing 4 million.

I would suggest that our seminaries are inadvertently devastating our churches. Most people who are ordained do end up in some kind of ordained ministry at some point in their career. However, if they have been encouraged and you are so special-ed through seminary, then it seems perfectly logical to them that they can make their living being an urban garden planter who occasionally talks about Jesus.'

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological EducationSoteriology

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Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his late twenties, Trump began attending Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue. Founded in 1628 in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, Marble Collegiate is one of the few institutions that survives from the city’s founding. Peter Minuit, the governor of New Amsterdam, was the first church elder, and Peter Stuyvesant, the colony’s director general, led worshippers to service every Sunday. The high steeple of its current home, erected in 1854, rises two hundred feet above the pavement, a symbol of uprightness set in stone. Here Trump walked down the aisle after exchanging vows with Ivana and heard the sermons of Norman Vincent Peale, a man whose philosophy would become Trump’s own.

When Trump met him, Peale was already famous as the author of The Power of Positive Thinking, a book that would go on to sell some five million copies. Peale occupied a position at the center of the establishment, though this standing was endangered in 1960, when he joined a group of 150 Protestant pastors, including Billy Graham, that wanted to keep Kennedy out of the White House. The group issued a manifesto asking whether a Catholic could be trusted as president when Rome had shown such “determined efforts . . . to breach the wall of separation of church and state.” Peale led the public presentation of the document and faced an immediate backlash from Union Theological Seminary’s Reinhold Niebuhr and John Bennett, who accused him of “blind prejudice.” The embarrassed Peale apologized and from then on sought to distance his teaching from the harsh realities of politics.

Before Trump made his own foray into politics, he read Peale’s book and adopted its program of “positive thinking.” The two men began to trade public compliments. Peale, always generous in his assessments of human nature, said that Trump had a “profound streak of honest humility.” Trump, not exactly showing that humble streak, said that Peale “thought I was his greatest student of all time.” In a certain sense, Trump was right. Peale has had no more perfect disciple.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted July 18, 2016 at 2:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The church’s executive pastors met with Noble “over the course of several months” to discuss their concerns about his dependence on alcohol, which eventually resulted in his removal.
“In my opinion, the bible (sic) does not prohibit the use of alcohol, but it does prohibit drunkenness and intoxication,” Noble wrote to his congregation of 18 years. “I never had a problem drinking alcohol socially, but in the past year or so I have allowed myself to slide into, in my opinion, the overuse of alcohol.
“This was a spiritual and moral mistake on my part,” Noble wrote, “as I began to depend on alcohol for my refuge instead of Jesus and others.”
Noble’s addiction—and his church’s concern—are not new. Nearly one in five pastors report that they have struggled with addiction to alcohol or prescription drugs, according to a 2013 survey by Barna Group.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchAlcoholismHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2016 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

About 2,000 members made the warm walk across the NewSpring Church parking lot in Anderson for each worship service Sunday morning.

Few were fully braced for the news that awaited: Perry Noble, the only senior pastor the church has known, has been removed from his duties for personal issues related to alcohol by the church's leadership team.

Williamston Town Councilman Rockey Burgess said the news "did come as a shock" in the 9:15 a.m. service, even though recent rumors had prepared him to a degree.

"But the church isn't made up of the preacher, and the church doesn't worship the preacher," he said. "The church is the people who go there, and we all love one another."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchAlcoholismReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Joining me for more on this is our managing editor Kim Lawton and Lisa Sharon Harper of the Christian social justice group Sojourners. She’s the author of the new book The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right.

LISA SHARON HARPER: Thank you.

ABERNETHY: On your list of things that need to be done, what’s first?

09HARPER: Number one, we need to deal with the unconscious beliefs that we have about each other. You see, our society is structured according to those beliefs—in fact you go back to Plato, Western civilization, Plato told us back in 360 BC we should structure the republic according to race. But it wasn’t colorized at that point. We colorized it, and then we created a slave-based, race-based slavery system that structured the way we encountered the world. And it creates biases.

KIM LAWTON: And you think though that that’s still having an impact? We’re well beyond slavery now...

HARPER: So imagine 254 years walking around in society and seeing black people in chains, confined in small spaces with overseers. Then another 100 years you see them swinging from trees—this is how criminals are treated in Europe. This is how we came to understand and see black people. And now, when an officer encounters a black person in a car, you actually—he responds to them as if they’re criminal before even meeting them, before listening to their voice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The BPT’s philosophy emphasises personal fulfilment — on pilgrimage, says their website, ‘You are free to be the best person you can dream of being’ — but also social conscience: they encourage pilgrims to give something back, whether by picking up litter, buying locally or talking to a stranger. They also promise that ‘You will rediscover your relationship with self and Nature. Engaging with the world in the way your body was designed to do is a sure path to feeling grateful for being alive.’

It is, in short, a very 21st-century kind of spirituality. It has much in common with the atheist church the Sunday Assembly, whose slogan is ‘Live better, help often, wonder more’. Which sounds very much like the self-help tradition — a term Hayward happily applies to pilgrimage. ‘It is a self-help technique, as much as anything else. But religion, of course, is a self-help…’ He checks himself. ‘I mean, would it call itself self-help?’

It’s a complex question, but as far as Christianity goes I think the answer is probably no. Jesus provoked not so much ‘a sense of wonder’ as fear, astonishment, fiercely personal hatred and even more fiercely personal love. He spoke about individual fulfilment, but said that the only way to it was a slow death by crucifixion. He showed compassion, but often in startling ways — negotiating with devils, controlling the weather, raising the dead. It was not your average Ted talk.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTravel* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther Faiths* Theology

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Posted July 18, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Do you have hope for Syria?

There’s hope but no chance for true peace until Assad steps down. It’s hard for me to listen when people say: In places like Syria, they’re not like us. They want a strong person in power to rule them. I don’t buy that. Everybody wants to be free enough to determine their own destiny. Syria used to be a more or less secular state. My Syrian friends have described how their mothers used to go to Easter services even though they were Muslims.

Christianity and Islam aren’t so far apart. And Judaism too—we’re all of Abrahamic faiths. Almost all the people I saw over there who were doing the work of Jesus were Muslims. They were healing the sick, caring for the widows and orphans. Most of the foreign aid workers were Europeans who didn’t have any religious affiliation at all, but they were doing the work of Jesus. And there were Christians among them, of course. We’re all in this together.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Theology

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Posted July 18, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In December 2014, a middle-aged man driving a car in Dijon, France, mowed down more than a dozen pedestrians within 30 minutes, occasionally shouting Islamic slogans from his window.

The chief prosecutor in Dijon described the attacks, which left 13 injured but no one dead, as the work of a mentally unbalanced man whose motivations were vague and “hardly coherent.”

A year and a half later, after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel slaughtered dozens of people when he drove a 19-ton refrigerated truck through a Bastille Day celebration on Thursday in Nice, France, the authorities did not hesitate to call it an act of Islamic terrorism. The attacker had a record of petty crime — though no obvious ties to a terrorist group — but the French prime minister swiftly said Mr. Lahouaiej Bouhlel was “a terrorist probably linked to radical Islam one way or another.”

The age of the Islamic State, in which the tools of terrorism appear increasingly crude and haphazard, has led to a reimagining of the common notion of who is and who is not a terrorist.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 17, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The program, which included an unusually high number of women speakers for an evangelical gathering, featured Voskamp and poet Amena Brown in a spoken-word segment that featured calls for forgiveness and reconciliation related to racism and privilege.

“We will not be the people who turn a blind eye to injustice,” cried Voskamp.

“We will use our voices, our time, our resources to effect change,” replied Brown.

As the event drew to a close, many pledged to pray more and study the Bible. Charlene Atkins, 49, who attends a mostly black Bible church in Dallas, said she hopes to encourage greater work across racial lines in her church community.

“One of the things that we talked about while out there was helping people who are Christians understand what it means to be as one body in Christ,” she said. “How do we look more like Christ and less like ourselves? I think that would help a lot in the issues that our nation is facing if the church would start to look more like the church.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 17, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Survey respondents cited the following top reasons to head to church:

Church helps my spiritual development (39 percent)
Opportunity to find out more about God (38 percent)
Opportunity to make friends and nurture friendships (38 percent)
Knowing that anyone will be welcomed into the church community (38 percent)
Opportunity for support during difficult times (37 percent)
David Kinnaman, president of Barna and director of the study, said church leaders can use the findings to offer genuine community for young seekers across life experiences.

“Young adults are connected to social media nearly every waking hour, but four of the top-five reasons they might attend church point to a profound need for community that is deeper than what's available virtually,” Kinnaman said in a statement to United Methodist Communications. “In fact, twice the number of U.S. adults tell us they are lonely compared to 10 years ago — and that relational gap represents a real opportunity for churches that want to reach young seekers.”

Read it all from UMNS.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociologyYoung Adults

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Posted July 16, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the annual Good Friday procession when leaders of all three churches come together to march from Methodist Central Hall to Westminster Cathedral and then Westminster Abbey, the drum beat has sometimes seemed to signal the slow rhythm of the churches’ own inexorable march towards crucifixion on the mount modern secularism.

Yet there are signs of resurrection.

In their new book, That Was The Church That Was, published July 2016, the journalist Andrew Brown and sociology professor Linda Woodhead argue that the Church of England is lost because the England of which it was the Church has disappeared. 'The Church of England, if it is to return to reality and survive, must somehow recover the exuberant incoherence of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,' they write.

Emerging data suggests that while 'exuberant incoherence' might not be precisely the right term, something new is indeed occurring that suggests the Church might not be quite the doomed entity Brown and Woodhead suggest it is.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The worst plenary session of all was the first one, and it was very telling that what many view as the most important theological question—what does Scripture say and how should we make sense of it—was the one most badly misjudged. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to describe it as an absolute travesty of process. There were three speakers, one of whom supports the current teaching position of the Church, the other two arguing for change. The first person stayed within the brief, and spoke for seven to eight minutes; the second appeared to ignore the brief and spoke for 17 minutes, without intervention from the chair; the third spoke for 12 minutes. So we were offered 8 minutes on the Church’s current and historic teaching, and 29 minutes on why this was wrong. And the dynamic of putting the ‘orthodox’ position first meant that, as in all such debates, the advantage is handed to the others. Added to that, the first speaker, whilst eminently qualified in other ways, was not a biblical scholar, whilst the next one advocating change was. There was no voice from a Catholic perspective, engaging with the reception of Scripture within the tradition, and the ‘orthodox’ view was repeatedly labelled not as the Church’s teaching, but as ‘conservative’.

Even worse than that was the content of the second and third presentations, and the way the format prevented proper interrogation of the claims made. It was claimed that the givenness of sexual orientation is the settled view of Western culture, when it is contested both within and outside the church, is not supported by social-scientific research, and has been abandoned as a basis of argument in secular LGBT+ debate. It was claimed that all the texts in the NT referring to same-sex activity are in the context of porneia, ‘bad sex’, which was either commercial or abusive—which is a basic factual error. It was claimed that St Paul ‘could not have known of stable same-sex relations’ which is not supported by the historical facts. And it was claimed that same-sex relationships were the ‘eschatological fulfilment of Christian marriage’ since they involved loving commitment without procreation. It was not even acknowledged that many in the chamber would find that a deeply offensive assertion, quite apart from its implausibility. But the format of the presentation precluded proper exploration of these authoritative claims. It felt to me like a serious power play, and I felt I had been subject to an abuse of expert power.

All this was made worse when one of the key organisers, having picked up some negative feedback on this, stood up near the end of the day to tell us (in essence) that if you thought this first session was unbalanced, then you were wrong. It confirmed a basic lack of understanding of the concerns raised by those responsible for the process—concerns not of some extreme group at one end of the spectrum, but concerns of those who simply believe in the Church’s current teaching position.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 16, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Christian church now finds itself facing a new reality. The church no longer represents the central core of Western culture. Though outposts of Christian influence remain, these are exceptions rather than the rule. For the most part, the church has been displaced by the reign of secularism.

The daily newspaper brings a constant barrage which confirms the current state of American society. This age is not the first to see unspeakable horror and evil, but it is the first to deny any consistent basis for identifying evil as evil or good as good.

The faithful church is, for the most part, tolerated as one voice in the public arena, but only so long as it does not attempt to exercise any credible influence on the state of affairs. Should the church speak forcefully to an issue of public debate, it is castigated as coercive and out of date.

How does the church think of itself as it faces this new reality? During the 1980s, it was possible to think in ambitious terms about the church as the vanguard of a moral majority. That confidence has been seriously shaken by the events of the past decade.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Faith-based colleges—and religious liberty broadly—face an uncertain future in California. State legislators in Sacramento are considering a bill called the Equity in Higher Education Act, ostensibly to prohibit religious schools from discriminating against students. Yet it would actually create legal ambiguity, forcing judges to wade into the murky waters of theology to disentangle true religious belief from discriminatory animus.

The bill will be put before the California state Assembly Appropriations Committee in August. If enacted, it could spark similar efforts around the country. Yet instead of regulating the internal affairs of religious institutions, California could simply require them to be clear about their rules. This compromise would protect religious liberty, avoid dangerous legal ambiguity and prevent discrimination.

Under current California law, religious colleges that receive state funds can be exempt from antidiscrimination laws. Institutions qualify for exemptions if they are “controlled by a religious organization” and if application of antidiscrimination laws “would not be consistent with the religious tenets of that organization.” This is what allows faith-based colleges to, for example, enforce a code of conduct that bans same-sex relationships.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2016 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....it would be very useful if our political leaders felt able to speak the name of the actual cause for which all those murderous guns and knives and cars are being deployed. Perhaps that is too much to hope.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 15, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The new Prime Minister Theresa May has said that her Government will give back control to the poor, the stigmatised, and the vulnerable in the UK, and will be driven by the interests of the people, as she succeeded David Cameron as the leader of the Conservative Party and became the second woman to lead the UK.

Speaking outside 10 Downing Street for the first time as Prime Minister on Wednesday evening, she praised Mr Cameron’s “one nation Government” and said that she would work towards the union, “not just of the nations of the United Kingdom, but of citizens, wherever we are or whatever we’re from”.

The Government will not just be led by the “privileged few” but for every one of us, she said: “Together we will build a better Britain.”

Read it all.

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Posted July 15, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

'St Swithun's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain;
St Swithun's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain na mair.'

Thanks to this little bit of weather-lore, St Swithun, who died in c.863, is one of the few Anglo-Saxon saints most people have heard of. This is a bit odd when you consider how many fascinating Anglo-Saxon saints actually did important and interesting things and get no attention at all, while what we know about Swithun's life could be summarised very quickly:

1) he was Bishop of Winchester
2) he did the usual things Anglo-Saxon bishops did, repairing churches, witnessing charters, etc.
3) he died in c.863.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 15, 2016 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here is statement one and there is statement two.

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Posted July 14, 2016 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the past week, tens of thousands of people have taken to roaming the streets, interacting with invisible beings that now inhabit our cities.

These fanatics speak in a special language, undertake hours of devotional activity, and together experience moments of great joy and great sorrow.

It is an obsession, many say, that has taken over their lives, and for which they will sacrifice their bodies. They understand the world in a way the uninitiated cannot.

What sounds like a sudden global religious conversion, is, of course, the launch of Pokémon Go, an augmented reality smartphone game that has restarted the popular culture phenomenon of Pokémon. In many ways, however, Pokémon and religion are not so far apart.

Read it all.

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Posted July 14, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First of all, what is Pokémon GO?
Pokémon GO is a mobile and tablet app game which lets players find Pokémon (Animated creatures, first created in the 90′s, which players have to catch, train and battle with). The game takes place in augmented reality (meaning the game combines real life action with virtual gaming) by using GPS as you walk around towns, cities and other locations to find the Pokémon.

The game has been an overnight sensation with millions playing it around the world.

Why does your church need to know?
Your church might be a ‘PokéStop’ - real life buildings and landmarks that players have to visit to get certain items they need to play the game. Your church could also be a ‘Gym’ where players can battle their Pokémon. (Being Gym means people spend significantly more time battling Pokémon.)

Pokémon Go is therefore giving churches around the country a great opportunity to meet people from their area who might not normally come to church.

Read it all.

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Posted July 14, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today, more than any other time in its history, the Church must go beyond herself and reach out to the poor, the outcast and all in the periphery of society as well as to the affluent. Through this outreach, the Church shares their concerns, identifies with their sufferings and worries and helps them to meet their various needs. In this way, we shall let the kingdom of God come and allow His will to be done in the lives of all. This is the essence of mission, which is the core business of the Church.

God’s will in this prayer is that all creation, and mankind in particular, look up to Him for all their needs. Moreover, God desires that all give him glory and honour as they seek to live in harmony with their neighbours. This harmony calls on us to forgive each other’s wrongs as we seek to be forgiven by others even as we ask God to forgive us and daily accept us as His children.

The mandate of the Church at all times is to preach the good news of the kingdom to all God’s people, healing them and socially transforming their lives. This Good News reconciles us with our creator and brings reconciliation to a broken humanity and in the power of the Holy Spirit, even as she exercises her responsibility in stewardship over creation.

For the Church to remain true to her calling she must remain a credible witness to a broken world. As she calls for justice in every sphere, the Church must remain accountable in all her endeavours. Only in this way will she have a basis for holding others to account. In this respect the Church must constantly be on a mission to rally men, women, youth and children of faith to be alert, vigilant and diligent in their witness. Such are the witnesses Christ desires, who will never become complacent and live as if their Lord and Master is never coming back.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya

1 Comments
Posted July 14, 2016 at 6:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was at that point that Mr. [J P] Copeland, the person supporting the electronic voting, discovered that it was in fact my own vote as General Secretary that had been overlooked in the electronic count. Initially, we thought that it had been miscoded as a lay vote, rather than as a clergy vote. We have since been provided, by Mr. Copeland, the list from which the electronic voting was coded, a list prepared by my office. That list described the General Secretary as “clergy, non-voting”. Data-on-the-spot simply coded the information that my office gave them. This error took place in my office, and I take responsibility for it. We were more than well-served by Data-on-the-spot. In fact, without Mr. Copeland’s prompt attention, I am not sure that we would have discovered the nature of the error and had a chance to understand and correct it.

That error was then shared with the assessors, who provide procedural advice to chancellor. In this case the advice we sought was about the proper procedure to inform the synod of this error. They gave the immediate and unanimous advice that it was the role of the chancellor to provide this information. We returned to the head table and the chancellor informed synod of the failure to count one vote.

After a period of some consternation, the Primate in his role as president of General Synod verbally reviewed the chancellor’s new information. Based on that information, he declared that the motion had received, in all three orders, the majority required by the constitution, and that the motion had been passed.

Read it all from Michael Thompson.

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Posted July 13, 2016 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A French company that dismissed a Muslim woman for wearing a head scarf when dealing with clients unlawfully discriminated against her, according to an advisory opinion that the European Union’s highest court released on Wednesday.

The opinion — while not the final word in the case — was the latest intervention in a debate in Europe over the role of Islam in public life and the challenge of integrating foreigners, an issue that has gained resonance in recent years with the large influx of refugees and asylum seekers, many of them from Muslim countries. The question of religion in the public sphere is particularly fraught in France, which has a strong tradition of secularism.

In the advisory opinion, Eleanor Sharpston, an advocate general with the European Court of Justice, sided with the Muslim woman, Asma Bougnaoui, who lost her job with Micropole, a French information technology consultancy, in 2009 after she refused to abide by the company’s request that she remove her head scarf when meeting with clients. She took her case to a French court, which referred it to the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.

Read it all.

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Posted July 13, 2016 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The two will become one.

Two local Diocese of Algoma Anglican Church communities will come together later this summer when congregations from St. John The Evangelist and St. Matthew's merge to form a new faith community that will be called Emmaus Anglican Church.

Rev. Patrick McManus, full-time pastor at St. Matthew's, said the move is more than a merger because the two existing churches will legally be dissolved Aug. 31, and a completely new church, Emmaus, will be created Sept. 1.

“It's a real risk for everyone involved. It feels like an adventure,” said McManus, who has ministered at St. Matthew's since December 2009.

McManus said his congregation his very active and is primed for “this sort of adventure.”

The launch date for the Emmaus Church is set for Sept. 11

Read it all.

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Posted July 13, 2016 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 protects those alleging non-statutory offences as well as statutory offences and also protects against "jigsaw identification" where members of the public can piece together clues about a complainant's identity.

[Paul] Butler says: "As you will understand, extreme caution is required, particularly in view of the information already in the public domain. It worth stressing that although Carol has shared some details publicly, she has not waived confidentiality in those she has not shared."

Butler says he is "mystified" how the group can believe the Church can disclose documents provided by Carol's solicitor. "On a wider point, it is singularly unattractive to suggest that because there might be no legal consequences to breaching Carol's confidence, the Church should simply provide sensitive material to a group of individuals with a keen interest in but no connection with the case."

Carol has already expressed herself hurt by the campaign to "clear his name" as it implies that she has not been believed, Butler says.

Read it all from Christian Today.

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Posted July 13, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the real tragedies today is that the Church as a whole has not furthered God’s light, equity, love and principles in our land in order to be a positive influence and impact for good in the midst of darkness, fear and hate.

Far too often, we have limited the definition of the Church. While not in all cases, in many cases, “Church” has become an informational, inspirational weekly gathering rather than the group of people that God has ordained from heaven to operate on his behalf on Earth in order to bring heaven’s viewpoint into history. There needs to be a recalibrating of many of our churches to the unified purpose of the Kingdom of God.

The Church and only the Church has been given the keys to the kingdom, so we have unique access to God that nobody else has. It’s about time more churches start using those keys to unlock doors, so that we get greater heavenly intervention in our earthly catastrophe. This is not to negate or downplay the great work countless churches have done throughout time in our land. I applaud and am grateful for all of it. What we have been ineffective at, though, is a unity that increases our impact on a larger collective level. When we unite as so many churches did during the civil rights movement, we can bring hope and healing where we as a nation need it most.

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted July 12, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church leaders failed to give police incriminating evidence about disgraced former Bishop Peter Ball in 1993, according to Sussex police documents.

Ball, 84, was jailed last year for sex assaults on 18 teenagers and young men in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Files obtained by the BBC indicate Lambeth Palace received six letters detailing indecency allegations shortly after an arrest in 1992.

Ball was cautioned but worked in churches and schools for 15 more years.

Read it all.

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Posted July 12, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Normally, nations pull together after tragedy, but a society plagued by dislocation and slipped off the rails of reality can go the other way. Rallies become gripped by an exaltation of tribal fervor. Before you know it, political life has spun out of control, dragging the country itself into a place both bizarre and unrecognizable.

This happened in Europe in the 1930s. We’re not close to that kind of descent in America today, but we’re closer than we’ve been. Let’s be honest: The crack of some abyss opened up for a moment by the end of last week.

Blood was in the streets last week — victims of police violence in two cities and slain cops in another. America’s leadership crisis looked dire. The F.B.I. director’s statements reminded us that Hillary Clinton is willing to blatantly lie to preserve her career. Donald Trump, of course, lies continually and without compunction. It’s very easy to see this country on a nightmare trajectory....I’m betting the local is more powerful, that the healthy growth on the forest floor is more important than the rot in the canopy. But last week was a confidence shaker. There’s a cavity beneath what we thought was the floor of national life, and there are demons there.

Read it all.

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2 Comments
Posted July 12, 2016 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Dennis Drainville, diocese of Quebec
We were really prepared for any eventuality, but to lose by one vote was beyond anything I could ever imagine.

The church will live through this, but for the next few days it will be very hard for many people. It’s going to take some time to get our heads cleared about what steps we need to take, moving on from here.

Q: Were you surprised that the Order of Bishops wasn’t the stumbling block?

I was surprised, but we knew it would be very close; we knew we had over 50% of bishops who were in favour of this. It was a surprise that we had the two-thirds majority.

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted July 12, 2016 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is time my friends. It is past time.

When the vote was announced I was extremely disappointed. However it is also true that a very significant majority (70%) of General Synod delegates have voted in favour of authorizing same sex marriages. This is good news. Unfortunately, a change to Marriage Canon XXI will not happen at this time. While a strong majority voted in favour in each of the orders of Bishops, Clergy and Laity, the two-thirds threshold required in the Order of Clergy for changing a Canon fell short by one vote.

It is now up to and within the authority of a diocesan bishop to respond in a manner that they deem appropriate.

It is my intention, in consultation with and in partnership with a number of other diocesan bishops to proceed with same sex marriages immediately within the Diocese of Ottawa. While no clergy will be required to officiate at a same sex marriage, those willing may do so with my permission.

Read it all.

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3 Comments
Posted July 12, 2016 at 5:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A resolution to change the marriage canon (church law) to allow for the solemnization of marriages of same-sex couples failed to pass by a fraction of a percentage point at the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod July 11.

The vote, which required a two-thirds majority in each of the orders of laity, clergy and bishops, received 72.22% support from the laity and 68.42% in the order of bishops, but only 66.23% percent in the order of clergy—0.43% shy of the 66.66% needed.

The vote came after a five-hour legislative session on the floor of synod, in which over 60 members from all orders and regions of the church spoke about their support, opposition and ambivalence to the motion before them.

Read it all.

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Posted July 12, 2016 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A passionate debate on whether the Anglican Church of Canada should bless same-sex marriages came to a head Monday when delegates to their triennial conference voted against authorizing such unions.

More than 200 delegates to the church's six-day General Synod just north of Toronto rejected the resolution after speakers lined up to make their points, with most speaking in favour of the resolution.

In order to pass, the resolution required two-thirds support from each of three orders — lay, clergy and bishops.

The bishops voted 68.42 per cent in favour of the resolution, and the lay delegates voted 72.22 per cent in favour. However, the clergy voted 66.23 per cent, just missing the percentage needed.

Read it all.

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Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted July 11, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Eliot Waddingham, 24, a transgender person from Ottawa, said tension over the vote was palpable.

"It is breaking my heart that there are people who see gay marriage as a separation from God and from love," said Waddingham, a longtime Anglican attending the synod as an observer.

"I think 'no' would be a death sentence for our church. It would be driving off the edge of a cliff."

To pass, the resolution to change the marriage cannon requires two-thirds of the delegates to vote yes in each of three orders — lay, clergy and bishops. The bishops' group indicated in February that the threshold would likely not be met. Indigenous bishops have also said they would resist having "Western cultural approaches" imposed on them.

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fearful that the nation is locked in a spiral of violence and discord, many Americans took what refuge they could in church on Sunday. In tiny storefronts and suburban megachurches, worshipers mourned the deaths of five Dallas police officers at the hands of an African-American sniper who was aiming to kill white officers at a demonstration against police violence. They also grieved for two African-American men killed in shootings by the police in Baton Rouge, La., and Minnesota.

Some prayed for the souls of the men who pulled the triggers. Some thanked God for the sacrifices the police made daily to protect their cities. Some thanked God for the technology that allowed the world to see controversial acts of police violence toward African-Americans.

At St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan spoke of a country “worried, frustrated and fatigued over senseless violence.”

“From Minnesota to Louisiana and Texas, one nation under God examines its soul,” he said. “Sadness and heaviness is especially present in our African-American and law enforcement communities.”

Read it all.

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Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read them carefull and read them all.

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Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the Dark Ages. None the less certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead—often not recognising fully what they were doing—was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct [one characterized by moral incoherence and unsettlable moral disputes in the modern world], we ought to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict.”
--Alisdair MacIntyre, After Virtue (Terre Haute, Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 3rd. ed., 2007), p. 263

Update: Peter Leithardt's comments on this are also worth pondering:
"The turning point, he says, occurred with a renunciation of the “task of shoring up the Roman imperium,” which required “men and women of good will” to begin to distinguish between sustaining moral community and maintaining the empire. Roman civilization was no longer seen as synonymous with civilization itself. Mutatis muntandis, this is the intellectual and practical transformation that has to take place before we can begin to construct “local forms of community” for the flourishing of civility and intellectual life. We need to acknowledge that our task isn't to shore up America, or the West, or whatever. If we promote local communities of virtue as a tactic for shoring up the imperium, we haven't really grasped MacIntyre's point, or the depth of the crisis he described.

That renunciation is as emotionally difficult as the project of forming local communities is practically difficult."


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Posted July 11, 2016 at 5:57 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

HOLDEN: Well, there's probably nothing more devastating than that. And so we call what we do, primarily in that regard, ministry of presence. Sometimes it's not just saying something. It's just being there and letting them know that we care. You know, I've been through a number of police funerals, and it's never ever easy, as you can imagine.

MARTIN: Your group has deployed chaplains to places like Ferguson and Baltimore where there's been so much unrest in recent years - days of rioting, emotions so raw. What - what's your role in those situations?

HOLDEN: We work with the community and the police department. So we're there to just pray with people, hug people - we do a lot of hugging just to let them know we care, and certainly with the department as well - but also to try to be a balance between the community and the police department and to be out there in the streets. We - we've become very proactive, just talking with people, you know, just letting them know that we're there for them, whatever their needs might be.

Read it all.

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Posted July 10, 2016 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although he praised the “typically Canadian and commendably transparent process” that led General Synod to the marriage canon vote, he said that the conclusions this process led to—that same-sex marriage was theologically possible—“would be difficult to receive” for other parts of the Communion.

In his comments on the vote itself, he expressed concern over how either a “yes” or a “no” would be understood by the wider church.

“However you are led by the spirit in your reflection at this synod on the marriage of gays and lesbians in Canada,” he said, “I pray that your decision may be received in such a way by the provinces of the Communion that it will help, and not hinder, our equally vital agenda to change attitudes that would make people safe.”

Idowu-Fearon, who served as bishop of Kaduna in the Church of Nigeria before becoming secretary general in 2015, said it would be “impossible” to think about the 77-million member Anglican Communion without noting the “historic and ongoing” role Canada has played in it.

Read it all.

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Posted July 10, 2016 at 5:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

However, participants were more hesitant when it came to questions about their own children cohabiting before marriage. Forty-four percent of participants said they would be OK with their child cohabiting, similar to 40 percent who said it would not be OK.

According to a recent Deseret News report an analysis by the Census Bureau data found cohabitation has doubled in the past 25 years, noting that from 2011 to 2013 nearly two-thirds of of women ages 19-44 had lived with a partner outside of marriage.

“America is well beyond the tipping point when it comes to cohabitation,” Roxanne Stone, editor in chief at Barna Group, stated in the report of the survey. “Living together before marriage is no longer an exception, but instead has become an accepted and expected milestone of adulthood."

Read it all.

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Posted July 9, 2016 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have no easy answer to the crisis in which we find ourselves as Americans. But this much is clear: Dallas Christians, black and white, of all denominations, are called to stand together. As one we pray for those harmed. We who do so are already one body in Jesus Christ, in spite of all the fault lines in our society. May the Holy Spirit guide us all in discerning the shape of our common witness. May we all be praying for the welfare of our city and all its inhabitants. May He protect all exposed to danger in their work.

Read it all.

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Posted July 9, 2016 at 8:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But Levin's case is not a counsel of despair. Far from it. Nor does he simply dismiss our nostalgia. Instead, we need to learn from it: "To learn from nostalgia, we must let it guide us not merely toward 'the way we were,' but toward what was good about what we miss, and why." Or, as we've suggested here before, we need to "remember forward."

That endeavour informs the second, constructive half of The Fractured Republic. The diagnosis is important: the same mid-century developments we celebrate were Trojan horses that unleashed forces hostile to the institutions, habits, and practices that made them possible. More specifically, what crawled out of those horses were agents of individualism that devoured the mid-level institutions of society, leaving atomistic individuals fending for themselves and/or looking to a behemoth state to save us. The result has been "the collapse of the culture of solidarity."

The creative way forward, then, is to recover a culture of solidarity in the face of atomistic individualism and an abstract state. But what distinguishes Levin's proposal from the nostalgia of others is his almost Hegelian attentiveness to the contingencies of history. So we can't just turn back the clock to consolidation. Riffing on Alexis de Tocqueville, Levin concedes that the "diffusion" that characterizes our society is "a 'generative fact' of our particular time. It can be channelled and directed, perhaps mitigated at the margins, but it cannot be meaningfully reversed, at least in the foreseeable future.

Read it all.

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Posted July 9, 2016 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For one thing, the targets are too important to be left to just anyone. No one but the Islamic State (or possibly al-Qaeda) would dare attack the Prophet’s Mosque.

For another thing, only the Islamic State has the right kind of experienced personnel on the ground in Saudi Arabia. In the past four years, more than 3,000 young Saudi men have gone to fight with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Of them, about 700 have reportedly returned home to Saudi Arabia fully trained and willing to carry out such attacks as these.

Finally, it is the Islamic State that harbours the greatest contempt for Saudi Arabia.

Since the day, two years ago, on which Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State, declared a caliphate in the parts of Iraq and Syria the group had conquered and occupied, he has wanted to overturn the House of Saud.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 8, 2016 at 4:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What does Lamentations offer us today?

There are people who are, at this moment, seeing murder, rape, the loss of homes and loved ones, and the destruction of holy places. For them, Lamentations describes reality. We can and should lament with them.

Lamentations, as O’Connor says, provides a bottle for the tears of the world. We cry out to God for those who suffer so terribly from the effects of sin and evil and sheer folly: in wars, racial conflicts, and all manner of injustice and oppression. Lamentations holds up to God the sheer horror of what this suffering feels like, and appeals to him to act justly, to demonstrate his faithfulness. The book affirms God’s sovereignty—his throne is still in heaven even as the devastation of his temple happens on earth—in its closing verses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 8, 2016 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The challenges are this. Alastair Campbell famously said to Tony Blair: “We don’t do God.” Well, I trust that the Church of England, and in particular this Synod, will in this debate, and in the many that will follow it on the consequences of the referendum and the outworkings of that, give sufficient evidence to the world to be convinced of [us] doing God a great deal.

To do God means not to accept fear as the decisive force in our thinking, although we need to be real about its effects on us and the effects of insecurity. The eternal God is our refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms. God is Lord of history and sovereign in events. We are in His hands.

He raised Jesus Christ from the dead. He gives us the Holy Spirit to equip us to live as God’s people in all times and circumstances. Paul reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. The Psalmist brings troubles and victories and lays them before God.

This is a time for remembering the authority and power of God, revealed in Jesus Christ, and of the good news that we have in our hands for all people in this land.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 8, 2016 at 10:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the eve of the Shared Conversations at the General Synod in York this weekend, the Council has issued a Q&A designed to puncture notions that scripture could be compatible with same-sex relationships.

And, writing in the Church Times, the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Henderson, argues that the authority of the Bible “must not be superseded by pastoral, anthropological, and missional arguments”.

The Church should not be worried about being at odds with cultural norms, says Bishop Henderson, who is the president of the CEEC. “The Christian community has never been called to popularity,” he writes. “The gospel is an offence because of its call to repentance.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 8, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two Victoria leaders in the Anglican church will argue in favour of allowing same-sex marriage at a national council meeting in Ontario this week — which is coincidentally Pride week.

“We’ve been talking about this since the ’60s. … I look at it as a justice issue,” said Logan McMenamie, bishop of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Kingcome Inlet.

The Anglican Church of Canada will discuss and vote on changing the canon definition of marriage from being between a man and a woman to between two persons. Currently, the Anglican church performs blessings for same-sex civil unions.

The vote takes place at the General Synod, a national gathering, held every three years, of the houses that make up the Anglican church: The laity, clergy and bishops. In March, the house of bishops said it was not likely to pass the vote.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2016 at 3:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With these attacks being carried out by ISIS especially during the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan, lots of questions have been raised about Islam. This past January, I attended the Mere Anglicanism Conference where one of the premier speakers was Nabeel Qureshi author of Seeking Allah, and finding Jesus.

In his book he describes his dramatic journey from Islam to Christianity, complete with friendships, investigations, and supernatural dreams along the way. Engaging and thought-provoking, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus tells a powerful story of the clash between Islam and Christianity in one man’s heart―and of the peace he eventually found in Jesus.

Now he has developed a study course. In this course he explores Muslim culture, the most common Muslim objections to Christianity, and the core doctrines upon which Islam stands or falls. Compassionate and clear this study develops in further detail the objections to Islam and case for Christianity that Qureshi introduced in his book.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult Education* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* South Carolina

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Posted July 7, 2016 at 1:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan, many are struggling to comprehend a wave of attacks that killed 350 people across several countries during the holy month and raised the question of what drives the militants to ever more spectacular violence.

The high-profile attacks underline the warnings by many experts that the Islamic State group, especially when on the defensive, will metastasize far beyond its theater of operations.

The extremist group has always sought attention and recruits through terrorism, which has proven to be a winning strategy among its disenfranchised and angry followers.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 7, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So what do the numbers tell us about the Church in America?

Overall, the Church’s influence on Americans is beginning to fade. A growing number of Americans have given up on God—or at least on organized religion. They have become “Nones,” a term popularized by Pew Research. And their numbers are growing.

Pew’s 2007 Religious Landscape study, which surveyed 35,000 respondents, found that about 16% of Americans claimed no religious affiliation. By 2015, that number had grown to 23%, almost one in four Americans.

Gallup, another well-respected national firm, gives a wider view of the rise of the Nones. In 1967, Gallup found that about 2% of Americans—or 1 out of every 50—claimed no religious preference. By 2014, that number had grown to 16%, or about 1 in 7.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 7, 2016 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“This is a big old ship, Bill. She creaks, she rocks, she rolls, and at times she makes you want to throw up. But she gets where she’s going. Always has, always will, until the end of time. With or without you.”
--J.F. Powers’ Wheat that Springeth Green (New York: New York Review Books Classics edition of the 1988 original, 2000), p. 170

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyChristologyEcclesiology

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Posted July 6, 2016 at 3:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The pair [Of Andrew Symes and Jayne Ozanne] both attended the same local talks in the diocese of Oxford but their different reflections highlight the polarities in the CofE. They both discussed their mutual experience seperately with Christian Today. Symes said: "What I wanted to do is step back and observe what I was expected to do or say. Am I really expected to say, 'I used to think this but actually this person is such a nice person I am actually going to change my views on it'? If that is what I am expected to do then I am afraid the thing has not worked."

Symes and Ozanne framed the debate differently. For Ozanne the Church's struggle over gay marriage is focused on the understanding of "desire and love". She said the debate had been "hijacked" because some people have hang ups about sex.

"Some guys are really focused on sex and don't see the bigger picture which is about love and intimacy and the desire to have a unique relationship. It is the desire to have someone I can love and cherish whom God has chosen for me and is natural to me."

For Symes the debate is really about the authority of scripture and how the church engages with culture.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 5, 2016 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

St Paul in his letter to the Galatians says to them at one point, “Love one another, cease to tear at one another, lest at the end you consume one another.” We are in danger of that in the way that our politics is developing at the moment.

If we are to tackle that, we have to look at some of the fundamental issues which must be put in place if we are to have a society that is capable of creating the agile, flexible, creative, entrepreneurial, exciting society, full of the common good, of solidarity, of love for one another, that is the only way that this country will flourish and prosper for all its citizens, in the world outside the European Union of the future.

The biggest thing it seems to me that we must challenge, my Lords, if we are to be effective in this creation of a new vision for Britain – a vision that enables hope and reconciliation to begin to flower – is to tackle the issues of inequality. It is inequality that thins out the crust of our society. It is inequality that raises the levels of anger and bitterness.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 5, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Whether officially recognized or not, Stedman’s life looks much like that of a chaplain. He convenes like-minded people, invites speakers, coordinates discussion groups, organizes activism. He offers one-on-one pastoral counseling and couples counseling. He officiates at weddings, succors the grieving, helps students resolve conflicts with their families. His flock steadily grows, with more than 900 people now on the YHC mailing list.

And members of the humanist community find that it manages to fuse and catalyze various aspects of their personalities—some might even say souls—in a way that other secular groups can’t. “I appreciate having a place to tackle big, hard questions with people coming at them from a similar perspective to mine,” says Chelsea Blink ’21PhD. She admits she wouldn’t mind if YHC were “churchier,” replete with singing and preaching, but she acknowledges she may be in the minority in that regard.

“Something enviable about religious communities is the regularity of that weekly religious service,” says Stephen Goeman ’17MDiv, who interns with YHC, “and how that can drive people in the congregation to hold others accountable for ethical positions.”

“I love that language of accountability,” adds Stedman, citing a study showing that even nonreligious spouses who attended church regularly were more civically engaged. “We have collectively agreed to these certain moral views. We’ve made a commitment to one another.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

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Posted July 5, 2016 at 11:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto have urged religious leaders to help to fight corruption.

This comes after hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ money have been lost in graft scandals.

The two spoke yesterday during the enthronement of the sixth ACK Archbishop at All Saints Cathedral.

They called on religious leaders to play a central role in the country’s economic agenda to ensure stability and unity.

“Let us work together to deal with other human needs and appreciate this partnership because we all want a better place than we found it,” President Uhuru said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 5, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The Anglican Church in Kenya has always been at the forefront in the fight against corruption in Kenya and has never compromised in rebuking corrupt leaders in the country,” said the preacher of the day, Archbishop and Primate of Tanzania the Most Revd Jacob Chimeledya. “As a leader you cannot remain quiet because being in the top leadership of the church means you have to rebuke and correct whenever necessary.”

Archbishop Chimeledya reminded Archbishop Ole Sapit that he has to be prepared to preach the word at all times. “You cannot choose, whether it’s a good season or bad one you still have to preach. Remember that the kingdom of God is near but it has not fully come because of all the evil that is still happening in the world today,” he said. “Therefore the Church under your leadership has an important role to play. You have to safeguard the Christian faith by safeguarding the orthodox Christian teachings.”

After his recognition and enthronement, accomplished after taking the necessary vows and undertakings, Archbishop Ole Sapit gave his charge which covered a wide range of issues including the importance of peace in the country, his vision for the Anglican Church of Kenya and the need for the church to “remain true to her calling.”

“A lot of questions are being asked about the role of the church in the world today. If Christians form 80 percent of our population, why the corruption, the environmental degradation?” he asked.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 5, 2016 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What was the Founders' attitude toward religion in the country?

Public virtue was seen as necessary for a republic, and most believed that virtue was produced by religion. There was a strong view that religion was necessary to turn out good citizens.

Many of the Founders were well versed in religious and theological matters. How did this affect their work as architects of the republic?

They could quote Scripture. Jefferson and others were tutored by ministers. They were an extremely biblically literate generation. This certainly shaped their view of Providence. The extent to which they believed in Providence would be unimaginable today.

Adams and folks like that continually quoted [Jesus'] statement that a swallow cannot fall without God's knowledge. Washington talks about the invisible hand of Providence. Their biblical knowledge convinced these people that there was an invisible hand of God, and that there was a moral government of the universe.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted July 4, 2016 at 9:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Members of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem voted overwhelmingly...[recently] to break from their national denomination, underscoring a schism that has developed over Presbyterian Church (USA)'s embrace of same-sex marriage and the ordination of [non-celibate] gay ministers.

Out of 1,048 votes, 802 members supported bolting to the more conservative Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, a super-majority of 76.5 percent that church leaders say made clear the congregation's wishes.

"We're ready to get back to our most important thing, which is our ministry," the Rev. Marnie Crumpler, pastor of First Presbyterian, said after the vote. "We're just looking forward to moving forward as an ECO Presbyterian Church."

But amid a bitter divorce, the results of the vote will not be accepted by the mainline denomination, said the Rev. David Duquette, an official of the Lehigh Presbytery, a regional arm of the national church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted July 3, 2016 at 6:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I wrote feverishly, breathlessly, without rereading. I wrote to testify, to stop the dead from dying, to justify my own survival,” he recalled in a 1995 memoir.
The resulting manuscript was published in 1955 in Argentina, to little notice, as “Un di Velt Hot Geshvign,” or “And the World Remained Silent.” The following year, at the urging of French writer Francois Mauriac, Wiesel translated the work into French, and it was published in 1958 as “La Nuit,” or “Night.” An English version was published in the U.S. in 1960.
It had limited early success. The first run of 3,000 copies took three years to sell. Wiesel gained a larger following in the 1970s, as American colleges began delving into Holocaust studies. In 1976, the National Jewish Conference Center in New York convened a meeting on “The Work of Elie Wiesel and the Holocaust Universe.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanyPoland* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 3, 2016 at 6:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr. Wiesel was the author of several dozen books and was a charismatic lecturer and humanities professor. In 1986, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But he was defined not so much by the work he did as by the gaping void he filled. In the aftermath of the Germans’ systematic massacre of Jews, no voice had emerged to drive home the enormity of what had happened and how it had changed mankind’s conception of itself and of God. For almost two decades, both the traumatized survivors and American Jews, guilt-ridden that they had not done more to rescue their brethren, seemed frozen in silence.

But by the sheer force of his personality and his gift for the haunting phrase, Mr. Wiesel, who had been liberated from Buchenwald as a 16-year-old with the indelible tattoo A-7713 on his arm, gradually exhumed the Holocaust from the burial ground of the history books.

It was this speaking out against forgetfulness and violence that the Nobel committee recognized when it awarded him the peace prize in 1986.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* Theology

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Posted July 2, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

s it true that all defenders of the traditional definition of marriage act out of “condemnation … animosity … casual and deliberate prejudice… [and] hate” towards same-sex attracted people, as Penny Wong suggests? Well, until a few years ago the senator herself opposed the redefinition of marriage; so did her leader Bill Shorten; and so did a number of other political leaders. I do not think they were being hateful bigots at that time.
Straight politicians don't understand what it's like to hide their relationships in fear

Presumably, their views of marriage and family, or of the needs of same-sex people, or of the proper role of the state and culture etc then supported leaving marriage as it was; presumably, over time they were persuaded differently. Others still hold the position these leaders previously held: why presume they are driven by hate? Could it not be that they have real reasons for supporting the traditional conception of marriage? And real questions about the proposed alternative?

Only a decade ago same-sex marriage was a radical proposal with little support among the major parties or general population. The then Penny Wong was in the vast majority. Shifting opinion might be explained by growing sympathy for those with same-sex attraction or changing views (and increasing confusion) about the meaning of marriage. But another reason might be that people have felt pressured into supporting this social change (or cowed into silence) by fear they will be tagged “bigot” if they don’t.

The fact is that many ordinary Australians are both pro-gay people and pro-traditional marriage....

Read it all.

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Posted July 2, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That conclusion suggests that the body doesn’t matter. When it comes to what fulfills us, we are not personal animals—mammalian thinkers, to put it starkly—who come in two basic forms that complete each other. We are subjects of desire and consent, who use bodily equipment for spiritual and emotional expression. Fittingly, then, has this new doctrine been called a New Gnosticism.

Beyond marriage, this doctrine entails that sex doesn’t matter, or that it matters only as an inner reality. Since I am not my body, I might have been born in the wrong one. Because the real me is internal, my sexual identity is just what I sense it to be. The same goes for other valuable aspects of my identity. My essence is what I say and feel that it is.

The doctrine is also individualistic. On the old view, you could know important things about me unmediated, by knowing something about my body or our shared nature. And our interdependence as persons was as inescapable as our physical incompleteness and need: as male and female, infants and infirm. But if the real me lies within, only I know what I am. You have to take my word for it; I can learn nothing about myself from our communion. And if I emerge only when autonomy does—if I come into the world already thinking and feeling and choosing—it’s easy to overlook our interdependence. I feel free to strike out on my own, and to satisfy my desires less encumbered by others’ needs.

But again, mere acceptance of this vision of the person isn’t enough to explain Obergefell. The Court did not simply allow new relationships; it required their recognition as marriages, as similar to opposite-sex bonds in every important way. In other words, it didn’t simply free people to live by the New Gnosticism. It required us, “the People,” to endorse this dogma, by forbidding us to enact distinctions that cut against it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 1, 2016 at 11:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Q: Can you give us some highlights or stories from the council?

A: For me, the most obvious highlight was observing the bishops (25 from each church) speaking openly and honestly to one another, learning about their respective circumstances and contexts. On several occasions, I heard bishops saying: “I had no idea this was happening in Nigeria (or Albania, or Poland).”

One consequence of the walls of estrangement that existed between the various churches was that each of them developed — or responded to the modern demands of the West — at a different pace. Where, for example, we are quite accustomed to seeing images of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew working closely with the pope for many years, other churches (such as Bulgaria and Georgia) have struggled to communicate or cooperate with any Christian church whatsoever, withdrawing from the World Council of Churches in recent years. The same is true of the Patriarchate of Moscow, whose primate Patriarch Kirill met with Pope Francis earlier this year, only to return to a church protesting (even threatening schism) over his “heretical” flirting with the Vatican.

So this sort of uneven evolution required a council to establish some fundamental guidelines for the Orthodox Churches.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church* Theology

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Posted July 1, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tower Hamlets: 67.5% Remain

The Area Dean of Tower Hamlets, the Revd Andy Rider

“What is clear from the referendum result is that Westminster is out of touch with vast numbers of the British public. . . The communities of Tower Hamlets benefit in part from London’s wealth, and, as a multicultural cosmopolitan slice of London, we were never going to be won over by the rantings of Nigel Farage. What we must remember, though, is that London’s East End was welcoming immigrants from across Europe for at least 250 years before even the EEC was going through its birth pains. Welcome and generosity is what typifies many in this borough.

“Westminster has to listen. Too many are fed up with too few who have it all. Let this be, in Tower Hamlets, London, and across our lands, a turning-point in history where we live what we believe: if anyone matters, then everyone matters.”

Read them all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 1, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Werner Gallmeister, a high-school headmaster here, called the police in January with a worrying message. A 16-year- old student known for his Islamist sympathies had been showing off a smartphone video of an explosive device.

Police already knew the teen. He had been interrogated and suspended from one school after threatening to “break the neck” of a Jewish student. Police in 2015 searched his home. And he was enrolled in a government-sponsored program designed to prevent radical youngsters turning to violence.

Soon after the smartphone stunt, Mr. Gallmeister reported to police that his pupil’s behavior seemed to calm. He was wrong.

Three months later, the teenager, whom German officials and police identify as Yusuf T., allegedly threw a bomb at a Sikh temple in the nearby city of Essen as a wedding was drawing to a close. The Wall Street Journal isn’t using his full name in accordance with German custom. In the attack, three people were injured, one seriously.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 30, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The uncertainty generated has left a series of questions that serves no-one well, least of all the alleged victim.

For that reason, we welcome an announcement this week that the Church of England has launched an independent review into the processes regarding the settlement.

The review is a matter of standard procedure and is not intended to undermine the original decision, but we trust its remit will go beyond mere process without adding further to the distress of the woman involved.

Bell was too important a figure to have his reputation trashed without full transparency and disclosure in the public domain.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 30, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dear Archbishops

I am writing to you as the Presidents of the General Synod to ask that an emergency motion on the outcome of last week's Referendum should be placed on the agenda of the forthcoming meeting in July.

It's now clear that our nation has suffered its biggest cataclysm since the last War. Its causes are complex and it's too early to understand them fully. However, we can now see that the future looks deeply uncertain politically, economically and in terms of the UK's place in the world of tomorrow.

It has, I admit, worried me greatly that our national church has not spoken as an institution about the Referendum. We have all known that the vote was coming since the general election of 2015. It would have been possible to schedule a General Synod debate in February 2016 even though the Referendum date was not yet known when the agenda was being planned. I find it extraordinary that in the face of a national decision wth such momentous ethical and social justice aspects to it (and I would add, theological too), the Synod and the House of Bishops have been collectively silent. It feels to me like a failure of spiritual leadership towards the people of England.

I did not anticipate that the Church of England would take a position on the European Union (though that is in marked contrast to the other national church in these islands, the Church of Scotland). Nor do I expect this now. However, at a time when England is so divided between London and the provinces, when the future of the Union here in Britain is at real risk, and when the entire continent of Europe is facing unprecedented turmoil, it seems to me all the more essential to allow a proper debate to help our nation find wisdom and stability as we move into an unmapped landscape.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Archbishop of York John Sentamu* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 30, 2016 at 7:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church House Publishing has released an infographic to mark a new milestone in its Church of England apps programme, with over 200,000 first-time downloads.

The infographic reveals that many of those who download the apps are using them routinely as part of their prayer life. Use of the Daily Prayer app - shortlisted for App of the Year at the Premier Digital Awards - was up 300% in May 2016 compared to the previous year, with 12,500 monthly users - enough to fill St Paul's Cathedral five times over. App downloads now account for around one in five Church House Publishing products distributed by Anglican charity Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd under an agreement with The Archbishops' Council.

Thomas Allain-Chapman, Publishing Manager, said: "Apps like Reflections and Lectionary have moved from being novelties to being normal for our users. Their great appeal lies in allowing instant, fuss-free access to resources for prayer and Bible study worship wherever you are."

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted June 30, 2016 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Inspired by Instagram accounts like @humansofny, which captures the lives of New Yorkers “one story at a time,” Ms. [Fati] Abubakar snaps portraits of market vendors, refugees and students, posting them to her Instagram account, @bitsofborno, along with quotations or captions that describe them.

Boko Haram has affected nearly all of her subjects in some way.

“When they say there’s an insurgency here, people assume it’s nothing but death and despair,” Ms. Abubakar said. “I want to change the image. You can see, everyday life continues.”

In Maiduguri, she has become somewhat of a celebrity. Civilian vigilante militia members posted throughout the city to guard against Boko Haram look out for her, beating back children who flock to her as she goes about her work.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 29, 2016 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the new dispensation, traditional restrictions and attitudes are viewed as judgmental, moralistic forms of socially sanctioned aggression, especially against women and sexual minorities. These victims of sexuality have become the new secular saints. Their virtue becomes their rejection and flouting of traditional sexual morality, and their acts are effectively transvalued as positive expressions of freedom. The first commandment of this new secularist writ is that no sexual act between consenting adults is wrong. Two corollary imperatives are that whatever contributes to consenting sexual acts is an absolute good, and that anything interfering, or threatening to interfere, with consenting sexual acts is ipso facto wrong. Note the absolutist character of these beliefs as they play out in practice. For example, it is precisely the sacrosanct, nonnegotiable status assigned to contraception and abortion that explains why — despite historical protestations of wanting abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare” — in practice, secularist progressivism defends each and every act of abortion tenaciously, each and every time.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 29, 2016 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With a heavy heart, retired Anglican priest Mike Gardener is preparing to leave Iqaluit after a lifetime of work in the Arctic.

"It's not my choice to leave," says the 85-year-old.

After 61 years of life on Baffin Island and more than 41 years of work with the Anglican church in Kimmirut, Cape Dorset, Pangnirtung and Iqaluit, Gardener is moving to Ottawa next week.

His wife, Margaret, is moving into a special facility for Alzheimer's patients.

Read it all from the CBC.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted June 29, 2016 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leaders of Britain’s main faith communities have united in condemning intolerance amid mounting reports of xenophobic and racist abuse in the wake of the EU referendum result.

The Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, the Catholic archbishop of Westminster, the chief rabbi and senior imams have all spoken out against division and expressions of hatred.

In Brussels, the United Nations human rights chief said he was deeply concerned about reports of attacks on minority communities and foreigners. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein urged the UK authorities to prosecute those responsible, saying racism and xenophobia were “completely, totally and utterly unacceptable in any circumstances”.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 29, 2016 at 11:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every year around this time—June is of course Pride month in LGBT communities—I go back and reread an older essay by Eve Tushnet called “Romoeroticism.” Tushnet points out that in the nineteenth century, as same-sex love was being newly described as a pathology, a psychological disorder, it was the Catholic Church, of all places, where many same-sex attracted men and women found a home—because it was the Church that, rather than medicalizing same-sex love, celebrated “the possibility of shockingly chaste same-sex love.” When I first read that, several years ago now, it reconfigured my whole way of thinking about being gay and Christian: Yes, Scripture was telling me that gay sex wasn’t the true fulfillment of my longings for same-sex intimacy, but no, it wasn’t telling me to deny the goodness of that longing itself. On the contrary, traditional Christianity, it turned out, was radically pro-same-sex love.

The actual on-the-ground history is messy, of course. Many Catholic parishes aren’t exactly safe places to be out as LGBT, and the rich history of celebrated same-sex love is largely unknown—or suppressed—in many churches. But Tushnet’s point is that the resources are there in Catholicism (and, I would argue, in my own Anglican Communion and other churches too) to dignify and nurture same-sex love. We wouldn’t have to compromise one iota of historic Scriptural, Christian teaching in order to open our doors to gay and lesbian people, to offer them a place free from disdain and rejection and humiliation, and even to affirm their (our!) desire to lay down their lives for a friend.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 28, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis on Sunday essentially backed a cardinal’s suggestion that Christians owe LGBT persons an apology for past mistreatment or neglect, but suggested apologies are probably in order to other constituencies as well, including the poor, exploited women and divorced families.

Francis was speaking in response to a question that linked the call for an LGBT apology to the recent massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.

The pontiff said gay persons must not be discriminated against, conceding that there are “some traditions and cultures that have a different mentality,” and said apologies are in order whenever there are “people we could have defended and we didn’t.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 28, 2016 at 2:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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