Posted by Kendall Harmon

We Americans live in a society awash in historical celebrations. The last few years have witnessed commemorations of the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase (2003) and the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II (2005). But one significant milestone has gone strangely unnoticed: the 200th anniversary of Jan. 1, 1808, when the importation of slaves into the United States was prohibited.

This neglect stands in striking contrast to the many scholarly and public events in Britain that marked the 2007 bicentennial of that country's banning of the slave trade. There were historical conferences, museum exhibits, even a high-budget film, "Amazing Grace," about William Wilberforce, the leader of the parliamentary crusade that resulted in abolition.

What explains this divergence? Throughout the 1780s, the horrors of the Middle Passage were widely publicized on both sides of the Atlantic, and by 1792 the British Parliament stood on the verge of banning the trade. But when war broke out with revolutionary France, the idea was shelved. Final prohibition came in 1807, and it proved a major step toward the abolition of slavery in the empire.

What explains this divergence? Throughout the 1780s, the horrors of the Middle Passage were widely publicized on both sides of the Atlantic, and by 1792 the British Parliament stood on the verge of banning the trade. But when war broke out with revolutionary France, the idea was shelved. Final prohibition came in 1807, and it proved a major step toward the abolition of slavery in the empire.

The British campaign against the African slave trade not only launched the modern concern for human rights as an international principle, but today offers a usable past for a society increasingly aware of its multiracial character. It remains a historic chapter of which Britons of all origins can be proud.

In the United States, however, slavery not only survived the end of the African trade but embarked on an era of unprecedented expansion.

Read the whole article.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 30, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It isn’t clear what effect the Benedict Option would have on American political life. Even if one envisions the Benedict Option as “strategic attentiveness” to the cultivation of virtue, rather than “strategic retreat,” as Alan Jacobs, another prominent Christian writer has advocated, the Benedict Option implies a reduced engagement in the messy business of politics. At a time when religious freedom is viewed by many as expendable, and appears in scare quotes or their equivalent in major U.S. newspapers for the first time in American history, the practical consequences of reduced engagement could be considerable.

Yet even those of us who are skeptical of the Benedict Option can acknowledge the benefits of cultivating virtue, engaging more fully in our local communities and perhaps turning off the TV more often. Given the sometimes judgmental tendencies of theologically conservative Christians during the culture wars of the recent past, traditional Christians also might do well to focus a little more on showing what Christian morality looks like, and less on how others conduct their lives.

There may even be grounds for optimism for Christians who feel increasingly estranged from American culture. Being out of touch can be clarifying. After all, many of the greatest advances for Christianity have come during periods when Christians seemed most beleaguered. From the early Roman Empire to the Great Awakenings in 18th- and 19th-century America, and to China today, Christianity has tended to flourish anew when the distinctions are clearest between Christian faith and other conceptions of what it means to be human.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 27, 2015 at 7:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Abortion critics have long warned that the problem is not only the obvious — what abortion does to the fetus — but also what it does to us. It’s the same kind of desensitization that has occurred in the Netherlands with another mass exercise in life termination: assisted suicide. It began as a way to prevent the suffering of the terminally ill. It has now become so widespread and wanton that one-fifth of all Dutch assisted-suicide patients are euthanized without their explicit consent.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 24, 2015 at 7:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The vicar who is the star of a reality television show in which couples are married as soon as they meet has been criticised for allowing his clerical collar to give respectability to a “seedy” experiment.

The Rev Nick Devenish is one of five experts who selected six strangers to tie the knot in the Channel 4 show Married at First Sight.

The team vicar at the Church of St Mary & St Michael in Cartmel, Cumbria, analysed the participants’ understanding of marriage, what they wanted from their union and how well they understood the seriousness and commitment required. He was part of a panel of experts alongside a sex therapist, a psychologist and two anthropologists.

The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev David Walker, accused the show of “inappropriate and rather seedy behaviour” and has said that a Church of England vicar should not have been involved.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted July 21, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Toronto’s Cathedral Church of St. James has mounted a historical overview of the Anglican church’s often painful relationship with Indigenous peoples, as part of an effort to keep alive the momentum generated by the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in May.

Truth and Reconciliation: A Special Exhibit on the Legacy of the Residential Schools is showing daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the cathedral’s east aisle during July and August. The cathedral is located on the northeast corner of Church and King streets.

The idea of an exhibit was supported by Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. “The primate was keenly interested, and we thought this was something we could put together fairly quickly,” said Nancy Mallet, cathedral archivist and exhibits committee chair.
- See more at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/-cathedral-exhibit-extends-spirit-of-the-trc#sthash.Huf4i7CB.dpuf

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

British Muslims who hold “intolerant ideas” and create a climate for extremism will become the target of a new clampdown to be announced by David Cameron today.

In a landmark speech the prime minister will say that a failure of integration has meant that there are people born and raised in this country who do not identify with Britain. Outlining a five-year strategy to combat extremism, he will attack those who hold ideas “hostile to basic liberal values” and who promote “discrimination, sectarianism and segregation”.

Mr Cameron will single out Muslim conspiracy theorists who believe that “Jews exercise malevolent power”, that 9/11 was inspired by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, and that Britain allowed 7/7 because it wanted an anti-Muslim backlash.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Dodgson’s writing bears subtle witness to the wonders of both creation and its creator in ways that deserve more attention. He was a committed, lifelong member of the Church of England. Although he balked at taking Holy Orders, he was ordained as a deacon in the church in 1861.

While his doctrinal views parted ways with those of his high church ancestors (his great-grandfather had been a bishop and his father a clergyman), Dodgson shied from the religious controversies plaguing the church at the time, remaining essentially what would have been considered orthodox.

“Most assuredly I accept to the full the doctrines you refer to — that Christ died to save us, that we have no other way of salvation open to us but through His death, and that it is by faith in Him, and through no merit of ours, that we are reconciled to God,” Dodgson wrote in a letter to a friend in 1897, “and most assuredly I can cordially say, ‘I owe all to Him who loved me, and died on the Cross of Calvary.'”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksChildrenHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A church which put out an urgent appeal for financial help has been saved.

Grade II listed St John's church in Bemerton, near Salisbury, closed in 2010 when the heating broke and there was no money to fix it.

The building was declared redundant by the Church of England but supporters have raised more than £500,000 to turn it into a community centre.

Read it all.


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

2 Comments
Posted July 20, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the popular imagination, the view of the natural world represented by modern science and developed by such towering figures as Isaac Newton conflicts with the view of the created world in the Bible. From debates about evolution and intelligent design to questions about human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and even climate change, science and religion are often seen as fundamentally opposed to one another. Certainly, individual scientists might be religious — one thinks for instance of John Polkinghorne in physics or Francis Collins in biology — but most people would say that the work of these scientists is to be taken seriously because it is separate from, and thus unhampered by, their religious faith and practice. What happens in the pews on Sunday has no influence on what happens in the lab on Monday. So when contemporary readers learn that Isaac Newton was a deeply religious man, their way of incorporating this fact within their conception of him as one of the greatest scientists of the past four centuries likely involves imagining that his religious faith was intellectually separate from his work in mathematics, optics, astronomy, and physics. Never the twain shall meet.

That this image of Newton is profoundly inaccurate — that in fact separating God and science in this way would have been entirely foreign to him — has become apparent in recent decades of Newton scholarship. The reason this is significant is not just that it challenges the facile notion that science and religion are fundamentally at odds with one another. The case of Newton is even more interesting than that. The usual conception of how a scientist can also be religious is that he cannot take the Scriptures as “literally” true in every instance, especially in matters pertaining to the natural world. But Newton was committed to precisely such a reading of the text, which raises the question of how he reconciled potential conflicts between the claims of science and the Bible’s claims about nature.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureScience & Technology

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Church earlier this month took a leap forward in its evolving approach to gay rights, voting to allow priests to marry same-sex couples. But that won’t mean a rush to the altar at Louisiana churches.

No churches in the state have permission to marry gay couples until Nov. 29, the first Sunday of the Advent season. That’s when two new marriage rites using gender-neutral language become available for church services.

Meanwhile, priests who are opposed to same-sex marriage can, as a matter of conscience, refuse to officiate at such ceremonies. In Louisiana, that’s the norm.

Only a handful of the 97 Episcopal churches in the state have indicated they are planning to start holding same-sex weddings when the new rites take effect. These also are the only Louisiana churches that have presided over same-sex unions through a special “blessing” the Episcopal Church approved in 2012.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...were you to tell a clerk you were interested in reading some morally serious contemporary writing, you might be introduced to the books of New York Times bestselling author David Shields.

Sophisticated, ambitious, and widely praised as an exemplar of our age’s ethical-literary sensibility, Shields offers a polemically narcissistic, aggressively atheistic vision of how and why literature should ­matter to us, premised upon the willfully inward, selfish turn that follows from rejecting God and religion. If ­Augustine counseled us to read literature as a means of increasing our love of our neighbors and ultimately our love of God, Shields counsels us to read literature to increase our love of ourselves, because there’s no one else that matters.

As he declares in his most influential work, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, “So: no more masters, no more masterpieces. What I want (instead of God the novelist) is self-portrait in a convex mirror.”

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this December, many publics around the world name global climate change as a top threat, according to a new Pew Research Center survey measuring perceptions of international challenges. This is particularly true in Latin America and Africa, where majorities in most countries say they are very concerned about this issue. But as the Islamic militant group ISIS maintains its hold in Iraq and Syria and intensifies its grisly public executions, Europeans and Middle Easterners most frequently cite ISIS as their main concern among international issues.

Global economic instability also figures prominently as the top concern in a number of countries, and it is the second biggest concern in half of the countries surveyed. In contrast, concerns about Iran’s nuclear program as well as cyberattacks on governments, banks or corporations are limited to a few nations. Israelis and Americans are among the most concerned about Iran’s nuclear program, while South Koreans and Americans have the greatest concern about cyberattacks relative to other publics. And apprehension about tensions between Russia and its neighbors, or territorial disputes between China and surrounding countries, largely remain regional concerns.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchClimate Change, WeatherGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySociology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 19, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to a recent Pew Research Center report, an estimated 77 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where religious freedom is “highly” or “very highly” restricted.

“This, I think, entitles one to use the word ‘crisis,’” said Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs.

The RFP hosted an all-day conference on religious freedom at Georgetown University on Thursday (July 16).

Titled “Religious Freedom: Rising Threats to a Fundamental Human Right,” the conference featured a discussion between U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim member of Congress, and Katrina Lantos Swett, of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Baylor University President Ken Starr served as moderator.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General

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Posted July 19, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Brian Baker, dean of Trinity Cathedral in Sacramento, California, and a member of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, said that other than “the ick factor,” there was nothing to prevent Episcopalians from participating in the Urban Death Project. Given the importance of environmentalism to his congregation, he wouldn’t be surprised to see it gain traction.

“This is much better stewardship of the Earth and human resources and land than putting up a cement crypt and a coffin that obligates people to care for it,” he said. “We’re not a doctrinal church. It’s not like a church body would say yes or no, it’s more like Episcopalians do it and so it becomes church practice.”

Muslims wanting to participate in the Urban Death Project may hit some theological obstacles. In Islam, while burial in a shroud and natural decomposition are consistent with the Urban Death Project’s model, its compost harvesting might be seen as disinterment, considered a forbidden mutilation of the body. Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that scholars may be able to argue around the issue.

Read it all from Slate.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

3) The overly simplistic false dichotomy

At least one a week. Social media is for provocation and retweets, not nuance or thoughtfulness....!

8) Never let on how hard Mondays are

Your people need not know that by 9:00 AM every Monday you are a hairs breadth away from sending in your resignation letter. Nope. Just post a Bible bomb instead (but leave off the first part of the verse about God’s anger).

Read them all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & Culture* General InterestHumor / Trivia

0 Comments
Posted July 18, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In recent years, traditional Islamic seminaries, or madrasas, have come under scrutiny and criticism as incubators of terrorism and extremist interpretations of Islam. Correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro has a report on one school, the Jamia Islamia Clifton madrasa founded 40 years ago in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, that is trying to change that image and broaden the scope of what students are taught.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted July 18, 2015 at 1:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Major Problem I See with American Culture Today

We (America) claim to be a pluralistic society; we celebrate “otherness.” Of course there are individuals and subcultures that strongly oppose pluralism and want to impose their worldview, form of life, on everyone. In fact, that is exactly the problem I see and here decry.

We pretend to be pluralistic when, in fact, we are not. Sure, in the grassroots, pluralism abounds. In public spaces, however, the two values that are expected of everyone are consumerism and tolerance of every point of view and lifestyle—even to the point that people who wish no harm to anyone but who have strongly held personal opinions about right and wrong are looked at as intolerant, as enemies of “freedom.”

We have by-and-large confused tolerance with relativism. If a person or group holds and expresses strong beliefs about right and wrong, especially about behaviors that are assumed not to hurt anyone, he or they are widely criticized as intolerant.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 18, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Haley knew early on that she’d attend every funeral, even speaking at them when asked. She wanted each family to feel the state’s embrace of support.

“And I felt the need to go for me,” she says during a rare moment of quiet in a sitting room at the Governor’s Mansion.

Haley wanted to know the nine beyond a list of names.

“I had a need to meet them. I had a need to know, because I knew the forensic story. I knew the investigative part of the story. I needed to know the people.”

Through each funeral, she met them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsHinduism* Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 18, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After I’d given a talk to mark the 70th anniversary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s execution, I got a letter complaining that Bonhoeffer had been drained dry of meaning and was of no more use to the church. Here’s what I replied.

Bonhoeffer was theological. We don’t all have to write two doctoral theses by the age of 24. But we do have to approach every challenge as fundamentally a question about God. The German Christians were seduced into treating the führer as God. Bonhoeffer and the Confessing Church saw that the problem with the Nazis was first a theological problem.

Bonhoeffer was about Jesus. The Bonhoeffer of popular theology is the one who talks from prison about the “world come of age” and “religionless Christianity.” But what put him in prison was Jesus. The church fears that when it says the word Jesus it’s assuming an imperialistic oppressive voice that dominates, excludes, or devalues other voices. The church has too often assumed such a voice. But Jesus doesn’t assume such a voice. Bonhoeffer knew that when the church stops talking about Jesus, it has nothing to say. And when it assumes dominance, it’s not talking about Jesus.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 18, 2015 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just beyond a massive strip mall, with its Best Buy and Hobby Lobby, Abdul Baasit, the imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga, found himself preaching on Friday about a nightmare.

It was Eid al-Fitr, at the end of Ramadan, normally a time of gift-giving and carnival celebration. But the party that had been planned was canceled: A man who had attended prayer services at the center’s mosque killed four Marines on Thursday. And Mr. Baasit, 48, was trying to help Chattanooga’s Muslim faithful cope with their grief over the deaths, and their fear of reprisal.

“You do not want what is not right to be associated with Islam,” Mr. Baasit, a native of Ghana, said in lilting, heavily accented English. “And yet it is happening.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 18, 2015 at 8:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A picture emerged Friday of Abdulazeez as a likable, outgoing young man who enjoyed a laugh, made the wrestling team and seemed "as Americanized as anyone else," yet was clearly aware of what set him apart at his Chattanooga high school.

What's not clear — to counterterrorism investigators and to neighbors and former classmates — is what set him on the path to violence that ended with him being gunned down by police.

Abdulazeez did not appear to have been on federal authorities' radar before the bloodshed Thursday, officials said. But now counterterrorism investigators are taking a deep look at his online activities and foreign travel, searching for clues to his political contacts or influences.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

1 Comments
Posted July 18, 2015 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Imagine that an American politician, competing with a dozen other candidates for media attention, launched his presidential campaign by describing the nation’s evangelical Christians as a problem: “They’re charlatans who raise money from poor people to spend on private jets,” he says. “They have multiple affairs and sexually abuse children. And, some, I assume, are good people.”

Millions of evangelical Christians would be fighting mad, and rightly so. While there have been a few, highly publicized cases of professing evangelicals committing these sins and crimes, the overwhelming majority have not. This charge against believers would be what the Bible calls bearing false witness, and what the world calls slander.

No presidential candidate would make such a claim, as no candidate would want to alienate millions of evangelicals. And yet this blanket slander is precisely what Donald Trump did in recent days by describing Mexican immigrants as “bringing crime” to the U.S. and as “rapists.” Mr. Trump then “clarified” his views by suggesting that the problem is “not just Mexico,” but immigrants from other parts of the world as well.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigrationPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 17, 2015 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like 1.6 billion Muslims around the world fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, Jeff Cook has been rising before dawn each morning to have breakfast. He doesn’t eat again until breaking his fast with dinner.

But Mr. Cook isn’t Muslim, doesn’t have close Muslims friends, and has never been inside a mosque. The Christian pastor from Greeley, Colo., is fasting for the 30 days of Ramadan, which ends Friday, as part of a nascent effort among American Christians to better understand and support Muslims.

Mr. Cook posted a photo of himself on Twitter holding a sign that read: “I’m Jeff—A Christian in America. I’ll be fasting in solidarity #Christians4Ramadan.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

10 Comments
Posted July 17, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least 49 people were killed and dozens injured when twin blasts struck a market in the northeast Nigerian city of Gombe on Thursday, rescue workers said.

The first explosion took place outside a packed footwear shop around 1620 GMT, followed by a second explosion just minutes later, said Badamasi Amin, a local trader who counted at least three bodies.

He said the area at the time was crowded with customers doing some last-minute shopping on the eve of the Eid festival marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now that the Supreme Court has taken the decision about same-sex marriage out of the hands of the American people, those of us who believe in marriage have to think about the long-term effort to restore a true understanding of marriage in our nation.

The first step is to clarify what marriage is so that we can explain it to others in a coherent way. Although there is no one way to do this, there are fundamental elements that are a necessary part of any definition.

In this essay, I merely provide one definition of marriage. My goal here is not to “prove” that this is marriage (though I offer some thoughts on each condition), nor is it to engage in a refined academic analysis of the question. I simply want to offer a relatively succinct statement of what marriage is, so that ordinary people who want to defend marriage have a clear baseline from which to understand and respond to developments in our society.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Matt (again, not his real name) was referred for pain control. He was clear-minded and determined to travel to Switzerland for assisted suicide. He'd been given three months to live, he said, and he wanted to get it over with. When I tentatively asked: "Is there anything you've always wanted to do before you die?" he wistfully outlined his dream holiday. He then let me help plan his travel on this holiday, and enjoyed it in a way he never thought possible. He never went to Switzerland, but had some surprisingly wonderful times before dying peacefully at home of his cancer.

Matt certainly had what Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill calls a "settled intent" to die. It would have been all too easy for a willing doctor to sign off his assisted suicide. But only a small minority of doctors (just under a fifth, according to a recent poll) say they would be willing to process such requests. Most want to work to help patients live well and die well despite illness, not to be a gatekeeper for assisted suicide.

Laws are more than just regulatory instruments. They send social messages. As a society we are clear that suicide is not something to be encouraged or assisted. Legalising assisted suicide flies in the face of that. It sends the message that, if you are terminally ill, ending your life is something that society endorses and that you might want to consider. Is that really the kind of society we want?

Read it all from the Huffington Post.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 16, 2015 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churchgoers are being encouraged to contact their MPs to highlight the risks involved in proposed legislation to legalise assisted suicide.

James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, has asked that parishioners either make an appointment to see their MP or write them a letter expressing their concerns about a Private Member's Bill to be debated in the House of Commons on Friday September 11.

The Bill is expected to seek to grant physician assisted suicide for mentally competent, terminally ill adults, who have six months or less to live.

Bishop James, the Church of England's lead bishop on health care, said the proposed legislation, if passed into law, would have a detrimental effect both on individuals and on the nature of society.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Laity* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 16, 2015 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Reading people’s comments online is an interesting and sometimes troubling study in human nature. And reading comments by professing Christians on Christian sites (as well as other sites) can be a discouraging study in applied theology.

The immediate, shoot-from-the-hip nature of comments on websites and social media is what can often make them minimally helpful or even destructive. Comments can easily be careless. That’s why we must heed Jesus’s warning: “on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:36). This caution makes commenting serious business to God.

How [then] Should We Comment...?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 3:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Soon, we had settled into a pattern of giving 5 percent to our local church and 5 percent to charity. But one year, when it was time to renew our annual pledge to the church, I was convicted that a radical increase was necessary. God says, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse” (Mal. 3:10, ESV). For our family, that means the local church. So the full 10 percent should go to our church, while charitable gifts (alms) were to be an additional offering.

When I began sharing this with my husband, we were in for a surprise. He had separately come to the same conviction. The problem was that we had just promised 5 percent of our income to a missionary. Overnight, we went from giving 10 percent of our income to giving 15 percent.

Yet we never suffered. We saw God meet our needs in ways that bordered on the miraculous. People were always giving us things we needed but couldn’t afford: a sewing machine, a lawn mower, a new refrigerator. More than once, we found an inexplicable extra $50 in our savings account.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Bishop Ed] Konieczky said he voted against a related measure that calls for a change in the the denomination’s canonical definition of marriage as a “union of a man and a woman.”

He said the resolution, which was eventually approved, calls for altering the current canon language to “gender-neutral language,” replacing “a man and a woman” with “both parties.”

In his letter to the Oklahoma diocese on the Sunday after the denomination’s vote on gay marriage, Konieczky said he voted against this language alteration because it places the denomination’s canon in conflict with language used in their Book of Common Prayer and the denomination’s constitution....

Konieczky said he did not think the denomination had done the necessary theological work to make the switch to gender-neutral language.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC BishopsTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...following the Supreme Court ruling, many Christians have already been feeling a keen sense of tribulation.

“I think that’s the next frontier: Are people who have deeply held opinions [about marriage] going to be called bigots and treated like the man who wouldn’t give up his seat for Rosa Parks?” says John, an Episcopalian who lives in a liberal Atlanta neighborhood.

To an extent, he answers his own question by asking that his last name not be used: He's concerned that his beliefs could now get him fired from his public-sector job.

“My hope, going forward, is, you all can do what you want, the libertarian part of me says that’s fine,” John says. “But on the other hand, I want my opinion to be protected and respected by the government. What happens if my child is in school and is taught that her parents are bigoted or somehow wrong?”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first breakthrough into the mainstream media came around 4pm at the Washington Post, which did a relatively good job of providing in-depth perspective on the issue. (The Weekly Standard points out some weaknesses in the article though.) The Post (and many other outlets) interviewed Arthur Caplan, director of New York University’s Division of Medical Ethics: “If you’re starting to play with how it’s done, and when it’s done, other things than women’s health are coming into play. You’re making a huge mountain of conflict of interest.”

Most liberal websites defended Planned Parenthood and attack the undercover video. The debate is nothing new, says Vox, though they do pay some attention to objections. Mother Jones says the video is a “nothingburger,” and New York Magazine stridently refers to pro-lifers as “wacky relatives” whom you have to “deal with.” Ashley Feinberg, for Gawker, writes “In reality, the donation of fetal tissue is no different than any other situation in which a patient might donate tissue to scientific research.” Right.

Amanda Marcotte, for Slate, writes “Abortion is gross, no doubt about it. It becomes grosser the later in a pregnancy it gets. But so is heart surgery. So is childbirth, for that matter.” But the problem is not that it’s “gross,” it’s the double evil of killing innocent life and commodifying her body parts. As an article at The Federalist reveals, the human fetal parts trade has a commercial and profitable nature. Incidentally, the group StemExpress—which was implicated in the story—is undergoing website maintenance and has deleted their Facebook account.

The sad thing is, the body of a child in the womb can be killed and used for research, but outside the womb, it would result in first-degree murder charges, as seen in the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell.

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

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Revd Dr Andrew Atherstone, Welby’s biographer, says Church growth is the ‘golden thread’ that ties all the reforms together. Welby, he says, wants people to see that decline is ‘not inevitable’. In Africa and China churches are booming. ‘Globally, church growth is normal,’ he says. Welby, he suggests, is ‘very optimistic about turning the Church of England around’.

Yet Atherstone admits that Welby’s tendency to focus on numbers ‘makes some in the C of E nervous’. One Church observer says the reason clergy are panicky about the reforms is that they seem ‘very bottom line — if you can’t get more punters in then you’ve failed’.

Atherstone suggests Welby wants the Church to be more entrepreneurial. The change to dioceses’ funding is intended to encourage that. Instead of the old model of one vicar looking after his medieval parish, the idea is to fund projects that no one has yet tried. Welby, says Atherstone, thinks the Church is too ‘safety-conscious’, smothering start-ups in paperwork.

Critics, on the other hand, say the reforms are merely depressing the workforce. Talented young clergy are ‘in despair’, they say — head office doesn’t seem to grasp what their ministry is really about.

Read it all from the Spectator.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has been a deadly July in Nigeria. More than 200 people have been killed since June 30 in attacks that have come almost daily in the country's northern and northeastern regions, stronghold of the militant Islamic sect Boko Haram.

Obscured by Boko Haram's headlines, violence also has raged farther south, where a lesser reported, years-long campaign has claimed thousands of Christian lives. Militants among the ethnic Fulani, a predominantly Muslim and nomadic population of cattle herders, are suspected of killing dozens of Christians in the states of Plateau and Taraba in recent months. The two states form the eastern end of Nigeria's "Middle Belt" -- the handful of states straddling the pre-colonial line dividing Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north from its Christian south.

The Middle Belt's most recent violence traces back to March, to a case of cattle rustling....

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 4:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sacks is well placed to muse on this theme as the former Chief Rabbi of Britain and a prolific author on religious conflict. In fact, he has carved out a niche for himself as the man who gave theological coherence to the Samuel Huntingdon “clash of civilisations” thesis while also critiquing it. Sacks’ 2004 book, The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilisations, remains one of the wisest texts for negotiating religious pluralism in the modern world.

Sacks has no time for the politician’s mantra that violence committed by religious extremists like ISIL has nothing to do with Islam. Yes, the vast majority of the conflicts in the world today are nothing to do with religion, but “when terrorist or military groups invoke holy war, define their battle as a struggle against Satan, condemn unbelievers to death and commit murder while declaring ‘God is great,’ to deny that they are acting on religious motives is absurd” (p.11). Harder work needs to be done to glimpse the twisted logic and primitive psychology of these groups, he says, otherwise the proffered solutions will never create a compelling enough counter-narrative that weans believers from hate to love, and to value weakness rather than power.

Religious violence is rooted in the same source as all violence – identity wars, and Sacks worries that the West, which secularized so merrily, has created societies and institutions that cannot provide enough identity because it has forgotten humans are meaning -seeking creatures; “The result is that the twenty-first century has left us with a maximum of choice and a minimum of meaning” (p.13). Having thought religion was finished, now the West has seen it roar back - partly because of the vacuum secularisation created and, tragically, the religion that has returned is not gentle or ecumenical, but adversarial and aggressive. Make no mistake he warns “the greatest threat to freedom in the post-modern world is radical, politicised religion” (14). So if you don’t realise you are dealing with religion – however twisted – you are not going to find any meaningful responses.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 5:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The question at hand, then, is whether and how modern antidiscrimination laws limit the constitutional and statutory right to the free exercise of religion. Even after Obergefell, there are clear cases—on statutory, to say nothing of constitutional grounds—in which religious liberty will trump antidiscrimination claims. Clergy opposed to same-sex marriage surely will not be forced to perform or open their facilities to such ceremonies, although some in the LGBT movement are already pressing for churches to lose their tax-exempt status if they do not.

The public-accommodation cases are closer calls. Because they represent their businesses as open to the public, the Kleins and Giffords shouldn’t be able to deny entrance and normal service to gay customers—and neither has done so. If a same-sex couple had walked into that bakery hand-in-hand and ordered bagels, they would have been served without objection. But it is a step further—and an important one—to force religious business owners to participate in a same-sex wedding, to force them to engage in the creative act of planning the event, baking a special-order cake for it, photographing it, and so on.

No one enjoys the sting of discrimination or rejection. But neither does anyone like to be forced into uncomfortable situations, especially those that offend deeply held religious beliefs. In the end, who here is forcing whom? A society that cannot tolerate differing views—and respect the live-and-let-live principle—will not long be free.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The video reveals Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services for Planned Parenthood, discussing the intentional harvesting of organs and other tissues from babies aborted in Planned Parenthood clinics. While reaching with her fork for salad, Dr. Nucatola openly tells a group she believes to be medical researchers that there is a great demand for fetal livers, but “a lot of people want intact hearts these days.”

Dr. Nucatola went on to explain in chilling detail that abortionists often plan in advance how to harvest desired organs, even telling the group that a “huddle” is sometimes held with clinic staff early in the day, so that targeted organs can be harvested from unborn babies.

Her language is beyond chilling as she described how abortions are conducted specifically to harvest intact organs: “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part. I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.” She also described using an abortion technique that appears to be partial-birth abortion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 3:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Most British Muslims are Sunni, only about 5 per cent are Shia, but both communities are represented by the MC, which believes the government’s “Prevent” anti-terrorism strategy is discriminatory, demonising a law-abiding community. Relations have thawed; Shafi is pleased that Theresa May, the home secretary, is beginning to close what he calls the “trust deficit” by ordering police authorities to record every reported Islamophobic incident for the first time, even if charges are not pressed.

The MC is working with the government and the police to find out why young Muslims feel “alienated” and hence vulnerable to be being lured by the promise of a foreign adventure by people who are “misinterpreting Islam”.

“The Muslim Council has condemned those who claim to act in our name and we have mobilised mosque leaders, civil society leaders and families to speak out and redouble their efforts. However, we’ve no magic wand and what is important is sustained work within communities,” says Shafi, a retired doctor who arrived in Britain from India 46 years ago. “Extremism is mainly hidden on the internet and on social media and our concern is that the age group it attracts is getting younger and younger.”

Read it all (requires subscription).


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 11:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Symon Hill, Christian writer and a coordinator of Christians for Economic Justice, said: "Jesus said that where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.

"By hosting events sponsored by arms dealers, Church House Conference Centre is sending a clear message that they are happy to profit from those selling weapons to the dodgiest regimes."

Campaigners are calling on Welby, as President of the Corporation of Church House, for his "assurance that the conference center will never again host events which support and legitimise the arms industry."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 7:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When President Buhari was sworn-in, Nigerians must have expected to hear broadcasts like "every past political office holder should report to the nearest Police Station". Yet instead, it has been a quiet, slow, and seemingly irresponsive Buhari that has been impossible to predict as the nation is gripped by anxiety.

Nigerians expecting a quick and decisive fix were already deriding the President for being "slow and indecisive", and refusing to understand that much more important in finding solutions to the problems of the country is the difficult and often slow task of articulating a plan, based on an ideological framework. Even if you had plans to hit the ground running, it matters where you hit ground.

The fact that the activity of the group gained momentum after Buhari's inaugural pronouncement and slow moves to start off, shows the fundamental need to address the challenge from the root cause. The radicalisation of adherents, and their commitment to their faith-based mission, gives it ability to mutate, splinter, break up into cells and continue with the objective to spread terror. One can assume that momentum gained earlier has been lost due to the delay in determining the new order. One can understand the import of anxieties of the erstwhile service chiefs who Nigerians expected would have been rested long ago. President Buhari it is believed has, by now, received a proper briefing of why the Government did so poorly against the insurgents. Who would tell this better than the men in the situation room, the sacked Service Chiefs? Albeit, it was natural for insurgents to exploit such impasse to revive their deadly attacks that we are witnessing. There seemed to be a letting down of the guard.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on the Italian embassy in Cairo. The BBC reported that ISIL had called western embassies “legitimate targets”.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently said it was important not to underestimate or be complacent about the national security threat from ISIL. He also said it was equally important not to overestimate that threat. He called ISIL twisted and wicked but said it wasn’t Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia, with their power to conquer or challenge the West.

Australian journalist Martin Chulov has been on the ground in Iraq and Syria for a decade. He is Middle East correspondent for The Guardian and recently won the prestigious Orwell Award for his reporting. In Australia for a series of Guardian lectures, he assesses the current strength of ISIL.

Listen to it all from the Religion and Ethics Report.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Polity & CanonsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From all this, the Religion Guy draws three conclusions for journalists.

*Religious groups and their beliefs are far more complex than the news media typically indicate.

* Strong internal disagreements afflict several denominations – the biggest right out in the open being the United Methodist Church – and will continue to make news.

* Finally, and most obvious, a sizable and variegated lineup of religious believers feels bound to strongly resist America’s new redefinition of marriage for the indefinite future.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMediaReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 4:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some social conservatives are so despondent that they speak about retreating from the public space and into their homes and churches, rediscovering “the monastic temperament” prevalent during the Dark Ages.

This response would be a tragedy for society. For all its limitations, the fundamental values cherished by the religious – notably, family – have never been more important, and more in need of moral assistance. The current progressive cultural wave may itself begin to “overreach” as it moves from the certainty of liberal sentiment to ever more repressive attempts to limit alternative views of the world, including those of the religious.

In the next few years, social conservatives need to engage, but in ways that transcend doctrinal concerns about homosexuality, or even abortion. It has to be made clear that, on its current pace, Western civilization and, increasingly, much of East Asia are headed toward a demographic meltdown as people eschew family formation for the pleasures of singleness or childlessness.

Although sensible for many individuals, the decision to detach from familialism augurs poorly for societies, which will be forced to place enormous burdens on a smaller young generation to support an ever-expanding cadre of retirees. It also frames a spiritual crisis in which people no longer look out for their relatives, but only for themselves, inevitably becoming dependent on government to provide the succor that used to come from families.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the basis of the well-known fact that those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it, we should ask first what has been going on in the English church in the last half century which has – shall we say – coincided with its collapse. Let me mention a few of what seem to me to be the most significant features.

The last fifty years have seen the rise of theological reductionism. Bluntly, this means that ancient doctrines, always previously proclaimed as true and the foundational beliefs of the church have been, in the jargon, demythologised. So Jesus was not born of a virgin and he didn’t rise from the dead. His miracles were really “acted parables” – that is more jargon for the claim that they didn’t actually happen.

Concurrent with theological reductionism has run a fifty years programme of liturgical “reform” which has seen the discarding of The King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer. This means that there is no longer observance of the rule that all the realm shall have one use. In fact, these changes mean that you have no idea what you’re going to find in a church service until the service begins. It’s a sort of churchy babel in which no two churches do the same thing and many priests and ministers seem to do as they like.

In addition to these changes, the bishops, the clergy and the synod have endorsed the secular mores of the age.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Episcopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Theology

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My own cherished topic is this: Liberalism's decline from a political philosophy of pluralism into a rigidly intolerant dogma.

The decline is especially pronounced on a range of issues wrapped up with religion and sex. For a time, electoral self-interest kept these intolerant tendencies in check, since the strongly liberal position on social issues was clearly a minority view. But the cultural shift during the Obama years that has led a majority of Americans to support gay marriage seems to have opened the floodgates to an ugly triumphalism on the left.

The result is a dogmatic form of liberalism that threatens to poison American civic life for the foreseeable future. Conservative Reihan Salam describes it, only somewhat hyperbolically, as a form of "weaponized secularism."

The rise of dogmatic liberalism is the American left-wing expression of the broader trend that Mark Lilla identified in a recent blockbuster essay for The New Republic. The reigning dogma of our time, according to Lilla, is libertarianism....

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Early on the morning of Easter 387, just after dawn, the man whom history would come to know as "Augustine of Hippo" was baptized, along with a small group of fellow catechumens, in the large, octagonal baptistery behind Milan's imposing Basilica Nova. The baptism itself, as well as the extensive instruction preceding and following it, was performed by another memorable historical figure: the tenacious and formidable bishop "Ambrose of Milan." The relationship between these two towering figures of church history is the subject of Garry Wills' Font of Life. Curiously, the relationship he describes was not based on personal affinity or compatibility of belief. Rather, according to Wills, the story of Ambrose and Augustine was "a tangled one, full of surprises," a strange admixture of mystagogical initiation and retrospective invocation, deeply rooted in the nuances of early Christian liturgical practice and the conflicts of ecclesiastical politics. In this truly foreign context, Wills masterfully steers his historical reconstruction, artfully avoiding the twin shoals of reductive simplicity and overwhelming complexity by anchoring his narrative in the "sacred drama" of 4th-century baptism. In this, Wills does his readers a great service, bringing to life much of the ritual and symbolism surrounding the practice of late antique Christian initiation.

James J. O'Donnell has noted—at the outset of his three-volume commentary on Augustine's Confessions—the lamentable tendency of most modern readers to anachronistically undervalue the "visceral reverence for cult that all late antique men and women felt."[1] We undervalue cult, liturgy, and ritual, O'Donnell argues, both because of the prejudice of our time, which tends to purge these foreign elements from the beliefs of our spiritual forebears, and because of the paucity of remaining evidence for the specifics of these highly guarded practices. In the late 4th century, it was customary for the central liturgical act of Christian worship (the Eucharist) as well as for key pieces of Christian teaching (the Apostle's Creed, the Lord's Prayer) to be withheld from both non-Christians and catechumens, through a practice known as the disciplina arcani, the "discipline of the secret." Even Augustine, recounting his own baptismal experience in the 9th book of his Confessions, avoids describing the rite itself, preferring instead to comment on how he was moved by the singing of hymns. As there is clear attestation that much of late antique Christian teaching and practice relied heavily upon these "oral" and "performative" traditions of liturgy and sacrament, all too often veiled in silence, the church historian is faced with the dilemma of trying to reconstruct the Christianity of this period while missing key pieces of the puzzle.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptism

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The video in my 24 June entry, + Richard outlines his survival strategy, gave some clues to the dismemberment of the Church in Wales as the bishops implement Abp Barry Morgan's strategy for their survival, ie, retain all the bishops with their expensive diocesan structures, get rid of paid parish clergy and fool the laity into running the ministry areas nobody wants apart from Barry and his bench sitters.

Despite all Dr Morgan's political posturing the secularised Church in Wales (CinW) is barely significant in Anglicanism representing less than 0.04% of the Communion. If he were to be represented in the above chart in proportion to the average number of people attending CinW services the Archbishop of Wales would be invisible. According to CinW published figures the average adult Sunday attendance in Wales is 31,048 (Table 1 here) out of a population of 3,063,456 (1%). With seven bishops supported that works out at a mere 4,435 attendees per bishop.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Wales* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Wales* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians have come lately and weakly to the causes of environmental healing and restoration. When environmental activists in the 1960s noted that Christianity bore a major responsibility for our environmental crises, the vast majority of Christians remained unmoved. In the curricula of leading institutions of theological education in the 1980s, ecological concerns barely made an appearance. Now, roughly 30 years later, it’s still not uncommon to find Christians who are either in denial or fail to see how the environmental problems of our day are distinctly theological concerns.

How can this be? How can one affirm God the Creator and at the same time degrade the health and vitality of God’s creation? We can offer many reasons to explain this contradictory state of affairs, but I believe that our problem goes to the manners and methods of theological practice itself, so that even when theologians turn their attention to ecological concerns, they often have considerable difficulty finding anything helpful to say other than “Come on, people. It’s time to take care of creation!” In other words, the problem is theology’s inadequate form and function. The destruction of the earth is, among other things, a theological catastrophe, and Christian apathy is a sign that theological reflection has lost its way.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchClimate Change, WeatherHistoryReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Urgent action is needed to tackle climate change the General Synod pledged today in a wide ranging motion acknowledging that global warming is disproportionately affecting the world's poorest.

Members overwhelmingly backed a call for world leaders to seek to limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of 2 C - widely considered to be the threshold above which the impacts of climate change will be the most severe.

The motion on combating climate change, the Paris climate change conference and the mission of the Church, included a pledge to draw attention to an initiative to pray and fast for the success of the Paris talks.

The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, the Church of England's lead bishop on the environment, introducing the motion, said: "In the last 150 years we have burned fossil fuels that took one billion years to lay down in the earth. The earth cannot sustain this level of consumption. This is about our 'reading the signs of the times' and 'seeking the common good'.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When big questions, like the future of Europe, hang in the balance, it can be tempting to toy with grand theories about the ways in which religion affects culture and economics. A famous one was put forward by Max Weber (pictured), who posited a link between capitalism and Protestant ideas of guilt and salvation. Such theories usually contain a grain of truth, but religious determinism shouldn't be pushed too far because there are always exceptions.

Still, as religious-determinist theories go, an interesting one was put forward by Giles Fraser, a well-known left-wing priest of the Church of England, in a recent radio broadcast. He suggested that behind the financial standoff between Greece and Germany, there was a theological difference (between western and eastern Christians) in the understanding of how humans are reconciled with God.

As Mr Fraser recalled, traditional Protestant and Catholic teaching has presented the self-sacrifice of Christ as the payment of a debt to God the Father. In this view, human sinfulness created a debt which simply had to be settled, but could not be repaid by humanity because of its fallen state; so the Son of God stepped in and took care of that vast obligation. For Orthodox theologians, this wrongly portrays God the Father as a sort of heavenly debt-collector who is himself constrained by some iron necessity; they prefer to see the passion story as an act of mercy by a God who is free. Over-simplifying only a little, Mr Fraser observed: "the idea that the cross is some sort of cosmic pay-back for human sin [reflects] a no-pain-no-gain obsession with suffering," from an eastern Christian viewpoint.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanyGreece* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted July 13, 2015 at 5:52 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of course, everything turns on the accuracy of the surveys. Most of us, not being statisticians, more or less take them on faith. If Wuthnow is right, though, our faith is misguided. He points out that many surveys of American religion have serious methodological flaws. For example, religion does not always lend itself to straightforward yes/no questions of the sort surveyors ask. In addition, pollsters sometimes fail to account for regional and racial variations.

Most important, response rates are very low. The typical response rate nowadays is about nine or 10 percent, and rarely exceeds 15 percent. “In other words,” Wuthnow writes, “upwards of 90 percent of the people who should have been included in a poll for it to be nationally representative are missing. They were either unreachable or refused to participate.” With such poor response rates, it’s hard to know what the polls reveal about religion in America. This problem is compounded by the fact that the media present the results as accurate representations of what Americans believe—a misimpression that the polling industry, now worth a billion dollars a year, is understandably reluctant to correct—and by the fact that most of us “are unlikely to wade through obscure methodological appendices to learn if the response rate was respectable or not.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 13, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Around 1,000 apprentices from across Liverpool are set to take part in the UK’s largest graduation ceremony at the end of the month.

Organisers are keen to make sure attendance is as high as possible and have put out a call to make sure apprentices who are eligible should get signed up in time.

The ceremony will take place at the Anglican Cathedral on July 30 but Liverpool City Region Apprenticeship Hub, who are in charge of the event, say apprentices need to register by July 21 to guarantee their places.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 13, 2015 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians claim to believe the Bible is God's Word. We claim it's God's divinely inspired, inerrant message to us. Yet despite this, we aren't reading it. A recent LifeWay Research study found only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week. Over 40 percent of the people attending read their Bible occasionally, maybe once or twice a month. Almost 1 in 5 churchgoers say they never read the Bible—essentially the same number who read it every day.

Because we don't read God's Word, it follows that we don't know it. To understand the effects, we can look to statistics of another Western country: the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom Bible Society surveyed British children and found many could not identify common Bible stories. When given a list of stories, almost 1 in 3 didn't choose the Nativity as part of the Bible and over half (59 percent) didn't know that Jonah being swallowed by the great fish is in the Bible.

British parents didn't do much better. Around 30 percent of parents don't know Adam and Eve, David and Goliath, or the Good Samaritan are in the Bible. To make matters worse, 27 percent think Superman is or might be a biblical story. More than 1 in 3 believes the same about Harry Potter. And more than half (54 percent) believe The Hunger Games is or might be a story from the Bible.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Found here:
"What marks [sloth] is that it holds anxiety at bay by total absorption in an activity that raises no questions beyond itself ... Sin is present not merely in the ambition that remakes the world to suit its own plans, but in the sensuality that loses itself in immediate possibilities, in the sloth that absorbs itself in petty concerns and excuses its mediocre performance, and even in the disciplined pursuit of excellences that have been carefully defined by someone else.... "Those who find their work meaningless and who lack significant personal relationships will find much encouragement in a consumer-oriented society to devote themselves to new forms of gadgetry and to establish a firm decorative control over their limited personal environment. These evasions of freedom, along with the forms of indulgence more usually associated with 'sensuality', must be seen as genuine forms of sin ...

We must also identify a form of institutional sin that elicits sensuality or sloth from persons by demanding commitments that preclude responsible attention to the range of choices and responsibilities that they ought to be attending to for themselves. The 'up or out', 'publish or perish' career trajectories imposed by businesses, law firms, and academic institutions provide familiar examples of this sort of pressure ... Those who yield to these pressures are often pictured as ambitious, 'fast-track' achievers whose chief temptation would seem to be to emulate the pride of their seniors and superiors. In fact, however, their achievements are often expressions of sensuality and sloth. The rising executive or scholar abandons the difficult balancing of obligations that marks a life of freedom constrained by human finitude, and substitutes a single set of goals defined by outside authorities ... The over-achiever stills anxiety in precisely the way that Niebuhr describes the sensual evasion, 'by finding a god in a person or process outside the self'."


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Emanuel AME Church already was among South Carolina’s most well-known churches long before someone entered the ground floor and shot its pastor and eight others to death during a June 17 Bible study.

But the unspeakable crime —one that led to an outpouring of support and unity from across the nation — has changed the church in ways that are still playing out.

In coming months, the church’s leaders, members and supporters are expected to discuss not only how to memorialize the nine victims on the site but also what repair work is needed. They’ll need to decide how to conduct the repairs to the sanctuary and ground floor, where the crime occurred, while also tending to the spiritual needs of the church.

“Our focus is — as it has been since June 17 — to make sure those families and their concerns, their immediate needs — monetary, spiritual and emotional — are met,” said the Rev. Dr. Norvel Goff, Emanuel’s interim pastor.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted July 13, 2015 at 4:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The free tickets were for the festival this Saturday in Central Park featuring Luis Palau, one of the world’s leading evangelical Christian figures, whose event is expected to draw 60,000 people to the Great Lawn. For months it has been promoted not only in churches, but also on billboards, on the radio and in the subways, and it promises to be the largest evangelical Christian gathering in New York since the Rev. Billy Graham led a crusade in Queens 10 years ago.

The size of the festival belies the city’s secular reputation and speaks to the vibrant evangelical movement in New York. The phenomenon is driven largely by immigrant-led churches that have proliferated in the boroughs outside Manhattan.

Nearly 900 of the 1,700 churches participating in the festival are Hispanic, organizers said. Latino leaders were the ones two years ago to invite Mr. Palau, an endearing, white-haired bilingual immigrant from Argentina who has built a reputation as the Hispanic Billy Graham, but African-American and Korean-American church leaders quickly got involved in the planning.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted July 12, 2015 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

KIM LAWTON, managing editor: What have the events in South Carolina, the debate over the flag and also the tragic shooting in the church—what have they revealed about where we are on these issues?

PROFESSOR TRULEAR: I think they reveal two things, really, and they’re parallel tracks unfortunately, but hopefully they’ll merge up in the distance like regular railroad tracks do. One is uncovered the depth of racism in our country and the ways in which our nation still remains deeply divided. But it’s also uncovered some real people of goodwill. A spirit of forgiveness that started with the families forgiving the young man that shot their family members. And also groups of people from across the country that are holding interfaith rallies and prayer vigils for healing of this racial divide that we have. I don’t think he started, wanted to start a race war. I think we already have the division in place. He’s uncovered it, and now we’re working very hard to try to do some healing.

LAWTON: And what’s the role of the faith community in doing that healing?

PROFESSOR TRULEAR: The faith community is founded on forgiveness.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted July 12, 2015 at 12:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Change of Heart recounts his dramatic turnabout. After he arrived at Drew University in 1970, his older colleague, the former Communist Will Herberg—by then writing for National Review, having returned to his own Jewish faith at Reinhold Niebuhr’s urging—implored Oden to read the early church fathers before presumptuously rejecting their faith. After months in the library absorbing Sts. Athanasius, Vincent, and Augustine, among others, Oden was stunned by their persuasive powers, which he credited to the Holy Spirit. He would spend his next three decades at Drew as a respected but lonely voice for Christian orthodoxy, tutoring several generations of “young fogey” orthodox scholars and clergy.

No less important, Oden connected with a wider network of conservative religious voices who shared his critique of liberal modernity, including the Vatican theologian Joseph Ratzinger—who, of course, would become Pope Benedict XVI and whom Oden credits for inspiring his Ancient Christian Commentary project—and the Lutheran-turned-Roman-Catholic Richard John Neuhaus, who joined Oden in the ecumenical project of Evangelicals and Catholics Together. Oden also befriended Avery Dulles, the Catholic-priest son of John Foster Dulles who excelled as a crisply orthodox theologian and became a cardinal.

Unlike other Protestant intellectuals who turned conservative in collaboration with Catholic thinkers, Oden seems never to have been seriously tempted to leave Wesley for Rome. He insists that he would never leave the church that baptized him, which means the small-town Methodism of Depression-era Oklahoma, where he was shaped by the preaching, prayers, and hymn-singing of traditional Wesleyan piety.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted July 12, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 11, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A strict monotheist, Soubry wants us to worship the god of finance on a Sunday. All other gods must be smashed, smeared, ridiculed. Only the god of money deserves our true and unquestioning obedience. Well, I do wish she’d stop ramming her religion down our throats. I don’t want to be more productive. I want to lie about on the sofa watching rubbish TV. Or chat aimlessly to the people I love. Or just sit under a tree and do nothing. These are perfectly respectable things to do.

So why is Sunday special? The Christian answer is more complicated than expected. Early Christians moved their “day of rest” from the seventh day of the week to the first day, from Saturday to Sunday. Despite the fourth commandment mandating Saturday, ie seventh day, sabbath observance, this move was partly a way of honouring the resurrection, which happened “on the first day of the week”; partly about distinguishing Christianity from Judaism; and partly a way of colonising the posh Roman sun-worshipping day.

But it also conveniently distanced Christianity, and its new imperial friends, from all that dangerously redistributive stuff about the jubilee, to which the sabbath is fundamentally connected. For the seventh day of the week corresponded to the seventh day of creation, when God rested – and from this derives: 1) rest on the seventh day; 2) rest for the land on the seventh year (which on the Jewish calender is this year); and 3) the forgiveness of all debts – the jubilee – on the seventh times seventh year.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 11, 2015 at 3:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Kevin Kruse’s Under God: How Corporate American Invented Christian America is an engaging and important book with a somewhat misleading central argument.

Kruse explains how many things Americans take for granted came to be: the presence of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, the adoption of “In God We Trust” as a national motto, the annual “presidential” prayer breakfast, and the presidential practice of ending speeches with “may God bless America.” Although “In God We Trust” has a longer history, many elements of American civil religion have their roots not in the American founding but in the more recent past.

Nor did expressions of public piety bubble up from the pews. Instead, a coalition of politically conservative business leaders forged ties with likeminded ministers, evangelists, and politicians to fight against New Deal liberalism, Communism, and immorality. Kruse describes their agenda as “Christan libertarianism.” Many individuals played leading roles in this cause: the Congregationalist minister James Fifield, Goodwill Industries founder Abraham Vereide, philanthropist J. Howard Pew, Ronald Reagan, Walt Disney. But the two foremost heroes (or villains, depending on your perspective) were Dwight Eisenhower and Billy Graham.

Read it all from Christianity Today.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 11, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For years Catholics and evangelical Protestants have found common cause especially in opposing abortion and homosexual practice, including gay marriage and challenges to Christian privilege. They have also stood together to assert their right to conscientiously object to laws they find morally repugnant.

But does this mean they're friends? Jamie Manson's sharp-eyed piece on the pope's embrace of some of the more visible evangelical figures suggests it is so. If that is the case, it must be a rather narrow version of friendship that collides with the pope's major message in several ways.

Rick Warren , Tony Perkins, Jim Robison and the others identified as Francis' amigos are an unblended lot. They act on their individual agendas (evangelicalism being perhaps the truest form of free enterprise extant) and not only compete for audience but frequently stir mutual friction. They publicly stand four square against shared moral evils, however, and that alone makes for friendships of convenience with official Catholicism. Warren has become the media go-to preacher for his image as the "new evangelical" who shows sympathy with broader social causes like environmentalism, but so far that advocacy has barely shown itself.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * Theology

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Posted July 11, 2015 at 2:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The autobiography discusses his early life growing up in Fogo during hard times in the 1930s and ’40s and tells how he went on to become one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s most respected clergymen.

“I thought, by writing my story, it might be of some help to some young people today who might be having a struggle getting going to follow their dream or what they want to do in life,” he said in an interview. “Some might be inclined to give up but my advice is to never give up. You have to have confidence in yourself and work hard at it and look for the resources that can help you.”

In a way, “Cut From the Cloth of Fogo” is Payne’s way of thanking all of those who helped and supported him as he forged through his early struggles to accomplish all he did in his life. Not just about him, the longest chapter is about the eight years he spent in Happy Valley-Goose Bay area and how that town came into its own.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted July 11, 2015 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1. Americans remain deeply divided on the issue.
While there are plenty of demographic groups that lean heavily in one direction or the other, the general population remains divided in their support of legal same-sex marriage. About half of the general population supports the recent Supreme Court decision (49%). Just over four in 10 Americans disagree with the decision (43%) and 7 percent say they don’t know how they feel about it. Americans are split, as well, on whether legalized same-sex marriage will have a positive (37%) or negative impact (40%) on society. Divisions also emerge when it comes to whether legalizing same-sex marriage is morally right (52%) or morally wrong (43%). And similar proportions of Americans believe same-sex marriage is protected by the Constitution (52%) or say it is unconstitutional (38%).

2. However, most agree that legal same-sex marriage was inevitable.
Americans may be divided on how they feel about the decision, but most perceived the decision to be only a matter of time. Six in 10 Americans say legalization was an inevitability (62%). Evangelicals*—a group Barna defines according to their stance on a number of theological beliefs, outlined below—remain an exception: Just three in 10 say same-sex marriage was a foregone conclusion (31%), half that of the general population. Interestingly, a slim majority of Americans reject the idea that the same-sex marriage movement could accurately be compared to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s (55%).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 11, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every Sunday my regular front row at church is filled with little girls (and Sawyer). I’m not really sure why these sweet little gals like sitting on the front row during worship, but I’m glad they do. They all bring their little notebooks and pens, and they draw during the sermon.

No one is playing on iPads or cell phones. No one is sleeping. No one is eating or drinking. There isn’t a single entertaining thing happening (except for my husband’s brilliant and lively sermons), but still they come to me week after week and sit there.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Theology

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Posted July 11, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Third, the Christian Church is now a secondary player in these cultural transformations. She is also intrinsically debased, so intertwined has she become, at least regionally, with larger cultural shifts and declensions. The imperative for renewal, both within the church and in her relationship with surrounding political cultures, is inescapable. Are we in need of new reformation, in line with the reformations of fourth century, the twelfth, the sixteenth, and the nineteenth? If so, we will need to reform in the direction of Christian unity, the lack of which helped to create the very ecclesial incapacities of today.

Finally, we are confronting the long-term of God’s providence. Ecclesial reformation or not, cultures are not changed in an instant, except perhaps through cataclysm (which no one wants, however regular and inevitable it is within the course of human history). We have entered Canaan and been swallowed up before Moloch in the same way that Israel was enveloped by a surrounding religion of idolatrous violence. So we affirm with the Psalmist: “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsSupreme Court* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 10, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In recent days, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis have all spoken out on the vital issue of climate change. It is vital, because the long-term future of the Earth and its inhabitants is at stake. It is no less a matter than that.

The issue of climate change led to the landmark Rio Earth Summit in 1992, which set out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid dangerous interference with the climate system. What is termed the Conference of Parties (COP) regularly reviews the implementation of the Rio action programme. The next COP will be held next December in Paris and, for the first time in two decades of UN negotiations, will seek to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, aiming to keep global warming below 2°C.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 10, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada has approved the law program of TWU as meeting academic and professional standards. The LSUC admits there is nothing wrong with TWU’s law program; its graduates will be fully competent to practise law. But the LSUC claims that TWU’s code of conduct discriminates against the LGBTQ community. The code prohibits numerous legal activities, such as vulgar or obscene language, drunkenness, viewing pornography, gossip and sex outside of the marriage of one man and one woman. Nobody is required to submit to TWU’s standards. Students voluntarily decide to study law (or teaching, nursing, etc.) at TWU rather than at another university.

The LSUC is correct in observing that a married same-sex couple could not study law at TWU. But the same holds true for any unmarried people who do not wish to practise celibacy, not to mention marijuana smokers, heavy drinkers, pornography-viewers and the foul-mouthed.

The court’s “discrimination” mantra is a half-truth, which, as Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock once said, is like half a brick: It will carry further. TWU “discriminates” against anyone who disagrees with a traditional religious moral code. Every charity, political party and ethnic association discriminates against those who disagree with its select beliefs or practices. Forcing majority beliefs on organizations destroys the distinct characteristics of each one, and attacks the authentic diversity that is the hallmark of a free society like Canada.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 10, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“God Gave Them Over Into a Depraved Mind”
It is sad to hear that The US Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is a legal right across the United States. The excuse for this is promoting human rights and achieving equality. I think that this ruling is wrong and will have serious and destructive consequences on the American society and other societies, which will follow the steps of the United States. There is no doubt that this decision contradicts God’s purpose and plan for the creation in a clear way. We know that God created human on his image as male and female to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28) He also created man and woman to complement each other physically and psychologically.

God’s plan is the best for human being, however the ruling of same sex marriage which contradicts God’s plan, will lead to human misery and disintegration of the family hence the damage and collapse of the whole society.
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We urge all American and Western churches to adhere to the teachings of the scripture and God’s plan for relations; they should resist societal pressures to make same sex marriage a norm. The Church has to remain as the light that conquers the darkness and the evils of this world. Churches in the West should shape their society with their spiritual values and should not permit the opposite where society shapes the values of the Church. “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29)

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted July 10, 2015 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Dec. 6, 1942, 10 German soldiers marched into Rekówka, a Polish village 90 miles south of Warsaw. They’d received a tip from some locals that two families, the Skoczylas and Kosioróws, were sheltering Jews. When the Germans apprehended the families in their shared house, all but four of its inhabitants were at home. The soldiers spotted a trapdoor in the kitchen, which opened to a small, but empty, hiding place. They demanded that the families reveal the whereabouts of the stowaways, but nobody would talk. The soldiers took them to the barn behind the house, locked them inside and burned them alive. When two of the boys tried to escape, they were shot in the back.

Almost 72 years later, in August 2014, a cultural investigator named Jonny Daniels lifted that trapdoor for the first time since the surviving family members sealed it off years ago. He lowered himself down a ladder into a dark, damp space, with no light source and a floor covered with straw. He didn’t know it at the time, but he had uncovered the only known World War II hiding place for Jews that has remained intact and undisturbed since the end of the war.

On Thursday, after a year of negotiations and research, the space became an official heritage site in Poland, the only one of its kind.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanyPoland* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The question is posed: Can the United States go on as it has been with a good portion of its working class almost entirely isolated from the promise of our country?

It is a yes or no question. A “yes” involves the acceptance of a rigid, self-perpetuating class system in a country with democratic and egalitarian pretentions — a system upheld and enforced by heavy-handed policing, routine incarceration and social and educational segregation.

A “no” is just the start of a very difficult task. The mixed legacy of the Great Society — helping the elderly get health care, it turns out, is easier than creating opportunity in economically and socially decimated communities — has left the national dialogue on poverty ideologically polarized. And many policy proposals in this field seem puny in comparison to the Everest of need.

But there is one set of related policy ideas that would dramatically help the poor and should not be ideologically divisive. How about a renewed effort to help the poor by refusing to cheat them?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGamblingLaw & Legal IssuesMediaPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 10, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church leaders, trade unionists, and politicians have expressed concern over government plans to relax the Sunday-trading laws.

Currently, large stores can open for up to six hours on Sundays, but the Chancellor, George Osborne, used his Budget speech on Wednesday afternoon to announce his plans to devolve responsibility for Sunday-trading laws to directly elected mayors and local authorities.

The move has come in for sharp criticism. The Labour leadership contender Andy Burnham tweeted: “Sundays are only day people who work in shops can bank on some time with their kids. I will oppose this all the way.”

The leader of the shop workers’ union USDAW, John Hannett, said that the Government should “honour the promise of a full consultation and parliamentary process for any proposed changes to the Sunday Trading Act....'

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 10, 2015 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Soon after 7/7 the families and the friends of the victims compiled a Book of Tributes. It is a taste of the ocean of pain surrounding the loss of each one of the victims. The tribute book is also very revealing about the character of the London which the bombers attacked.

The majority of the victims were young. They came from all over the UK and all over the world. There were Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Humanists. There are in the book tributes in Italian, French, Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew, Tamil, Polish, Farsi, as well as English.

London is an astonishing world-in-a-city but beyond the diversity the book also conveys a unifying agonised outcry – this was a terrible crime which robbed us of beloved sons and daughters, partners and friends.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersPolice/FireReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 10, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cameroon's army has repulsed an attack by Boko Haram and killed three of the Nigerian Islamist militants in heavy fighting in the Far North region of the country, a Cameroon government spokesman said on Thursday.

The attack represented a change of tactics by the militants following a series of battlefield defeats this year in which they have lost territory to a regional force that comprises Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, spokesman Issa Tchiroma said.

"Early Tuesday morning around 3.:40 a.m. (0140 GMT) an enemy column in four-wheel drive vehicles opened fire on positions held by our defense forces," he said of the attack in Bodo town.

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Posted July 9, 2015 at 6:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Using nine pens — one each for the families of the victims of the Charleston church killings last month — Nikki Haley on Thursday signed a historic measure that will remove the Statehouse’s Confederate battle flag.

The flag will fly above the Confederate Soldier Monument on the Capitol grounds one more night before being lowered in a ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday and taken to a museum in Columbia where it will be displayed with other Civil War relics.

Attended by dozens of lawmakers, three former South Carolina governors and civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the bill signing was held under the Capitol dome from which the Confederate flag had flown for decades as a show of defiance against integration before being moved to the monument 15 years ago.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

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Posted July 9, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Four children were killed when Islamic State blew up an historic church in Mosul, Iraq's second city.

The blast destroyed the Mother of Aid church, according to the Kurdish news site Rudaw.

Saeed Mamuzini, of the Mosul branch of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, said the children happened to be near the church, which was more than 1,000 years old and was in central Mosul.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 9, 2015 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We presume to know more than we can know. In periods and places where religious doubt is criminalized, unquestioning faith is likely to appear universal. Where religious faith is treated as naive and intellectually indefensible, few will confess to it. Where it truly is naive and intellectually indefensible, those who can’t identify with it are often treated as having actually rejected faith, and may believe this of themselves.

So let us call this inability to know the state of our fellow’s soul a veil dropped down between his or her sacred inwardness and the coercive intrusions to which the religious and the anti-religious are equally tempted. If the fate of souls is at the center of the cosmic drama, is it difficult to imagine that it will unfold, so to speak, in a place set apart, a holy of holies—that is, a human consciousness? Where better might an encounter with God take place? If God is attentive to us individually, as Jesus’ saying about the fall of a sparrow certainly implies, then would his history with us be the same in every case, articulable and verifiable, manifest in behaviors that square with expectations? Would it be something we should be ready to talk about to pollsters or journalists?

Perhaps the real lack of faith in modern society comes down to a lack of reverence for humankind, for those around us, about whom we might consider it providential that we can know nothing—in these great matters that sometimes involve feigning or concealment, that are beyond ordinary thought and conventional experience, and that can in any case be minutely incremental, since God really does have all the time in the world. Perhaps it is a gross presumption to try to imagine a God’s eye view of things, but I can only think these encounters, every one unique, must be extraordinarily beautiful. If it is hard for us to believe that the God who searches us and knows us also loves us, perhaps we should learn to be better humanists.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 9, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some Christians are worried that their churches will lose their tax-exempt status as a result of the Supreme Court's decision declaring gay marriage a constitutional right. I'm worried that my church will cease to exist altogether, or at least in its present form.

The United Methodist Church is the largest mainline Protestant denomination in America. Following decades of steep membership losses across all these historic churches, that's kind of like being the tallest building in Topeka. But only the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention have more U.S. members, and the United Methodist Church's international membership is actually growing.

Almost alone among mainline Protestant churches, the United Methodists have remained committed to orthodox Christian standards of sexual morality. Clergy must be celibate when single and monogamous in marriage, which is defined as the union of a man and a woman. Methodist pastors are not permitted to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like many Englishmen, he feared a world divided in two, in which the smaller peoples would be swallowed. Only fifteen years earlier, in reaction to the Teheran Conference, Tolkien had written: “I heard of that bloodthirsty old murderer Josef Stalin inviting all nations to join a happy family of folks devoted to the abolition of tyranny and intolerance!” One would be blind to miss Tolkien’s disgust. “I wonder (if we survive this war) if there will be any niche, even of sufferance, left for reactionary back numbers like me (and you). The bigger things get the smaller and duller or flatter the globe gets. It is getting to be one blasted little provincial suburb.” Soon, he feared, America would spread its “sanitation, morale-pep, feminism, and mass production” throughout the world.[4] Neither “ism”—corporate consumer capitalism or communism, both radical forms of materialism—seemed particularly attractive to Tolkien, a man who loved England (but not Great Britain!) and who loved monarchy according to medieval conventions, while hating statism in any form.

In his politics, Tolkien greatly resembled his closest friend and fellow member of the Inklings (the famous Oxford literary group), C.S. Lewis. During England’s darkest days of World War II, hope emerged from an unlikely source. An Oxford don–a professor of English literature, who would later be best known for a seven-part children’s fantasy series–gave frequent public addresses to the English people. Their purpose was to bolster English spirits. In late February, 1943, he devoted three of his addresses to a philosophical rather than a theological question. These relatively heady lectures were entitled: “Men without Chests,” “The Way,” and “The Abolition of Man.”[5] In each, C.S. Lewis addressed the nature and the future of character in England. Rather than spending his address on buoying the optimism of the English during the war against the German National Socialists, Lewis decided to ask what the English were really fighting for. Freedom from Nazi brutality was good, of course, but not, he argued, if it merely led to the victory of the “conditioners,” the democratic bureaucrats on the loose in England who served as an internal threat. The conditioners claimed to be liberating individuals from arbitrary restraints imposed by “religious sanction, and inherited taboos, in order that ‘real’ and ‘basic’ values may emerge.”[6] In other words, the conditioners needed to destroy history and faith, which they claimed as artificial shackles on the true, unadulterated self. Such debasement of tradition, Lewis argued, can only lead to the creation of man-made (and consequently, man-centered) philosophies, ignoring the Natural Law. But, the Natural Law, Lewis cautioned, “is not one among a series of possible systems of value. It is the sole source of all value judgements. If it is rejected, all value is rejected.”[7] Anything created outside of the Natural Law will simply be mere “ideologies,” that is, finite systems created by finite minds, shadows of shadows of a complex and nuanced world. “The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary colour, or, indeed, of creating a new sun and a new sky for it to move in,” Lewis concluded.[8]

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* TheologyApologetics

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Posted July 8, 2015 at 5:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

People of Irish Catholic ancestry will be able to trace their origins back almost 300 years online from Wednesday.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys will officially launch online the entire collection of Catholic parish register microfilms held by the National Library of Ireland (NLI).

Involved are more than 370,000 digital images of the microfilm reels on which the parish registers are recorded and which will be accessible free of charge.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted July 8, 2015 at 3:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A spokesman from Church House, Westminster, said: “The Church of England has always maintained that a common day of rest is important for family life, for community life and for personal well-being. Increased Sunday trading will inevitably lead to further erosion of shared leisure time when a majority of people can count on being able to do things together. It will have an impact on community activities of many kinds, amateur sport, contact across extended families and religious observance. It seems quite contrary to the objectives of the Big Society, which once helped to shape policy and which the Church of England enthusiastically supported. Any further erosion of shared community life, whether that is driven by central or local government, will be detrimental to all of us.”

Bishop Colin added: “Clearly we await with interest to see what the Chancellor is actually proposing but it would be very sad for many people if Sundays were to become just like every other day of the week in terms of shopping. Even with the current levels of shop-opening there is something different about Sundays for most people – and certainly for most families – with its change of pace and we would be unwise as a society to encourage that to disappear.”

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Posted July 8, 2015 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Catholic Church in England and Wales is turning to the pioneer of the Alpha course to inspire parishes to evangelise.

The Revd Nicky Gumbel, vicar at the Holy Trinity Brompton church in South Kensington, London, is due to address 850 diocesan representatives at Proclaim ’15, a national Catholic evangelisation gathering in Birmingham on Saturday.

The Alpha course is a 10-week introduction to Christianity borne out of the charismatic Evangelical movement and is now used by more Catholic churches worldwide than Anglican ones.

Clare Ward, home mission adviser to the bishops’ conference said Mr Gumbel had been invited to help parishes shift their mentality “from maintenance to mission”.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

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Posted July 8, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recognizing they lacked votes in a key Assembly committee, authors of legislation that would have allowed terminally ill Californians to legally end their lives pulled the bill Tuesday morning.

Senate Bill 128, the End of Life Option Act, had already cleared the state Senate, but faced opposition in the Assembly Health Committee. That included a group of southern California Democrats, almost all of whom are Latino, after the archbishop of Los Angeles increased its advocacy efforts in opposition to the bill.

"We continue to work with Assembly members to ensure they are comfortable with the bill," said a joint statement from Sens. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, and Bill Monning, D-Monterey, and Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton. "For dying Californians like Jennifer Glass, who was scheduled to testify today, this issue is urgent. We remain committed to passing the End of Life Option Act for all Californians who want and need the option of medical aid in dying."

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 8, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the past three years, a major church scandal has unfolded in the island state of Singa­pore (literally, the “Lion City”). The target of investigation is the mighty City Harvest mega­church, which claims more than 20,000 adherents. Found­ing pastor Kong Hee has been accused of diverting at least $20 million to support his wife’s pop music career. Several other church leaders have been implicated in alleged cover-ups.

At first sight such a scandal might seem unremarkable. Sadly, clergy on all continents sometimes fail to live up to their principles, and churches often lack accountability.

What is astonishing is the existence of megachurches in Singapore, and their enormous popularity. This fact challenges much of what we commonly think we know about the nature of Chris­tianity outside its traditional Euro-American heartlands. It also raises basic questions about the process of secularization....

Most of the usual explanations for Christian expansion in Asia fall flat in the case of Singapore.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAsiaSingapore* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted July 8, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Putting aside legal arguments about hidden autonomy rights in the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court justifies its decision on the basis of the “new insight” that procreation is accidental to marriage. Its warrant for this claim is that social changes, including recognition of the equal dignity and rights of women, “have worked deep transformations in the structure of marriage, affecting aspects of marriage once viewed as essential” (2, my emphasis). Thus, the Court claims, there is precedent for the view that the procreative potential once thought essential to marriage is in fact no more central to the institution than the race, precedents embodied in the Court’s previous affirmation of liberty rights to contraception and sodomy in Griswold and Lawrence. Rather, the Court now believes that what is essential to marriage is the autonomy right of “self-definition” in one’s intimate relationships and the right to be esteemed for this choice.

If this claim about the essence of marriage was either true or insightful, it would indeed be momentous. Unfortunately, it is neither. The Court’s argument rests on an insidious and profound misunderstanding of what “essential” means—let alone what the essence of marriage is—and a majoritarian understanding of moral progress. While real moral progress often does require us to distinguish what is essential from what is accidental—as when the Court correctly held that race is accidental to the institution of marriage—the Court’s current use of the term invalidates the very distinction it wishes to invoke.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Today, the survivors and families of the 7/7 London attacks continue the journey that those of Tunisia have just begun. Our hearts grieve with those who lost loved ones ten years ago, and with those so suddenly and cruelly bereaved less than a fortnight ago. We hold them all before God and our spirits call out to Christ to strengthen them.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 10:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The question before the Supreme Court in Obergefell was not whether a male-female marriage policy is the best or whether government-recognized same-sex marriage is better, but only whether anything in the Constitution specifically took away the power of the people to choose their marriage policy. Yet the Court spoke almost exclusively about its “new insights” into marriage, and was virtually silent on the Constitution. That’s because it had no choice. Our Constitution is itself silent on what marriage is; We the People retain the authority to make marriage policy.

The Court claimed to show that the marriage policy that has existed in the United States for all its history is now prohibited by the Constitution. It failed to do that. As I explain in my forthcoming book, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, what the Court actually did was to assume that marriage is an essentially genderless institution and then announce that the Constitution requires states to adopt that same vision of marriage in their laws.

This is all the more remarkable, given that during oral arguments on Obergefell Justice Kennedy pointed out that marriage as the union of man and woman “has been with us for millennia. And it—it’s very difficult for the Court to say, oh, well, we—we know better.” Kennedy at least pretended to be reluctant to redefine marriage judicially. Redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships has, Kennedy pointed out, only been around for ten years. And, he added, “10 years is—I don’t even know how to count the decimals when we talk about millennia.”

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 8:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A bomb attack has killed at least 25 people and wounded 32 others in northern Nigeria's Zaria city, the state governor has said.

A suspected suicide bomber targeted civil servants at a government building in the city, witnesses said.

Emergency workers have rushed to the scene to help evacuate the wounded.

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shops across the country will be able to stay open for longer on Sundays, George Osborne will announce in this week’s Budget.

The Chancellor will use his first Budget as Chancellor in a majority Tory Government to begin a massive shakeup of Sunday trading laws that currently prevent businesses opening for more than six hours.

He said that “there is still a growing appetite for shopping on a Sunday” and that businesses need the change to ensure that they can compete with online retailers.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 7:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ten years to the minute after the 7/7 bombings brought carnage to London, the 52 victims of the terrorist atrocity were remembered in a simple ceremony at the Hyde Park memorial that bears their names.

At the first of a series of events throughout Tuesday to mark the 10th anniversary, David Cameron and Boris Johnson stood with heads bowed in silent tribute at 8.50am amid the 52 steel pillars, each one representing a life lost.

The skies above central London darkened suddenly as the prime minister and the mayor of London walked silently through the thicket of stainless steel pillars, the only sounds the clicking of cameras and the rumble of passing traffic.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Part of liberalism is tolerating illiberality," Mr Freiman rightly says. In the absence of credible evidence that plural marriage in America today would be any more inegalitarian or socially harmful than the old-fashioned patriarchal monogamous marriages that millions of Americans already have, it's hard to justify, at least on liberal grounds, our legal prohibition against more than two consenting adults freely entering into a marital arrangement. As I've argued before, many of the unseemly and unhealthy aspects of existing American polygamous "marriages" are a side-effect of our having made them illegal, and a target for disgust and contempt, much as homosexuality was within living memory.

Perhaps there are other, excellent arguments against legalising plural marriage. But for now, not even extremely sophisticated liberals are making them. Messrs Rauch and Macedo's claims about the harms that would ensue from legalising plural marriage have the same speculative character as some conservative arguments against legal gay marriage. This ought to pique some concern.

Fredrik deBoer, writing in Politico, speculates that liberal opponents of plural marriage remain "trapped ... in prior opposition that they voiced from a standpoint of political pragmatism in order to advance the cause of gay marriage". This is probably right. Now that gay marriage is finally legal from sea to shining sea, it's time for liberals to refine their arguments against polygamy. We need better, more rationally compelling arguments if we wish to be fair in shutting against would-be polygamists the libertarian door that we've just blasted open.

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Around 9:30 a.m. Monday morning, as state Senators filed briskly into chambers and protestors waved their red rebel banners outside, about 100 people congregated amidst the chaos in the South Carolina Statehouse rotunda and sang “Amazing Grace.”

But first, Hal Stevenson closed his eyes and led them in prayer.

“We pray for our state. We pray for our nation. We pray for our world that the grace that’s been displayed in our state will catch on, that your holy spirit will direct each of us to love our neighbors as ourselves and do your will.”

They’re not activists, Stevenson said. They don’t represent any formal organization, either. But they are Christians — from multiple denominations, races and political ideologies — moved by the showing of grace from the families of the nine people murdered at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston last month.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchHistoryMusicRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyChristology

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Instead, Kennedy fashioned the opinion around another part of the 14th Amendment, holding that denial of marriage licenses infringed on the liberty of gay men and women by restricting their right to due process. As Justice Clarence Thomas correctly pointed out, liberty under the Constitution has largely been defined as protection against physical restraints or broader government interference — “not as a right to a particular governmental entitlement.” While Kennedy makes a powerful case for an expansive new view of due process, he extends the concept of liberty far beyond prior decisions.

In reality, he has been building to this moment for years, culminating in what might now be called a right to dignity. In his 1992 Casey decision, he upheld Roe v. Wade on the basis of “personal dignity and autonomy [that] are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.” Kennedy wove this concept of protected dignity through a series of cases, from gay rights to prison lawsuits, including his historic 2003 Lawrence decision striking down the criminalization of homosexuality. These rulings on liberty peaked with Obergefell, which he described as an effort of the petitioners to secure “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.” He used the word “dignity” almost a dozen times in his decision and laid down a jurisprudential haymaker: “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 4:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Contrast this statement with another, from January 1963. [Maxie] Dunnam, then a young pastor in Mississippi, invited three other Methodist pastors to his river camp in order to draft “Born of Conviction,” a historic challenge to Jim Crow amid one of its darkest moments. Only a few months before, rioting had broken out when James Meredith became the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. A few months later, a white supremacist shot and killed Mississippi NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers (whose wife would later honor Dunnam).

“Born of Conviction” cited the official Methodist teaching that all men were equal, denounced resegregation under the cover of Christian schooling, and rejected the charge that the civil rights movement was Communist. Several of the twenty-eight Methodist pastors who subsequently signed the statement were forced to leave the state. Some received death threats.

The distance between Dunnam's statement in 1963 and [Bill] Mefford's in 2015 provides another measure of the loss of moral seriousness in mainline social justice activism. The comparison is not, I think, an altogether unfair one. Mefford's official position makes it impossible to dismiss his comments as the mere product of one man's glibness, rather than to admit them as evidence of a church bureaucracy that has lost touch with scripture, tradition, and the believers it purports to represent.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 6, 2015 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“We may or may not like it, but we must accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality and we have not fully heard it,” said the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, a year ago. But one of his own bishops says that sticking with the traditional line leaves the CofE suspended in mid-air like Wile E Coyote in a Road Runner cartoon, desperately trying to maintain an impossible position.

“The Church is like a cartoon character who has run off a cliff and is frantically moving his legs faster and faster in the hope it will save him, when he knows there is nothing underneath,” says the Right Rev Alan Wilson, one of the more plain speaking bishops.

“There are about a billion human beings on the planet who have access to same-sex marriage in their country or jurisdiction, so the thought that this is going to go away – or that it is just about a few people in San Francisco – is just wrong.”

He believes a fundamental shift in understanding is happening within the wider Church. “The Evangelicals in particular are in a wibbly wobbly place.”

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 6, 2015 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A number of chaplains were notified via text message the night of June 17 that there was a mass shooting, at least eight dead and an active shooter situation.

“Are you available?” said Spike Coleman, a chaplain of five years, of the text message. “We didn’t know exactly where it was. Rich (Robinson) was getting more information and then because it was an active shooter situation, Rob (Dewey) was making sure it was safe for us to be there.”

Dewey is senior chaplain of Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy and Robinson is deputy senior chaplain. Robinson said like in so many other tragedies, what he was doing the night he found out about the shooting is forever ingrained in his mind.

“I was looking at my bedspread getting ready for bed when the text came in and I immediately dropped the phone and started getting dressed again,” he said.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 6, 2015 at 10:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in the wake of the 5-4 Obergefell decision by Justice Anthony Kennedy and the U.S. Supreme Court, the Chicago Tribune has followed up with a news report about Reardon that does a good job of describing his decision, yet does little to dig into the thoughts and beliefs of those who either oppose or dismiss his strategy. Consider, for example, this passage in which an Orthodox bishop seems to echo, in reverse, some of Reardon's thinking:

Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, said he doesn’t foresee such a boycott in Chicago. He even questions whether it’s legal.

“I can’t imagine any of our priests doing that,” he said. “It hasn’t happened yet and I don’t anticipate it happening to make a political statement,” he said.

That's a really important quote.

I would stress that this statement by a Greek Orthodox bishop in no way represents an endorsement of Obergefell, but it clear indicates that there will be theological and legal debates ahead – inside Eastern Orthodoxy in this land and in other sanctuaries – about how priests should handle this clash between state and church.

In other words, this quote should have been near the top of the Tribune report and backed with more material explaining, on the record when possible, the views of those – in Orthodoxy and elsewhere – who have rejected Reardon's strategy.

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Posted July 6, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Senior Anglican leaders have responded to a move by the Presbyterian Church in NSW to consider ministers handing back their marriage licences if marriage is redefined to include same-sex couples.

Kevin Murray, the moderator of the NSW Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, wrote to churches about debate at the annual assembly in Sydney last week.

“The Assembly considered what the church should do if marriage is redefined in Australia. It decided to ask the General Assembly of Australia to withdraw the whole church from the Marriage Act, so that our ministers could no longer solemnise marriages under the Marriage Act.” Mr Murray said. “The report which recommended this decision argued that if the Federal Government were to redefine marriage to include same-sex marriage then it would corrupt a good gift of God into a wrong. That would mean that ministers would then be acting for the government in a system which did not reflect the biblical view of marriage. In this case the positive reason for our co-operation with the Marriage Act would have been removed, and we would be better to avoid association with evil by no longer acting as celebrants.”

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Posted July 6, 2015 at 7:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Carrying one child in her arm, a second on her back and holding the hand of a third, Hasinah Izhar waded waist-deep through a mangrove swamp into the Bay of Bengal, toward a fishing boat bobbing in the dusk.

“Troops are coming, troops are coming,” the smuggler said. “Get on the boat quickly.”

If she was going to change her mind, she would have to do it now.

Ms. Izhar, 33, had reached the muddy shore after sneaking down the dirt paths and around the fish ponds of western Myanmar, where she and about one million other members of the Rohingya minority are stateless, shunned and persecuted for their Muslim faith.

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




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