Posted by Kendall Harmon

Going through the barrier with a colleague to board my train in a busy station in London, suddenly a loud alarm sounded. A voice came over the public address system advising, no instructing, every person in the station to leave the building immediately. The majority of passers-by stopped, stood still and looked at each other. Visitors to London were already making their way to the exits, Londoners were hurrying their way to their destinations. The message only came once. I looked at the person I was with, we shrugged our shoulders, and went through the barrier to catch our train.

We have, collectively, quite a bit of disbelief and fatigue when we are told that we really must respond, or do something, or change our behaviour or direction.

Mary Magdalene was exhausted by grief. With Jesus everything had died. Who knows why she thought she was going to the garden in which the tomb they had borrowed for him was situated, but who knows why we do lots of things when we are worn out by life? Mary’s emotion represents the emotion of the whole world in the presence of the overwhelming cruelty and irreparable nature of death.

With Mary there are so many that weep. In Syria mothers cry for their children and husbands. In the Ukraine neighbours cry because the future is precarious and dangerous. In Rwanda tears are still shed each day as the horror of genocide is remembered. In this country, even as the economy improves there is weeping in broken families, in people ashamed to seek help from food banks, or frightened by debt. Asylum seekers weep with loneliness and missing far away families. Mary continues to weep across the world.

This is the world we live in, a world which each of us has had a hand in creating. A world of crosses. We can comfort one another and treat the dying with dignity. We can make gardens and graves, we can move stones and wipe away tears. But we can do nothing to defeat death.

But listen, hear the announcement. . . The one who was dead, is now alive! The one whose body had been a corpse, lying motionless in the grave, inert, lifeless, lying flat on the stone ledge of the borrowed tomb – he now stands before Mary, speaking her name. This day he speaks everybody’s name to engage them with the news that he is alive.

When Mary hears her name spoken, we are told, she turns towards him. A moment before and she is in the deepest despair, a second after, her life has changed. For death has more than met its match. It has been defeated. Everything changes.

We cannot expel God, nor the life of God, from his world. In fact this new life insists that there is nowhere God is absent, powerless or irrelevant. There is no situation in the universe in the face of which God is at a loss. The one that was dead is now alive. Where there was weeping there is now joy.

Someone wrote recently ‘Joy might be a greater scandal than evil, suffering or death’. [David Ford]. This is what I have been moved by in Christian communities around the world who face the most devastating of conditions. Their certainty that Jesus is alive enables them to face all horrors with joy. Not happiness, but joy. Joy can exist alongside mental illness, depression, bereavement, fear, because the joy of Christ comes from knowing that nothing and no one less than God has the last word. I remember sitting in a room with the Bishop who had come over from Pakistan soon after the attack in September on a church in Peshawar. I asked how Christians were coping with the fear that such attacks brought, and wondered if there had been anyone in church the week following the attack. ‘Oh yes’ the bishop replied, ‘ there were three times as many people the next week’. Such action is made possible only by the resurrection. The persecuted church flourishes because of the resurrection. I think of women who I met earlier this year who have survived unspeakable sexual violence, yet who lift their arms in prayer and praise to God. I think of teenagers I met in Luton who have hope and joy, in lives that were dominated by self hatred and harm. This has only been made possible because Jesus is alive.

The announcement that Jesus is alive changes everything; not simplistically or even instantly do circumstances and situations change. But it changes us. It gives us hope where we were in despair, faith where we were lost, light where we were in darkness, joy where we were entirely in sorrow. That joy in huge life of Jesus is present in the food banks, the credit unions, the practical down to earth living that the churches are demonstrating across this country.

But Jesus hasn’t finished with Mary yet. It isn’t simply a personal thing for her. She must now become a witness. So Jesus sends her to the ‘brothers’ to tell them. Please notice, in all four gospels the first witness of the resurrection is a woman. So Mary becomes the apostle to the apostles.

Jesus comes to find us all. In all the gospels when anyone meets Jesus they are given a task. The task is to join the announcement. The meaning of our whole existence is to be witnesses to the new life that is offered by Jesus Christ. The persecuted church bears witness in its joy overcoming fear, in worship in the midst of war, of refugee camps. In an IDP camp in Goma in January, the reminder that Jesus is alive was worth more than many sentences of comfort, for he brings joy.

The new life of Jesus is given to us. We witness to it as we insist that money isn’t our ruler, that self- promotion isn’t King, that pleasure isn’t a fulfilling aim, and that the survival of the fittest simply means some die later than others. The new life of Christ has broken into our world, it cannot be contained, nor restricted, nor managed. The church exists to show by its life and work the transforming power that has been set free in the world. All that we need to do is respond in faith and receive the gift of that life.

To fail to respond is like hearing someone crying ‘fire’ and continuing to walk into the building. Or have someone whisper ‘will you marry me?’ and turn the channel to find something interesting to watch. This is an announcement that calls our attention, catches our lives, heals our brokenness, and send us out with a purpose, a hope and a joy. It is news that the world cannot ignore, that we cannot neglect, it is the news of joy immeasurable.

(From there).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEasterParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyChristologyEschatology

0 Comments
Posted April 20, 2014 at 6:23 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchHistoryMusicReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyChristology

0 Comments
Posted April 18, 2014 at 10:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At a time when some argue that faith and religious life should be kept behind closed doors, it is reassuring that the BBC and other broadcasters still invest in imaginative, high-quality religious programming, especially during Christian festivals such as Easter and Christmas.

But I believe passionately that religious broadcasting is not just for Easter or Christmas: its presence is vital the whole year round. I could not agree more with Ian Hislop, who wrote in last month’s Radio Times “that programmes that concern themselves with faith are still trying to engage with the world, rather than just trying to escape from it into the next”.

The dramatic events of Holy Week remind us that God is intensely engaged with the world he created – not just the ‘religious’ bits of life. St Paul told early Christians that, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God chose to “reconcile to himself all things”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 17, 2014 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This week, as Jews celebrate the Passover holiday, they are commemorating the Bible's Exodus story describing a series of plagues inflicted on ancient Egypt that freed the Israelites, allowing them to make their way to the Holy Land. But over the past century, another exodus, driven by a plague of persecution, has swept across the Middle East and is emptying the region of its Christian population. The persecution is especially virulent today.

The Middle East may be the birthplace of three monotheistic religions, but some Arab nations appear bent on making it the burial ground for one of them. For 2,000 years, Christian communities dotted the region, enriching the Arab world with literature, culture and commerce. At the turn of the 20th century, Christians made up 26% of the Middle East's population. Today, that figure has dwindled to less than 10%. Intolerant and extremist governments are driving away the Christian communities that have lived in the Middle East since their faith was born.

In the rubble of Syrian cities like Aleppo and Damascus, Christians who refused to convert to Islam have been kidnapped, shot and beheaded by Islamist opposition fighters. In Egypt, mobs of Muslim Brotherhood members burn Coptic Christian churches in the same way they once obliterated Jewish synagogues. And in Iraq, terrorists deliberately target Christian worshippers. This past Christmas, 26 people were killed when a bomb ripped through a crowd of worshipers leaving a church in Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relationsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 17, 2014 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You spend anytime around the 44-year-old [Clemson Coach] and you are going to hear about Jesus, Scripture, and the power of it all. It isn't necessarily, or at least not always, done to proselytize. It's part of how he talks, how he lives. Faith, Family, Football – that's about it with him.

There is no delineation.

For the people at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non-profit out of Madison, Wis., there needs to be or he shouldn't have his job.

In what is, if nothing else, an absolutely fascinating subject, the FFRF sent a letter of complaint to Clemson this week about "several serious constitutional concerns" over how "Christian worship seems interwoven into the Clemson football program."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSportsYoung Adults* South Carolina

1 Comments
Posted April 17, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Few who have heard or read [Barbara Brown] Taylor are surprised that she is nudging people down a path toward endarkenment. For years, her sermons have been required reading at seminaries nationwide, and she often lectures at Princeton, Duke and the National Cathedral in Washington. She is the most requested Sunday speaker at New York’s Chautauqua Institution and draws both atheists and divinity students to her book signings. And 13 books on, she has chronicled her own fascinating and complex faith journey for hundreds of thousands of readers. Taylor, says Randall Balmer, chair of Dartmouth’s department of religion, “belongs in the pantheon of spiritual writers that includes such luminaries as the late Will Campbell, Anne Lamott and Frederick Buechner. She doesn’t shy away from big issues, and her honesty is disarming.”

Certainly, Taylor’s new memoir, Learning to Walk in the Dark–on spirituality and self-help shelves in time for Good Friday–challenges the broad theological belief that darkness is evil, scary and just plain bad. But she is also taking on the sometimes far-too-sunny fashion in which churches tell their most important stories. It is easy to forget, amid “the Easter lilies, the sound of trumpets and bright streaming light,” she notes, that the Resurrection happened in a dark cave. “God and darkness have been friends for a long time,” Taylor says. “It’s just one nighttime story after another–amazing.”

Read it all and take a look at the Time Cover picture also.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* TheologyTheodicy

0 Comments
Posted April 17, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some people feel that in this ever more secular age we shouldn't talk about these things. I completely disagree. I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country, more ambitious about expanding the role of faith-based organisations, and, frankly, more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people's lives.

First, being more confident about our status as a Christian country does not somehow involve doing down other faiths or passing judgement on those with no faith at all. Many people tell me it is easier to be Jewish or Muslim in Britain than in a secular country precisely because the tolerance that Christianity demands of our society provides greater space for other religious faiths, too.

Crucially, the Christian values of responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility, and love are shared by people of every faith and none - and we should be confident in standing up to defend them.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 17, 2014 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This Lent we, and thousands of others, made the rise of hunger in the UK the focus of our fasting. It has been a time of sorrowful and deep reflection on a rise we see every day in the numbers visiting food banks in towns and cities across the country.

The Trussell Trust figures, released today, only further illustrate this terrible rise, from 350,000 last year to over 900,000 this year. This figure, shocking as it is, is far from the total number of people going hungry in our country today – from those too ashamed to visit their local food bank to those many families not in crisis but ever more worried about keeping the cupboards full. One in four is cutting portion sizes and half are cutting their household food budgets.

Lent has finally seen the beginning of a real national discussion on what this hunger means, what causes it and how we as a society can begin rising to the challenge of this national crisis.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekLent* Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionGlobalizationHunger/MalnutritionPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 17, 2014 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain should be unashamedly “evangelical” about its Christian faith and actively hand churches and other faith groups a greater role in society, David Cameron has insisted.

In a declaration of his personal beliefs, he said he had experienced the “healing power” of religion in his own life and insisted that Christianity could transform the “spiritual, physical, and moral” state of Britain and even the world.

Writing in the Church Times, the Anglican newspaper, he heaped praise on the Church of England and described the UK as a “Christian country” despite saying we live in an increasingly “secular age”.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 16, 2014 at 4:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mahatma Gandhi was once asked what was the greatest obstacle to the extension of Christianity. He answered: "Christianity."

Christianity faces the prospect of its own death through the death of its inadequately conceived Easter God. Christianity, as practised in New Zealand, is not credible and is dying.

If Christianity faces up to this full reality, it will survive to be a useful religious community. If it fails to shoulder the full weight of its own cross, it will not discover whether its Christian faith is really true.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyApologeticsEschatology

2 Comments
Posted April 16, 2014 at 4:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The language used by the national media in reporting the story this time reveals the lack of confidence now placed in the fragment. The Boston Globe reported that the tests “have turned up no evidence of modern forgery,” but the reporter had to acknowledge that at least one of the scholars writing in the Harvard Theological Review insisted that the fragment is not only a forgery, but an amateurish effort. The New York Times ran a story that featured a headline announcing that the fragment “is more likely ancient than fake.” Note the uncertainty evident even in the headline.

In her major article released last week, Professor King defended the fragment’s authenticity, but acknowledged that — all previous sensationalism aside — “It is not entirely clear, however, how many women are referred to [in the fragment], who they are, precisely what is being said about them, or what larger issues are under consideration.”

This is a very different message than was sent back in 2012. Professor King now acknowledges that all the references to females in the fragment might be “deployed metaphorically as figures of the Church, or heavenly Wisdom, or symbolically/typologically as brides of Christ or even mothers.” In other words, the fragment might not even conflict with Christian orthodoxy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMediaReligion & Culture* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted April 16, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This coming Aug. 3 will mark the golden anniversary of Flannery O’Connor’s “Passover,” to adopt the biblical image John Paul II used to describe the Christian journey through death to eternal life. In the 50 years since lupus erythematosus claimed her at age 39, O’Connor’s literary genius has been widely celebrated. Then, with the 1979 publication of The Habit of Being, her collected letters, another facet of Miss O’Connor’s genius came into focus: Mary Flannery O’Connor was an exceptionally gifted apologist, an explicator of Catholic faith who combined remarkable insight into the mysteries of the Creed with deep and unsentimental piety, unblinking realism about the Church in its human aspect, puckish humor—and a mordant appreciation of the soul-withering acids of modern secularism.

Miss O’Connor’s sense that ours is an age of nihilism—an age suffering from by a crabbed sourness about the mystery of being itself—makes her an especially apt apologist for today...

[She believed the world's]...darkness is rendered darker still by late modernity’s refusal to recognize its own deepest need. For as Miss O’Connor put it in a 1957 lecture, “Redemption is meaningless unless there is cause for it in the actual life we live, and for the last few centuries there has been operating in our culture the secular belief that there is no such cause.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* Culture-WatchPoetry & LiteratureReligion & CultureWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyApologetics

1 Comments
Posted April 16, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Mustang, Okla., school board voted Monday (April 14) to adopt a Bible course developed by Steve Green, clearing the way for the Hobby Lobby president, whose suit against the Affordable Care Act is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, to enter another charged arena at the borderline of church and state.

The board, whose district is practically in Hobby Lobby’s Oklahoma City backyard, agreed to beta-test the first year of the Museum of the Bible Curriculum, an ambitious four-year public school elective on the narrative, history and impact of the Good Book.

For at least the first semester of the 2014-15 year, Mustang alone will employ the program, said Jerry Pattengale, head of the Green Scholars Initiative, which is overseeing its development. In September 2016, he hopes to place it in at least 100 high schools; by the following year, “thousands.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 16, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The show, which features Tom Hollander as a well-meaning pro-gay inner-city liberal vicar, is “ great entertainment” but it “doesn’t truly tell the whole story,” according to the Most Rev Justin Welby.

Writing in the Radio Times about the Sandford St Martin Trust Awards, which celebrate programmes that explore the relevance of faith, Archbishop Welby says: “It would be no surprise if BBC2’s Rev makes the awards shortlist next year. The show amusingly depicts some of the challenges facing clergy up and down the country. But while it’s great entertainment, it doesn’t truly tell the whole story.

“I have a friend who runs a growing church in Reading city centre, filled with young people with no church background; I have another friend who has had to plant two new churches because his congregation is bursting at the seams.

“Other churches have few people but great impact, again with visionary and inspiring leadership...."

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

1 Comments
Posted April 16, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev David Smith from Oakfield Methodist Church, Rev Kelvin Bolton from Christ Church and Holy Trinity and Father Stephen Maloney from All Saints Church Anfield led the service and read the names of the 96 from the Book of Remembrance.

It took eight poignant minutes.

The stadium then fell silent for a minute in memory of the victims of that terrible day in Sheffield at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureSportsUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 15, 2014 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1. The coming into effect of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 may have changed English law but it has not changed Anglican Mainstream’s commitment to promote, teach and maintain the commonly agreed Scriptural truths of the Christian faith. For Anglicans these truths are expressed by the historic Creeds, the 39 Articles, and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. They provide the source of true unity and fellowship, and the basis of our mission and service to a needy world. Those truths remain and, as the Church of England’s house of bishops’ statement has explicitly confirmed, the church’s doctrine of marriage remains unchanged.

2. We recognise that the passage of the 2013 Act marks a further step away from biblical values in our national life and demonstrates the extent of the decline in the influence of the Christian churches in Parliament and public debate. In spite of much effort from the churches individually and collectively, the Parliamentary vote was substantially in favour of the measure, as was public opinion.

3. Nevertheless, the failure to win the debate about the legislation does not indicate that we were wrong; rather, that the arguments offered and the strategy adopted failed to overcome the intellectual and emotional appeals of the forces of self-centred secularism which dominates our culture. There was in fact little debate and those urging care and caution were disregarded.

4. Powerful as those forces are, we place our faith in a stronger power, that of God Himself.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted April 15, 2014 at 12:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

RNS: You’ve talked a lot about your journey out of the church world. What do you consider yourself now? Christian or Episcopalian or something else?

BBT: It’s true that a wrote a book called Leaving Church in which I detail leaving parish ministry, but I’m still very much involved in the church world. I end up speaking and lecturing in church settings at least twice a month. So I haven’t journeyed out of the church at all as far as I can tell. I’d say I consider myself a practicing Christian and in April I’ll celebrate my 30th anniversary as a priest in the Episcopal church. So I’m an active and practicing Christian, though I’m as bad at it as most of us are.

RNS: So if you’re a Christians and other who have very different beliefs and practices than you are too, what makes a person a Christian exactly?

BBT: I can call myself a Christian, and there are bodies of Christians who could disagree with me based on their own criteria about what makes a real Christian. But I think a lot of us are rethinking what it means to be Christian. And a lot of us are rejecting other people’s rejection of us as Christians. At this point in my life, I am pretty willing to let people tell me whether or not they are Christian rather than imposing my own definitions of it on them. My base definition is “here she says, here she is a Christian.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Theology

3 Comments
Posted April 15, 2014 at 12:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As priests chanted and smeared vermilion on Narendra Modi’s forehead, the opposition leader prayed that India would make him its next prime minister.

Modi came to this Hindu holy city late last year to worship at a site that has been contested by Hindus and Muslims for centuries. Just yards from where he stood, a two-story wall of metal bars separated the historic temple from a mosque.

Modi has been a polarizing figure in India for years. Now his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has surged in the polls as a discontented electorate has embraced his message of economic growth and corruption-free government. Voters have begun to cast their ballots in national elections, which will continue in stages until May 12.

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsHinduismIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 15, 2014 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Understanding the Christian faith in the light of current scientific theories is a vital topic for anyone seeking to commend Christ today. The highly-publicized recent debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye “the Science Guy” is a case in point, as is the choice to focus on this topic for the recent Mere Anglicanism conference.

With my background in physics, it is a subject that has long interested me. In engaging these conversations, it is important to remember that scientists study a disordered world. It has fallen into sin, death, and destruction, which we know from Scripture are not part of God’s long-term plans for His creation. But this fall is something that probably cannot be detected scientifically. Scientists can only study what they “see” and then draw inferences from that. They observe, for instance, that entropy (disorder) always increases in natural events, but cannot know scientifically that this must be a temporary crisis that will be resolved in the new heavens and new earth that will last forever.

Read it all (page 3).

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyApologeticsEthics / Moral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

1 Comments
Posted April 15, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The marriage of canon Jeremy Pemberton and Laurence Cunnington, the first gay clergy wedding in England, looks like a decisive test of strength within the Church of England between liberals and conservatives. But it may just shift the trenches a few hundred yards. The tangles of employment law and church law make it almost impossible for either side to get all they want.

It looks as if it should be easy for the bishop of Lincoln, in whose diocese the canon works, to discipline Pemberton if he wants to. But Pemberton is not in fact a vicar. He is a hospital chaplain, which means he is employed by the local NHS trust. They are not going to sack him for contracting a perfectly legal marriage. The bishop has no power to get him sacked even if he wanted to.

But this is the Church of England; things are seldom simple....

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

4 Comments
Posted April 14, 2014 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every time I say I believe in God, people look a bit embarrassed. It’s become one of those subjects most people don’t want to discuss.

We can talk face-to-face and chat online about our sex lives, our children and our fantasy partners, but we hesitate to reveal whether we believe in life after death.

At Easter, the most important religious festival for Christians, politicians go through hoops to avoid talk of the G (God) word, for fear of alienating voters.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 14, 2014 at 3:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A group of nonbelievers held its first secular Sunday service here earlier this month. These meetings fill a need that area atheists say wasn’t being met: Weekly get-togethers for like-minded people in a family-friendly environment.

he group is called Kansas City Oasis, and it’s modeled after Houston Oasis in Texas. But don’t call it an “atheist church” — they prefer “secular community,” or “humanist community.”

These Oasis communities aren’t the only Sunday meetup. Another secular Sunday meeting model, Sunday Assembly, has spread throughout England, the U.S. and Australia.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 14, 2014 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One hundred and thirty five civilians have reportedly been killed in North East Nigeria since Wednesday. The killings, which took place in the State of Borno, were carried out in at least three separate attacks.
The attackers are suspected to be from the Islamist Boko Haram movement. Human rights organizations say that at least 1,500 people, half of them civilian, have been killed in the region this year.
Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos in Plateau State which is also in the North Eastern region of Nigeria. Archbishop Kaigama appeals for help and support in tracing the roots of the Boko Haram group in what could prove a necessary attempt to reveal who is behind the group, who provides its militants with arms, what is its scope beyond wreaking fear, death and destruction…

Read and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 13, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In February, the 20 or so Christian families still living in the northern Syrian town of Raqqa were given the same choice. The cost of protection is now the equivalent of $650 in Syrian pounds, a large amount for people struggling to make ends meet in a war zone. The other two options remain unchanged. This time the offer came from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), an extremist antigovernment group that seized Raqqa in May 2013 from more-moderate rebel brigades and declared the town the capital of its own Islamic state.

Most of Raqqa’s 3,000 Christians had already fled the fighting, leaving just a few families in a place suddenly run by a group known for its violent tactics in both Iraq and Syria, including beheadings and floggings–tactics so ruthless that even al-Qaeda has disowned the group. The number had fallen even further by the time ISIS commanders promised the Christians that as long as they paid the levy, the one church that had not already been destroyed in the fighting would be left untouched and the Christians would not be physically harmed. They would have the right to practice their religion as long as they didn’t ring bells, evangelize or pray within earshot of a Muslim.

Church leaders urged Raqqa’s Christians to pay the militants. “[ISIS] told me that all I need to do is pay the taxes, and they will protect me,” says George, a 17-year-old Christian music student still living in Raqqa. “I know that under the Caliphate, Christians got a lot of things in return for paying taxes. The Christian community was left in peace.” That hasn’t been the case so far in Syria’s new Caliphate. When ISIS arrived in town, it warned Christians to stay out of sight and hide their crucifixes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Social scientists have learned you can't always believe what people tell you. An analysis of 3 places in the Muslim world examines whether peoples' reports of religious behavior match what they do.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureSociology* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am (or try to be) a partisan of pluralism....But this respect is difficult to maintain when these institutions will not admit that this is what is going on. Instead, we have the pretense of universality — the insistence that the post-Eich Mozilla is open to all ideas, the invocations of the “spirit of free expression” from a school that’s kicking a controversial speaker off the stage.

And with the pretense, increasingly, comes a dismissive attitude toward those institutions — mostly religious — that do acknowledge their own dogmas and commitments, and ask for the freedom to embody them and live them out.

It would be a far, far better thing if Harvard and Brandeis and Mozilla would simply say, explicitly, that they are as ideologically progressive as Notre Dame is Catholic or B. Y.U. is Mormon or Chick-fil-A is evangelical, and that they intend to run their institution according to those lights.

I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted April 12, 2014 at 2:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The Drop Box" - Documentary Trailer from Arbella Studios on Vimeo.



Worth every second of the three minutes of your time it takes to watch--touching, heart-rending, and encouraging--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaSouth Korea* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted April 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Beginning at sundown on April 14, many Jews will be observing Passover at a Seder, the special meal that commemorates their ancestors’ exodus from slavery in Egypt. The book that guides the ritual is the haggadah. The Sarajevo Haggadah, named for the Bosnian city where it is kept, is a rare, beautifully illustrated manuscript created more than 600 years ago in Spain, and many see its own story as a compelling symbol of the Exodus. “It went through so many different cultures,” observes composer Merima Kljuco, “and so many different people took care of the book and helped it survive.”

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEurope--Bosnia and Herzegovina* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Scholars have probed Shakespeare's plays for centuries, hoping to seize a look into the Bard's soul, to determine if he was a man of faith. The latest academic to take this journey, or at least to write a book about it, is David Kastan, a Yale University English professor who concludes in A Will to Believe: Shakespeare and Religion that the plays are not keys to Shakespeare's own faith, but rather register the ways religion changed his world.

"One thing we know nothing about is what Shakespeare believed," he told an audience of about 130 gathered in early March in Manhattan. "We know lots of what he said. He lived in a culture where religion just saturated the culture. Religion is the way culture expressed its fundamental values for Shakespeare."

The discussion was presented by the Pearl Theatre Company, one of New York's most respected off-Broadway companies, and the Shakespeare Society, whose artistic director, Michael Sexton, moderated the 90-minute onstage talk at the theater.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture

0 Comments
Posted April 12, 2014 at 10:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I want to propose a slightly different approach, grounded both in experience and theology, of the prophetic response to violence which accepts the world as it is and seeks to bring redemption and salvation.

It is not popular to speak of forgiveness during a war as one city lies burning, like Dick Howard. But the deep tragedy of World War II, and of the cumulative ten years of war between the United Kingdom and Germany in the first half of the last century, in which those two countries alone killed several million of each other’s citizens, that tragedy began to be redeemed on the day that Dick Howard wrote ‘Father forgive’ on the ruined wall of Coventry Cathedral. We prefer to win wars, we prefer to win wars against violence, and to defeat our dehumanised enemy than to find the reconciliation that is the true victory of the gospel of peace.

So in conclusion, what does a church committed to reclaiming the gospel of peace look like? What does it look lie in the USA where there are people who are faithful Christians on all sides of the debate about guns? What does it mean to be a faithful Christian? What it does not mean is to shout louder from your corner in the conviction that you are right and everyone else is stupid.

Rather, a church committed to the reclaiming of the gospel of peace looks like those who join their enemies on their knees.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 12, 2014 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The thing about the wife issue is that it's near sexual ethics. There's no hotter topic in our culture right now than sexual ethics. If you can turn it around and say, "You [Christians] have been thinking for 2,000 years that Jesus was celibate, and you held that forth as an ideal. It turns out that he was married and very much interested in sex. Therefore, he didn't really care about sexual ethics they way modern-day Christians do."

Is there any reason Christians should be unsettled by documents like these?

The Wife of Jesus fragment should not at all be unsettling for the Christian faith. It reflects the belief of someone who was writing between the fifth and ninth century. That belief might go earlier, but when we know that there were all kinds of heretical beliefs cropping up around end of the first century, we also know this is nothing new.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyChristology

6 Comments
Posted April 11, 2014 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...changing its employment policies to contradict the entire Christian tradition’s understanding of sin and obedience, vice and virtue where human sexuality is concerned would not be, as the letter’s writers and signers seem to imagine, an embrace of an “agree to disagree” accommodation between Christians who differ on “narrow doctrinal matters.” Such a change would be a capitulation by one side, and a victory by the other, on a question that goes to the heart of what it means to be a Christian organization. World Vision got the message loud and clear from many supporters that they would no longer consider it a Christian organization if it really undertook this capitulation.

The signers of the Whitworth “Response” claim with equal clarity—when they want to be clear—that the Christian thing to do would be toss out the Great Tradition wherever it rests on “a few passages in the Bible” that “have been historically misconstrued.” So again, why do they pretend that a victory for their principle, and a defeat for their adversaries’ principle that they revile, is a sweetly reasonable coming-together-across-differences?

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 11, 2014 at 12:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Traditionally, the weeklong Passover holiday has not exactly been known for its culinary attractions. That was by design: The matzo that Jews eat to remember their deliverance from slavery is a flat bread, unleavened because when the ancient Israelites fled Egypt they didn't have time to wait for dough to rise. Matzo is known as the bread of freedom. But because the holiday also commemorates the Israelites' 40-year stint wandering the desert, matzo is sometimes called the bread of affliction—a description that takes on another meaning by about Day Six, when you realize that the matzo you had thought at first tasted delightfully nostalgic is actually about as tasty as a year-old Saltine.

Any food made from grains that are chametz, or leavened, meaning allowed to ferment and rise—that includes wheat, oats, rye and barley—are banned for the holiday. It can put a crimp in menu-planning, but that has always been part of the point of Passover.

Lately, though, a movement has developed that offers deliverance for Jews who might feel that they are gastronomically suffering. The five-star Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem created a stir this month when it announced that it planned to add bagels to its Passover menus when the holiday begins on Monday. The bagels are made with boiled matzo meal, and thus are kosher for Passover, and they come complete with lox and cream cheese.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

1 Comments
Posted April 11, 2014 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is the Rev'd Mark Abrey, vicar of St. Nicholas' Church, Chadlington, Oxfordshire. He seems to be a quiet and unassuming sort of minister, so you won't find much written about him anywhere. Indeed, it took His Grace the best part of an hour to unearth a photograph. The Rev'd Mark happens to be David Cameron's local vicar in his constituency. And this is what the Prime Minister said of him at Wednesday's Downing Street Easter reception:

..it’s lovely to have here tonight the vicar from St Mary Abbots school, Gillean Craig, and also the vicar who looks after me spiritually in the constituency, Mark Abrey in Chadlington, who, when I often – anyone asks me about the pastoral care that many vicars carry out across the country, I remember 5 years ago when we had to mourn the loss and bury my son Ivan, I can’t think of anyone who was more loving or thoughtful or kind than Mark. And of course, Ivan would have been 12 yesterday, which has had me pause to think about that.

Now, Mr Cameron said an awful lot more in his speech, which spanned politics, religion, the law of Christ, the Big Society and Dyno-Rod. And you may read all of that for yourselves and make up your own minds what you think about it. But His Grace is going to dwell on this single sentence of tribute to a single Church of England vicar, for this speech was extempore - not carefully crafted by some Downing Street hireling. And, clearly coming from the heart, it reveals rather more about the Prime Minister's spirituality and appreciation of the Church of England's ministry than anything he has previously disclosed.

Read it all from Archbishop Cranmer's blog.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 11, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After four years of research, American Bible Society has found the Bible landscape in the U.S. is shifting.

A new report released today finds the percentage of Americans who are considered "Bible engaged"i is now equal to the percentage who do not believe the Bible to be sacredii—both at 19 percent. The latest findings are in American Bible Society’s fourth annual State of the Bible survey. Since 2011, this latter category of “Bible skeptics”iii has risen from 10 percent to 19 percent of those surveyed. During the same period, the percentage considered "Bible-friendly"iv dropped from 45 percent to 37 percent, while “Bible-engaged” remained steady. The percentage of those considered neutralv toward the Bible, 26 percent in 2014, has remained statistically unchanged.

The report, conducted by Barna Group, details Americans’ beliefs about the Bible, its role in society, its presence in U.S. homes and other information about the best-selling book of all time. As in previous years, the survey found the Bible remains a highly valued, influential force in America. But beliefs about the Bible and its role in society are becoming increasingly polarized—particularly when the data are examined by age group.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 11, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bible has been making its way onto box office screens and home TV screens over the past year: from Noah to Son of God, people have been watching the Bible. But are they still reading the Bible? And do they still believe in the Bible?

Each year, Barna Group partners with the American Bible Society on State of the Bible, a comprehensive study of Americans' attitudes and behaviors toward the Bible. Asking a national representative sample of adults the same questions year after year allows us to track the country's shifting perceptions of Scriptures.

This year's research reveals six trends in Bible engagement: from the Bible's continued role as a cultural icon, to increased digital Bible reading, to a rise in skepticism toward Scripture, particularly among Millennials.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 11, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has submitted its response to the Government's consultation document on the future of civil partnership. The 12 week consultation period opened in January and closes next Thursday (17 April).

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 11, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishops in South Sudan have confirmed the Archbishop of Canterbury's warning that Christians in their country face a violent reaction if the Church of England permits same-sex marriage and blessings.

Archbishop Welby gave his warning during a phone-in on LBC radio last Friday. Asked why the Church of England could not permit clergy to bless same-sex relationships, he said: "The impact of that on Christians in countries far from here, like South Sudan, like Nigeria, and other places, would be absolutely catastrophic."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesEpiscopal Church of the SudanSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 11, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As we celebrate Passover, it is important to remember that as great as the miracle of the Exodus was, freedom was only the beginning. I know this from reading the Torah, but I also know from personal experience.

I was born in Uganda to Jewish parents at a time when it was illegal to be a Jew in my country. Uganda’s dictator, Idi Amin, was a modern-day Pharaoh, outlawing everything Jewish from prayer to practice. Many of our Jewish elders, including my father, the community rabbi, were beaten and imprisoned. Our synagogue was destroyed. Under these dangerous conditions, most of the 3,000 Jews in Uganda abandoned their faith.

Nearly a decade later, on April 11, 1979, corresponding to 14 Nisan, 5739, Amin was deposed. It was the first night of Passover when the government declared freedom of worship. For us, it was a true Passover miracle.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaUganda* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As many congregations have already split within mainline Protestantism, Northern Seminary professor Scot McKnight said that in 25 years, he suspects evangelical churches will be split on the issue.

“What has happened is that the same-sex marriage/same-sex legitimacy has become the focal point or scapegoat of the culture wars,” McKnight said. “It is Bible, theology and politics all rolled into one big monster.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 11:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bradley Touchstone, the architect for the building, called the project “amazingly complex.”

“We did a tremendous amount of work with the congregation to understand very clearly what their goals were, what kind of worship space they wanted to create and what sort of tradition they wanted to build into this church,” he said.

Touchstone said the building will be able to seat between 700 and 1,000 people.

“We’ve taken less than two years to complete this building, which is an enormously aggressive schedule,” he said. “Childers Construction has done a fantastic job. They hit the ground running and were able to mobilize tremendous manpower to get this done in less than two years.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture

10 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tina: Your research examined the relationship between religion and the political commitments in Britain and I was really intrigued about what led you to conduct the research.

Nick: We conducted a research project about 18 months ago, which was written by Andy Walton. It asked whether there was a religious right emerging in Britain and, to cut a long story short, that project concluded that the answer was no. But it begged another question, which was if we don't have a religious right, if we're not going down the US path, what do we have? Is there such a thing as a religious vote or a religious block vote and, if so, what impact will it have? So we decided we would investigate that particular question in this research.

Tina: In terms of the relationship between members of the Christian denominations and the voting preference, what did the research reveal?

Nick: We went back through about 50 years' worth of British election studies and charted how people of different religious groups or different Christian denominations voted - or, more precisely, said they had voted - in each of those elections. Broadly speaking, there were some alignments - not strong blocks but alignments: alignments between Anglicans and the Conservative Party, between Roman Catholics and the Labour Party, and much weaker, certainly much weaker today, between other Christians and the third party.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Enio Aguero had never been to Oso before late last month. But he recognized the faces.

“Faces of hopelessness, trying to find out why or how this could happen,” said the 53-year-old chaplain from Northern Virginia, a veteran of disaster relief in Moore, Okla., where a tornado last May obliterated entire subdivisions and killed 24 people.

“When a disaster like this happens, it touches the deepest part of our being. At one minute, there was everything; a minute later, there was nothing,” said Aguero, a chaplain coordinator for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. “There’s no way we can make sense of this, except that God is in control.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureRural/Town Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicy

0 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I appreciate the spirit (if you will) of... [Barbara Ehrenreich's] argument, but I am very doubtful as to its application. The trouble is that in its current state, cognitive science has a great deal of difficulty explaining “what happens” when “those wires connect” for non-numinous experience, which is why mysterian views of consciousness remain so potent even among thinkers whose fundamental commitments are atheistic and materialistic. (I’m going to link to the internet’s sharpest far-left scold for a good recent polemic on this front.) That is to say, even in contexts where it’s very easy to identify the physical correlative to a given mental state, and to get the kind of basic repeatability that the scientific method requires — show someone an apple, ask them to describe it; tell them to bite into it, ask them to describe the taste; etc. — there is no kind of scientific or philosophical agreement on what is actually happening to produce the conscious experience of the color “red,” the conscious experience of the crisp McIntosh taste, etc. So if we can’t say how this ”normal” conscious experience works, even when we can easily identify the physical stimulii that produce it, it seems exponentially harder to scientifically investigate the invisible, maybe-they-exist and maybe-they-don’t stimulii — be they divine, alien, or panpsychic — that Ehrenreich hypothesizes might produce more exotic forms of conscious experience.

Especially since, by definition, the truly exotic is not likely to repeat itself for the convenience of a laboratory technician. There are kinds of numinous experience that can be technically investigated, in the limited sense that Ehrenreich (rightly) suggests is insufficient to understanding them — you can put a praying or meditating person in a brain scanner and see which areas of their brain seem to be involved in the journey into the mystic, you can look for ways to attempt to recreate those brain states, you can link similar experiences to medical conditions and hallucinogens, etc.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropology

0 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Would you ever explore the idea that this other that you’ve experienced could be God?

I would not explore monotheistic religions. The religions that impress me are those which involve ecstatic communion with a deity or spirit–like voodoo. I like that much better than belief. I have respect for that. But as I said, I’m not looking for anything, and I’m not going to church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism

0 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Where did this all begin? September, 1981, at St Peter’s Toton outside Nottingham Kris and I and kids wandered into the neighborhood Anglican church, loved both Curate John and Elisabeth Corrie, and we began our lifetime appreciation and formative influence of The Book of Common Prayer, and you may have detected my own interest in prayer books through my small book Praying with the Church. So there’s nothing at all close to any kind of major shift in our life to become Anglicans — we have sustained an Anglican connection for three decades.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

3 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a conflict that pits animal welfare against religious rights, Denmark has ordered that all food animals must be stunned before being killed. The move effectively bans the ritual slaughter methods prescribed in both Muslim and Jewish tradition.

Read or listen to it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Q: Some people have reacted strongly to your statements about the issue of gay marriage in your interview with LBC radio.


A: Lots of people have.

Q: Were you in fact blaming the death of Christians in parts of Africa on the acceptance of gay marriage in America?

A: I was careful not to be too specific because that would pin down where that happened and that would put the community back at risk. I wouldn't use the word “blame”— that's a misuse of words in the context. One of the things that's most depressing about the response to that interview is that almost nobody listened to what I said; they mostly imagined what they thought I said...It was not only imagination, it was a million miles away from what I said.

Q: So what exactly were you saying?

A: What I was saying is that when we take actions in one part of the church, particularly actions that are controversial, that they are heard and felt not only in that part of the church but around the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of CanadaSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAfrica* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted April 9, 2014 at 5:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The founder and CEO of FreshMinistries, a Jacksonville-based nonprofit that works to eradicate poverty, recently met with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Rev. Dr. Robert V. Lee III and FreshMinistries Chief of Staff Shelly Marino met the Most Rev. Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, at Lambeth Palace in England, according to a news release.

During the meeting, the three had "substantive discussions about replicating in other areas of the globe the successful efforts by FreshMinistries to eradicate poverty in marginalized areas," according to the release.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchGlobalizationPovertyReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 9, 2014 at 4:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Travis Wiseman and Andrew Young, the two economists who wrote this study, found that the more Christians there are in a state, the lower the level of entrepreneurship for that state.

For some, this may come as a surprise. Yet many of us have come to the realization that the Protestant work ethic has all but disappeared.
- See more at: http://blog.tifwe.org/the-atheist-work-ethic/#sthash.QilmokYV.dpuf

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 9, 2014 at 3:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Barbara Ehrenreich is known for her books and essays about politics, social welfare, class, women's health and other women's issues. Her best-seller Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, explored the difficulties faced by low-wage workers. So fans of Ehrenreich's writing may be surprised at the subject of her new memoir — the mystical visions she had as a teenager.

To make her new book an even more unlikely subject, Ehrenreich describes herself as a rationalist, a scientist by training, and an atheist who is the daughter of atheists. Living With a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth About Everything draws on her journals from 1956-'66, and on the extensive reading she's done in the past decade about the history of religion. She never discussed these mystical experiences before writing the book — and she suspects she's not the only one keeping such things to herself.

"People have these unaccountable mystic experiences," Ehrenreich tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "Generally they say nothing or they label it as 'God' and get on with their lives. I'm saying, 'Hey, no, let's figure out what's going on here.' "

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureTeens / Youth* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism

0 Comments
Posted April 9, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“A Journey to Waco,” [Clive] Doyle’s memoir, is an account of what it means to be a religious radical—to worship on the fringes of contemporary Christianity. Doyle takes the story from his childhood in Australia through the extraordinary events of 1993, when some eighty armed agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms raided the Mount Carmel community, in an effort to serve a search and arrest warrant on Koresh, on suspicion of violating federal firearms rules. “I want you all to go back to your rooms and stay calm,” Doyle recalls Koresh saying, as federal agents descended on Mount Carmel. Doyle goes on, “I could hear David’s steps going down the hall toward the front door. . . . Then all of a sudden I heard David say: ‘Hey, wait a minute! There are women and children in here!’ Then all hell broke loose—just a barrage of shots from outside coming in. It sounded like a bloodbath.”

In the resulting gun battle, four A.T.F. agents and six Davidians were killed. The F.B.I. was called in. The Davidian property was surrounded. An army of trained negotiators were flown to the scene, and for the next fifty-one days the two sides talked day and night—arguing, lecturing, bargaining—with the highlights of their conversations repeated at press conferences and broadcasts around the world. The Waco standoff was one of the most public conversations in the history of American law enforcement, and the question Doyle poses in his memoir, with genuine puzzlement, is how a religious community could go to such lengths to explain itself to such little effect....

The F.B.I. agent expected that the Davidians, like a fragile cult, would turn paranoid and defensive in the presence of a threat. He didn’t grasp that he was dealing with a very different kind of group—the sort whose idea of a good evening’s fun was a six-hour Bible study wrestling with a tricky passage of Revelation. It was a crucial misunderstanding, and would feed directly into the tragedy that was to come.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. Government* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period of our national history with the Christian people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people.

--Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a final letter to Rienhold Niebuhr before departing America for Germany in 1939

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeGermany* Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 9, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Concern is being expressed for the people of Kessab, an ancient Armenian christian village in Syria. Reports in recent days have claimed that Islamist rebels captured Kassab from government forces, causing residents to leave. Today's Zubeida Malik has been talking to one of the residents of Kessab, an Armenian christian who we are calling ''Panos''.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted April 8, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As a part of a mutually agreed court settlement of a defamation of character lawsuit, David Jenkins has apologized to Bishop Michael Bird of the diocese of Niagara “for any suffering he has experienced as a result of blog postings” on his blog Anglican Samizdat.

The settlement also stipulated that Jenkins would pay “a majority of the legal costs involved, remove the Bishop from his posts, and agree not to publish any similar posts about the Bishop in the future,” according to a release issued by the diocese of Niagara. In a related post on Anglican Samizdat, Jenkins noted that he had agreed to pay $18,000 toward legal costs, which Bird’s lawyer had stated were $24,000. Jenkins did not pay damages, which were listed as $400,000 in the original claim filed in February 2013.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

American Lutherans became a full part of American Protestantism just in time to participate in its decline. From its high of more than 9 million members in 1965, the total number of American Lutherans declined to just over 7 million in 2013, representing about 2 percent of the American population. Though Lutheran numbers generally plateaued through the 1970s and 1980s, both the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod have declined markedly over the past 25 years. The ELCA went from 5.2 million members in 1988 to 3.9 million in 2013; the LCMS declined less severely, from 2.7 million members in 1988 to 2.3 million in 2013. The decline in giving to the national programs and offices of these two denominations is also fairly dramatic, though more pronounced in the ELCA.

Besides suffering from the same negative demographic trends facing other mainline Protestant denominations in this period—aging membership and an inability to retain younger members—the ELCA since 2000 has witnessed the departure of nearly 500,000 members who have coalesced into two new and distinct centrist Lutheran denominations: the Lutheran Congre­ga­tions in Mission for Christ (2001) and the North American Luth­eran Church (2010). Though the scale of these departures is noteworthy in itself, this development is all the more interesting for the new patterns and new directions that these denominations are attempting to develop. Their rejection of the ELCA (and implicitly the LCMS) has forced them to experiment with new ways of being Lutheran Christians in the American context, and they are actively exploring these possibilities.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheran* TheologyEcclesiology

0 Comments
Posted April 8, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Father Frans van der Lugt, a Dutch Jesuit priest who became a symbol of suffering and compassion in the war-ravaged Old City district of Homs, was shot to death Monday morning by a lone gunman, according to members of his order. The killing came amid growing disputes between Syrian insurgents blockaded in the Old City — those who want to accept an amnesty from the government in exchange for laying down their arms, and those who do not.

After Syrian government forces isolated and laid siege to the rebel-held Old City for more than a year, a truce in January allowed the evacuation of 1,500 people, both civilians and fighters. But Father Frans, as he was known, insisted on remaining in the monastery where he had lived for decades, offering refuge to Muslim and Christian families alike and sharing their deprivation and trauma.

The killer’s identity and motives were not known, but the attack carried a heavy symbolic importance. Though he was European, Father Frans, 72, had come to be considered part of Syrian society and was well known in and around Homs, including among local insurgents in the Old City.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 7, 2014 at 4:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted April 7, 2014 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Silicon Valley, where personal quirks and even antisocial personalities are tolerated as long as you are building new products and making money, a socially conservative viewpoint may be one trait you have to keep to yourself.
--The opener of a front page article from Friday saying so much more than the author thinks

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesMediaPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted April 7, 2014 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Dr. Shashidhar Pai moved to Charleston in 1979, the Holy City had no Hindu priest, not even a temple for prayer and celebrations. He and his family relied on a home shrine instead.

When out and about, he would approach fellow India natives he encountered and invite them to get together, working to build a small but close-knit community.

Today, there are too many for him to approach anymore.

Pai, who arrived in the U.S. in 1972, came to Charleston to join MUSC's genetics faculty. Since then, he has seen the local Indian community blossom and, with it, the ranks of Hindu faithful, given that most Indians are born into the world's third-largest religion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsHinduism* South Carolina

1 Comments
Posted April 7, 2014 at 12:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Ijebu chief, Chief Tola Okuneye was shot dead during a church service in Ijebu Igbo, Ogun State, by suspected assassins on Sunday.

Dailypost gathered that the chief was shot dead by ten armed men who stormed St. John African Church, Oke Sopen around 11am while service was ongoing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 7, 2014 at 12:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the first day of Archbishop Justin and Cardinal Nichols's week of prayer for the church's work serving the poor, watch Cardinal Nichols reflecting on today's prayer (Psalm 72) and Bible reading (John 13:2b-5, 12-15)

Listen to it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 7, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[My husband and I]...both work in higher education and run in circles that are highly educated and liberal. In our community, intellect is the only viable form of religion, and the fact that I’m a Christian calls into question my intellectual grit. When my colleagues find out, they are hard-pressed to reconcile the bright, open woman they see before them with the stereotypes they understand about evangelicals. You know the ones: judgmental, anti-intellectual, homophobic, which we are not.

We are the types of young adult Christians who love our faith, but who’ve moved slightly left of center. Just enough so that we have to keep our social and political views quiet in our faith communities. On the other hand, we have to tamp down the religious talk in our work and social communities. I am constantly negotiating how much of myself to share in either group.

Nothing embodies the tension I feel around integrating my identity into both these communities like Noelle’s first explorations with faith. She is extroverted and vocal in ways I am not brave enough to be. She is unselfconscious — completely unaware of the stereotypes that linger around conservative faith.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

3 Comments
Posted April 7, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Those pressing for change therefore need seriously to attend to these complex realities and questions even though they are not as obvious and pressing for most English Anglicans in their parishes as they are for bishops whose ministry connects them with the wider church. Those of us upholding the current teaching and discipline similarly have seriously to address the complex realities and questions we face here and now with the introduction of same-sex marriage and ask those in other parts of the Communion to understand our context as we seek to understand theirs. If we can honestly and humbly acknowledge and wrestle with these challenges then the forthcoming facilitated conversations could, rather than being a belligerent stand-off, still become fruitful dialogues where we might discern together what it means for us to love God and to love our neighbours, both near and distant.

Read it all from Fulcrum.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted April 6, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The American Funeral Industry is changing. In recent years, stores like Costco have begun selling caskets, jewelry made from cremation remains, even burials at sea. And now in Southern California, one of the biggest names in the funeral business, Forest Lawn Cemetery, is trying to reach people in a place where they live and breathe - the shopping mall. More from Gloria Hillard.

GLORIA HILLARD, BYLINE: Navigating the kiosk at the Glendale Galleria, shoppers are offered everything from beauty tips to hot neck wraps to vapor cigarettes before arriving at a more tranquil place located between LensCrafters and Footlocker, Forest Lawn....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 6, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“We came to accept and to understand that we needed strengths beyond our awareness and resources to restore us to sanity.”

Six men who admit they are “powerless over alcohol” recited these words from Step 2 of a Canadian-created, secular Twelve Step program at the beginning of a recent meeting in West Vancouver.

Alcohol has devastated their lives; the impact extending to their partners and children. Yet over many years these men of various ages have got back on their feet — with the help of fellow members of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Not, they believe, with the help of God.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAlcoholismReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismSecularism

3 Comments
Posted April 6, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Church in New Zealand could be split up over a debate on whether to bless same sex relationships and allow the ordination of gay priests at its General Synod next month.

A commission, chaired by former Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand, has come up with ten possible options, including a total ban, universal acceptance, or even splitting the church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 5, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Lord works in mysterious ways — but clearly, steeple builders are known to make some confounding decisions themselves.

It was just after the Second World War when the Town of Midnapore lost its most prominent symbol of heavenly devotion, the majestically tall steeple atop St. Paul’s Anglican Church.

Already 60 years old then, the little church beside Macleod Tr. had fallen victim to one of God’s creatures, great in number, and small enough to be a nuisance....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada

0 Comments
Posted April 5, 2014 at 2:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With several Bible-based films to be released this year, 2014 is being called Hollywood’s year of biblical epics. Some filmmakers are already reaping box office rewards, but what are the potential pitfalls of making these movies? RandE talks with Noah director Darren Aronofsky, Son of God producer Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, actors, and scholars about the challenges of adapting sacred stories to the big screen. Says San Diego State University history professor Edward Blum: “The biblical literalist wants, ‘Oh, hey, does this match up with Genesis? Does this match up with Exodus?’ while the more liberal modernist may want the more artistic spirit of the story. But you also have another group. You have those who vigorously dislike the Bible stories, and so how do you get those three groups to like the same thing?”

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

CS Lewis' Screwtape Letters]... musings come to mind looking at the recent inquiry into Millennials’ sexuality published by Rolling Stone; claiming to catalogue the predominant sexual attitudes and habits of my generation and reminding me of my own checkered past.

Cohabitation looks tame compared to the exploits celebrated by the magazine. The “new monogamy” is hailed as “a type of polyamory in which the goal is to have one long-standing relationship (but to) openly acknowledge that the long-standing relationship might not meet each partner’s emotional and sexual needs for all time.” This attitude is regarded as very progressive and preferable to the old-fashioned ideal of monogamy. Interestingly, William Tucker has a new book out arguing just the opposite. When the whole of human existence is taken into account, polygamy belongs squarely in the barbaric past, with monogamy arising alongside sophistication and science. But to read Rolling Stone, one would think that the new monogamy is the ground of stasis, surrounded by fringe millennials who are content with the hookup culture (29 sexual partners by age 20 in one case) or who prefer multiple partner encounters or are so sexually shy that they are addicted to internet pornography (as in the case of an unnamed computer wiz, identified as “nerdy”). The normal couple we meet at the beginning of the story closes out the action at a Las Vegas sex joint, discovering even more ways to live their sex lives to the fullest.

But all the sex, more sex and rock and roll (they even interview a band) is justified because: “at the end of the day, it’s a piece of body touching another piece of body- just as existentially meaningless as kissing.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 5, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When politicians are taken out of their comfort zone and put on the spot to be subjected to unplanned questioning by the public there can be great instants of revelation as the public facade is briefly stripped away. What made Justin Welby’s appearance different is that right from the start he demonstrated a level of humility and vulnerability that we rarely see from our nation’s leaders. This is was the human side of the Church that is seldom portrayed in the media. Justin Welby’s appearance on LBC Radio was a great advertisement for him as an individual, for the Christian faith, the good news of Jesus and even possibly the Church of England.

Hopefully this will be the first of many similar opportunities to come.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted April 5, 2014 at 12:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"It [the issue of same sex marriage] is something I wrestle with every day, and often in the middle of the night. I’m incredibly conscious of the position of gay people in this country, how badly they’ve been treated over the years, how badly the church has behaved. And, at the same time I’m incredibly conscious of what I saw in January in South Sudan, in the DRC, and other places. You know, it’s not a simple issue," he continued.

"Personally...I look at the Scriptures, I look at the teachings of the Church, I listen to Christians around the world and I have real hesitations about [same sex marriage]. I'm incredibly uncomfortable saying that because I really don't want to say no to people who love each other. But you have to have a sense of following what the teaching of the Church is. We can't just make sudden changes."

One reason why not, explained the Archbishop, was because doing so could put Christians in danger elsewhere. He explained that he had seen first hand, at a mass grave in South Sudan, the lethal fallout from a decision...[by others].

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchGlobalizationMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted April 5, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Do you want “limitless power, limitless good karma, and limitless wisdom”? Alex and Ani’s promotional material tells you to buy the Buddha Charm Bangle, available for $28. Do you want “divine direction and soulful enlightenment”? They recommend the Saint Anthony Charm Bangle, for the same price. For the union of masculine and feminine energy, Alex and Ani offers the Star of David Charm Bangle, at $24.

Last year, Alex and Ani, founded in 2004 by Carolyn Rafaelian and named for her two eldest daughters, sold $230 million worth of these amulets. Its bangles, necklaces, earrings and rings are available in 40 Alex and Ani stores in the United States, and in 1,500 other retail outlets around the world. According to a company spokesperson, the company moved over 18 million units “between 2012 and 2013.”

The growth of Alex and Ani poses a question: Is the company a capitalist success story, run by a single mom in the same midsize New England town where she grew up? Or is it a worldwide church, whose tokens of membership, worn on the wrist or around the neck, happen to generate booming sales?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths

0 Comments
Posted April 5, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Calls for...[Brendan Eich's] ouster were premised on the notion that all support for Proposition 8 was hateful, and that a CEO should be judged not just by his or her conduct in the professional realm, but also by political causes he or she supports as a private citizen.

If that attitude spreads, it will damage our society.

Consider an issue like abortion, which divides the country in a particularly intense way, with opponents earnestly regarding it as the murder of an innocent baby and many abortion-rights supporters earnestly believing that a fetus is not a human life, and that outlawing it is a horrific assault on a woman's bodily autonomy. The political debate over abortion is likely to continue long past all of our deaths. Would American society be better off if stakeholders in various corporations began to investigate leadership's political activities on abortion and to lobby for the termination of anyone who took what they regard to be the immoral, damaging position?

It isn't difficult to see the wisdom in inculcating the norm that the political and the professional are separate realms, for following it makes so many people and institutions better off in a diverse, pluralistic society. The contrary approach would certainly have a chilling effect on political speech and civic participation, as does Mozilla's behavior toward Eich.

Its implications are particularly worrisome because whatever you think of gay marriage, the general practice of punishing people in business for bygone political donations is most likely to entrench powerful interests and weaken the ability of the powerless to challenge the status quo. There is very likely hypocrisy at work too. Does anyone doubt that had a business fired a CEO six years ago for making a political donation against Prop 8, liberals silent during this controversy (or supportive of the resignation) would've argued that contributions have nothing to do with a CEO's ability to do his job? They'd have called that firing an illiberal outrage, but today they're averse to vocally disagreeing with allies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMediaReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 5, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said the Church of England accepting gay marriage could be "catastrophic" for Christians in other parts of the world.

The Most Rev Justin Welby told LBC that hundreds of Christians in Africa had been killed by people who associated Christianity with homosexuality.

He warned the same could happen if the Church of England backed gay unions.

Same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales last week, but is not supported by the Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyMediaReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted April 4, 2014 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Justin spent an hour answering questions on LBC's radio phone-in this morning, tackling topics ranging from same-sex marriage to the nature of God.

Listen again to the full programme... [via youtube] there.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyMediaReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 4, 2014 at 3:42 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is the themes of faithfulness and optimism that give the biblical Noah story coherence. Without them you have—as with Mr. [Darren] Aronofsky's two-and-a-half-hour movie—a vast and dreary expanse of time, space and meaning to fill. The director strives his frenetic best. He gives us giant fantasy creatures that look like Transformers, except that they're made of rocks. He gives us, as a substitute for religion, the creeds of animal rights and environmentalism, in which the gravest sins are eating meat and mining. He gives us knifings, arsons and impressive computer-generated battles.

But as a determined secularist in a determinedly secular world, he can't give us the one thing that the Noah story once stood for: hope.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 4, 2014 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Have not many of us, in the weary way of life, felt, in some hours, how far easier it were to die than to live?

The martyr, when faced even by a death of bodily anguish and horror, finds in the very terror of his doom a strong stimulant and tonic. There is a vivid excitement, a thrill and fervor, which may carry through any crisis of suffering that is the birth-hour of eternal glory and rest.

But to live,—to wear on, day after day, of mean, bitter, low, harassing servitude, every nerve dampened and depressed, every power of feeling gradually smothered,—this long and wasting heart-martyrdom, this slow, daily bleeding away of the inward life, drop by drop, hour after hour,—this is the true searching test of what there may be in man or woman.

When Tom stood face to face with his persecutor, and heard his threats, and thought in his very soul that his hour was come, his heart swelled bravely in him, and he thought he could bear torture and fire, bear anything, with the vision of Jesus and heaven but just a step beyond; but, when he was gone, and the present excitement passed off, came back the pain of his bruised and weary limbs,—came back the sense of his utterly degraded, hopeless, forlorn estate; and the day passed wearily enough.

Long before his wounds were healed, Legree insisted that he should be put to the regular field-work; and then came day after day of pain and weariness, aggravated by every kind of injustice and indignity that the ill-will of a mean and malicious mind could devise. Whoever, in our circumstances, has made trial of pain, even with all the alleviations which, for us, usually attend it, must know the irritation that comes with it. Tom no longer wondered at the habitual surliness of his associates; nay, he found the placid, sunny temper, which had been the habitude of his life, broken in on, and sorely strained, by the inroads of the same thing. He had flattered himself on leisure to read his Bible; but there was no such thing as leisure there. In the height of the season, Legree did not hesitate to press all his hands through, Sundays and week-days alike. Why shouldn't he?—he made more cotton by it, and gained his wager; and if it wore out a few more hands, he could buy better ones. At first, Tom used to read a verse or two of his Bible, by the flicker of the fire, after he had returned from his daily toil; but, after the cruel treatment he received, he used to come home so exhausted, that his head swam and his eyes failed when he tried to read; and he was fain to stretch himself down, with the others, in utter exhaustion.

Is it strange that the religious peace and trust, which had upborne him hitherto, should give way to tossings of soul and despondent darkness? The gloomiest problem of this mysterious life was constantly before his eyes,—souls crushed and ruined, evil triumphant, and God silent. It was weeks and months that Tom wrestled, in his own soul, in darkness and sorrow. He thought of Miss Ophelia's letter to his Kentucky friends, and would pray earnestly that God would send him deliverance. And then he would watch, day after day, in the vague hope of seeing somebody sent to redeem him; and, when nobody came, he would crush back to his soul bitter thoughts,—that it was vain to serve God, that God had forgotten him. He sometimes saw Cassy; and sometimes, when summoned to the house, caught a glimpse of the dejected form of Emmeline, but held very little communion with either; in fact, there was no time for him to commune with anybody.

--Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture

0 Comments
Posted April 4, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The long-awaited report of the Ma Whea? Commission into the question of same-gender blessings and ordinations has been released.

The report, which is the fruit of 15 months’ work by five eminent New Zealand citizens, lists 10 options to inform the General Synod debate at Waitangi next month.

The options range from a more conservative statement about who can be blessed and ordained (ie a firmer statement than the canons now prescribe) through various degrees of change and liberalisation.

The options are:

Option A: Affirming Traditional Understanding

Option B: Preserving Present Circumstances

Option C: Bishops to Determine What Equals Right Relationships

Option D: Delegate to Diocesan Synods/Te Runanganui Power to Determine Right Relationships

Option E: Adopt a New Understanding

Option F: The Anglican Church Having Two Views

Option G: Dual Episcopacy

Option H: Planned Dismembering

Option I: Anglican Church to Add a New Rite of Blessing by Priests of Those in a Same Sex Relationship.

Option J: Adopt a Two Year Period of Focussed Discussion within Church Communities with a View to Making a Decision in (say) 2016

Read it all and follow the links to the whole report.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted April 4, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A little boy, "Jesus", is walking carefully in his plimsolls across a sea of tables to save his diminutive disciples, who are grouped together in the prayer corner and unable to suppress their giggles at the re-enactment of the Biblical miracle. This is the surprising, if entertaining, religious scene I am met with when I stick my head around the corner of a classroom at St Matthew's Primary in Blackburn.

But the surprise is not so much the sight of a child walking on makeshift water. St Matthew's is, after all, a Church of England school, where the walls are adorned with crosses and religious drawings, and which regularly organises Christian activities, readings, prayers and songs. No, the surprise is that almost every child in the class is Muslim.

In fact, 97 per cent of the 265 pupils schooled in the 1980s-style building that is perched on a hill overlooking the Lancastrian city are from Muslim families. The head teacher, Julian Rogers, believes that the word of God should be spoken and Christian values and morals upheld at the school no matter what background the children are from. Indeed, during assemblies, his biblical stories hold his audience – of excited, intrigued and sometimes confused-looking pupils – captive.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 4, 2014 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The daughter of a 92-year-old priest who is paying interest on a loan agreed with the Church of England Pensions Board at 8.6 per cent - more than twice the cur-rent average - has questioned the morality of the scheme.

In 1985, the Revd Eric Quin took out a shared-equity loan in order to purchase a three-bedroom cottage in Cheshire for £45,750. With his wife, he paid £20,750 to put down a 45-per-cent deposit. The Pensions Board paid the remainder, £26,500, on the understanding that it would be entitled to 55 per cent of the final sale price.

The initial interest rate was three per cent - much lower than the 12-per-cent mortgage rate at the time. This rate was gradually increased in line with the pensions of all the fund's members. Mr Quin is now paying interest at a rate of 8.6 per cent. The property has risen in value to £200,000.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePensionsStock MarketThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 4, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Check it out--still so chilling and sobering so many years later.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryMediaRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK

0 Comments
Posted April 4, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.

There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted April 4, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The shifts in public sentiment have led Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention to draw an arresting conclusion: Contrary to what an earlier generation believed, there's no "moral majority" in America today, and never was. "There was a Bible Belt illusion of a Christian America that never existed," Moore told journalists at a conference sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center last week. "The illusion of a moral majority is no longer sustainable."

The Moral Majority, of course, was the Christian political caucus founded by the late Jerry Falwell in 1979. Falwell's premise was that conservative Christians were a sleeping giant, and that if they were organized and summoned to the polls, Congress and state legislatures would do their will.

Moore has concluded that although plenty of Americans call themselves evangelicals and attend church most Sundays, many have drifted away from orthodoxy on issues such as divorce, abortion and gay marriage. To Moore, that means the crucial mission for believers shouldn't be politics but rather to preach the Gospel and win souls.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

0 Comments
Posted April 3, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Brendan Eich, the well-known techie who has gotten swept up in a controversy about his support of California’s anti-gay marriage law Proposition 8, is resigning as CEO of for-profit Mozilla Corporation and also from the board of the nonprofit foundation which wholly owns it.

Mozilla confirmed the change in a blog post.

“Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves,” read the post, in part. “We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.”

Read it all. There is much more here from Reihan Salam and there from Andrew Sullivan.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

4 Comments
Posted April 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sunday mornings at All Souls Charlottesville are fairly common for an Anglican congregation.

The Book of Common Prayer and the Revised Common Lectionary are standard, creeds are spoken together, the Eucharist is the central focus of the liturgy and the minister blesses the congregation before it scatters back into the world.

But the Charlottesville, Va., congregation isn’t an Episcopal church. It’s Baptist — in fact it’s a plant of the Baptist General Association of Virginia and is celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2014.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship--Book of Common PrayerParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

7 Comments
Posted April 3, 2014 at 3:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On a crowded dance floor, a group of 50 women are swaying, stomping, lunging, and gyrating to singer Jason Derulo's "Talk Dirty," Pitbull's "Don't Stop The Party," and other popular numbers blasting over loudspeakers.

It could be any trendy New York club, except here the dirty words and sexually explicit lyrics are missing from the raps, and no men are allowed.

Ever.

The occasion is a weekly all-female Zumba class geared to a distinctive clientele: Orthodox Jewish women from nearby religious communities. With lives guided by Do's and Don'ts, few of these women are Livin' La Vida Loca—though in class they do at least get to dance to it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMusicReligion & CultureWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 3, 2014 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Revd Ric Thorpe, Vicar of St Paul's Shadwell

I love the English trait of laughing at ourselves whilst allowing a deeper dig at something we hold very dearly. Whether it's Rev. or the Vicar of Dibley, the Church too is not afraid of caricature or teasing or showing our weak side. It's a sign of confidence and security. Also it's not the whole story.

The Church in London is growing in many ways – not least its confidence. Our own church, and three we have partnered with, have grown from 50 members to over 600 in the last nine years. The Church of England has been around for centuries and it is not afraid of change or challenge. Here, the Bishop of London is leading the way forward in raising the profile of the Church's confidence, compassion and creativity through our strategy for London - Capital Vision 2020.

Instead of closing churches, the Diocese of London is planning 100 new churches in the capital over the next seven years....

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 3, 2014 at 7:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why we need Ugandan Christians

The East African Revival lives on! Evidences of revival are strong, revealed for me in at least the following four ways

(1) Worship is at the heart of community life
With African rhythm and harmony all you appear to need in order to sing praise to God is a drum! In fact adding extra amplification and electronic instruments (in my view) tended to distract (plus the electricity supply itself is pretty unreliable!)

The Luganda theme chorus was sung several times at every meeting we attended “Tukutendereza Yesu, Yesu Mwana gw’endiga, omusaayi gwo gunnaazizza, nkwebaza, Mulozi” (“We praise you Jesus, Jesus the Lamb, your blood has cleansed me, Saviour, I praise you”). It is quite complex to sing because of the interlocking harmonies – but the power of the message is evident and heartfelt.

Another aspect of worship is the power of testimony: yes, the preaching is important, but so too is the lived experience of the gathered Christians. A couple of us attended a Testimony and Praise meeting at All Saints Church in Kabale. It was hard for us to follow (all in Luganda) but person after person told their story of God’s mercy and faithfulness, interjected by “Praise the Lord” to which the response is “Amen”! There is power in a living, recent testimony of God’s work in a person’s life.

(2) They Pray like they mean it!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Church of Uganda* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaUganda* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

0 Comments
Posted April 3, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bob Kuhn, Trinity Western University’s newly-named president, says the degree of outright opposition to its new law school could mark the beginning of “a new era of persecution” against the Church in Canada.

“It’s sudden and swift and very powerful,” says Kuhn. “Having practiced law for close to 34 years, I have never seen anything quite like it in terms of the sea-change, a tsunami of societal offence against Christians and Christian views.”

In December, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada gave the school the green light. Now, three of its member-societies (British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia) are in the process of debating whether to allow TWU law school grads to article in their provinces. At issue is the university’s community covenant, which upholds biblical values on sexual relations. Many in the legal community interpret that as “anti-gay.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 3, 2014 at 6:56 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II will meet with Pope Francis at a private audience in the Vatican on Thursday afternoon. The Queen, who’ll be accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, will also have a private encounter with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano during the one day visit to Rome.

The audience with Pope Francis will mark the 87-year-old Queen’s fifth encounter with a Roman pontiff here in the Vatican, beginning with Pope Pius XII whom she met in 1951, the year before her accession to the throne. In 1982 she became the first monarch since the Reformation to welcome a pope to Britain during John Paul II’s pastoral visit to the country and in 2010 she also hosted Pope Benedict XVI on his state visit to the United Kingdom.

Read and listen to it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeItaly* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis

0 Comments
Posted April 3, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Catholic primary school is to become a Church of England school because of falling numbers of Catholic pupils.

Sacred Heart RC Primary School in Lynwood Road, Blackburn, Lancashire, will become an Anglican academy, a spokesman for Blackburn Diocese said.

It will no longer come under the control of the council, and will be sponsored by the Cidari Trust, set up by the diocese to run academies.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 3, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The theism-atheism-agnosticism trio presumes that the real question is whether God exists. I’m suggesting that the real question is otherwise and that I don’t see my outlook in terms of that trio.

G.G.: So what is the real question?

H.W.: The real question is one’s relation to God, the role God plays in one’s life, the character of one’s spiritual life.

Let me explain. Religious life, at least as it is for me, does not involve anything like a well-defined, or even something on the way to becoming a well-defined, concept of God, a concept of the kind that a philosopher could live with. What is fundamental is no such thing, but rather the experience of God, for example in prayer or in life’s stunning moments. Prayer, when it works, yields an awe-infused sense of having made contact, or almost having done so. Having made contact, that is, concerning the things that matter most, whether the health and well-being of others, or of the community, or even my own; concerning justice and its frequent absence in our world; concerning my gratefulness to, or praise of, God. The experience of sharing commitments with a cosmic senior partner, sharing in the sense both of communicating and literally sharing, “dreaming in league with God,” as A.J. Heschel puts it, is both heady and heartening. Even when that partner remains undefined and untheorized.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyAnthropology

0 Comments
Posted April 2, 2014 at 3:52 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...there have been losses and disappointments along the way. Sirman highlighted the three biggest:

Artists and creators have lost their collective voice, the Canadian Conference of Arts. It predated the Massey Commission by four years. In its heyday it spoke for 400,000 artists and creators. Two years ago, it closed its doors. “It would be unfathomable (to Massey) that Canada’s cultural well-being is not sufficiently supported to sustain a national advocacy organization,” [Robert] Sirman said.

The second is Ottawa has lost interest in nurturing and showcasing Canadian culture. “We are living through an era of Own the Podium, not welcome the world,” he noted sadly.

The third is that Canadians don’t seem to care. “Canada has become a materialistic society.” The desire for a balance between what Massey called spiritual assets and economic assets no longer exists.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchArtHistoryMusicPoetry & LiteratureReligion & CultureTheatre/Drama/Plays* International News & CommentaryCanada

0 Comments
Posted April 2, 2014 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bye-bye, “Bishop Bling.” So long, “Pastor Perks.” The so-called “Francis effect” may be real, at least when it comes to clerical housing, and could be coming to a church near you.

Pope Francis famously eschewed the trappings of the papal office, including deluxe digs in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, and the pressure of his example seems to be making itself felt.

Last week, the pontiff accepted the resignation of the most ostentatious offender, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg in Germany, aka “Bishop Bling” who spent a cool $43 million on a swank new residence and office complex while cutting staff.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted April 2, 2014 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What, if anything, helps Americans grow in their faith? When Barna Group asked, people offered a variety of answers—prayer, family or friends, reading the Bible, having children—but church did not even crack the top-10 list.

Although church involvement was once a cornerstone of American life, U.S. adults today are evenly divided on the importance of attending church. While half (49%) say it is "somewhat" or "very" important, the other 51% say it is "not too" or "not at all" important. The divide between the religiously active and those resistant to churchgoing impacts American culture, morality, politics and religion.

Looking to future generations does not paint an optimistic picture for the importance of churchgoing. Millennials (those 30 and under) stand out as least likely to value church attendance; only two in 10 believe it is important. And more than one-third of Millennial young adults (35%) take an anti-church stance. In contrast, Elders (those over 68) are the most likely (40%) to view church attendance as "very" important, compared to one-quarter (24%) who deem it "not at all" important. Boomers (ages 49—67) and Gen Xers (ages 30—48) fall in the middle of these polar opposites. While the debate rages about what will happen to Millennials as they get older—Will they return to church attendance later in life?—they are starting at a lower baseline for church participation and commitment than previous generations of young adults.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted April 2, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

About 35% of adult church members in Britain are single, so clearly the subject of singleness is of considerable personal interest to many people in our churches. Each single person will have a slightly different experience of singleness. There are age differences. Being single at 20 is very different from being single at 30, 40 or 70. There are circumstantial differences: some have never married, others are divorcees, widows or widowers. And there are experiential differences: some have chosen to be single and are basically content; others long to be married and feel frustrated. What does the Bible say to all these people?

So much in our society is structured around couples. It is often just assumed that adults will have a partner and that there is something rather odd about them if they do not for any period of time. Oscar Wilde summed up the view of many: “Celibacy is the only known sexual perversion.”

There is nothing new in this negative view of celibacy. In the first century, Rabbi Eleazar said: “Any man who has no wife is no proper man.” The Talmud went even further: “The man who is not married at twenty is living in sin.” Given that background, it is astonishing how positive the New Testament is about singleness. Paul speaks of it as a “gift” (1 Corinthians 7:7), and Jesus says that it is good “for those to whom it has been given” (Matthew 19:11).

A friend of mine once belonged to a church group for young adults, which had the name: “Pairs and Spares”! Single people can be made to feel like spare parts in their families, social groups and churches.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 2, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Andy Crouch is the Executive Editor of Christianity Together and author of Culture Making, a book that has been an enormous influence to us as we’ve thought about what it means to be a community of people who are committed to the social, spiritual and cultural renewal of our city. Andy is also a great friend of ChristChurch London, and if you haven’t already, you should really check out the talks from his visit to us in 2011.

For Love London Sunday in March 2014 we celebrated the theme of ‘creativity’, and we could think of no-one better to pose our questions to. So we sent Andy a selection of questions about themes like creativity, discipline, inspiration and parenting (including, I suspect, the most dumb question he has ever been asked!!) and Andy was kind enough to record these responses for us. Check them out in the video at the bottom of this link.

You may also read more about Church Church London here.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

1 Comments
Posted April 2, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A true story: This chimney, planted like a limbless live oak on a residential street, was built by imprisoned German soldiers during the final year of World War II.

City officials and preservationists want to protect the chimney as a piece of a forgotten America. But the property’s owners, members of a prominent Charleston family, see it as more than just an obstacle to their development plans.

They are Jewish, and they want it gone.

“Every time I see the structure, it makes me think about the ovens,” says Mary Ann Pearlstine Aberman, 79, who co-owns the land. “I don’t see any reason to make a shrine to Nazis.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 2, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A major refit of Leicester Cathedral to host the bones of Richard III has been given the go-ahead.

Delayed since September, plans to move the altar, wooden screens and fit new stained glass have now been backed by the Church of England's planning panel.

But details of a redesigned tomb for the king, a major source of argument, are being kept secret while a legal case about his reinterment is ongoing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

1 Comments
Posted April 1, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)