Posted by Kendall Harmon

A distinguished man of religion stood up on May 26th in one of London’s most prestigious locations. He urged his listeners (who were mostly co-religionists, but also included great-and-good figures from many other faiths) to ponder some of the dilemmas of our times: for example, should society’s future direction be left to the free interplay of goods and ideas, or should the state take the leading role in healing our collective wounds? The answer, he concluded, was both approaches were deeply flawed. Neither the market nor the state would save the Western world unless its citizens rediscovered a sense of the common good rooted in deep cultural memories.

What’s so unusual about any of that, you might ask. Isn’t that the kind of stuff you would expect a religious leader to say? Actually, it is rather unusual for a Western champion of faith to strike that note in a public forum, and the interesting question is why.

As it turns out, the religious leader in question featured in Erasmus quite recently, but his receipt of one of philanthropy’s most renowned awards (the Templeton Prize, which acknowledges those who "affirm life’s spiritual dimension") seems a good enough reason to mention him again. He is Lord Jonathan Sacks, a former chief rabbi of Britain and the Commonwealth and prolific author, most recently on religion and violence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 28, 2016 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like other graduates of Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity, Adam Plant walked onstage earlier this month to accept a diploma and a hug from Dean Gail O’Day.

Unlike them, his journey to the Master of Divinity degree took a significant detour.

Three years ago when he began his studies, Adam was a North Carolina woman with a desire to plumb the intersection of faith and sexuality. By the time of the graduation ceremony, Plant had found acceptance and peace as a man.

“Coming out to myself was, I think, one of the hardest things I ever did,” he said. “I think I was most afraid of being wrong. What if I am crazy? What if this is wrong?”

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological Education


Posted May 28, 2016 at 1:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

of course, it is meant to be provoking: God Is No Thing – the title of Rupert Shortt’s very condensed new book. “The Creator represented in orthodox teaching is not a thing, or any part of reality as we understand it,” he says.

It is true that, if you made a catalogue of all the things in the universe, God would not be listed, but he is certainly real, more real than any thing. He is, if you like, pure act, indeed, someone went as far as to say he is a verb rather than a noun. But what kind of reality does he have?

One word that is attached to the reality of God is transcendent – he is like goodness and truth and life, only more so. But as Rupert Shortt, the religion editor at the TLS, reminds us, God is also, in the words of St Augustine of Hippo, closer to us than we are to ourselves. That closeness is sometimes called immanence, though it is nothing like the windy imaginings of Hegel, who need not come into this conversation.

Shortt wishes to make God’s lack of thinginess part of the Christian response to the New Atheism....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksPhilosophyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism* TheologyApologetics

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Posted May 28, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s no longer news that Western culture has undergone a dramatic sea change in its attitude toward homosexuality. Less often noted is where a key impetus for this change has come: the power of narrative.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 28, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Check it out.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & Culture* South Carolina

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Posted May 28, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New Yorkers strolling through Chinatown in downtown Manhattan last Sunday might have noticed an unusual flurry of activity: Jewish men and women, a rabbi in a clerical gown, and a color guard gathering in graveyard tucked away behind a wrought-iron fence. Members of the New York synagogue Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in North America, were visiting their historic cemetery at Chatham Square.

In an annual ritual ahead of Memorial Day, they were there for a ceremony that few other synagogues in America could perform: honoring the members of their congregation who had fought in the Revolutionary War.

For Shearith Israel, where I am the rabbi, what is most striking is not that its history stretches back to the Colonial period, but rather that so many of its congregants sided with George Washington against England. New York was known as a Tory stronghold: When English forces expelled Washington’s troops from the city, King George III’s soldiers were greeted with a “Declaration of Dependence” signed by hundreds of New Yorkers, declaring their allegiance to Great Britain.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted May 27, 2016 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In fact, God’s prospects look a lot better than mammon’s. Projections from the Pew Research Center show that by 2050 Christians will have grown to near 2.9 billion and Muslims to 2.8 billion. With the oil price still low, the property bubble reaching pop, and many economists predicting yet another stock market crash, I’d say that God is holding up pretty well against his old enemy. Moreover, even the heartlands of the new atheism are not future proof against religious revival. On boats throughout the Mediterranean, growing numbers of religious poor are risking everything to make the journey to Europe to share in the wealth we have long been hoarding. In the Calais refugee camp, for example, it feels obvious that this is also a battle between makeshift cardboard churches and mosques and a secular France that is totally puzzled by the resurgence of religious values it has sneered at for centuries. From the favelas of Brazil, to the Mothers’ Union of the sub-Saharan Bible belt, to the archipelago Islam of Indonesia, the poor go for God. And they have more children. Europe will be 10% Muslim by 2050.

Christianity is currently dying in Europe and the US may gradually follow suit. Pew Research predictions have US Christianity declining from three-quarters today to two-thirds in 2050. But Christianity has been around for centuries, and it remains by far the largest ideological collective the world has ever known. This hasn’t died at all. It has simply shifted its global centre of gravity south and east. And the future is China. What has died in Europe is the cosy link between church and state that was first established by the Emperor Constantine. And good riddance. For this link confused the issue, long associating God with the ruling class. With that gone, God is once again released to have a preferential option for the poor. Don’t let this local atheist lull fool you. Religion remains the future.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPovertyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted May 27, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Only two per cent of Anglicans in England and Wales are converts, a new study suggests.

The director of the Benedict XVI Centre at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, Dr Stephen Bullivant, has gathered statistics on religious affiliation from the annual British Social Attitudes surveys. His report, Contemporary Catholicism in England and Wales, launched on Tuesday in the House of Commons, deals mainly with the Roman Catholic Church, but looks at other denominations for comparisons.

His deduction is that, in a group of 100 Anglicans, 93 will have been brought up as such, five will have started life in another Christian denomination, and only two would have belonged to no religion. (The sample group was 1681 Anglicans.)

Read it all.



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

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Posted May 27, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...a calling requires certain preconditions. It requires more than desires; it requires talent. Not everyone can be, simply by desiring it, an opera singer, or professional athlete, or leader of a large enterprise. For a calling to be right, it must fit our abilities. Another precondition is love -- not just love of the final product but, as the essayist Logan Pearsall Smith once put it, "The test of a vocation is love of drudgery it involves." Long hours, frustrations, small steps forward, struggles: unless these too are welcomed with a certain joy, the claim to being called has a hollow ring.

--Working: Its Meaning and Its Limits, ed. Gilbert C. Meilaender (Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press, 2000), pp.124-125, emphasis mine

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

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Posted May 27, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Islamic State executioner from Belgium who announced the group’s responsibility for the March 22 terror attacks in Brussels was communicating recently with several young Belgians arrested this week for plotting further attacks, according to officials briefed on the probe.

Four adults and several teenagers were arrested in and around the northern Belgian city of Antwerp on Wednesday after authorities intercepted their communications with Islamic State operative Hicham Chaib, the official said. While Belgian authorities officially acknowledged they arrested four adults on Wednesday, they wouldn’t comment on the minors.

Belgian authorities found evidence that the group had plans to strike densely populated targets, including the central train station of Antwerp, but investigators doubt that those plans were fleshed out. “It’s better to have a less strong judicial file than a terror attack,” the official said.

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 26, 2016 at 4:37 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today the media are reporting on yet another doomsday report that suggests Christianity is in decline.

Researchers at the St Mary’s Catholic University in Twickenham analysed data collected through the British Social Attitudes surveys over the last three decades. It found that in 2014, 48.5% of those asked said they had no religion, compared to 25% that fell into the 'none' category in the 2011 census.

Those who did define themselves as Christian – from a variety of denominations – made up 43.8% of the population. The report said churches in general were struggling to retain people brought up as Christians.

Read it all from the PC website.

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

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Posted May 26, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Teaching of Christianity in schools is set to be transformed by a new resource from the Church of England, launched today. Understanding Christianity is a set of comprehensive materials and training which will enable pupils from age 4 to 14 to develop their understanding of Christianity, as a contribution to making sense of the world and their own experience within it.

Available to all schools across the country the resource was written by a team of RE advisers from RE Today Services, in collaboration with more than 30 expert teachers and academics, and has been trialled in over 50 schools.

Understanding Christianity was commissioned by the Church of England Education Office with the generous support of Culham St Gabriels, The Sir Halley Stewart Trust, the Jerusalem Trust and an anonymous donor.

Read it all.




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

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Posted May 26, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to the United Nations, last year some eight million people around the world were displaced from their homes by conflict and social upheaval—the largest number ever recorded in a single year. This coming week (May 23-24), as the UN convenes the first World Humanitarian Summit, correspondent Kim Lawton talks with prominent Roman Catholic theologian and ethicist Rev. David Hollenbach SJ about the global refugee crisis and the moral obligations he believes the US government and individual Americans have to respond.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureTravel* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 25, 2016 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian morality is being ushered out of American social structures and off the cultural main stage, leaving a vacuum in its place—and the broader culture is attempting to fill the void. New research from Barna reveals growing concern about the moral condition of the nation, even as many American adults admit they are uncertain about how to determine right from wrong. So what do Americans believe? Is truth relative or absolute? And do Christians see truth and morality in radically different ways from the broader public, or are they equally influenced by the growing tide of secularism and religious skepticism?

A majority of American adults across age group, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status and political ideology expresses concern about the nation’s moral condition—eight in 10 overall (80%). The proportion is closer to nine in 10 among Elders (89%) and Boomers (87%), while about three-quarters of Gen-Xers (75%) and Millennials (74%) report concern. Similarly, practicing Christians (90%) are more likely than adults of no faith (67%) or those who identify with a religious faith other than Christianity (72%) to say they are concerned about the moral condition of the nation. Though measurable differences exist between population segments, moral concern is widespread across the demographic board.

Much less widespread, however, is consensus on morality itself. What is it based on? Where does it come from? How can someone know what to do when making moral decisions? According to a majority of American adults (57%), knowing what is right or wrong is a matter of personal experience. This view is much more prevalent among younger generations than among older adults.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 25, 2016 at 2:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA announces that Tom Lin has been selected by the InterVarsity Board of Trustees to become the next president of the campus ministry. He will start on August 10.

Tom has been vice president and director of missions for InterVarsity since February 2011, and also director of Urbana 12 and Urbana 15, InterVarsity’s triennial student missions conference. He succeeds Jim Lundgren, who has served as InterVarsity’s interim president for the past year.

In InterVarsity’s 75 years of campus ministry on U.S. college and university campuses, Tom becomes the first InterVarsity president who began his InterVarsity career working in campus ministry. After graduating from Harvard in 1994, he planted a chapter for Asian American students at Harvard, and another chapter at Boston University. He led numerous student missions projects in the U.S. and overseas, and helped design national training for InterVarsity staff.

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 25, 2016 at 1:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the suffering doesn’t go away through reading the Bible or prayer, the person affected may despair of his or her spiritual ability or maturity. The very thing that should provide unshakable confidence, that should strengthen our faith in Christ, becomes a source of shame if our faith isn’t “strong enough” to beat the illness.

Most of the time when a physician treats a chemical imbalance and there are some manifestations of those challenges, that imbalance doesn’t go away by prayer or by reading your Bible alone. Sometimes medication is needed and there should be not shame in that.

The more Christians struggle with how to deal with mental illness, the more we fail to create a safe and healthy environment in which to discuss and deal with these issues. As a result, many of our Christian churches, homes, and institutions promulgate an aura of mistrust, guilt, and shame.

As more of us are coming forward with our own stories of struggle and pain, I’m encouraged that it’s okay to talk about these things. We have to defeat the shame because the reality is that many Christians struggle with mental illness.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyMental IllnessReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 25, 2016 at 5:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
A year ago, retired U.S. representative John Dingell, who for many years served Michigan’s 12th congressional district, was coaching Wisconsin congressman Ron Kind. “Ron,” said Dingell, “never forget that you’ve got an important job, but you’re not an important person. The second you start thinking that you’re an important person, you start to cut corners and think the rules don’t apply to you.”

One doesn’t have to be a legislator or city bureaucrat to risk losing the distinction between one’s self-importance and the important work one is called to do. Would that we all might pull out a report card and do the sort of reflective work Nai-Wang Kwok managed so beautifully.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in GeneralHouse of Representatives* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 24, 2016 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Diocese of Abuja of the Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion), has said that the renewed pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta, was not in the best interest of Nigeria. It therefore urged those behind the bombing of oil installations in the region to desist from the act. The Church called on the Niger Delta Avengers to cease hostility against the government while embracing dialogue, noting that Nigeria, currently engaged in many battles cannot afford to start another one with militants in the Niger Delta. The Primate Of The Church Of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh, made this remark in his Presidential Address to the 3rd Session of the 9th Synod of Abuja Diocese, held at All Saints Church, Wuse. While urging the Federal Government to also tread cautiously in its attempts to resolve the growing crises in the Niger Delta, the Church called on it to seek collaboration with the host communities in its efforts to secure all pipelines.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

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Posted May 23, 2016 at 4:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(For the original piece to which this is responding please see here--KSH).

There are likely to be many Anglicans, not least in the Church of England, who will welcome the idea that there might be a viable ‘third way’ between supporting same-sex marriages and simply maintaining the Church’s traditional position. However, I would want to argue that there is in fact no viable ‘third way’ on this issue. This is for three reasons.

First, the position of those advocating for LGBT equality has moved on since the days when a blessing of same-sex partnerships might have been seen as acceptable.

Now that same-sex ‘marriage’ is legal in an increasing number of jurisdictions around the world, including England, Scotland and Wales, LGBT advocates will not be content with anything less than the Church coming into line with society and practicing ‘equal marriage’ as well. For example, those Gay and Lesbian Christians such as Canon Jeremy Pemberton who are already ‘married’ are not going to be content with anything less than the Church’s full recognition of their marital status.

Furthermore, even the recognition of same-sex ‘marriages’ is now a relatively conservative position. The new focus of LGBT activism is now the call to move beyond the ‘heteronormative gender binary’ (the idea that humanity is divided into men and women) and recognise a whole multiplicity of different gender identities (Facebook UK now gives you seventy one gender options to choose from) and a whole range of forms of personal relationship to suit these different identities....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Scottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 23, 2016 at 12:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of all the evidence in recent years that white supremacy remains imprinted on American life, the shootings were the most indisputable. A white boy had come of age in the 21st century drinking from the same poisoned spring as lynch mobs across the country in the 20th. He had stepped through loopholes in gun laws broad enough to allow a 21-year-old with a criminal history to purchase a Glock, and carried it into the sanctuary of a church in hopes of avenging imagined wrongs and inciting a race war.

At the same time, in a way without any obvious parallel in recent decades, the offers of forgiveness, prayers, and mercy in the face of judgment were an extraordinary public reminder of the holy power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, its persistence even in an increasingly secular nation, and its capacity to change hearts, minds—and legislatures. Within three weeks of the shooting, the debate about the Confederate flag flying over South Carolina’s State Capitol, a debate that had been entrenched in stalemate in the South Carolina House of Representatives, was over. On July 10, 2015, the flag was removed. As South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley noted, the grace shown on June 19 helped to change the minds of wavering officials.

All this happened in a few terrible and memorable days. And it all deserves to be remembered and commemorated, lamented and honored, as CT seeks to do with the following story.

But none of it is over.

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 23, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our fundamental problems are the downsides of transitions we have made for good reasons: to enjoy more flexibility, creativity and individual choice. For example, we like buying cheap products from around the world. But the choices we make as consumers make life less stable for us as employees.

Levin says the answer is not to dwell in confusing, frustrating nostalgia. It’s through a big push toward subsidiarity, devolving choice and power down to the local face-to-face community level, and thus avoiding the excesses both of rigid centralization and alienating individualism. A society of empowered local neighborhood organizations is a learning society. Experiments happen and information about how to solve problems flows from the bottom up.

I’m acknowledged in the book, but I learned something new on every page. Nonetheless, I’d say Levin’s emphasis on subsidiarity and local community is important but insufficient. We live within a golden chain, connecting self, family, village, nation and world. The bonds of that chain have to be repaired at every point, not just the local one.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In this booth, the choice is between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Period.

"That's the scenario people I know are talking about and arguing about," said Stephen P. White of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., author of the book "Red, White, Blue and Catholic."

Many religious conservatives believe they "face a choice between two morally repugnant candidates," he added. "The reality of that choice is starting to drive some people into despair. ... I understand that, but I think it would be wrong for people to think that they need to abandon politics simply because they are disgusted with this election."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted May 21, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

United Methodists have voted to require church boards and agencies to withdraw immediately from an organization that advocates for abortion on demand. Delegates from across the 12.1 million-member denomination adopted a proposal concluding affiliation with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) on a vote of 425 to 268 (61 percent to 39 percent) during their quadrennial General Conference meeting in Portland, Oregon.

Two United Methodist agencies, the General Board on Church and Society (GBCS) and United Methodist Women (UMW) are coalition members of RCRC.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 21, 2016 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious communities, particularly the Catholic Church, have frequently been persecuted by regimes trying to consolidate power. But Albania’s ruthless Communist-era dictator, Enver Hoxha, went further than most, culminating with the 1967 proclamation of the country as the world’s first constitutionally atheist state.

It is no coincidence that most of the newly declared martyrs were priests. Hoxha reserved a special ire for the country’s Catholic clergy—the spiritual, intellectual and political leaders of a religious minority making up little more than a 10th of the population. His hatred stemmed partly from the crucial role the clergy had played in Albania’s cultural and political rebirth.

Most Albanian priests had been educated in foreign universities, and they represented a vital part of the country’s intellectual elite. Under the motto “Religion and Fatherland,” the clergy promoted a traditional reformist patriotism that sought to protect local customs while simultaneously integrating Albania into Europe. They argued for a free and equal state for all of Albania’s citizens, regardless of social or religious background. As such, they embodied a serious threat to Communist rule.


Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEuropeAlbania* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 20, 2016 at 12:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mo, who attended one of the nation's top colleges, is one of a small group of American citizens and residents whose names were found in ISIS personnel files obtained by NBC News and verified by the West Point Combating Terrorism Center.

In the interview, he recounts his trip to Turkey and then Syria, his ISIS indoctrination, the violence he witnessed and the growing disillusionment that triggered his dangerous escape.

"The Islamic State is not bringing Islam to the world, and people need to know that. And I'll say that…till the day I die," he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 19, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To learn what suffering has to teach requires that we protect the time and space we need to regard, reflect, and pray. Suffering calls us one by one to walk a dark valley. As Flannery O’Connor suggests, "… sickness is . . . a place where there’s no company, where nobody can follow” (163). To speak from that place of exile is to forego the clichés and enter into what Marianne Paget called a “complex sorrow.” In her “Mastectomy Poems” Alicia Ostriker issues a practical corrective to those who dramatize her suffering in a way that would belie the daily experience of life-threatening illness:

Spare me your pity,

your terror, your condolence.

I’m not your wasting heroine,

your dying swan. Friend, tragedy

is a sort of surrender.

Tell me again I’m a model

of toughness. I eat that up.

I grade papers, I listen to wind. (93)

Ostriker’s spunky resistance to stereotypes calls to mind the comment of an Auschwitz survivor I know: To call the Holocaust a “tragedy,” she insisted, is to falsify it and to oversimplify the mystery of the evil that took place. Tragedy is an art form in which the hero “suffers into truth.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicy

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Posted May 19, 2016 at 2:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the behaviors and beliefs of Christians mirror those of their unbelieving neighbors, it is evidence that the Church is a product of the culture it is called to transform, and that instead of producing disciples, it has been turning out "belonging nonbelievers," if not "functional atheists."

So, if you want find fault for the recent Court ruling, look no further than the doorstep of the Church and a decades-long ethos of non-discipleship Christianity. The thing is, the solution to our national condition starts at the same threshold.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted May 19, 2016 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Responding to asylum seekers and developing younger people as leaders will be among the topics at a refreshed Fresh Expression conference this year.

The November conference will also look at whether those attracted to Fresh Expressions events are from non-church backgrounds, or whether they are returning after feeling rejected by traditional church settings.

Jointly run by Fresh Expressions and the Diocese of Leicester, there will be 16 talks and 25 pairs of consultants will be on hand to share their expertise.

Read it all (may require subscription).

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

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What should the church commissioners, who are responsible for its £7 billion investment portfolio, do? They are charity trustees. They have a duty to make a return on the funds entrusted to them. And every penny they can raise means another pound from the collection plate can be used for something else. The answer is, of course, that they must exercise judgment.

The good news is that they are already allowed to. The church commissioners do not, as a result, invest in pornography, tobacco, gambling, non-military firearms, high interest rate lending or human embryonic cloning. But on tax abuse, surely the clearest measure of a company’s social responsibility, they’re not so clear.

Their advisers stated three years ago that “tax ethics should be a subject for investor engagement where it appears that a company’s approach is blatantly aggressive or abusive”. In other words, investment in such companies is permitted so long as the church makes clear that it expects high ethical standards on tax. In this respect, the commissioners have clearly failed.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped from the Nigerian town of Chibok by Boko Haram was found on Wednesday, the first one to escape the radical Islamist group in nearly two years, activists and the military said.

A band of hunters guiding government soldiers through the Sambisa forest in northeastern Nigeria discovered Amina Nkeki, 19 years old, wandering near a mostly abandoned village and breast-feeding what she said was her infant, said Sesugh Akume, a spokesman for the #BringBackOurGirls activist group.

She told her rescuers that six of her fellow students had died in captivity, Mr. Akume said.

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The nuns, who are members of the Dominican order, care for those of all religions and backgrounds — Laub’s mother-­in-­law was Jewish — and live by the prescient words of its founder, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, a daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne: “We cannot cure our patients, but we can assure the dignity and value of their final days, and keep them comfortable and free of pain.” (The Hawthorne Dominicans also operate similar homes in Atlanta and Philadelphia.)

As the nuns cared for their guests, Laub followed them with her camera — it’s her way. Then, even after her mother-­in-­law died in late September, she found herself returning to Rosary again and again, still wanting to capture something of the kindness that her family had found there. She asked the nuns to sit for portraits, in which she stripped away the background to show their eyes and faces in clear focus. “I wanted them to be quiet,” she said, “so their power could come through.”

The nuns in particular had moved her. She was struck by their tenderness with the dying, how they painted women’s fingernails and combed their hair, changed them into fresh nightgowns and arranged flowers in their rooms. “This is how dying should be,” Laub says. “It doesn’t feel like a place of death. It feels like a place of living.”

Read it all and do not miss the pictures.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral CareSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & CultureWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Salisbury has called for environmental issues take a more prominent role in the debate over Britain's future in the EU.

Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam said Britain has taken stand on the environment in recent years which has made other countries "clean their acts up".

The Church of England speaker on climate change also called for the voices of younger voters to be heard ahead of the June 23 referendum.

“It is not the job of a Bishop to push people to vote in any particular way," he said. "The scope of the debate, however, is something where I do have a duty to speak out.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

Other measures will be laid before you.

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 6:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now that the case will return to Adams County (assuming the Church litigators do not waste everyone's time and money with a request for leave to appeal again to the Illinois Supreme Court), the stay against those actions will be lifted, and they can proceed. However, like the claim to the moneys in the bank, the claims in these suits will not be proceeding in a vacuum. Twice now the Illinois Court of Appeals has held that ECUSA had no enforceable trust interest in property held for parishes. The first of those decisions also dealt with the ineffectiveness of the Dennis Canon to create any such trust under Illinois law. It is likely, therefore, but not certain, that these last few isolated claims will fare the same fate as the others. (No one ever made anything by trying to predict what a particular court will decide to do.)

It is nonetheless deplorable that the new Presiding Bishop of ECUSA sees fit to allow his litigators to continue to waste the Church's trust funds and pledge income on litigation for purely punitive purposes. One has to wonder, when it comes to going after realigning dioceses and parishes, just who is in charge of ECUSA after all these years. The irony is that a person who acts as his own attorney (or lets his attorney make all the decisions, which comes to the same thing) has, as those of us in the profession happily admit, "a fool for a client."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts SchoriMichael CurryTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: QuincyTEC Conflicts: San Joaquin* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 17, 2016 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In June the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church will return to the proposal to change its Canon 31 on Marriage, removing the reference to “one man and one woman”, a step it prepared for in the equivalent meeting last year. At that time the Synod was presented with a paper from its Doctrine Committee, considering change to the doctrine of marriage “in the light of Scripture, Tradition and Reason”. That remains the only formal presentation of the questions at issue the church has published to date, so that when the question is asked, in Scotland and beyond, what considerations have led to this moment of decision, it is the sole source for an answer. It is important, then, to be clear what the nature of the guidance has been.

In a series of articles on the Fulcrum site published just ten years ago I discussed the broader question of how the Anglican churches could think together about the gay issue. 2 Between then and now I have written no more on the matter, and return to it now, prompted by the reflections offered to the Scottish Synod, with considerable reluctance. The paper in question devotes two whole pages to a partly critical response to what I wrote then, and I have no wish at all to pursue an argument, direct or indirect, with what they write about me, which was intended, and is taken, in candour and respect. But the issues now at stake, which were large enough ten years ago, are now infinitely greater: disagreements, which have been extended by the arrival of the so-called “equal marriage” on the secular statute-books, now spread out, like a Canadian wildfire, from the sphere of ethics into the sphere of doctrine, and threaten the catholic identity of the church. But in the vacuum of Anglican theological discussion that prevails in Scotland, these fateful deliberations are able to slip by without much notice. As a theologian holding a license from a Scottish bishop, though with no part in any of the Scottish deliberations, I am not quite at liberty to shrug my shoulders when all around me are shrugging theirs.

Read it all from Fulcrum.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 17, 2016 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in an article by the Religion News Service last month, friends of Mr. Hitchens took exception with the book’s conclusions.

Steve Wasserman, a literary agent and editor, and an executor of Mr. Hitchens’s estate, described the book as “a shabby business” in which “unverifiable conversations” are made to “contradict everything Christopher Hitchens ever said or stood for.”

Having evangelical friends is a testament to Mr. Hitchens’s “intellectual tolerance and largeness of heart, not to any covert religiosity,” Benjamin Schwarz, his former editor at The Atlantic, was quoted as saying.

In an interview, Mr. Taunton said that his rather modest claims were being misunderstood.

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 14, 2016 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Professional filmmakers, many in Nashville, Tennessee, are beginning to make big profits on faith-based low-budget feature films. The production values are high, and the Christian stories are appealing to large audiences, especially when the movies marketed through churches. Correspondent Dan Lothian says Hollywood is paying attention.

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture

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Posted May 14, 2016 at 9:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Methodists have debated Christian sexual ethics at every General Conference since 1972, but delegates have repeatedly affirmed traditional teachings. The church prohibits same-sex rites, and clergy must be celibate if single and monogamous if married. For decades what made the difference was Methodism’s large evangelical subculture. But recently the decisive factor has been the church’s growing membership in Africa.

While other mainline denominations shrank, United Methodism grew, thanks to its overseas membership. Since the 1960s the church has lost four million Americans but gained five million new members in Africa, mainly in former French, Belgian and Portuguese colonies, where early 20th-century missionaries didn’t have to compete with British Methodism.

Africans, who are in general theologically conservative, now account for 40% of members and will soon become a majority. This leaves liberal Methodists frustrated. The church’s General Conference has long included colorful protests against traditional sexual standards. These have become more heated: One LGBT activist suggested that protesters show up to this year’s convention with “gallons of piss and vinegar,” adding “just think of the trouble we can cause.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 13, 2016 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church Census 2016 will not go ahead, Churches Together in England (CTE) has said, after the Church of England became the latest denomination to decline to participate, on the grounds of concerns over the administrative workload and time constraints.

The general secretary of CTE, the Revd Dr David Cornick, said on Wednesday: “Our understanding is that the census will not now be taking place in October, and we have informed our members of this.

“The steering group, and a number of national church leaders, have realised that too much remains to be done in too short a time for that to be feasible. Given those circumstances, the data produced would not have been accurate or useful enough to justify the exercise. The steering group will be meeting again to consider how to proceed in the light of this.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 13, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So why are people so gullible?

Perhaps we’ve been approaching this the wrong way. Instead of viewing quackery as a form of knowledge, albeit wrong, we might try approaching it as a religion.

What do I mean?

It seems to me that for a large proportion of people, particularly people on the political Left, pseudoscience has become a secular religion, complete with creation myth, demons and ultimate salvation.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s plenty of pseudoscience on the political Right, too. But often that is motivated by adherence to standard religious philosophy, the idea that the Bible is the world of God and that anything that contradicts it cannot be allowed to be true. On the Left, where many abjure religion, quackery has become the new religion.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriology

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Posted May 12, 2016 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the interview, the Archbishop said: “This week of prayer seems to have touched a chord that none of us really expected to the degree it’s happened. Port Stanley Cathedral in the Falkland Islands has joined in Thy Kingdom Come. There’s people in Israel and all across the UK. People find they’re motivated and excited about praying with others for those who they long to find the love of Jesus Christ.”

The week of prayer will culminate this weekend with special ‘Beacon’ worship events in numerous cathedrals around the country, led by bishops and contemporary worship leaders. The event at Canterbury Cathedral, led by Archbishop Justin Welby, Pete Hughes and Hannah Heather, with worship led by Seth Pennock and Tim Hughes, will be broadcast live on Facebook.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted May 12, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leading voices in the world of education come together in a new book to show how their approach to education can transform young lives for the better.

Schools for Human Flourishing is a collaboration between Woodard Schools, the Schools, Students and Teachers Network and the Church of England Education Office. Set against a background where evidence shows the young are increasingly stressed by modern life this book will be of interest to teachers, students and their parents.

Authors from a range of school settings from inner city London to the privilege of public school, from church schools in England to a school born out of the fragmentation of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, show how they bring fresh approaches to learning and prioritising progress for each child.

Read it all.


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

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Posted May 12, 2016 at 6:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fewer Americans are traveling to fight alongside the Islamic State and the power of the extremist group's brand has significantly diminished in the United States, FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday.

The FBI encountered "6, 8, 10" Americans a month in 2014 and the first half of 2015 who traveled to the Middle East or tried to go there to join the Islamic State, but that number has averaged about one a month since last summer in a sustaining downward trend, Comey said.

"There's no doubt that something has happened that is lasting, in terms of the attractiveness of the nightmare which is the Islamic State to people from the United States," he told reporters during a wide-ranging round-table discussion Wednesday.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Liberal Anglican priest Dr Helen Jacobi says she is ashamed of her Church after its General Synod voted today to postpone any "blessings" for gay marriages for at least two years.

The synod, meeting in Napier, decided not to adopt a new liturgy for blessing same-sex unions that was developed over the past two years by a working group led by Auckland lawyer Bruce Gray QC.

Instead it voted to send the issue back to another working group to report back to the next synod in 2018.

"The synod has allowed the views of 'conservatives' to rule, rather than working for the just inclusion of all faithful people in the life of the church," said Dr Jacobi, the minister at Auckland's gay-friendly church St-Matthew-in-the-City.

Read it all.


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

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Posted May 12, 2016 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has tabled the ‘A Way Forward ’ report on blessings of same-sex couples until General Synod 2018, “with a firm expectation that a decision to move forward will be made” at that time.
Archbishop Brown Turei, Archbishop Philip Richardson and Archbishop Winston Halapua will appoint a working group to establish a structure that allows both those who can and cannot support the blessing of same-sex relationships to remain within the church with integrity.
“We are aware of the considerable pain that this decision will cause to those most affected,” said the three archbishops today.
“But we are confident that our determination to work together across our differences will bring us to a place of dignity and justice for everyone.”

Read it all.


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

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Posted May 12, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For nearly two and a half centuries, Americans have enjoyed the enormous privilege and responsibility of forming our own government—a privilege rarely experienced throughout most of human history. For most of history, humanity has struggled with the question of how to respond to a government that was essentially forced upon them. But Americans have often struggled with a very different reality; how do we rightly respond to the government that we choose?

To put all of this in historical perspective, the Framers of the American experiment understood that a representative democracy built on the principle of limited government would require certain virtues of its citizens. These would include a restraint of passions and an upholding of traditional moral virtues, without which democracy would not be possible. As the idea of limited government implies, the citizenry would be required to carry out the social responsibilities of the community without the intrusion of government and, thus, citizens would be expected to have the moral integrity necessary for such an arrangement. The Framers of the American Republic also agreed that it would be impossible to have a representative democracy and a limited government if the people did not elect leaders who embodied the virtues of the citizenry while also respecting and protecting society’s pre-political institutions: marriage and family, the church, and the local community.

Thus, the idea of a limited government requires that society uphold and pursue the health of its most basic institutions. When a civil society is weak, government becomes strong. When the family breaks down, government grows stronger. When the essential institutions of society are no longer respected, government demands that respect for itself. That is a recipe for tyranny.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 11, 2016 at 1:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many today remember Bonhoeffer for his radical Christian discipleship and sacrificial involvement in the German resistance movement against Hitler. However, few know him for what he believed was most central to his life and ministry: nourishing the body of Christ through the proclamation of the Word. Bonhoeffer cared deeply for the spiritual life and health of the local church, serving in various pastoral roles in Germany, Spain, England, and America. He even wrote his doctoral thesis—Sanctorum Communio—on the church as a holy community.

The sermon showcases Bonhoeffer’s masterful pastoral instincts. He speaks into this atmosphere of angst and uncertainty with a message of hope—a message the church still needs to hear and re-proclaim today, because no human is beyond fear’s reach. We’ve all encountered its many faces:
“. . . fear of an important decision; fear of a heavy stroke of fate, losing one’s job, an illness; fear of a vice that one can no longer resist, to which one is enslaved; fear of disgrace; fear of another person; fear of dying.”
Fear fills us with loneliness, hopelessness, and desperation. It drives us to decisions and actions that undo us.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 11, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

'For 200 years the Church of England has been a stable and consistent provider of education for children in communities across the country. Our aim has always been to focus on academic excellence in an environment which equips young people to live life in its fullness. Working in partnership with government and regional school commissioners, the Church of England Education Office will continue to aspire for the best educational experience for all. Where academisation is the best way forward, the Church of England will take an active role through its Dioceses, as set out in the Memorandum of Understanding.

Read it all and follow the links.

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

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Posted May 10, 2016 at 7:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New Zealand's Anglican Church is sticking to its guns on ruling out same-sex marriage, but may be open to the idea of blessing same-sex couples that have been married.

The blessing, which would take place in a church, would be spoken in the past tense as the union had already happened and there would be no exchange of rings.

The church is holding its two-yearly meeting, or general synod, in Napier this week, with one of the major items on the agenda a report entitled A Way Forward, which raised the option of blessings for same-sex couples.

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 10, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

WE progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives.

Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

O.K., that’s a little harsh. But consider George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.

“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”

Read it all.


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

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Posted May 9, 2016 at 4:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[John] Kerry returned to some of his familiar themes including, first, that those who suppress religious freedom feed angers that make people more susceptible to recruiting by terrorists. Second, religious groups, because when they are demonstrably concerned with “stewardship of the Earth” may have many positive contributions to make. And, third, religions are mandated to help the poor and the marginalized. So their interest in job-creation globally makes them vital.

Some who read or hear Kerry (parts of whose speech are available online) will think he lives in a dream world if he thinks religions are ready to make such contributions. Some will resent his praise of religion, because they see religions by definition opposed to human good.

But the majority, if they tune in and are turned on by the Secretary of State’s words, can be readied to get back to the sources of their faith, heed the community-building (as opposed to terrorist-feeding) uses of religious mandates and promises, and offer hope for a better future. - See more at: http://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/religion-global-affairs#sthash.VwD1R87I.dpuf

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 9, 2016 at 9:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the military and political battle against the Islamic State escalates, Muslim imams and scholars in the West are fighting on another front — through theology.

Imam Suhaib Webb, a Muslim leader in Washington, has held live monthly video chats to refute the religious claims of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. In a dig at the extremists, he broadcast from ice cream parlors and called his talks “ISIS and ice cream.”

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, an American Muslim scholar based in Berkeley, Calif., has pleaded with Muslims not to be deceived by the “stupid young boys” of the Islamic State. Millions have watched excerpts from his sermon titled “The Crisis of ISIS,” in which he wept as he asked God not to blame other Muslims “for what these fools amongst us do.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted May 8, 2016 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shepherding a megachurch is tied in many ways to America’s celebrity culture. There’s a push for big-stage events and around-the-clock access through social media to a pastor’s life and thoughts.

It’s a formula that amplifies the message and multiplies the flock, in congregants who show up on Sunday for worship and in tens of thousands more followers online.

High visibility can also set pastors on a correction-course with humility that evangelical Christians call getting right with Jesus....

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 7, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The center of gravity for both orthodoxy and evangelism is not among Anglo suburban evangelicals but among African Anglicans and Asian Calvinists and Latin American Pentecostals. The vital core of American evangelicalism today can be found in churches that are multiethnic and increasingly dominated by immigrant communities.

The next Billy Graham probably will speak only Spanish or Arabic or Persian or Mandarin. American evangelicals often use the language of “revival” — a word that is sometimes co-opted by politicians to mean a resurgence of a politically useful but watered-down civil religion. A congregation that ignores the global church can deprive itself of revival by overlooking those places where the Spirit is working.

The thriving churches of American Christianity are multigenerational, theologically robust, ethnically diverse and connected to the global church. If Jesus is alive — and I believe that he is — he will keep his promise and build his church. But he never promises to do that solely with white, suburban institutional evangelicalism.

The question is whether evangelicals will be on the right side of Jesus.

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 7, 2016 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hallie W. is very down-to-earth and genuinely inspiring. She never phones it in, delivering with sincerity "soulful" messages such as "The dream is free. The hustle's sold separately!" Even though I know various factors—music, mood lighting, adrenaline—conspired to move me that day, I probably was really into it, in that way that exercising—and especially, I've found, exercising in near darkness—engenders a feeling of invincibility and a surge of fiery ambition coupled with the satisfaction of no longer spinning one's wheels.

I can't say how long I'll remain part of this "church." I haven't signed up for a class in weeks for lack of disposable income, and this summer I'm more likely to jog outside to my own playlist, featuring way fewer bass drops. But another SoulCycle location opened in February on Southport, so I'll probably go make an offering of $30, plus shoe rental, just to re-experience it all.

I have my own rules: Wear what you want. Never, ever evangelize about it. And let yourself get lost in the transcendent moment sometimes, however contrived. Who am I to judge anyone's soul journey?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & CultureSportsUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths

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Posted May 7, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In American politics, raising taxes is seen as a sure way to provoke a voter revolt. But in Germany, some politicians see taxing Muslims as a strategy to keep them from becoming radicalized.

The standard-bearer for this unexpected idea is a politician from the Christian Social Union, the folksy right-wing party known for desperately wanting to keep Muslim immigrants from the Middle East from pouring in to its traditionally Catholic southern state of Bavaria.

Strange as it might seem, there are Muslim leaders in Germany who think a religious tax might be a good idea, too. If they can get over the grumbling, mosque-goers may agree.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 7, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bach was clearly interested in religious questions. He owned an impressive collection of theological books, and he made annotations in his copy of the Bible. But that isn’t enough to draw up a profile of his faith. Which of his theological books did he really read (which books on our own shelves have we read)? What exactly did he believe? While we cannot reconstruct Bach’s faith, we can try to understand the religious context in which he lived and how it might have shaped his music.

The religious language of Bach’s time was drenched with emotional images: Christ as the bridegroom, the believer as the bride; the heart as the dwelling-place of the divine; the relationship of God and mankind was understood as a sign of deep love.

We find this language all over Bach’s works: “The St. Matthew Passion” begins with a majestic chorus that welcomes the suffering Lamb of God as the “bridegroom,” and later the soprano sings in a deeply emotional aria “Out of love my Savior is willing to die.” In the “Christmas Oratorio,” the alto admonishes the church to prepare for the arrival of the “bridegroom” and later we hear the bass sing, “Tell me, most beloved, how may I glorify you?”

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 6, 2016 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted May 6, 2016 at 10:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

China has lodged a diplomatic protest with the United States after a U.S. government commission said Chinese violations of religious freedom last year remained “severe,” the Foreign Ministry said.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan U.S. federal government body, said in a report this week that there were “systematic, egregious and ongoing abuses” in China against Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and others.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Thursday (May 5) that China fully respected religious freedom but that year in, year out, the United States attacked China on religion, ignoring the facts and distorting the situation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaChina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted May 6, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The chatter is getting louder. More voices are joining in all the time as people of all ages and from all backgrounds begin to talk more openly about death, dying and funerals. And Christians have much to contribute: after all in Easter services every year, if not every Sunday, we remember and celebrate our great hope that death is not the end, and that God will bring comfort for the bereaved.

And now the big conversation is really emerging in our culture. The taboo around death and dying is being pushed and challenged . Almost every week there are articles, opinion pieces and comments about death and funerals, sometimes triggered by the death of well-known individuals, and sometimes triggered by personal events. Movements such as Death Café are growing quickly as people begin to face the issues, whether making good financial plans or talking more widely about bereavement and loss.

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 6, 2016 at 6:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although a consistory court has a discretion to take into account pastoral considerations relating to a bereaved family, the churchyard rules must not be disregarded when erecting memorials in a churchyard.

Unauthorised memorials that violate those rules are a trespass, and liable to be removed by the PCC or on the orders of the Chancellor of the diocese. The fact that there were older memorials that had been installed without authorisation in the churchyard was not a reason for allowing more recent unauthorised memorials to remain there, the Consistory Court of the diocese of Durham said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

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Posted May 6, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church Commissioners for England have taken home two prizes at this year's Portfolio Institutional Awards - the Best Charity / Fund / Trust Award for the first time since 2013, and the Best Implementation of Responsible Investment Award for the second year in a row.

The awards come as the Church Commissioners have also been given the highest AAA rating in this year's Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) Global Climate 500, coming 10th in the index. The rating recognises the work done by the Commissioners to mitigate the investment risks of climate change through engagement and shareholder resolutions, as well as the Commissioners' support for low carbon investment.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 4, 2016 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious education is not just like learning French. At the Passover meal a few days ago the youngest there asked: “Why is this night different from all other nights?” Unless you are taking part in the meal in the prescribed way, it is not different. If you are, the question has a deep resonance, which is even picked up in Christian Easter rituals (in which a cantor sings the Exsultet (or Easter proclamation) before a lit candle in the dark, with a repeated phrase “This is the night...”).

I fear that the dreary headteachers think we are all the same. They think religion is much of a muchness and a private thing like violin practice. Just as one lot of teaching unions holds its conference over Easter weekend, God forgive them, so the headteachers held theirs this weekend over the Orthodox Easter Sunday. They prefer resolutions to absolution and unholy union business to Holy Communion.

The fundamental question is: whose children do they think they are teaching? It is as though they thought children belonged to the state and must be protected from the beliefs of their parents.

Read it all.


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

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Posted May 4, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although Bill C-14 unavoidably damages the value of respect for life and puts vulnerable Canadians at risk, its goals include, as its preamble recognizes, maintaining respect for human life at both individual and societal levels and the protection of vulnerable people. Achieving those two goals demands another goal be explicit in the preamble: not allowing medically assisted suicide to become part of the norm for how we die.

So how can we, as far as possible in the current circumstances, achieve these three goals?

The conditions legislated for qualification for hastened death will be critical. They must be very limited and strictly controlled; they underline that it is an exceptional intervention, limited to adults competent at the time of death, terminally ill from a physical disease or disability, in unbearable suffering and giving their informed consent.

Read it all.


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

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Posted May 4, 2016 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s so easy to take things for granted, but what we learned is that people certainly want to be thankful for the people and things that they hold especially dear. What a place of worship or a Christian community can do is provide space and time for people to be able to do that in the midst of their busy lives. Thankfulness and gratitude are at the heart of generosity, which is a response to knowing the love of God.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSportsUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted May 4, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

NB: Carter is not legislation. It is only a Court decision voiding a particular aspect of a particular Criminal Code provision. To be specific: “To the extent that the impugned laws [s. 241 (b) and s. 14] deny the s. 7 rights of people like Ms. Taylor they are void by operation of s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982. It is for Parliament and the provincial legislatures to respond, should they so choose, by enacting legislation consistent with the constitutional parameters set out in these reasons.” (§126)

Second, from its very first sentence the bill sounds the final death-knell, for all public purposes, of Abrahamic faith. The Carter/C-14 doctrine of autonomy is a clear repudiation of that kind of faith and the establishment of a new faith in man as utterly independent of God. One does not need to be Abrahamic to understand this. If the Parliament of Canada recognizes personal autonomy as extending a moral right to determine the manner and timing of one’s own death, and to take one’s own life or another’s life, it necessarily recognizes the person—and itself as a deliberative body of persons—as lying outside of all putative divine authority in such matters. In short, the C-14 preamble is the final repudiation of the Charter preamble. “The principles of fundamental justice” (§71) now operate independently of any reference whatsoever to the supremacy of God. The link between “the supremacy of God and the rule of law” is decisively severed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 3, 2016 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The same week that Kate Grosmaire visited the hospital where her 18-year-old daughter lay in a coma from a gunshot wound to the head, she visited the jail where the shooter was being held by police.

Even before they took Ann off life support, the Grosmaires knew wanted to forgive her murderer, her high school boyfriend Conor McBride.

“Conor has said that act could not have been anything but from God because people alone can’t do that; it has to be from God,” said Kate, who still talks to McBride on the phone once a week. “That was the start of his salvation.”

Since Ann’s death in 2010, Kate and husband Andy Grosmaire have become advocates for an approach to criminal punishment called restorative justice. In their daughter’s murder case, the Catholic couple learned they could push for lighter charges than life in prison.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The decision by Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to have his supporters seize and then vacate the parliament building in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone was the act of a man who—at least for now—wants to control rather than destroy the country’s political system.

But this breach has put such a strain on Iraq’s political arrangements, established after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to balance the interests of the country’s sects and ethnic groups, that once this crisis plays out, there may be not much of a system left to control.

Mr. Sadr, the scion of a prominent Shiite clerical family who once led an insurgency against U.S. occupation forces and was responsible for unleashing some of the country’s worst sectarian violence, denies that he seeks outright power.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 2, 2016 at 1:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A bookkeeper named Roy Torcaso, who happened to be an atheist, refused to declare that he believed in God in order to serve as a notary public in Maryland. His case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and in 1961 the court ruled unanimously for Mr. Torcaso, saying states could not have a “religious test” for public office.

But 53 years later, Maryland and six other states still have articles in their constitutions saying people who do not believe in God are not eligible to hold public office. Maryland’s Constitution still says belief in God is a requirement even for jurors and witnesses.

Now a coalition of nonbelievers says it is time to get rid of the atheist bans because they are discriminatory, offensive and unconstitutional. The bans are unenforceable dead letters, legal experts say, and state and local governments have rarely invoked them in recent years. But for some secular Americans, who are increasingly visible and organized, removing the bans is not only a just cause, but a test of their growing movement’s political clout.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 2, 2016 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can find out a lot more by at their website.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The big screen at Bernie's Tap Room in Waukesha flickers with a baseball game between Texas Christian University and Dallas Baptist. The players are nearly life-size.

But the action on-screen is lost to the 15 people seated at two long tables in front of the game. They are deep in conversation about Jesus, church and life, stopping occasionally for a sip from the pint glass at hand.

Jesus + Beer is in session.

In and near Milwaukee, some people are getting a little faith with their froth. Assemblages like Jesus + Beer are part of a national trend of groups combining Bible study with elbow-bending. Sometimes, it's just easier to talk religion over a beer, one pastor said. It's also an idea that goes back to Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingReligion & Culture* TheologyApologetics

0 Comments
Posted April 30, 2016 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But nones aren’t inheriting the Earth just yet. In many parts of the world—sub-Saharan Africa in particular—religion is growing so fast that nones’ share of the global population will actually shrink in 25 years as the world turns into what one researcher has described as “the secularizing West and the rapidly growing rest.” (The other highly secular part of the world is China, where the Cultural Revolution tamped down religion for decades, while in some former Communist countries, religion is on the increase.)

And even in the secularizing West, the rash of “religious freedom bills”—which essentially decriminalize discrimination—are the latest front in a faith-tinged culture war in the United States that shows no signs of abetting anytime soon.

Within the ranks of the unaffiliated, divisions run deep. Some are avowed atheists. Others are agnostic. And many more simply don’t care to state a preference. Organized around skepticism toward organizations and united by a common belief that they do not believe, nones as a group are just as internally complex as many religions. And as with religions, these internal contradictions could keep new followers away.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 29, 2016 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the summer of 1825, young Ralph Waldo Emerson took a break from his theological studies to work on his Uncle Ladd’s farm near Newton, Mass. There he met a laborer known to history only as “a Methodist named Tarbox,” who told Emerson “that men were always praying, and that all prayers were granted.” The idea of constant prayer was not new to Emerson, writes his biographer, Robert D. Richardson Jr., but Emerson “first felt its force for real life” there in his uncle’s fields.

What is prayer? In its simplest form, prayer is an address to a deity. But in “Self-Reliance,” Emerson says that “prayer is in all action”: in the farmer kneeling to weed his field, for example. And clearly Emerson means mindful action: No farmer wakes at mid-morning and says, “Gee, I wonder what I should do today?”

Emerson’s sense of prayer as mindful action appeals to my students at Florida State University, especially as graduation nears and the world of work beckons. I teach English, and in this job market you can say of humanities classrooms what is said often of trenches: There are no atheists there. My students are prayerful, though in the Emersonian way, which is to say they pray by doing, because they know that before they find their place in the world, they have a journey ahead of them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchEducationHistoryReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

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Posted April 29, 2016 at 11:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churches should take advantage of the opportunities presented by the shrinkage of the State by delivering “substantial public services”, says a report launched in the House of Lords on Monday.

Amid cuts in public spending, the Church needs to “re-imagine its role and to re-orientate itself more radically towards social action and the delivery of public services”, say the authors of Faith in Public Service, Ian Sansbury, Ben Cowdrey, and Lea Kauffmann-de Vries. The report is published by the Oasis Foundation, a non-denominational social-justice charity. The Revd Steve Chalke, a Baptist minister and the founder of Oasis, has written its introduction.

The report suggests that individual churches could “go further than the delivery of foodbanks and debt advice”, and move more into the provision of health-care and education. They might, however, need more “effective leadership, governance, finance and HR function” to do so.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 29, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In deciding how to vote it is important that we recognise that we are answering a different sort of question from that at general elections but, as there, we also need to keep front and centre the test of what it means to love our neighbours and how our vote can serve the common good. That means not deciding on the basis of what is best for me personally (usually understood in simple financial terms) or even for the UK alone but to look at our personal and national good in the context of international society and the importance of good relationships. It also means trying to step back and take in the bigger picture both historically but also in terms of the present nature and likely future development of the EU. At least three broad areas require serious Christian reflection and evaluation in discerning how to vote.

First, as regards its form, the EU is an international legal and political entity based on treaties between national governments. This means considering a Christian attitude to the role and limits of nations and national identity and the dangers of empire as well as consideration of the principle of the free movement of peoples and how it relates to our sense of belonging and place of national borders. Second, the EU also has motives and aims which shape its ethos. Here Christians must evaluate how it has assisted in moving Europe from war to peace, whether and how it has enabled solidarity both within Europe and between Europe and the poorer parts of the world, and whether, particularly in relation to economic life, it is driven by our contemporary idols in the Western world and, through the Euro and austerity, serving or undermining human flourishing. Finally, as the EU is best viewed as a political community it needs, from a Christian perspective, to be assessed in terms of how well it serves the pursuit of justice and whether its political structures are – or can be - representative of its 500 million people and whether they uphold the principle of subsidiarity which seeks to respect local and national governing structures and non-governmental forms of social life.

In the light of all these issues a number of arguments on both sides need to be rejected by Christians but, after exploring each of these areas, I believe it is possible to sketch out potential Christian arguments for each side of the debate focussing on these issues, often neglected in the wider political debate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 29, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The leader of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige, is looking to stop the publication of a new tell-all memoir written by his father Ron Miscavige.

In a document first published by Tony Ortega, noted Scientology reporter, lawyers from Johnsons Solicitors, working on behalf of David Miscavige, contacted Silvertail Books, the publisher responsible for “Ruthless” in the U.K. and Ireland asking them to halt release of the book, scheduled to debut May 3.

Asserting that they were “putting them on notice,” the letter claimed the material contained in the memoir was “highly defamatory” and that “in the event that you proceed with the release of this book, in total disregard for the truth, our client will be left with no alternative but to seek the protection of UK/Irish defamation and other laws.”

The letter sent by David Miscavige’s counsel also suggests that a similar missive had been sent to St. Martin’s Press, the publisher in charge of the book’s U.S. release.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths

0 Comments
Posted April 28, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With temperatures in the region of 40C/100F, Iraq is in a terrible way, both politically and economically. The parliament has not been meeting, there are violent protests in Baghdad, and the oil revenue is starting to dry up. Despite this, we are still working on the front line. Yesterday, Dr Sarah Ahmed, FRRME’s Director of Operations in the Middle East, gave out 25 kg bags of flour to over 1,000 Iraqi IDP families in Erbil, Northern Iraq.

Read it all and do not miss the pictures.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqIsraelJordan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 28, 2016 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Bishop of the Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, on Wednesday led a peaceful protest against the recent killings by herdsmen in the South East.
Joined by other clergymen and concerned Enugu State residents, the group marched through the major streets of Enugu to protest Monday’s attack of Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State.
The group urged security agencies in the state to live up to their duty of protecting people’s lives and property.
Speaking with newsmen, Chukwuma encouraged Christians to intensify their prayers to conquer the challenge as “the Igbo cannot stay in their land and become strangers”.
He added: “The people of South East should stop patronising, empowering and engaging strangers in menial jobs so that they will stop killing our people.
“The state Governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, said that we should pray and fast but prayer without action is nothing.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 28, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Tunde] Adeleye who is also the Archbishop of the Church of Nigeria, Calabar Archdiocese of the Anglican Communion, said: "Continued silence by the president over this violence and deadly attacks by Fulani herdsmen could be seen as if he is supporting his tribe's men. He needs to speak now to calm frayed nerves in the country.

"The Fulani herdsmen are now everywhere in the country, not only with their cows but with sophisticated arms. Where or how did they come about such weapons without the knowledge of the security agencies?"

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 28, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

‘To Your Credit’, the local churches’ grassroots movement and the Archbishop’s initiative to create a fairer financial system, has released the first of a series of four 10-minute films on ‘Money, Debt and Salvation.’ Six theologians will offer reflections on money and debt.

The Archbishop features in the first of the series, in a call to ‘challenge the sovereignty of money’.

“Credit and debt is one of the key issues that people face because it’s pervasive, it’s everywhere… The reason it’s so important is because the knock-on effect of credit and debt going wrong is so destructive. People’s lives are torn apart, their families are damaged.

“It’s a prophetic thing to get stuck into these issues because we have to challenge the sovereignty of money and finance over every aspect of our life. And to say in quite a revolutionary way, no you’re not in charge, human beings are the ultimate value.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Banking System/SectorPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 27, 2016 at 4:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

All told, the deputies found $53,000 in cash in Eh Wah's car that night. Muskogee County Sheriff Charles Pearson said he couldn't comment on the particulars of Eh Wah's case because of the open investigation, but it is clear from his deputy's affidavit that the officers didn't like Eh Wah's explanation for how he got the cash. "Inconsistent stories," the affidavit notes. Despite the positive alert from the drug-sniffing dog, no drugs, paraphernalia or weapons were found. Just the cash.

They took Eh Wah to the police station for more questioning. They let him drive his own car there, with deputies' vehicles in front of and behind him the whole way. They interrogated him for several hours.

"I just couldn't believe it," Eh Wah said in an interview. "An officer was telling me that 'you are going to jail tonight.' And I don’t know what to think. What did I do that would make me go to jail? I didn’t do anything. Why is he saying that?"

Eh Wah tried to explain himself, but he had difficulty because English isn't his first language.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMusicReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 27, 2016 at 3:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two things are clear: the idea that a nation such as Britain can simply withdraw from the European project is a fantasy. Yet the European dream of a realm of freedom springing out of a diverse people rooted in shared values has lost its sparkle. What might a renewed and realistic vision look like?

In the story of Pentecost, people from north, south, east, and west find they can each hear the gospel in their own language. It’s not that there’s just one language and everyone has to speak it; there is a myriad of languages but the barriers to those different languages are taken away. This offers a vision for Europe: not one megastate or one system for everything, but a model of diversity as peace, the harnessing of divergent cultures for enrichment, the challenge and engagement of many systems for the benefit of all.

A renewed and realistic Europe can’t have sharp boundaries: it’s not for one kind of people, and it’s absurd to say Muslims don’t belong. It can’t be about keeping certain people out; it has to be about widening the tent and determining to flourish in new contexts. If it’s worried about mass inward migration, it must invest in the countries from which immigrants are coming and eradicate their reasons for fleeing their homes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 27, 2016 at 11:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the desert climate of Scottsdale, Arizona rest 147 brains and bodies, all frozen in liquid nitrogen with the goal of being revived one day.

It's not science fiction — to some it might not even be science — yet thousands of people around the world have put their trust, lives and fortunes into the promise of cryonics, the practice of preserving a body with antifreeze shortly after death in hopes future medicine might be able to bring the deceased back.

"If you think back half a century or so, if somebody stopped breathing and their heart stopped beating we would've checked them and said they're dead," said Max More, CEO of the Scottsdale-based Alcor. "Our view is that when we call someone dead it's a bit of an arbitrary line. In fact they are in need of a rescue."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEschatology

0 Comments
Posted April 27, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Topics Include:

Clergy burnout
Justification and judgement
Pornography research
Understanding Islam

Be on the lookout for it.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePornographyPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 27, 2016 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The last two decades have seen an explosion of church planting and multiplication ministries and networks. Most church startups are planted by leaders in urban core or inner suburban neighborhoods—and this trend, among others, has financial implications for church planters and their families. But what other factors shape their financial reality?

In a study of 769 planters from across the nation, Barna assessed the general financial condition of church startups and their leaders; how different funding models hamper or facilitate various facets of ministry and family life; and what resources leaders need to effectively manage their personal and church finances. The findings from the full study release today in a new Barna report produced in partnership with Thrivent Financial, Church Startups and Money: The Myths and Realities of Church Planters and Finances.

Here are a few of the standout findings.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted April 26, 2016 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Contemporary sociological research provides extensive empirical evidence justifying the claim that polygamy is disadvantageous for society. [John] Witte cites Rose McDermott’s cross-cultural study of polygamy in 170 countries, which showed,

increased levels of physical and sexual abuse against women, increased rates of maternal mortality, shortened female life expectancy, lower levels of education for girls and boys, lower levels of equality for women, higher levels of discrimination against women, increased rates of female genital mutilation, increased rates of trafficking in women and decreased levels of civil and political liberties for all citizens.

At times, the case against polygamy has been made using arguments, often theological, that would not now hold much sway in the contemporary public square. The case against polygamy begins by considering marriage as a public good. The status of being married is not just about the individual persons and their private relationships; the state publicly recognizes marriage because marriage is a central component of the political common good. Legally recognizing polygamy is a matter entirely different from criminalizing three or more people who live together in a sexual relationship. To recognize polygamy in law is to ask for a governmental stamp of approval of such relationships as “marriages.” We may ask, therefore, whether polygamy is to the advantage or disadvantage of the public good.

Witte’s book is not a systematic political or philosophical treatise against polygamy. It rather provides a useful survey of what has been said over more than 2,000 years of discussion of the issue. The truth is that the good of marriage, and through it the good of future generations, is at stake in how we understand marriage and legally define it

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 26, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dodgy dossiers, smiling tyrants and just wars: Rowan Williams on Henry V

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams* Culture-WatchBooksCapital PunishmentHistoryPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 25, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When I took over from my mother the organization of Passover for our family what I felt most keenly was the paradox—the incongruity of it all. The cleaning and cooking preparations for Passover are so demanding that in the weeks leading up to it, obsessive-compulsive personalities come into their own. I could not get beyond these questions: If we were breaking for freedom, why these weeks of preparation? If we were recalling harsh conditions, which was it—the dry matzo and bitter herbs, or the chicken soup with matzo balls and the best meal of the year?

And that is how the association of conservatism with hopefulness began for me, and how it is further reinforced every year. Freedom was not decamping to Hawaii to become a surfer, not experimenting with drugs or with sexual conquests—not getting away from, but readying oneself for, the enjoyment of freedom. The Passover ritual of re-experiencing the Exodus helped me figure out the constituent elements of freedom that were crafted over many centuries....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 24, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For those grappling with these issues, religious institutions have a rigidity that just isn’t jibing with the increasing diversity of America. And so they’re leaving the institutions, although they still want to be on a spiritual journey with others.

These people see faith not as being about rituals and doctrine, but as about individuals coming together and enjoying an honest exchange of views.

As tens of millions leave the “Sunday morning experience,” “many of them are getting together and finding other ways to do life and community together, and they are not so hung up on, do you believe what I believe?” says Josh Packard, a sociologist of religion at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.

Read it all. (another from the long line of should have already been posted material).

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

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Posted April 24, 2016 at 12:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken control of six churches in the war-torn southeastern city of Diyarbakir in his latest move to squash freedom of speech and religious movement.

The state-sanctioned seizure is just the latest in a number of worrying developments to come out of increasingly hardline Turkey, which is in advanced talks with the EU over visa-free travel for its 80 million citizens.

Included in the seizures are Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, one of which is over 1,700 years old.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 21, 2016 at 1:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Approval was given at a senior level of the prison service for Muslim inmates in British jails to raise money for an organisation linked to the alleged funding of terror attacks against Israel.

The discovery was made by an official probe into Islamist prison radicalisation that identified widespread failings at the top of the National Offender Management Service (Noms).

The Times revealed yesterday that state-appointed Muslim chaplains at more than ten prisons distributed extremist literature that encouraged the murder of apostates and contempt for fundamental British values.

It has now emerged that prisoners in at least four jails were encouraged by chaplains to participate in sponsored fundraising activities for “inappropriate” causes.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted April 21, 2016 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Laura] Turner’s article shows Lewis decrying the dangers of patriotism becoming a demon when it becomes a god. But Lewis has even more pointed wisdom to offer. His devil Screwtape urges the making of “an extreme patriot or an extreme pacifist,” exhorting us that “[a]ll extremes except extreme devotion to [God], are to be encouraged.” We turn blind eyes to this crisis of the extreme to our own peril.

From a life devoted to literature spanning centuries, Lewis offers an alternative to the trap of extremity. “The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison,” Lewis says. “My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others.” He claims that generous exposure to other voices “heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality.”

Inspired by her long study of Lewis’s circle of friends, Diana Pavlac Glyer calls for such selfless exploration in her talk “Intellectual Hospitality.” Drawing from the Inklings’ practices, Glyer argues that “the impulse to gather, and the impulse to maintain a healthy space” suggest a discourse of distinction wherein we speak with grace even while maintaining very deliberate differences. We must hear voices other than our own.

Read it all.

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

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Posted April 21, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The present state of affairs, however, is that the theological and ethical diversity of United Methodism has reached a breaking point. I attribute this to what Jonathan Merritt has called America’s “new moral code.” Whereas conservatives have long bemoaned the rise of moral relativism, before our eyes there is occurring a sea change. Relativism is becoming a thing of the past. Absolutism is coming quickly upon us, and it is no less fraught with problems than the relativism it is replacing. From the perspective of our diverse denomination, the arrival of the new moral code presents the greatest danger to unity we have yet faced. Moral absolutism has exposed the holes in our polity that have allowed for an unauthorized regionalization of ethical decision making in the UMC.

Our denomination’s way of ordering its life assumes disagreement, a push and pull worked out through political processes, such as the legislative sessions of our various conferences. This is, as David Brooks has written, the very essence of politics, and our system is inherently political. No one gets everything they want, but the result is that we are able to live, worship, and work together. We resist the old Protestant impulse to part ways when we disagree, and we thereby avoid further fracturing the body of Christ. While the system is not perfect, it does in theory compel us to recognize the perspectives and interests of others. For diversity of thought to inhere within one community, the various factions of that community must abide by the recognized processes for dealing with disagreement.

In recent years, however, the rejection of the church’s way of ordering its life, and hence the theological diversity protected by that order, has undermined our unity with devastating effectiveness. Note that while conservative groups in the UMC have called for division before, they have never had as realistic a chance of accomplishing this as they do today. This desire for division itself was perhaps an early indicator of the trend toward moral absolutism. We might say the same thing about churches that for one reason or another refused to pay apportionments. Yet the primary rationale for division is not now, as it once was, rooted in a call for a more doctrinally and ethically conservative church. It is based on the breakdown of denominational governance that has become increasingly prevalent since 2013.

Read it all and follow the links.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 19, 2016 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The entire congregation of Mechanicsville Baptist Church reportedly joined as one on Monday in intercessory prayer, begging God to keep their teaching pastor, Warren Blake, from seeing the upcoming slate of spring and summer blockbusters.

“We come today solemnly asking for a great miracle,” intoned Deacon Fritz Foster to the grim-visaged assembly. “We have suffered so much from Pastor Warren seeing popular films these many long years, and we ask that this great burden be taken from us, that we may have a sermon, just once, free of movie quotes and references.”

LOL--read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* General InterestHumor / Trivia

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Posted April 19, 2016 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the people of a missionary God, we are entrusted to participate in the world the same way He does—by committing to be His ambassadors. Missional is the perspective to see people as God does and to engage in the activity of reaching them. The church on mission is the church as God intended.

Instead, churches have become little more than suppliers of religious goods and services. They are more concerned with crafting a good service (music, preaching, ambience, etc) to keep their clients happy. And as a result, we have a disengaged and an uninvolved church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)Theology: Scripture

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Posted April 19, 2016 at 6:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For decades, the cultural gap between Southern cities and cities on the East and West Coasts has been narrowing to the point where the cultural riches of a place like Oxford, Miss. — with its literary scene and high end regional cuisine — are almost taken for granted.

But commerce and the Internet have pushed global sophistication into new frontiers. In Starkville, Miss., an unassuming college town that Oxford sophisticates deride with the ironic nickname “StarkVegas,” a coffee bar called Nine-twentynine serves an affogato prepared with espresso from Intelligentsia, the vaunted artisanal coffee brand.

With these cultural markers have come expressions of unblushing liberalism that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. In January, Bernie Sanders drew thousands to a rally in Birmingham, Ala. Last June, after the Supreme Court affirmed the right to same-sex marriage, the city government in Knoxville, Tenn., lit up a bridge in rainbow colors.

The result has been a kind of overlapping series of secessions, with states trying to safeguard themselves from national cultural trends and federal mandates, and cities increasingly trying to carve out their own places within the states.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureRural/Town LifeUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 18, 2016 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the Rev. Bob Honeychurch learned that the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop was calling for staff culture reform after firing two senior administrators for misconduct, he had a hunch what some of those cultural issues might be.

From 2008 to 2012, Honeychurch served on the national church staff, where he heard accounts of gender bias on multiple occasions. Women were excluded from important decision-making, Honeychurch said, even when they held high offices and had relevant skills and experience to offer. Respecting female colleagues as equals wasn’t the norm.

“They weren’t treated with the same level of respect as the men,” said Honeychurch, 59, who now teaches church leadership at Bloy House, The Episcopal Theological School at Claremont. “There are female members of the church center staff who expressed their concerns in my presence, and I have to take those concerns seriously.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted April 16, 2016 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When an intrepid IU student confronted the threat at a local frozen yogurt shop—that’s your first clue—he did not find a Klansman, complete with hood and whip. Instead, he found a Dominican friar, Father Jude McPeak, whose “hood” turned out to be his habit and whose “whip” was his rosary.

And far from looking for someone to assault, Father McPeak was on his way back from a meeting with students. It wasn’t the only time he had been on campus: He often walks around IU praying for students.

For his part, Father McPeak chuckled and said it wasn’t the first time his appearance had ruffled some feathers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

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Posted April 16, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the ’90s we millennials heard stories about a time when kids performed plays at home and families gathered around their pianos, but we consumed our entertainment from TVs that kept growing in size and programming.

In following our individual channels, choices, and pursuits, we became more isolated. We became anxious, de­pressed, and exhausted and began to wonder if bigger was really better. Now something new is happening. Farmer’s markets are springing up. People are turning off their televisions and creating their own stories on social media through status updates, blogs, and vlogs. People upcycle, knit, and quilt.

Those who grew up with big-box stores and mega­churches are longing for small, deep, and creative communities. These worshipers reject a worship service where paid professionals entertain those attending and instead are committed to making liturgy, art, music, and relationships.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEcclesiologyPastoral Theology

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




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