Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iraq’s prime minister on Sunday condemned the Islamic State extremist group’s actions targeting Christians in territory it controls, saying they reveal the threat the jihadists pose to the minority community’s “centuries-old heritage.”

The comments from Nouri al-Maliki come a day after the expiration of a deadline imposed by the Islamic State group calling on Christians in the militant-held city of Mosul to convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death. Most Christians opted to flee to the nearby self-ruled Kurdish region or other areas protected by Kurdish security forces.

“What is being done by the Daesh terrorist gang against our Christian citizens in Ninevah province, and their aggression against the churches and houses of worship in the areas under their control, reveals beyond any doubt the extremist criminal and terrorist nature of this group,” al-Maliki said in a statement released by his office, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lord Carrington of Fulham (Con): My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer. With some young British Muslims being radicalised, does she agree that it is very important that they are taught at a very young age, either in school or elsewhere, to understand the similarities between all religions, in particular the shared values of the Abrahamic religions, so they can understand that Christianity and Judaism are not the enemies of Islam? Can she suggest the best way to make this come about?

Baroness Warsi: My Lords, it is important that all people, especially young people, have an understanding of the diverse communities in which we live, including different faith communities. My noble friend may be heartened to know from surveys, including a DCLG survey from a few years ago, that 90% of Muslims agreed that people from different backgrounds get on well, as opposed to 87% of the general population; 89% of Muslims agreed that it is possible to fully belong to Britain and maintain a religious identity, compared to 72% of the general population; and 74% of Muslims believe that there should be more mixing between different communities and different ethnic and religious groups, compared to 71% of the general public.

Lord Patel of Bradford (Lab): My Lords, will the Minister say what plans the Government have to work with the media to encourage them to stop publishing demonising articles about whole communities because of the actions of a handful of terrorists?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The new legislation is simpler and based on Christian understandings of trust. Crucially, it includes a commitment for diocesan bishops to abide by five guiding principles, to take proper care of and provide oversight for dissenters, with recourse to an independent reviewer, or ombudsman, to resolve disputes. This was a concept introduced to steering-group discussions by Dr Philip Giddings, the leading conservative Evangelical, who specialised in politics and the work of the Parliamentary Ombudsman. His speech to synod, where he committed himself to vote in favour, coming as it did early in the debate, was influential in securing the result.

Even the Catholic group seemed happy, relatively speaking, with the result. Canon Simon Killwick, the chairman, remained deeply concerned for the wider unity of the whole Church but “pleased that the spirit of reconciliation continued to be displayed during the debate”. Archbishop Bernard Longley, chairman of dialogue and unity for the Catholic bishops, reiterated the goal of full ecclesial communion and acknowledged that the decision “sadly places a further obstacle on the path to this unity between us”. He affirmed the progress made in recent decades.

Whatever the theological and ecclesiological disagreements that remain, for the established Church to have once again rejected women bishops could well have spelled disaster for Christian mission in Britain. The signals from Rome and Canterbury give every ­appearance of grace in action – surely a prophecy of interesting times to come.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureWomen* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last Tuesday, on the front page of The Daily Telegraph of London, which I buy like thousands of other dementia-fearers because of the kindly crossword, I saw the face of a young woman at the General Synod at York with a bright teardrop sliding down her cheek. I thought, Oh dear! More misery. Newspapers now are only frigates of misery.

But the gleaming teardrop was not for sorrow; it was for joy! This girl, in an ecclesiastical, once exclusively male, dog collar, was weeping for joy because the synod, which governs the Church of England, had at last decided to allow women to become bishops.

Not that there are not some tough preliminaries. The dog collar has to be earned. And more. But starting next year, if all goes well, a female Anglican priest will be able to become even an archbishop should she believe she is called to do the job.

And she doesn’t even have to look like a male bishop.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

GONZALEZ: It's a scene that captured the attention of the country and world. Anti-immigrant protestors blocking buses filled with undocumented Central American migrant children, some adults, from reaching a border patrol station in the southern California community of Murrieta.

The children aboard the buses were just some of the more than 52,000 minors, many of them unaccompanied by adults, who have been detained by immigration authorities since October. It's the largest influx of asylum seekers into the U.S. since 1980.

There are so many migrant children arriving, temporary immigration holding facilities along the border have been filled to capacity, and the children have been flown to other parts of the country, for shelter and care at military bases and other facilities. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of migrants, the government has turned to faith communities for help.

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Mexico* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Merrick shares, “What I found helpful is to read those people who are being discussed and try and understand what they’re saying,” for two reasons:

You become a better thinker by honing your argument.
You become a more generous, thoughtful thinker.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 20, 2014 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[On Friday]...hundreds of locals flocked to St James in West Hampstead to celebrate the post office's grand opening.

Father Andrew Foreshew-Cain, who made the decision to mix consumerism with spiritualism, said: "We're bringing a service to the local community which is an expression of Christian love.

"The local post office closed and there was nowhere else for a new one to go.

"An awful lot of hard work has gone on to make it happen, but it was worth it - God has provided."

Read it all.


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

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Posted July 20, 2014 at 2:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tommy Underwood wasn’t even born when Billy Graham made his preaching debut in Florida, yet the Putnam County native easily recalls stories of the fledgling minister. The one about Billy Graham’s first sermon, for instance, was a particular favorite of Underwood’s late father, and, during a recent visit to the Billy Graham Library, Underwood shared the tale.

It was Easter weekend in 1937 when Billy Graham accompanied his college dean Rev. John Minder on a trip north of Tampa to Palatka, Florida. Tommy Underwood’s father, Cecil, greeted them and asked Minder if he would preach the upcoming weekend at nearby Bostwick Baptist Church. Minder declined and volunteered Billy Graham, much to the 18-year-old’s bewilderment. With knees knocking and four borrowed sermons to fall back on, Billy Graham delivered one after another in front of the 40 or so parishioners.

He concluded his first career sermon eight minutes later.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 20, 2014 at 2:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.


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

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Posted July 20, 2014 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is one of those beautiful Sunday mornings England seems to do so well: sunlight streams across wet grass and the air is filled with the busy chatter of sparrows and the sweet, milky smell of the calves across the way. In hundreds of churches people will be gathering, as we ourselves will gather, to sing the praises of God, ask his intercession and celebrate his sacraments. It is a world away from the horrors of war and exile; but war and exile is precisely what many people are experiencing. There are over 50 million refugees in the world today, and yesterday their number was increased as Christians fled Mosul, Iraq, and those who could, fled northern Gaza.

I find it heartbreaking that we as a nation are standing by as the ancient heartlands of Christianity are ripped apart and destroyed....

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted July 20, 2014 at 6:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Up until yesterday for someone who has little love for what I consider to be a deeply flawed bill, it’s been pretty depressing following the coverage. The pro-assisted dying lobby are a slick and well oiled machine and it’s most vociferous cheerleaders have been out in force to bang the battered right-to-die drum. In contrast the voices of opposition, at least in the secular mainstream media, have been few and far between. Having spent some time attempting to record as many articles as possible from the papers and the BBC over he last week that have either had an opinion piece or an item on an individual or group with a partisan view, the results have been stark. There have been 34 pieces with strongly held views in favour of assisted dying and only 8 against. In the last day and a bit at least there has been a noticeable increase in the voices opposing the bill. This is partly because the BBC has produced various interviews, being very careful to finally balance their coverage and also because the Guardian somewhat surprisingly came out strongly against the bill and also published a powerful piece by the Bishop of Worcester whose wife died of cancer in April. Andrew Lloyd Webber has also revealed that he contacted Dignitas whilst struggling with depression last year seeking to end his life, but now believes that taking such action would have been “stupid and ridiculous”.

It’s not that those in favour have more to talk about, it’s more that the same things have been said more frequently. Predictably, so much of this talk has been emotive and far less has been focused on the mechanics of what assisted dying would look like in practice. ComRes have published a poll today that finds that although 73 per cent of the public back assisted dying in principle, this dwindles to 43% when they are presented with (mostly empirical) arguments against it. Doctors who need to be listened to and considered more than any other group still overwhelmingly oppose assisted dying, but you probably wouldn’t know it from the coverage in the last few weeks.

Having trawled the internet it has become apparent that much of what has been driving the media coverage has been the religious aspect.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMediaReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2014 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here are 6 ways corporations act religiously:
1. They give generously from their company’s profits.

Manoj Bhargava, the reclusive founder and owner of the billion-dollar enterprise 5 Hour Energy, is a deeply religious man. He spent his twenties as a monk in India, traveling between monasteries on a spiritual quest. To this day, Bhargava spends an hour each morning in meditation, and he says that while he has “made a lot of money in the West,” he does “not believe in much personal consumption.” Bhargava has committed 90 percent of his company’s profits to charity, primarily to Hindu charities in India.

Bhargava predicts that over the next 10 years the company will give away over $1 billion to charity. Similarly, Christian brothers and business owners in Memphis recently gave their entire $250 million company away to their charitable foundation.

2. They are guided by their sacred texts.

Talia Mashiach is the high-powered founder of Eved, an e-commerce company. She is also an Orthodox Jew who draws upon her faith to lead her business and her employees. Eved now employs 50 people and processes over $80 million annually in transactions. Like many entrepreneurs, she experiences the tensions of integrating her faith with her business, but she gleans guidance from the Torah, the Jewish holy book.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 19, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian families streamed out of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Saturday after Islamist fighters said they would be killed if they did not pay a protection tax or convert to Islam.

“For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians,” Patriarch Louis Sako lamented as hundreds of families fled ahead of a noon deadline set by Islamic State for them to submit or leave.

The warning was read out in Mosul’s mosques on Friday afternoon, and broadcast throughout the city on loudspeakers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

1 Comments
Posted July 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We live in intolerant times. A former Secretary of State is disinvited from speaking on campus. Corporate leaders are forced to resign because of their views on marriage. People are forced by the courts to violate their consciences. A prominent Senate leader calls Tea Party activists “anarchists” and, in a speech reminiscent of McCarthyism, brands the businessmen-philanthropist Koch brothers “un-American.” The Internal Revenue Service—harking back to the Johnson and Nixon eras—is accused of targeting individuals and groups for their political views. And government leaders routinely ignore laws they are sworn to uphold.

This is more than intolerant. It is illiberal. It is a willingness to use coercive methods, from government action to public shaming, to shut down debate and censor those who hold a different opinion as if they have no right to their views at all.

Read it all and read part two there also.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted July 18, 2014 at 11:56 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr. [ D. Michael ] Lindsay and Gordon College are unlikely magnets for the attention. A highly respected sociologist who made his reputation studying America's business and cultural leaders and running an institute at Rice University, Mr. Lindsay likely travels in some of the same circles as the president himself. In his three years as Gordon's president, Mr. Lindsay has steered clear of hot-button issues.

"In general practice," he wrote on Gordon's website after the controversy erupted, "Gordon tries to stay out of politically charged issues, and I sincerely regret that . . . Gordon has been put into the spotlight in this way. My sole intention in signing this letter was to affirm the College's support of the underlying issue of religious liberty."

An executive order that did not include a religious exemption might be upheld by the courts, since the government has broad powers when it comes to spending. But it would be a sharp break from political precedent. In 2002 President Bush signed an executive order decreeing that faith-based organizations be permitted to "participate fully in the social service programs supported with Federal financial assistance without impairing their independence, autonomy, expression, or religious character." The Employment Non-Discrimination Act itself, as passed in the Senate before stalling in the House, also included an explicit exemption for religion.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2014 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

11.20 Lord Tebbit, whose wife was left disabled by the IRA’s bombing of the Brighton hotel, speaks against the Bill.

“No-one could dispute the good intentions of this bill, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

“I notice Baroness Greengrass talked of the right we have to take our own lives. We do not have that right. We have only the capacity to do it.”

It creates financial inventives to end the lives of the "ill, disabled, frail and elderly".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2014 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If they can be tempted away from their workplaces to worship, churches can make parishioners happier with their jobs, new research shows.

Regular attenders who frequent a church that teaches God is present at your workplace, work is a mission from God, or that faith can guide work decisions and practices is a good sign for your career, according to a recent study from Baylor University.

Those who often attend churches with that philosophy are more likely to be committed to their work, be satisfied with their work and look for ways to expand or grow the business.

The effect isn't huge, but it is statistically significant, said Baylor researcher Jerry Park. Park and his fellow researchers point out in the study that the small effect size might be meaningful in another way: As an indication that current survey questions and methods do a poor job of measuring the importance and influence of religion in respondents' lives.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 17, 2014 at 1:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the traditional service, godparents are asked whether they are ready to renounce the devil and all his works for the sake of the child being baptized.

The new wording, approved Sunday (July 13), only asks whether parents and godparents will “turn away from sin” and “reject evil.”

Speaking after the new wording was overwhelmingly approved, Bishop Robert Paterson denied that the baptism service had been watered down.

“We all know that for many people, the devil has been turned into a cartoonlike character of no particular malevolence,” he said.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The approval of the Women Bishops legislation brings to an end a decade of debate about what provision should be made for those who are unable, for theological reasons, to receive the ministry of women as priests and bishops.

In the earlier stages of that debate we offered the Church of England a vision of how provision could be made with full ecclesiological integrity not just for us but also for the Church of England as a whole. It is now clear that the reality will be shaped differently, and will fall short of our ideal.

None the less, we believe that we can have confidence in our future as catholics who are called to live out our Christian vocation in the Church of England, maintaining a distinctive witness to the quest for the unity of the Church. The House of Bishops’ Declaration embodies a commitment to enabling us to flourish within the Church of England’s life and structures. It does so because our theological convictions about ministry and ordination remain within the spectrum of Anglican teaching and tradition. As Resolution III.2 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference stated, ‘those who dissent from, as well as those who assent to, the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans’.

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted July 17, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. Department of Education rejected a petition a transgender student filed against George Fox University, ending a three-month dispute.

The student, who goes by the name Jayce and identifies as a man, asked to live in male student housing at the university, but the school said he could live only in a single apartment. The case gained attention in April, when the student's mother started an online petition, which has garnered more than 21,000 signatures, asking George Fox to reverse its decision.

Inside Higher Education reports that the Department of Education in May granted the university a religious exemption to Title IX's requirements that recipients of federal funding not "offer different services or benefits related to housing" to students based on sex. On those grounds, the federal office denied Jayce's petition.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 17, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Care Minister Norman Lamb has said he has "changed his mind" and would now support a new law on assisted dying.

The Liberal Democrat told BBC Newsnight an individual should be able to "make their own decision about their life".

But a cancer specialist told the programme it could create "death squads" by putting the decision in the hands of doctors.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 17, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One factor in our current turmoil in The Episcopal Church and the larger Anglican Communion is the power and authority of bishops. One way to read the primates’ communiqué is as a rejection of the polity of The Episcopal Church that limits the power of bishops to make policy for the larger church. William White never proposed a distinct House of Bishops separate from the House of Deputies. For him, the clergy and laity meeting together, with their bishops, was adequate, as is still the case in diocesan conventions.

Born and educated in the democratic cauldron of Philadelphia, White did not object to the role of bishops elsewhere, but believed the new American church had an opportunity to return to its primitive roots when, before Constantine, the laity participated in the selection of their bishop, and before 1066, when the power of a bishop was not an extension of the power of the state. For the New England states, White’s new democratic Catholicism went too far. The clergy of Connecticut so objected to White’s proposal to have the first duly elected bishop of the United States consecrated by presbyters, temporarily, until proper Episcopal orders could be attained, they chose (without the vote of the laity) Samuel Seabury as bishop. He sailed for Canterbury, where he would not be consecrated, and then moved on to the non-juror bishops of Scotland.

Seabury believed that apostolic bishops, not a democratic process shared by clergy and laity, should determine the governance and worship of the emergent Episcopal Church. But for William White, who knew how difficult it would be to unify an Episcopal Church out of its very diverse parts, a method of choosing bishops was needed before the choosing could happen. For White, to do otherwise would be like electing George Washington the president, and then having him write the Constitution.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC Polity & Canons* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 17, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A lawsuit brought by a Sudanese Muslim father against a Christian woman to formally establish her as his Muslim daughter was dropped on Wednesday, the lawyer handling the case said, a move that could allow her to depart for the United States.

The case of Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, raised an international furore when a Sudanese court sentenced her to death in May on charges of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying a Christian South Sudanese-American.

Ibrahim says she was born and raised as a Christian by an Ethiopian family in Sudan and was later abducted by the Sudanese Muslim family. The Muslim family denies that and insists she belongs to them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Paula Gooder, a theologian who voted in favor of the change both times, was devastated when it did not pass in 2012. On BBC television she said of the debate then versus now, “The tone in the synod chamber last time was really difficult and very angry and hard to experience, whereas this time was much more welcoming and accepting.”

The change of tone was in large part due to the addition of compromises to the legislation. The measure that passed on Monday contained concessions for traditionalists unwilling to serve under a woman bishop, giving them the right to ask for a male alternative and to take disputes to an independent arbitrator. Though some in favor of the change worry that this may undermine female bishops’ authority, most were willing to take that risk in order to see the legislation pass.

Though the added concessions played a key role in changing the outcome of the vote, some voters also reported experiencing a change of heart with regard to the issue over the last 18 months. Among those who voted differently today than in 2012, is the bishop of Dorchester, Colin Fletcher. Addressing the synod prior to the vote, Fletcher explained that he used to believe, as most who oppose the legislation do, the Bible teaches that male leadership of the church is God's will. He said that he interprets scripture differently now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby--Rowan WilliamsAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsArchbishop of York John Sentamu* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureWomen

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Posted July 16, 2014 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

hen Boko Haram invaded her village last year, the Islamist extremists burned the churches, destroyed Bibles and photographs and forced Hamatu Juwanda to renounce Christianity.

"They said we should never go back to church because they had brought a new religion," the 50-year-old said. "We were going to be converted to Islam."

The head of the village, a Muslim, presented her with a thick nylon hijab to cover her head and renamed her Aisha.

She submitted, smarting with rage. Women who didn't wear the hijab were beaten.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 16, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The revelation this week about the home burial of Kirsty Allsopp’s mother came as no surprise to us agents of change at the Natural Death Centre charity. Her mother's request for a 'stranger free', private, swift, home interment, expresses an instinctive desire that I hear frequently. The public are now increasingly aware that they have choices, power and knowledge to retake control of how our bodies are treated and cared for after death.

The internet has made information available that is generally suppressed by the industry and misunderstood by many gate-keeping professionals, including medics, registrars and civil servants. In the UK we are very lucky to actually have such freedoms - most other countries are tightly controlled by the state, industry and Church. I am contacted by people from all over Europe and beyond who cannot believe that we are so free to choose and control our funerals. Oh how I love being British.

Many people are also starting to question why we automatically hand over the care of the bodies of those who we have loved and cuddled to strangers, when we can carry out that final act of love and care for them ourselves, if we so choose. I hope Kirsty and her family are greatly comforted by their achievement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 16, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A clergyman who led a huge downtown congregation in Chicago has been appointed minister of the most important Presbyterian church in Scotland.

The Rev Calum MacLeod, 46, was chosen as minister of St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, in succession to the Very Rev Dr Gilleasbuig Macmillan, after preaching at the weekend to his new Edinburgh congregation.

Yesterday, in an interview with The Times, he signalled his intention to confront what is widely perceived in the Kirk as raucous secularism within wider society and to seek to increase his congregation.

The contrast between the minister’s new parish and his old church could hardly be stronger. Though both are important city-centre institutions, the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago has a membership of 5,500, about 11 times larger than St Giles.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby today joins over 20 British faith leaders calling for Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill not to be enacted.

In a joint statement ahead of the House of Lords debate on Friday, the faith leaders said that if passed the bill would have "a serious detrimental effect on the wellbeing of individuals and on the nature and shape of our society."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I yield to no one in my respect for Lord Carey and for the good things he has said and done, but I am simply amazed at his arguments (or lack of them) in support of Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill for the terminally ill. Lord Carey says that he has changed his mind after encountering the cases of Tony Nicklinson and Paul Lamb, who had severe paralysis but were not terminally ill. In what way do these cases support a Bill specifically for those with a life expectancy of six months or less?

The majority of those who are terminally ill want what Dr Peter Saunders, of the Christian Medical Fellowship, calls “assisted living” rather than “assisted dying”. This is what the Christian-inspired hospice movement seeks to do, enabling those nearing the end of their lives to prepare for a peaceful and good death. The fact that good hospice care is based on a postcode lottery is what should shame us, rather than not having our own answer to Dignitas in Switzerland.

Instead of concocting expensive ways of getting rid of those at their most vulnerable, I strongly believe we should be making sure that good hospice care is evenly available across the length and breadth of the country.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 15, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An atheist is set to deliver the invocation in a western New York community whose town board won a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding its right to open meetings with a prayer.

Dan Courtney, 52, a mechanical engineer, said he asked the town of Greece right after the 5-4 decision in May for an opportunity to deliver the "non-theist" message.

The court's conservative majority declared the prayers in line with national traditions and said the content is not significant as long as the prayers don't denigrate non-Christians or try to win converts. The town argued persons of any faith were welcome to give the invocation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

'It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the Dark Ages. None the less certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead—often not recognising fully what they were doing—was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct [one characterized by moral incoherence and unsettlable moral disputes in the modern world], we ought to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict.'
--Alasdair MacIntyre After Virtue (1981), pp. 244-245

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryPhilosophyReligion & Culture* Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2014 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...as a result of reforms initiated by Pope Benedict XVI and pursued vigorously by Francis, the outlines are emerging of a more transparent, rational system. Cardinal Pell, a no-nonsense Australian appointed in February to head a new secretariat for the economy, announced two main changes.

The first concerns the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA). Less well-known than the IOR, APSA generates most of the cash to pay for the Vatican’s administration. It has two sections. One oversees the property left to the Vatican after the occupation and eradication of the Papal State during Italy’s unification in the 19th century. The other section invests the papal “nest-egg”: the cash Italy’s fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, gave the papacy in 1929 to compensate it for the loss of its territories. The first section is to be hived off into Cardinal Pell’s “finance ministry”; the second will become, in effect, the Vatican’s central bank.

The big change at the IOR is that it has a new board and a new president—the third in 26 months (for nine of which the post was vacant).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Banking System/Sector* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the social apparatuses and laws of post-Christian cultures continue to develop in ways opposed to Christianity, Christian churches faithful to the hope of the Christian message will have to create alternative structures of care for those who are dying. Rather than relying on for-profit hospices and state-funded apparatuses that participate in the utilitarian logic of assisted death, they will once again have to create hospices engaged in the Christian tradition of hospitality.

The narrative of Resurrection is opposed to the logic of assisted death. The hope of the Resurrection is not one of fanciful longing for reversal of physical death. Rather, the Christian narrative is one that claims that even the least of these can find hope, meaning and a life worth living in death's darkest hour, and that death does not have the final word in the hard work of dying.

The work animated by the Christian message is what created health care in the West, and it is what should animate Christian care of the dying against the logic of assisted death in the regnant social structures of modern health care.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2014 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Assistance from chaplains is an invaluable part of law enforcement, police and political leaders said Monday.

Ministers provide “comfort, encouragement, solace, confession” during stressful times for police officers and crime victims, U.S. Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole told 375 chaplains gathered in downtown Columbia.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & Culture* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted July 14, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The hole at the cemetery was dug. The flowers had arrived, family and friends had gathered, food was ready for the reception. All that was missing was the deceased. Doris Davis could not make her own funeral.

Ms. Davis, 92, was born here, died here and wanted to be buried here. But the island’s only funeral home had closed in January. Since then, the bodies of the dead have had to be shipped by ferry, a two-and-a-half hour ride across Nantucket Sound, to be embalmed at a funeral home on the Cape Cod mainland and then brought back by ferry for burial.

But on Feb. 14, the day of Ms. Davis’s funeral, New England was digging out from a huge snowstorm and bracing for the next. Foul weather forced the cancellation of the ferry that was to bring Ms. Davis home. Her body spent almost a month on the mainland at the funeral home, but suspended in what her daughter called a heartbreaking limbo.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 14, 2014 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I am against Lord Falconer’s Bill because actually, it has got lots of holes in it and it is not really fit for purpose,” argued Dame Grey-Thompson, describing the Bill as “too vague”.

Speaking on internet station Fubar Radio, she added: “I am worried that there will be people, vulnerable people, who will think they have got no choice, who will be encouraged to choose assisted suicide when it is not really their choice.

“What we have to make laws for is to protect the vast majority of people in society and there are vulnerable people who just would not be protected and that is the biggest worry.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This takes me to the question of what does it mean to be alive. What constitutes quality of life and dignity when dying? These are big, important questions. I have come to realise that I do not want my life to be prolonged artificially. I think when you need machines to help you breathe, then you have to ask questions about the quality of life being experienced and about the way money is being spent. This may be hard for some people to consider.

But why is a life that is ending being prolonged? Why is money being spent in this way? It could be better spent on a mother giving birth to a baby, or an organ transplant needed by a young person. Money should be spent on those that are at the beginning or in full flow of their life. Of course, these are my personal opinions and not of my church.

What was done to Madiba (Nelson Mandela) was disgraceful. There was that occasion when Madiba was televised with political leaders, President Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa. You could see Madiba was not fully there. He did not speak. He was not connecting. My friend was no longer himself. It was an affront to Madiba's dignity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Anglican Church of Southern Africa* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaSouth AfricaEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Concern is growing that access to abortion may be included in the 15-year UN development programme that will replace the Millennium Development Goals from the end of next year.

Cafod has said it will be unable to giving 100 per cent backing to the new goals, currently in draft form, which already contain a commitment to grant universal access to sexual and reproductive health.

The 17 proposed Sustainable Development Goals will replace the eight existing goals, with the primary aim to end poverty by 2030, and contain for the first time a direct reference to women. The fifth goal currently reads: "Attain gender equality, empower women and girls everywhere."

The accompanying text, still in draft form, includes bringing an end to female genital mutilation, as well as a commitment to "ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights." Pro-choice groups such as Marie Stopes International – who received £41.5 million in Government funding this year – are campaigning for a dedicated target on sexual and reproductive health and rights under the current health goal.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 13, 2014 at 2:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England (CofE) has called for an inquiry into assisted dying.

It follows a U-turn by former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, who said he would back legislation to allow the terminally ill in England and Wales get help to end their lives.

The current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says the Assisted Dying Bill is "mistaken and dangerous".

But the Church said an inquiry would include expert opinion and carefully assess the arguments.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 13, 2014 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...what I find most astounding about Carey’s article is the almost complete lack of any theological framework for his argument. There is a vague reference to Christian principles of ‘open-hearted benevolence’ and ‘compassion’ and one mention...of Jesus.

But there is no discernible Christian world view underpinning what he says. Nothing of the fact that God made us and owns us; nothing of biblical morality or the sixth commandment; no doctrine of the Fall; little insight into the depths of human depravity and the need for strong laws to deter exploitation and abuse of vulnerable people; nothing of the cross or the resurrection; no hope beyond death; nothing of courage and perseverance in the face of suffering; no recognition of the need to make one’s peace with God and others before death; no real drive to make things better for dying patients and no real empathy with the feelings of vulnerable disabled and elderly people who fear a law like Falconer’s and will be campaigning in force outside parliament next Friday.

Carey has instead produced a piece that is high on emotion but weak on argument that capitulates to the spirit of the age; that enthrones personal autonomy above public safety; that sees no meaning or purpose in suffering; that appears profoundly naïve about the abuse of elderly and disabled people; that looks forward to no future beyond the grave and that could have been written by a member of the national secular society, British humanist association or voluntary euthanasia society.

Carey’s case for legalising assisted suicide is a counsel of despair devoid of Christian faith and hope. I still cannot believe he wrote it. He will disappoint many people, but will also awaken deep concern for him personally in many others.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When did doctrine become emptied of compassion? Doctrine is simply doctrine. But, there is a principle here: law (which is what this is about) cannot be made on the basis of subjective judgements based on emotion; law requires a dispassionate clarity about the ‘doctrine’ upon which the legislation – and ensuing praxis – can be founded. There is actually no way of deciding on such legislation without having some ‘doctrine’ – assumed or articulated – that legitimises or demands such a judgement. In my language, it is the fundamental anthropology that shapes this: what is a human being, why does a human being matter, and why does it matter that these questions are admitted and addressed before moving to emotion/compassion? History is littered with examples of law being established without a clear articulation of the anthropology that underlies it....We clearly need a deeper debate and one that doesn’t assume that if you use judgement, you are, by definition, devoid of compassion.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 12, 2014 at 1:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that proposals to change the law on assisted dying are "mistaken and dangerous", in an intervention drawing on painful personal experiences.

His intervention came on Friday night, just a few hours after the Daily Mail published a piece by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, setting out why he planned to support a change in the law, despite his previous fierce opposition.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 12, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dorothy’s words — ‘It is quality of life that counts, not number of days’ — ring in my ears.

The current law fails to address the fundamental question of why we should force terminally ill patients to go on in unbearable pain and with little quality of life.

It is the magnitude of their suffering that has been preying on my mind as the discussion over the right to die has intensified.

The fact is that I have changed my mind. The old philosophical certainties have collapsed in the face of the reality of needless suffering.

It was the case of Tony Nicklinson that exerted the deepest influence on me. Here was a dignified man making a simple appeal for mercy, begging that the law allow him to die in peace, supported by his family.

Read it all from the Daily Mail.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted July 12, 2014 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The compassion argument, as presented by proponents of the bill, runs something like this:

1 It is always right to act in a compassionate way;
2 Some terminally ill people face unbearable suffering and wish to have help in ending this suffering by bringing their lives to an end;
3 It is compassionate to provide
this help;
4 The law ought to be changed to allow this to happen.

Even if we leave to one side major difficulties in determining what legally constitutes “unbearable suffering” and “terminal illness”, the above argument is deeply flawed. Were it to be presented by a candidate in a GSCE religious education exam, I should expect an examiner to take a dim view of it.

The matter is, however, of more than academic interest; it is, in truth, a matter of life and death.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 12, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In recent years, especially since 9/11, the world of Islam has become a strange and fearful place. Muslim extremists avow their faith even as they violate the sacredness of Ramadan, perverting a month meant for prayers and contemplation with warfare and wanton killing. Those who do not speak out against this unholy violation are also turning away from God's gift.

Violence is not a monopoly of any one people or culture. But many Muslims have given it a new meaning by making their violence inseparable from their belief. This then is a measure of how great the distance is now between many of those who wear the mantle of Islam and the message Muhammad delivered. The Prophet likely foresaw the time ahead when some followers would make a mockery of Islam and warned, "Islam began as a stranger and will become once more a stranger."

Yet within Islam itself lies the cure for the malady that grips those Muslims and their leaders who think that through violent jihad, or holy war, they will reconstruct their imagined glorious past.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted July 11, 2014 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bad stats. When will we learn? Is anybody willing to own it?

Thankfully, at least one person is.

Tyler Charles. Charles is author of the original piece in RELEVANT magazine.

On Monday of this week, Tyler Charles wrote a helpful mea culpa over at High Calling. In it, he admitted what he called his own "amateur" journalism and confessed to being guilty of "hyping bad stats."

In the recent article, Charles confessed, "the statistics upon which my entire article hinged were, how should I say this, um...iffy. At best… the data had been extrapolated from a study designed to determine something completely different."

Charles explains, "after closer examination, the sample size was too small to legitimately make the claims I had clearly and consistently made." Charles stepped forward because "I couldn't justify the conclusions my article suggested."

Read it all from Christianity Today.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 11, 2014 at 9:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tova, a self-identified witch who uses her first name only and created the website The Way Of The Witch, spoke with joined HuffPost Live's Ricky Camilleri for a discussion about witch hunts in the 21st century. During the conversation, she shared what life is like for herself and her children in Utah.

"I live in a pretty small community outside Salt Lake City, and we have some pretty tight-held belief systems here. Although [witches] are not really just out there trying to be different, certainly people know that we live in a different way, they know that we practice things they don't understand, and I think it promotes fear," Tova said.

During her kids' earlier years, the family faced social challenges because of Tova's beliefs, she said.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 11, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The journey to St. Lydia’s began when Emily Scott and Rachel Pollak came from the Western United States to the East Coast to attend St. Lawrence College. Scott, an Episcopalian, hailed from Bothwell, Washington. Pollak, a Unitarian, came from Salt Lake City, Utah. Both also went on to complete graduate degrees at Yale Divinity School in 2007. By this time they were friends sharing ideas about what “doing church” would look like in the Twenty-first Century.

Scott graduated from the Institute of Sacred Music as a liturgist and musician. She had a passion for worship, arts and liturgy that emerged from her upbringing as an Episcopalian. Pollak received a Master of Arts and Religion from Yale. However, their paths diverged after Pollak moved to study at the Art Institute of Chicago while Scott stayed on the East Coast to work at a local church in New York City.

After she moved to the massive city, Scott began holding more and more dinner parties. The first traces of an idea about a new church can be seen in those friendly gatherings....

Part one is here and part two is there. Read them both.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheran* Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 11, 2014 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church Commissioners for England are pleased to announce that their indirect investment exposure to Wonga in their venture capital portfolio has been removed. The Church Commissioners no longer have any financial or any other interest in Wonga.

The terms ensure that the Church Commissioners have not made any profit from their investment exposure to Wonga.

At no time have the Commissioners invested directly in Wonga or in other pay day lenders. The indirect exposure of the Commissioners through pooled funds represented considerably less than 0.01% of the value of Wonga.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 11, 2014 at 6:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An NHS chaplain, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who in April became the first Church of England priest to marry a same-sex partner, is unable to take up a new post because his bishop is refusing him a licence.

Canon Pemberton is Deputy Senior Chaplain and Deputy Bereavement and Voluntary Services Manager in the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. He married Laurence Cunnington in April (News, 17 April), in defiance of House of Bishops pastoral guidance, issued in February.

He received an informal rebuke from the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, but kept his general preacher's licence in the diocese. His NHS post at the trust is also unaffected.

The Acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, however, the diocese in which Canon Pemberton lives, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, withdrew his permission to officiate

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has jettisoned its stake in the payday lender Wonga, finally distancing itself from the firm it accused of exploiting the poor.

The move by the Church’s financial arm, the Church Commissioners, represents a victory for the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby who has waged a high-profile campaign against high interest lenders.

He faced acute embarrassment last summer when, just a day after the publication of an interview in which he spoke of hoping to force Wonga out of business, it emerged that the Church’s financial arm, the Church Commissioners, had an indirect investment in the company....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 10, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US Supreme Court yesterday vindicated two Christian-owned companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods, that have a pro-life objection to including in their employee health plans certain contraceptive drugs and devices. In a 5-4 decision, the Court said that the government did not meet the test set up by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a 1993 law passed with overwhelming support in Congress and proudly signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

The controversy is over the contraceptives mandate in the 2010 health care reform law, which requires employers’ health plans to cover a wide range of contraceptive drugs and devices, including some the companies and others regard as abortifacients. Churches are exempt from the mandate; after widespread protest, religious nonprofits such as colleges and hospitals were offered an “accommodation”: the insurer provides to the organization a health plan excluding objectionable contraceptives and then announces to the employees that those contraceptives will be paid for by the insurer. No relief at all was offered to companies like those in the cases decided yesterday: religion has no place in commerce, the government claimed. Some 100 lawsuits, by businesses as well as religious nonprofits, have been launched against the contraceptives mandate.

Besides the relief granted to the two companies and others with similar religious claims, what’s most important is the Supreme Court’s rejection of the government’s effort to make business a religion-free zone.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Once again, that’s pretty good. But, “in recent years?”

Why not note that an earlier bishop of South Carolina — the very diocese at the heart of this local, regional and national (with global links, too) story — had taken the radical act of breaking liturgical Communion with the national church in 1992, at that time privately, and then publicly in 1999? And what was the issue then? The worship of other gods, literally, at some Episcopal altars.

In other words, the timeline is long and complicated. There are stories in there, especially for a newspaper in Charleston, S.C.

Read it all.

Update: James Gibson has more to say on this Get Religion/SC coverage piece there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South Carolina* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* South Carolina* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted July 10, 2014 at 12:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Sudanese court in May sentences a Christian woman married to an American to be hanged, after first being lashed 100 times, after she refuses to renounce her Christian faith.

Muslim extremists in Iraq demand that Christians pay a tax or face crucifixion, according to the Iraqi government.

In Malaysia, courts ban some non-Muslims from using the word “Allah.”

In country after country, Islamic fundamentalists are measuring their own religious devotion by the degree to which they suppress or assault those they see as heretics, creating a human rights catastrophe as people are punished or murdered for their religious beliefs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all and click on the links in which you are interested.


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

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Posted July 10, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr Samina Yasmeen: Let me first look at his action, and I think they are anything but Islamic. They really grow out of this belief that anyone who provides a notion of what it means to be a Muslim and has weapons to support it can go to the extent of being as barbaric as he has been and as he has encouraged his own group members and followers to be. Once somebody is convinced of the authenticity of their idea of Islamic notions and identity and if they have weapons they engage in completely barbaric acts.

Noel Debien: And more specifically on the claim to be a "Caliph"?.

Dr Samina Yasmeen: The whole notion of Caliph really is so sophisticated and it's historically based, that for anyone to get up and claim that he's a Caliph really needs to be laughed at. To give you a sense of how the whole institution of Caliphate involved, it really evolved after prophet Muhammad passed away and the question of succession engaged as to who should be the Caliph. Among the Shias and the Sunnis the division existed because some argued that it was in the family line and so they supported Ali to be the next leader and others argued Abr Bakr should be. But essentially based on that experience, the first four Caliphs, there's a relatively general consensus that Caliphs are not agents of Allah because that would give them the same status as prophets. The next most accepted position is that Caliphs are the agents of the prophet, so they carry the message and the activity and the actions that Prophet Muhammad established while he ruled Medina as the Muslim leader. There are others that argued that the Muslim community is really the whole basis for the Caliphate, so Caliphs are agents of the Muslim community, so the Muslim community's rights and responsibilities in some ways even override the Caliph's opinions. Given that, the question is which aspect of Caliphate is he assuming to be appropriate for him?

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted July 10, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The church, now led by the Most Rev Justin Welby, continues to oppose gay marriage and requires its gay clergy to refrain from sexual relations.

In an updated version of his biography, Rowan’s Rule, to be released next week, Lord Williams is asked by the author Rupert Shortt whether the church’s current position needs to change. He replies: “Let me just say that I think the present situation doesn’t look very sustainable. I’m afraid it’s just a very unstable settlement at present.”

He also says: “The difficulty of the last few years, I think, has been some bits of the Anglican Communion really seemed to move back on this. The rhetoric of anti-gay violence is actually worse in some contexts than it was ten years ago.”

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan WilliamsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Culture-WatchBooksGlobalizationReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We have also decided to name a (Special) Legislative Committee on Marriage for this General Convention to ensure that the work of the Task Force on Marriage and resolutions related to the rapidly shifting contexts of civil marriage in the United States and in several other parts of the world can be given appropriate consideration. This will also make it possible for the Prayer Book, Liturgy & Music legislative committee to give full consideration to the other business that will come before it.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention House of Deputies President Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So who is missing from this alleged news report, as opposed to an advocacy piece, in the Globe? Apparently, it was only possible to reach Gordon students, alumni, faculty and staff through these new...networks [for individuals who favor the new sexual theology]. It appears that, literally, there are no members of the Gordon community — past or present — who actually accept the doctrines that define the work of the college, which is a voluntary association (the same as liberal private educational institutions).

Are there students who affirmed that covenant with their fingers crossed? Of course. Are there faculty and staff who do the same? For sure, to one degree or another.

But the Globe could find ZERO Gordon voices — other than the PR person — willing to affirm and defend centuries of basic Christian doctrines on marriage and sexuality? None? Zip? Nada? The Gordon community is united in opposition to Gordon College?

Or is this simply a matter of the Globe team concluding that there is no need to discuss the other side of this issue with people from Gordon, since there is only one side of this story worthy of coverage?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationMediaReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted July 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two years after the Episcopal Church opened the door to same-sex blessings, a local advisory board is urging Bishop Steven A. Miller to allow their use in the Diocese of Milwaukee, saying a majority of area parishes favor allowing them.

Miller said last week that he is reviewing the recommendation of his Standing Committee and will respond later this summer. But he reiterated his reservations, saying the blessing falls short of a marriage rite and as such treats same-sex couples inequitably in the eyes of the church.

"My concern about the rite is that it looks like marriage but says it's not," said Miller, who has voiced support for same-sex civil marriages.

"A blessing still keeps gay and lesbian people in a second-tier status," Miller said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Barristers’ Society will admit Christians who, as individuals, have practiced their beliefs about sexuality and marriage while attending any Canadian law school other than TWU’s. It is only when these same individuals, adhering to the same beliefs and committed to the same lifestyle, associate with each other in a community to study law, that the Barristers’ Society considers them unfit to practice law in Nova Scotia. Essentially, the Barristers’ Society is punishing the choice to share beliefs and pursue common goals in community. This attacks Charter-protected freedom of association....

Freedom of association is a two-way street: a private institution enjoys the freedom to determine and live out its beliefs, and individuals have the freedom not to join it. Rejecting this two-way street, the Barristers’ Society would deny TWU its freedom to create and operate a law school, only because the Barristers’ Society disagrees with TWU’s beliefs about marriage and sexuality. This is a demand for conformity, and a rejection of the authentic diversity that characterizes our free society.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 9, 2014 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The sex into which we have been born (assuming that it is physiologically unambiguous) is given to us to be welcomed as a gift of God. The task of psychological maturity–for it is a moral task, and not merely an event which may or may not transpire–involves accepting this gift and learning to love it, even though we may have to acknowledge that it does not come to us without problems. Our task is to discern the possibilities for personal relationship which are given to us with this biological sex, and to seek to develop them in accordance with our individual vocations.

Those for whom this task has been comparatively unproblematic (though I suppose that no human being alive has been without some sexual problems) are in no position to pronounce any judgment on those for whom accepting their sex has been a task so difficult that they have fled from it into denial. No one can say with any confidence what factors have made these pressures so severe.

Nevertheless, we cannot and must not conceive of physical sexuality as a mere raw material with which we can construct a form of psychosexual self-expression which is determined only by the free impulse of our spirits. Responsibility in sexual development implies a responsibility to nature–to the ordered good of the bodily form which we have been given. And that implies that we must make the necessary distinction between the good of the bodily form as such and the various problems that it poses to us personally in our individual experience. This is a comment that applies not only to this very striking and unusually distressing problem, but to a whole range of other sexual problems too.
--Oliver O'Donovan Begotten or Made?: Human Procreation and Medical Technique (Oxford: Oxford University Pres, 1984) which was found here.


Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchBooksPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A bishop granted permission Tuesday for priests to bless committed relationships of same-sex couples in the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, a spokesperson said.

The Right Rev. Charles G. vonRosenburg authorized the use of "The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant," giving permission to priests to respond to couples who are in committed relationships, including those who have been married in states where same-sex marriage is allowed, according to Holly Behre, Director of Communications for the Episcopal Church of South Carolina.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* South Carolina

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Posted July 8, 2014 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the campaign trail, Brat declared that bankers should have gone to jail and that “crony capitalists,” like Cantor, had undermined the system. “I’m not against business,” he said. “I’m against big business in bed with big government.”

Instead of arguing for any specific regulation, however, Brat said that the system simply needed more virtue. “We should love our neighbor so much that we actually believe in right and wrong and do something about it,” he wrote in a 2011 essay for Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology. “If we all did the right thing and had the guts to spread the word, we would not need the government to backstop every action we take.”

The idea that religion plays a role in economic growth was most famously advocated by the German sociologist Max Weber. In his 1905 book, “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,” he argued that Protestant countries developed more quickly because they embraced hard work as a virtue. Over the decades, others have continued to see merit in the theory, including J. Bradford DeLong, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who presented statistical evidence for it in a 1988 paper. Even Friedrich Hayek, a professed agnostic, grudgingly acknowledged the role of religion. “Like it or not,” he once wrote, “we owe the persistence of certain practices, and the civilization that resulted from them, in part to support from beliefs which are not true.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 8, 2014 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It may surprise Christians in the West, like ourselves, that we have in one or two generations achieved minority status. But we have. The winds of social change around the world are blowing against strongly held religious views, in part as the legacy of the attack on 9/11. That terrorist act showed the world what fanatical religious beliefs could do. The surprising result of this is that religious freedom has become one of the great issues of this century.

In the correct concern to protect "rights," growing out of the Civil Rights Movement, we have often forgotten that those whose rights stem from their view of God's will especially need protection.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One such company was hailed last year by the left-wing policy website Demos “for thumbing its nose at the conventional wisdom that success in the retail industry” requires paying “bargain-basement wages.” A retail chain with nearly 600 stores and 13,000 workers, this business sets its lowest full-time wage at $15 an hour, and raised wages steadily through the stagnant postrecession years. (Its do-gooder policies also include donating 10 percent of its profits to charity and giving all employees Sunday off.) And the chain is thriving commercially — offering, as Demos put it, a clear example of how “doing good for workers can also mean doing good for business.”

Of course I’m talking about Hobby Lobby, the Christian-owned craft store that’s currently playing the role of liberalism’s public enemy No. 1, for its successful suit against the Obama administration’s mandate requiring coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and potential abortifacients.

But this isn’t just a point about the company’s particular virtues. The entire conflict between religious liberty and cultural liberalism has created an interesting situation in our politics: The political left is expending a remarkable amount of energy trying to fine, vilify and bring to heel organizations — charities, hospitals, schools and mission-infused businesses — whose commitments they might under other circumstances extol.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 8, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Most Rev is on track-ish. But like many commentators and politicians, he has not done his segmentation analysis to A-grade standard. His focus is too much on the "what" and not enough on the "for whom", which is a marketing motherhood error.

The Archbishop's concern is mainly with the grip of poverty that forces the zero-income, deprived and desperate sections of society deeper into the darkness of debt. He is bringing his formidable intelligence and experience to bear in highlighting their plight and is contributing significantly to bringing them alternative and better support. To have an Anglican Primate showing the wit and will to do more than posture and politicise, is a refreshing novelty for the Church of England. His ideas around the Credit Champions Network and for using the churches as financial advisory centres for those in poverty are genuinely original. After all, when Jesus threw over the tables of money-changers in the temple of Jerusalem, he didn't specifically object to advisory-only services.

But, knowingly or not, The Archbishop is nonetheless grossly over simplifying the situation by claiming that the Credit Unions' "responsible credit and saving are real alternatives to the services currently provided by payday lenders".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted July 8, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Pritchard, who as chair of the Church of England’s Board of Education is responsible for the teaching of around a million children in Anglican schools, as well as speaking for the Church on education in the Lords, said a change in the law could be “liberating” for schools and churches alike.

“I think in the 1940s when all of this was put together it was possible to say that collective worship represented the mood of the nation but I don’t think that is where we are now,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“There is a sense in which a compulsion about religion does a disservice to that which I think is most important which is keeping the good news of the Christian faith alive in our culture.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 8, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I don’t need to remind you of the widespread concern about the ill-treatment of the aged and those at the end of life in some of our care homes and hospitals - and this in spite of the many dedicated people working in these fields of care. It seems all the more incomprehensible, then, that we would be considering a change in the law to diminish the protection given to those most vulnerable.

Next month a Bill to legalize “assisted suicide” for those at the end of life will begin its passage through Parliament. This legislation will be presented as a “compassionate” measure, whose sole aim is to relieve the suffering of the sick and the aged. Yet, it is far from compassionate to remove the legal protections provided for some of the most vulnerable members of society. The proposed change to our laws will license doctors to supply lethal drugs to assist the deaths of those expected to live for six months or less. If Parliament allows exceptions to the laws which protect the very sanctity of human life, it would be impossible to predict where this will end. In 1967, the politicians who legalised the killing of unborn children in limited and exceptional circumstances did not foresee how violating the sanctity of human life would lead to the wanton destruction of millions of lives. It is not surprising that many vulnerable people, including those with disabilities, are today worried by Lord Falconer’s “assisted dying” Bill. It might sound reasonable to speak of “choicesat the end of life” - as the campaigners for euthanasia do - but what choice will be left for many?

Read it carefully and read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2014 at 6:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of course choice is good. I aspire to more of it and so do people who have enjoyed much less of it than I have. Offer me more choice, at least in theory, and I'll say Yes. I'll answer your loaded opinion poll and tell you I am in favour of this choice and that choice because who, in this culture, can be against more choice without being a heretic? But talk about choice on that day in the future when I am wholly dependent on the people around me, when my life is almost over and I have far more chance of pleasing others by getting out of their way quietly than of making much difference to my own situation, and my choice won't be about me, it will be about them. And those last days of life, surely, are precisely the moment when choices ought to be about the one approaching the end - and no one else.

How many Parliamentarians who will shortly debate the Falconer Bill on assisted suicide are people with wide enough life experience to empathise with those who see more choice as a threat and not a blessing? How many subscribers to the BMJ put themselves, day by day, into the shoes of people for whom consumer choice is someone else's luxury, even if their editor chooses to use his journalistic position to make a ruling on behalf of ethicists everywhere?

Some of them, to be sure - maybe many of them. Will they encourage the rest to dig deep into their imaginations, to empathise with people who are not articulate, who are used to being done unto, and who have lived on the receiving end of other's choices all their lives?

They are in Parliament to govern on behalf of all citizens. The weak. The poor. The vulnerable. The dying. The ones who don't want to be a nuisance. The ones who do not regard choice as an unalloyed good, as well as the people who are used to choosing. And the medical profession too - despite the sweeping assertions of the BMJ about the nature of ethics, are also in business for those people.

Will the Parliamentarians and the medics empathise beyond their own kind? I hope so. I do hope so.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today is Saturday. This is evident on the face of my sleep-deprived neighbor, here in the fluorescent hallway, shifting her whining toddler impatiently from one hip to the other, scowling at the elevator doors which refuse to open. It is also evident in my own frustration at being obliged to wait several minutes before embarking on errands—jingling the keys in my pocket and watching the painfully slow sequence of floor numbers on the elevator panel. I am caught in the human traffic jam that visits my 20-story building every weekend.

Why the hold up? I live in a historically Jewish building in New York City. On most days, its two elevators service each section of this rather monolithic structure—just enough to keep up with the flow of residents going up and down. But come Friday evening, one of the cars is switched into Shabbos mode, meaning that it stops at every single floor automatically, backing the tenants up like resentful clogs in beige-yellow arteries. It does so for religious reasons, since many observant Jews avoid pressing electric buttons on Shabbat.

Read it all from the Atlantic.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

WARSI: It had. And therefore, we needed to respond. And we've responded in a number of ways, both proactively and reactively respond to challenges that may arise. And the backlash towards the British Muslim community after the tragic murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, the murder that you mentioned on the streets of London, was exactly one of those cases. And what we found, interestingly, after that tragic murder was that we found a unified British Muslim community who was unequivocal in its condemnation of this attack.

MARTIN: But what about the people who do feel that their country is changing in ways that they don't like? I mean, for example, the whole question of full-face coverings, veils. I know you've spoken about that issue. I know that, you know, France has taken the position that these kind of full-face coverings should just not be permitted in the public sphere, particularly in public places. You've taken a different perspective. But what about people who say, look, I don't want to deal with a bank teller whose face is covered? I don't to deal with a school bus driver whose face is covered? I don't want to deal with a teacher in my children's elementary school whose face is covered? I don't want that.

WARSI: Well, first of all, Britain isn't France. And I think that's a good thing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Bryan Giemza] recommends her recently released Prayer Journal and “A Good Man is Hard to Find” as good starting points for students. Her journal allows him to “point out the various prayer traditions she canvasses and how she shared in the aspirations and worries of someone their age, albeit someone with an incredible depth of field, spiritually speaking. She commands respect that way.” I like Giemza’s method in teaching her popular story. He tells students “things tend towards their ends, that we are creatures of habit, and that virtue has to be practiced. I give them a series of statements to respond to, like ‘I’m basically a good person.’ A majority of my students agree with that position, and aren’t aware that it flies in the face of orthodoxy, and certainly goes against Flannery O’Connor’s belief. They’re usually stunned to learn that no less an authority than Christ said that no man is good. And those who condemn the grandmother have to be shown their own warts, just like those who despise the mother in ‘Everything That Rises Must Converge,’ (pdf) with her patronizing coin, need to be reminded of the story of the widow’s mite.”

O’Connor is one of the best at peeling back our public covers and showing those warts. Like so many writers chided for their disturbing content, criticisms of her work are often less about the texts themselves, and more about our refusals as readers, students, and teachers to examine our own lives. Perhaps even more than her odd characters, it is the “stark racism” of O’Connor’s world that pushes away some of Giemza’s students. But Giemza doesn’t want them to blink; “the danger . . . is that students who (think they) live in a post-racial age must still contend with the sins of the fathers, and I am surprised by how many can blithely accept that those sins have been expiated. Perhaps they don’t see its urgency, but here in the region that helped the nation understand its first fall (i.e. the legacies of our foundation in slavery), we have a duty to try to come to grips with it. It remains the essence of the fallen-ness in her work, and its insistence that God is no respecter of persons or the hierarchies of the temporal order, which can be inverted at a stroke.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryPoetry & LiteratureRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureTeens / YouthWomenYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted July 6, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Justin, who has cerebral palsy and was born missing parts of his brain, also has a seizure disorder, which has gotten worse lately. He's often silent during his seizures, which means he has to sleep with his parents so they can tell when he needs help. Judy says caring for Justin is a lot like taking care of a newborn....Except Justin is not a baby. He just turned 16 and weighs 100 pounds. He can't talk, he can't walk and he'll always require around-the-clock care. Like the estimated 17 million people in the U.S. taking care of their special-needs kids, Judy's days largely consist of making sure Justin's needs are met....

The faith community is a major source of support for James and Judy Lee. Every Sunday the family attends Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Sacramento. James welcomes people's empathy, but he rejects their pity. He recalled a man at a support group once asking him if he hated God because of Justin's disability.

"I said, 'No, I'm actually thankful that He chose us to take care of Justin,' " he says.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted July 6, 2014 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Father Aristotle Damaskos was growing up, he and his Catholic cousins would always "play mass." "And I was always the priest," Damaskos, a Greek Orthodox priest for 26 years, said with a smile.

But it wasn't until a church camp trip to Greece at the age of 15 that Damaskos felt the call from God to become a priest. Originally, he had wanted to be a meteorologist, but he realized "it was too much math." As Damaskos likes to say, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."

"God had other plans for me," Damaskos said. Fifteen years later, he was ordained.

Read it all from the local paper.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 6, 2014 at 1:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Sometimes I'm asked to do both [magic and funerals] at once," said Lee, 76, a licensed funeral director from White Plains, New York. "People have come to know both sides of me, so they ask. And I say, why not?"

Lee, who long ago claimed the moniker "mortgician" in his AOL email address, wouldn't call himself a pioneer or part of any special movement in after-death care. But he's among many who are turning the idea of the solemn, sedate funeral on its head.

Call it the rise of the personalized "fun funeral."

The wide range of what's considered "creative" or "unusual" when burying a loved one means there are little to no statistics on such practices, but industry experts say redesigning the standard funeral is increasingly popular.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* General InterestHumor / Trivia* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

2 Comments
Posted July 6, 2014 at 6:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today, the abuse that umpires take is more subtle -- but in a way just as sinister. Their mistakes are played back in slow motion by 24-hour sports networks, then piled on by talk-radio hosts and tweeting fans. Major league calls can now be challenged with instant replay, and strike zones get checked by a soul-crushing digital technology called Zone Evaluation. Death threats have been known to appear on their children's Facebook pages. Understandably, some umpires have found they need someone to talk to. And so when Pastor Dean Esskew's phone rings in the middle of the night, as it often does, he knows to pick it up and say "What's wrong?" instead of "Hello."

Pastor Dean, as folks around baseball know him, is the leader of Calling for Christ, a nonprofit ministry that for the past 11 years has tried to ease the anguish of major league and minor league umpires by keeping them close to God. Esskew is 48 and enormous, with a booming, smoky drawl and his own cologne-scented weather. He ministers exclusively to umps, piling through stadium crowds with an awkward, hammering limp acquired years ago when a horse bucked him on the farm in Oklahoma where he lives with his wife. (Debrah Esskew runs a parallel ministry for umpires' wives and girlfriends.)

Before Calling for Christ, Pastor Dean spent 20 years leading small rural churches; his dream was to preach in front of a stained glass window someday, somewhere nice. Now he flies and drives between ballparks all summer to hold informal late-night Bible groups at sports bars after games. He spends about 20 weeks on the road every season, visiting four or five crews a week.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSports* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted July 5, 2014 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you are considered a burden by others, you sense it. Like Dr Ashton’s youngish men disheartened not to be the breadwinners, sick old people may well be overwhelmed by a sense of rejection, made worse by physical pain. The supporters of Lord Falconer’s Bill make much of the fact that those handed out the “only six months to live” sentence proposed by the Bill will take the fatal drugs it provides themselves, and by their own choice. But what in the culture will guide that choice? What is the effect on the patient’s free will when a profession whose entire previous raison d’être has been to assist life now stands ready to give you the tools of death?

Once it becomes legal that such a thing could happen, how long before it becomes expected? Most old people in hospital try to conform to what they think the system wants. If it wants them dead, and gives them the power to die, their grim path of duty lies clear. Some will have families who do not care enough whether they live; others will have no families at all. To all of these, Lord Falconer’s “choice” could become as proverbial as Hobson’s.

It does not have to be this way. Think of the revolution in attitudes to the disabled and mentally handicapped that has taken place in the past 40 years.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 5, 2014 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has consecrated the new bishops of Whitby and Selby in a ceremony at at York Minster.

The Ven Paul Ferguson becomes the Bishop of Whitby and the Rev Canon Dr John Thomson takes the role in Selby.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 5, 2014 at 12:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Monasticism could make an unlikely comeback because of pace of life in the age of Twitter, a leading aide to Pope Francis has suggested.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, head of the Vatican’s evangelism department, said the constant presence of modern communications could make the ancient idea of a life of contemplation more attractive to people in the 21st Century than in the past.

The Archbishop was speaking as he arrived in Birmingham to join hundreds of young British Roman Catholics considering a call to a life as monks, nuns or priests at a weekend retreat to explore their vocation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted July 5, 2014 at 8:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Q. What is an Atheist? Not everyone knows that an atheist is a believer of a kind and that he or she has views about religion—in this case for our interview, Christianity. Will you speak to this?

A. An Atheist is someone who is often misunderstood. It is a person who does not believe in God or Gods. It does not mean we believe in Satan. We do not believe in him either. We are not claiming that we know that God does not exist. Atheism is not a knowledge claim. Atheism is simply a belief claim. Where other religions do not believe in millions of Gods, we do not believe in millions of Gods plus one.

Our beliefs are based on reason, logic, and evidence. Our values include love, compassion and honesty. In terms of views about Christianity, different Atheists have different views about Christianity. Almost all of us share, there is not a God and Jesus was not a God. We believe that Jesus did not rise from the dead. We would agree, most of us would agree, in his methods of having the Golden Rule and loving your neighbor....

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 5, 2014 at 8:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 4, 2014 at 8:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Kwashi & wife, interview on 6-30-2014 from Christ St Pauls on Vimeo.

Among the topics covered are: How the Kwashis met, marriage, children, orphans and ministry to orphans, women's ministry, the roughly 200 kidnapped girls in Nigeria, ACNA, and Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther. Watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* AdminFeatured (Sticky)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

2 Comments
Posted July 3, 2014 at 7:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Bowdoin College students have the right to be members of any Bowdoin College student organization. Bowdoin College students have the right to seek — that’s an important word — to seek a leadership position in any Bowdoin College student organization,” [Bowdoin spokesman Scott] Hood said. “What we’re talking about here is people who are members of the community or region, who are not part of the college, who are coming in and deciding who can be a leader, who can be a member, who can do something within a Bowdoin College student organization. That is not OK with us.”

Reached by phone Wednesday, Paulson told the Bangor Daily News, “There’s a real tension between the college’s deeply held commitment to making sure no group discriminates against any student and the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship’s deep concern that the people who lead it need to share the basic Christian doctrine.”

Bates College in Lewiston does not require student groups or leaders to sign any type of nondiscrimination pledge when submitting its constitution to student government for consideration, college spokesman Kent Fischer said, although student government does ensure prospective groups “draft fair and inclusive constitutions that set the groups up for future success.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted July 3, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Church has decided to give priests in Australia the option of breaking the confidentiality of confessions.

The general synod, meeting in Adelaide, has voted for the historic change to cover serious crimes, such as child abuse.

It has decided it will be up to individual dioceses to adopt the policy.

Adelaide's Anglican Archbishop Jeffrey Driver says the change makes sense but there will not be a hard-and-fast rule.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

4 Comments
Posted July 3, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

COVER STORY: AFTER GOD

For this week’s cover story, Rowan Williams and Lucy Winkett consider the importance of ritual in religion, while the non-believers Melvyn Bragg, Julian Baggini and Robin Ince suggest ways of filling the God-shaped hole in modern life.

Williams describes the ritual of prayer that marks the start of his day and how this enforces the same stillness and physical focus required in Buddhist meditation:

. . . the regular ritual to begin the day when I’m in the house is a matter of an early rise and a brief walking meditation or sometimes a few slow prostrations, before squatting for 30 or 40 minutes (a low stool to support the thighs and reduce the weight on the lower legs) with the “Jesus Prayer”: repeating (usually silently) the words as I breathe out, leaving a moment between repetitions to notice the beating of the heart, which will slow down steadily over the period.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan WilliamsAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted July 3, 2014 at 6:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After a pledge by Pope Francis to “excommunicate” mobsters from the Catholic Church, an archbishop in southern Italy has proposed a 10-year ban on naming godparents at baptisms and confirmations as a way to stop the Mafia from spreading its influence.

Monsignor Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini, the archbishop of Reggio Calabria, wrote to Francis some time ago with his suggestion “to prevent the exploitation of the church,” in particular by the powerful Calabrian Mafia known as ’Ndrangheta, and discussed his proposal with the pope at the Vatican last weekend.

Mobsters taking part in the baptisms of newborns as a godfather, or “padrino,” help the mob establish a special bond with future generations of potential criminals.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeItaly* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral TheologySacramental TheologyBaptism

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Posted July 2, 2014 at 1:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church, which invests in Wonga, is currently facing an ungodly dilemma of its own making.

Previously Most Rev Welby had made it clear that he believed that payday lenders should be put out of business. Entirely.

But, oops, this was before he was informed that the CoE's financial wing had sunk something in the region of £100,000 into the company.

Following criticism of this odd state of affairs, the Church's Ethical Investment Advisory Group launched a review. (Although you would think that "Church investing in Wonga" would fairly obviously constitute an ethical no-no.)

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For this story, CT set out to find young believers who we think are leading today's church in key ways—and who embody what it will look like in the years to come. We consulted ministry leaders, highly connected social media mavens, and millennials themselves to create the following list of 33 Christians 33 and younger to watch. The age cutoff corresponds with the start of the millennial generation in 1980.

Born in the '80s and '90s, millennials have grown up as digital natives. Most of them seamlessly incorporate technology into their lives, careers, and ministries. They also come from the most racially diverse generation in American history: More than 4 out of 10 U.S. millennials are non-white.

The following influencers span sectors of work, uniquely contributing in business and nonprofits, media organizations and ministries, academia and the arts. Some are up-and-coming in familiar institutions; others are venturing out with projects of their own. Plenty of names on our list will likely be unfamiliar—we wanted this project to introduce readers to all kinds of young, committed Christians, to put stories and faces to the millennial generation.

think about who you would mention and then read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

2 Comments
Posted July 2, 2014 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The decision’s most important feature is its rejection of that contention. The five justices in the majority—Alito, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy—explicitly reject it, thus establishing as a matter of law the proposition that RFRA protections can apply to for-profit businesses, and do apply to closely held corporations. It leaves open the question, which is probably purely theoretical, whether RFRA protections apply to large, publicly traded companies. Two of the four dissenting justices—Breyer and Kagan—decline to reach or opine on the question of whether RFRA protects for-profit businesses—pointedly refusing to join this aspect of the dissent filed by Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor who, alone, contend that for-profit businesses do not enjoy RFRA protections.

Friends of First Things will not be able to resist the feeling that the late Richard John Neuhaus, the founder of this journal and the leader of the opposition to the idea that religion is a purely “private” activity that has no legitimate role in the public square, is smiling down from heaven. Yesterday was Fr. Neuhaus’s big day. The Court ruled that the Greens did not forfeit their rights to run their business in line with their conscientious religious beliefs merely by choosing the corporate form.

Just as the for-profit company known as the New York Times enjoys the right to freedom of the press under the First Amendment, so Hobby Lobby enjoys the right to religious freedom protected by RFRA. Protection for religious liberty doesn’t stop where commerce begins.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I’m not sure of the long-term impact of this ruling. When I first heard it, I thought it was a disaster that would cause an avalanche of consequences. Actually reading the opinion, I think the attempt to direct a narrow interpretation on simply extending the accommodation previously arranged for nonprofits to ‘closely-held’ companies is more of a comment on the ‘least restrictive’ clause than an endorsement of corporate religious views.

Had there not been an existing structure in place to extend to these companies, I believe the Supreme Court would have ruled differently. Time will tell if future Court decisions expand this understanding or follow a more narrow interpretation of this verdict. For the moment, I’m hopeful this isn’t the disaster I thought it was at first.

Let's be clear: the rights of actual, living individuals lost to the rights of companies this week.

Read it all and make sure to read yesterday's comments also.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

5 Comments
Posted July 2, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This has to be the weirdest business deal of the week: The Church of England just sold a chunk of forest-covered land on the Fijian island Vanau Levu for $8.8 million to the government of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati. For the moment, Kiribati plans to use its 20-square-kilometer (7.7-square-mile) plot for agriculture and fish farming. But the investment is really a fallback for its 103,000 residents—a place to live if they must leave their home island.

“We would hope not to put everyone on [this] one piece of land, but if it became absolutely necessary, yes, we could do it,” president Anote Tong told the Associated Press, via the Guardian. Tong is awaiting parliamentary approval of the land purchase before clearing that possibility formally with Fiji’s officials.

Why is Tong preparing for a mass defection to an island 2,000 kilometers away?

Read it all.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Pro-life activist] McCullen's activities were indisputably peaceable. Yet the Massachusetts law criminalized them. Had she approached a willing listener to discuss abortion in a covered zone, she would have been subject to three months' imprisonment for a first offense, and two and a half years' imprisonment for each subsequent violation. The statute also prevented McCullen from entering the covered zone to sing or pray quietly.

The Massachusetts law meant that "McCullen [was] often reduced to raising her voice at patients from outside the zone—a mode of communication sharply at odds with the compassionate message she wishes to convey." The zones "also made it substantially more difficult for [her] to distribute literature to arriving patients." The Court noted that these burdens "have clearly taken their toll," citing undisputed testimony that the law substantially reduced the success of McCullen and her fellow litigants in persuading women not to terminate their pregnancies.

In striking down the Massachusetts law, the Court properly emphasized that "it is no accident that public streets and sidewalks have developed as venues for the exchange of ideas." And responding to arguments from the state that the buffer zones helped with administrative enforcement, the Court noted that "the prime objective of the First Amendment is not efficiency."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 2, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Judge not.

That’s the central message in a Supreme Court ruling Monday that found the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) cannot be used to force a privately held corporation to act against the religious beliefs of its owners.

The high court decided that the 2010 health-care law violates religious liberty by demanding such owners pay for contraceptive insurance that they regard as immoral. Government must not force the employers to act against their faith, the court found, because that would be the same as judging their religious views to be “flawed.”

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 1, 2014 at 6:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Vatican bank's chairman is to step down as soon as next week as part of the restructuring of an institution that has been an embarrassment to the Catholic Church for decades, Vatican sources said on Tuesday.

But the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, disagreed over whether Ernst von Freyberg was leaving willingly or whether he was being pushed out over differences within the Vatican about the pace of reform.

Freyberg's departure is expected to be announced in connection with the publication, most likely next week, of the new annual report of the bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Banking System/Sector* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 1, 2014 at 6:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The majority opinion handed down today makes several important points worthy of close attention.

First, the Court’s decision affirms the central importance of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 [RFRA]. Interestingly, that Act was made necessary by the Court’s own 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, in which the majority opinion had been written by Justice Antonin Scalia, who joined with Justice Alito in the majority for Hobby Lobby. Responding to that decision, Congress passed RFRA, demanding that any law or policy of the federal government that would violate a citizen’s religious convictions must pass two key tests: It must meet a compelling state interest, and it must do so by “the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling state interest.” As Justice Alito stated, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood did not protest against the compelling state interest of the contraception coverage — only against the four specific birth control products that were mandated. Justice Alito and the majority rightly concluded that the Obama Administration had utterly failed the second test. There were any number of alternatives the administration could have taken that would have accomplished its goals without burdening conscience.

What makes this especially important is the fact that RFRA passed in Congress without a single dissenting vote in the House of Representatives and by a 97 vote majority in the Senate. RFRA had massive support within Congress and public opinion at large. And yet, just 21 years later, it seems that many Americans would gladly violate the religious liberties of some in order to advance liberal social policies for others. Today’s decision underlines the importance of RFRA, but it also demonstrates the massive task of defending religious liberty that lies ahead.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted July 1, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A church centre in Norwich that helps homeless people, stranded strangers and elderly people is to shut after landlords rejected a rescue plan.

The All Saints Centre needs £100,000 a year to keep going but has hit money difficulties because of the recession.

A plan by Bishop of Norwich Graham James to assume the lease, which could have brought a rent cut, was rejected by Norwich Historic Churches' Trust.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 1, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The European Court of Human Rights has upheld France’s ban on wearing face-covering veils in public places.

The Strasbourg court decided by a majority that the ban did not violate Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which sets out the right to respect for private and family life, or Article 9, which concerns freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

It found unanimously that the ban was not in breach of Article 14, which prohibits discrimination.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I would guess that most blog readers know little about this remarkable Anglican. Please avail yourselves of the many resources here to learn more.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Church of Nigeria* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissionsParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriology

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




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