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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Canadian authorities identified the gunman in the deadly shooting Wednesday of a soldier guarding the National War Memorial in Ottawa as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Canadian born in 1982. Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau, who had a criminal record, recently converted to Islam, senior American law enforcement officials said. He was shot and killed in the attack.
The episode was the second deadly assault on a uniformed member of Canada’s armed forces in three days, and the latest in a growing list of attacks in the West against soldiers, and in some cases civilians, by individuals who have professed their affinity for radical Islam or sympathy to militant ideology.
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China's newly announced switch to a two-child population control policy does not resolve the coercive nature of the program, pro-life leaders say.
The disclosure of the change came even as the communist government imposes the most severe oppression in four decades, according to a leading advocate for the Chinese church.
Christians face the "worst persecution in China since the Cultural Revolution," Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid, said in an article by Christian Today on Oct. 9.
That description is justified, Fu explained to BP in written comments in an email interview...[yesterday] (Oct. 22), due to "both the large scale and the severe degree of [the] violent crackdown" against not only the unregistered house churches but against the government-approved Three-Self Patriotic Movement congregations. About 300 churches have either been destroyed or had crosses forcibly removed recently in an ongoing campaign, and various believers have been arrested, Fu said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Asia China * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
In 1999, after receiving allegations of sexual abuse by a priest in his province, Lord Hope, then Archbishop of York, wrote a letter of apology, aware that "this whole business will have caused you deep disquiet and distress and a considerable degree of sadness and pain."
The letter was sent not to the survivor, but to the abusive priest. On Wednesday, it was published as part of a strongly critical report on the Church's response to allegations of abuse against the priest, the former Dean of Manchester, the late Robert Waddington. It details how the failure to implement policies meant that victims were denied an opportunity to see their abuser brought to justice.
The report is the result of an inquiry commissioned last year by the present Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, after a joint investigation by The Times in London and The Australian newspaper in Sydney had revealed allegations against Waddington dating back decades.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has apologised to victims of sexual abuse by a former cathedral dean.
Dr Sentamu was responding to a report into how abuse allegations against the Very Rev Robert Waddington, formerly dean of Manchester, were handled.
His predecessor was criticised for not acting on allegations in the report, which found "systemic failures" within the Church of England.
At least two men made claims of abuse in 1999 and at sometime in 2003-04.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
With all Canadians my heart is very heavy with the news of the killing of a Canadian soldier, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, while on honour guard duty at the National War Memorial in Ottawa today.
This follows all too soon on the killing of another member of the Canadian Armed Forces in Quebec, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, just days ago.
I ask your prayers for these men, for their loved ones stricken with grief, and for the Canadian Armed Forces chaplains who are ministering to them.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary Canada
Federal sources have identified the suspected shooter as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a man in his early 30s who was known to Canadian authorities.
Sources told The Globe and Mail that he was recently designated a “high-risk traveller” by the Canadian government and that his passport had been seized – the same circumstances surrounding the case of Martin Rouleau-Couture, the Quebecker who was shot Monday after running down two Canadian Forces soldiers with his car.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * International News & Commentary Canada * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Judaism
Presented October 1 to the Episcopal Business Administrators Conference (EBAC) at the group’s annual gathering in New York, Bishop Sauls details the many ways that the Missionary Society can partner with and support mission and ministry at the local level.
“The fundamental mission of the church is to remember about God,” said Bishop Sauls, who serves as the Chief Operating Officer of The Episcopal Church. “That’s why the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society exists. To help you remind the church about God. That’s why we’re in business – to support the work you do.”
Read it all and note the link to the video presentation.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Beginning just over a century ago, all this changed. Catholics and Protestants alike have now embraced a new ecclesiology based on the consumer model. Adam Graber tells us that this huge shift was sparked by the invention of the automobile: “How Cars Created the Megachurch and put churchgoers in the driver’s seat.” As recently as the turn of the last century my great-grandparents, who lived in rural southeast Michigan, attended a Friends Church. Not because they were Quakers, but because it was near their farm and thus easily accessible. In their world, a megachurch would have been an impossibility. If you couldn’t walk or ride a horse or horse-drawn vehicle over unpaved country roads, you simply couldn’t get there at all.
Now virtually every family has at least one automobile, and this reality has transformed not only our cities, but also our churches. Here’s Graber:
Cars have made distance less of a factor in our lives. For this reason, church goers can choose from a marketplace of churches. But in order to decide, they have to narrow down the options, and when they do, they (naturally) consider their personal preferences first. They’ll try on different churches and see what “fits.”The most important consequence of this trend is that the gathered church—as distinct from the church as corpus Christi, which is all-encompassing—has been reduced to a mere voluntary association of like-minded individuals who can join and quit, or come and go at their discretion. The church, like any other commodity in the marketplace, exists only to serve the needs of its individual members.
Pastors, in reaction, are today forced to account for these new dynamics of affinity. Because church shoppers are exploring their options, area pastors often respond by targeting “felt needs.” For pastors, attracting and retaining church goers often means preaching on the topics people are looking for.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Travel * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
A week after a Washington rabbi was charged with videotaping women disrobing for ritual baths as they converted to Judaism, the national association of modern Orthodox rabbis said Monday that it would require the appointment of ombudswomen to handle any concerns from women about the conversion process.
The association, the Rabbinical Council of America, is eager to contain the damage from the arrest of Rabbi Barry Freundel, a prominent modern Orthodox rabbi who served on the council’s executive committee and, from 2006 to 2013, presided over its committee on conversions. Rabbi Freundel had been considered an advocate for women’s rights in Orthodox Judaism. The local United States attorney’s office has charged him with using a camera concealed in a clock radio to film women as they showered or changed for immersion in the ritual bath, called a mikvah.
The council said Monday that it would not only require the appointment of an ombudswoman for each regional tribunal of rabbis overseeing conversions, but would also name a commission, which would include women as members, to recommend ways to prevent conversion abuses.
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United Methodist Church leaders recently announced they are closing the Wilderness Retreat and Development Center, as well as three other camps the denomination operated in Missouri. Together, the camps served about 2,000 children this summer.
“I’ve wanted to get married at Wilderness since I was 11,” Dyer said. “I have a boyfriend I want to marry, and now they’re taking away my camp.”
The announcement by the church’s Camping and Retreat Board sparked an instant social media campaign — complete with hashtags, blogs, online petitions and more than 2,000 Facebook likes — in an effort to roll back the decision.
The discussion in the Kansas City area has been particularly lively because of its proximity to Wilderness, which hosted more than 600 children at summer camp this year, said D. Garrett Drake, a clergyman and conference staff member who advises the camping board.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship Youth Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist
Pope Francis will travel to Turkey next month, the Vatican said on Tuesday, his first visit to the predominantly Muslim country which has become a refuge for Christians fleeing persecution by Islamic State militants in neighboring Syria and in Iraq.
During his three-day visit, the pope will meet with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. He will also meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the Orthodox churches that make up the second-largest Christian church family after Roman Catholicism.
"The Holy Father will visit Ankara and Istanbul from Nov. 28 to 30," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary Europe Turkey * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology
Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five from the Punjab province, was accused and convicted of “defiling the name of the Prophet Mohammed” in 2009 and sentenced to death. Bibi asserted after her death sentence in 2010 that the allegations against her were fabricated by a group of women who did not like her.
Two prominent politicians who called for her release were both murdered and another forced into hiding. Haroon Barkat Masih, director of the Masihi Foundation, stated that many interests are at stake behind Bibi’s case. Too many vested interests and too much pressure that, in the end, cover up the truth of the facts, he said in an interview with Fides News Agency.
Read it all.
The percentage of Alabamians not affiliated with a specific religion surpasses the percentage of white mainline Protestants, ranking it third among "religious" groups, according to new research.
The American Values Atlas was compiled by the Public Religion Research Institute and Social Science Research Solutions, and was released in late September. It found that 14 percent of Alabamians describe themselves as "unaffiliated" when asked about their religious tradition. The "unaffiliated" category ranks third behind white evangelical Protestants (36 percent) and black Protestants (18 percent).
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A bishop has warned the Church of England must make wholesale change to halt the slide in attendance, or wither away in the 21st century.
Rt Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, said he feared unless the Church reinvented itself in his own diocese, it would disappear like the region’s textile industry.
The warning from Bishop Henderson follows similar concerns from colleagues around the country that urgent action is needed to prevent dwindling numbers heralding the end of the Church.
Bishop Henderson made the warning as he launched a 12-year-plan to attract younger people to the Church.
Read it all from the Telegraph.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Young Adults * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Soteriology
If the left does own popular culture, it's because they worked hard for it, employing the conservative values of perseverance and creativity. There is a chasm that separates the infrastructure that the left has erected over the last 50 years to celebrate and interpret popular culture and the tiny space that establishment conservatism allocates to popular culture. It is for this reason, more than any claim that American popular culture is irredeemably decadent and leftist, that the right seems lost in the world of movies, music, and bestsellers. Every month, if not every week, important works of popular culture go unnoticed by the right. These are often things that speak to people's souls -- films that wrestle with questions of honor, novels, like Le Guin's about the meaning of sex and politics, music that explores the limits of self-sacrificial love.
And the right has nothing to contribute to the conversation.
In 1967 a college student named Jann Wenner borrowed $7,500 and founded Rolling Stone magazine because he wanted to cover the music and culture that was providing poetry to his generation. Around the same time a student named Martin Scorsese was graduating from New York University's film school, and a young would-be novelist named Ursula Le Guin was having her first five novels rejected. In other words, these artists, and many others, laid the groundwork for what they would eventually become -- the liberal establishment. They played the long game. This is why if musician Mark Turner had been inspired by Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, a book that imagines a race that can change its gender, there would be an interview in the New York Times, play on the internet, a mention in Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, maybe even a spot on Letterman. The structure is in place so that when an artist reinforces dominant liberal values, he or she has an instant pipeline to the people.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Art Books Education Media Music Philosophy Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
It would be foolish to claim that this framework alone will resolve everything. Easy access to pornography, the hook-up culture, and media portrayals of recreational sex as the norm are difficult to counter. The social expectations that are producing ever more exorbitant wedding events do not get the attention they deserve.
The widening practice of cohabitation is vexing in another way. Young people hesitating to vow themselves to one another permanently are perpetuating the culture of contingency even though they have often been its victims—for example, as children of divorce. And even if the contingency of cohabitation makes lasting relationships somewhat less likely, it does approximate and thus honor marriage in some ways.
So the church and its leaders need great pastoral wisdom to do two things simultaneously:
Walk back from the culture of contingency by explaining and insisting in fresh ways that God intends for active sexuality to belong uniquely to marriage.
Work compassionately with those who have embraced the relative fidelity of cohabitation, even if they have not yet moved to embrace a covenant of marriage or a vocation of celibacy.
If we aim for these two goals, Christians will be better able to speak clearly and work energetically because together we’ll affirm that marriage is good—for everyone.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
At some point, young people contemplating a clerical career will have to consider just how long there will indeed be a church for them to serve.
This isn’t meant to be panic-mongering, and infinite extrapolations rarely follow exact lines. But if any church is losing 2.6 percent of its attenders every year – not every decade – it should be deeply alarmed. Why isn’t it?
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Departing Parishes TEC Data TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology
CS: You attended an Assemblies of God college; now you identify as an atheist. How did you get where you are today?
JM: I was homeschooled on a farm by my parents. They were really involved in our local Assemblies of God church. That was my entire upbringing: There was homeschooling and there was church. So church was my social outlet. As a kid, virtually everybody I knew was religious.
I ended up going to an Assemblies of God school—their most notable alumni include Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. It wasn’t until the very tail end of my college career that I started actually questioning my faith.
It was actually based on an assignment that I had to do for a Bible class that I was taking. I had to write a paper on 1 Corinthians 11 and I just thought, “Okay, this will be easy.” So I started researching it and found out that nobody really has any idea what that passage means. Whatever the reason, that really bothered me. I thought that the Bible was 100 percent the inerrant word of God.
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VALENTE: Transgender isn’t the same as being homosexual or merely cross-dressing. It’s a far more complex phenomenon known clinically as “gender dysphoria,” a severe discontent with one’s assigned sex. Transgender people often take hormones and have surgery to become more like the opposite sex. A little over a year ago, Becker began injecting testosterone. He had his breasts surgically removed.
transgenders-and-theology-post01BECKER: My only regret is throughout this entire process is not starting it sooner.
VALENTE: Emboldened by the new Amazon Online series "Transparent" and "Orange is the New Black" on Netflix, which features a transgender actress, transgender individuals are increasingly speaking out about their needs and their lives. An Episcopal priest recently came out as transgender, and a community of Carmelite nuns in Canada just accepted a novice with both male and female physical characteristics. The novice, Tia Michelle Pesando, has written a book called Why God Doesn’t Hate You.
OWEN DANIEL-MCCARTER (Transgender Activist, Chicago House): Even in the past 14 years, it is an incredible change in the visibility of transgender people in the media, the number of transgender activist organizations, people who are trying to change the law, and the medical system for trans people. It’s remarkable.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary England / UK
Since 1990, the percentage of unchurched adults in America has risen from 30% to 43% of the population. Even as this segment has grown, has their profile changed?
With the aid of more than two decades of tracking research—a sort of cultural time-lapse photography—Barna Group has discovered real and significant shifts in unchurched attitudes, assumptions, allegiances and behaviors. We’ve identified five trends in our research that are contributing to this increase in the churchless of America.
This new study of the unchurched population comes in conjunction with the release of Churchless, a new book from veteran researchers George Barna and David Kinnaman. Churchless draws on more than two decades of tracking research and more than 20 nationwide studies of the unchurched.
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Huntington’s sensitivity to religion-and-world-politics ought to have commended his analysis to the Vatican for thoughtful consideration and serious discussion. Instead, Huntington-the-straw-man-who-prophesied-endless-civilizational-war is dragged out whenever it’s deemed necessary for officials of the Holy See to say that “a war between Islam and ‘the rest’ is not inevitable” (true, if the civil war within Islam is resolved in favor of those Muslims who support religious tolerance and pluralism); or that Christian persecution and dislocation in the Middle East must be handled through the United Nations (ridiculous); or that the path to peace lies through dialogue, not confrontation (true, if there is a dialogue partner who is not given to beheading “the other”).
The Huntington proposal is not beyond criticism. But Huntington accurately described the Great Change that would take place in world politics after the wars of late modernity (the two 20th-century world wars and the Cold War); he accurately predicted what was likely to unfold along what he called Islam’s “bloody borders” if Islamists and jihadists went unchecked by their own fellow-Muslims; and he accurately identified the fact that religious conviction (or the lack thereof, as in Europe) would play an important role in shaping the 21st-century world. Thirteen years after 9/11, and in light of today’s headlines, is Huntington’s proposal really so implausible?
There is something very odd about a Holy See whose default positions include a ritualized deprecation of the Huntington thesis married to a will-to-believe about the U.N.’s capacity to be something more than an echo chamber.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Africa America/U.S.A. Asia England / UK Europe Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A struggling Presbyterian congregation with roots going back more than a century has decided to close its doors.
Beset by financial problems — brought on in part by a for-profit day care center it opened — New Life Presbyterian Church at 3410 W. Silver Spring Drive voted last month to dissolve itself. The church is the latest iteration of a Milwaukee congregation founded as Newminster Presbyterian in the late 1800s.
Now, the Presbytery of Milwaukee will take up the issue at a special meeting at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Greenfield Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1455 S. 97th St., in West Allis. The presbytery, which has contributed some $250,000 to New Life over the years, will spend an additional $60,000 to get its financial affairs in order.
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In an age of smartphones, instant messaging and 24/7 availability, it’s increasingly hard to find time to step away and reconnect with one’s self, especially in fast-paced tech hubs like Silicon Valley.
But before you lock your smartphone in a closet for an hour a day, check out some of the apps and websites available for learning and practicing the ancient art of meditation and the more contemporary mindfulness-based stress reduction.
You don’t need a new gadget to meditate — all the equipment necessary comes installed in the product.
But some meditation and mindfulness trainers are using technology in interesting ways. They range from simple meditation timers to complete courses.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Rev. Don Flowers was at breakfast with a group of minister friends in New York City when he heard news of the U.S. Supreme Court decision not to review a case overturning Virginia's gay marriage ban.
The pastors sat stunned, unsure what it meant, shocked at the speed things could start moving. Talk swiftly turned to ramifications ahead.
Flowers, pastor of Providence Baptist Church on Daniel Island, realized what it could mean back home: Gay marriage could become legal - and soon.
"A grenade has just been thrown down our aisles," Flowers said.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
A call to reflect, pray and take action on child poverty, from the bishops of the Anglican Church.
In a new booklet, they're asking Anglicans to keep up the focus on child poverty, even with the election done and dusted.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia * Culture-Watch Children Poverty Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ
If you thought Nigeria had the release of the 219 Chibok schoolgirls sealed up in Friday’s ceasefire agreement with Danladi Ahmadu, Boko Haram’s self-styled secretary-general, President Goodluck Jonathan has thrown another twist into the whole matter.
In a message to Nigeria’s intending Christian Pilgrims, he urged them to pray not just for a peaceful, successful conduct of the 2015 election, but also the safe return of the abducted Chibok girls.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Teens / Youth Violence Women * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Anglican Church in Adelaide has backed an earlier move by the church nationally to let its priests break the confidentiality of confessions.
Earlier this year, the national synod met in Adelaide and voted for an historic change to let priests ignore the privacy of the confessional in cases of serious crimes, such as child abuse.
That national meeting said it would be up to individual dioceses to adopt the policy, a vote the Adelaide diocese has taken this weekend.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Check them both out and see what you think.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
All About Jazz: What would you say is the connection between the deep pathos found within jazz music and the biblical notion of the seat of emotion?
Jeremy Begbie: A great deal of jazz has a streak of pathos, a kind of dark color to it, however joyful or celebratory the piece as a whole may be. A part of that is the pervasiveness of the blues, the blues scale, which brings a tinge of lament and restlessness to the music. Moreover, the blues brings to us the awareness of the fragility and sometimes the injustice of life. Jazz at its best faces up to these things, and actually incorporates those darker tones into a "bigger picture." That's the real miracle of this music: the way it can take up dissonance into a dynamic of hope. I think that's what the best kinds of jazz are doing.
AAJ: How can we relate this idea to the Gospel?
JB: Well, this is very basic to the Gospel, in that, injustice, suffering, and evil are not ignored but are faced and through the cross taken up into God's purposes. So there are very strong resonances here between jazz and the Christian faith.
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Asia Bibi’s death sentence was upheld by the Lahore High Court in Pakistan on Thursday. Bibi, a Roman Catholic mother of five also known as Aasiya Noreen, was sentenced to die in 2010 after she was convicted of blasphemy. Bibi’s Muslim coworkers accused her of drinking the same water as them and verbally challenging their faith.
“I met Asia in prison a month ago. She’s fine and was hoping to hear good news, but, alas, our ordeal is not over yet,” Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, told Morning Star News after yesterday’s decision.
World Watch Monitor reports that Bibi’s attorney Naeem Shakir challenged the testimony of the women who feuded with Bibi, arguing to the appellate court that their testimony had been hearsay because the complainant in the case had not heards Bibi’s words himself. The judges ignored Sharkir’s critiques, suggesting he should have raised them the trial level.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Asia Pakistan * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
...what if living a radical life isn’t what Christ desires for us? What if He’s far more interested in how we approach the mundane, the everydayness of life?
That’s the premise of Michael Horton’s balancing new book Ordinary: Sustaining Faith in a Radical, Restless World. Horton believes we need to question “false values, expectations, and habits that we have absorbed, taken for granted, and even adopted with a veneer of piety.” (27)
Horton suggests we’ve got a problem, the problem of everydayness: “our lives are motivated by a constant expectation for The Next Big Thing.” (16) Instead of dedicating ourselves to ordinary, everyday callings and people we chase after the radical, the revolutionary, the dramatic. He insists that “Changing the world can be a way of actually avoiding the opportunities we have every day, right where God has placed us…” (16)
So how did we get here and where do we need to go? Horton argues the everyday became so yesterday starting with Boomers, and this has been perpetuated by their children and grandchildren. And the path beyond is a refocusing around God’s own focus...
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...it’s not surprising that a narrative of spiritually and religiously illiterate young adults would catch on. But the dominance of a narrative does not make it truthful, as any evaluator of history or prophet can tell you, and the orthodoxy-ambivalent college student is a narrative that I think deserves particular challenging.
In my first book, Tables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again, I attempt with the naive zeal of youth to turn some of this folly on its head. I describe my feelings — not anger, again, a dominant narrative — toward the Christian church, my experience seeking out a communal faith experience, and even my desire for orthodoxy. There is nothing essentially remarkable about any of that, unless you defer to the narrative that Millennials are incapable of serious engagement with faith.
There is no question that Millennials are different in articulating their faith experience than previous generations, but I believe what is fundamentally different has less to do with whether or not we care about faith, but what about faith we care about. What has changed is not our concern over questions of orthodoxy, but the kinds of questions of orthodoxy we ask.
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By the nineteenth century...natural philosophy had become more natural and less philosophy. Theology and natural science were substantially separated. Apologetic natural theology — arguing that God can be deduced from nature — was now mostly for the theologians. The language of physics had become measurement and mathematics, and the objective of science had become a description of the world of nature in its own terms, rather than through the purposes of a Creator. As a result, it is tempting to read the science of that era as if it were completely independent of the religious commitments of its practitioners. But it wasn’t.
Because Victorian scientists are of interest to us mostly owing to their scientific contributions, their religious beliefs tend to be treated as incidental conformities to the conventions of the day — as if these figures were proto-rationalists and proto-materialists who, without the benefit of our full present enlightenment, had not completely shaken off the superstitions of an earlier age. This caricature is demeaning and mistaken, as can be illustrated by the lives and ideas of two men who were arguably the greatest physical scientists of their time, and among the greatest of all time: Michael Faraday (1791–1867) and James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879).
The two men had very different backgrounds. Faraday was English; Maxwell Scottish. Faraday was the son of a blacksmith of limited means; Maxwell’s father had inherited a substantial estate and hardly needed to practice the law in which he had been trained. Faraday had only a basic, grade-school education; Maxwell had the finest education available. Faraday was one of the most popular scientific lecturers of his day; Maxwell gained a poor reputation in the classroom. Faraday knew practically no formal mathematics; Maxwell was one of the finest mathematicians of his time. Faraday’s research became dominant for experimentation in electricity and magnetism; Maxwell’s for electromagnetic theory. One experience they had in common: both were committed Christians. Yet even here fascinating contrasts existed between the religious traditions to which they belonged and the ways their spiritual commitments influenced and strengthened their science.
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This “different spirit” is the key to Welby’s thinking, and it is not one that can be entrusted to our politicians. Whether we choose to accept religious belief or not, it does not alter the reality that religious faith and ideologies hold far more power than guns and bombs. In the first three centuries of the Church it had no armies and pitched no battles, yet it overcame the Roman Empire through love and a gospel of God’s peace. Religious leaders need to be given a place at the top table as much as military commanders. Their insights into the role of religious belief as a driving force in individuals’ lives, along with their status, hold great value and potential to change the stakes.
There is an onus, too, on all of our religious leaders to take the initiative and become more outspoken, addressing those both inside and outside of their respective religions:
Religious leaders must up their game and engage jihadism in religious, philosophical and ethical space. Religious justifications of violence must be robustly refuted. That is, in part, a theological task, as well as being a task that recognises the false stimulation, evil sense of purpose and illusory fulfilment that deceive young men and women into becoming religious warriors. As we have seen recently, many religious leaders have the necessary (and very great) moral and physical courage to see the need for an effective response to something that they have condemned. It is essential that Christians are clear about the aim of peace and the need for joint working and that Muslim leaders continue explicitly to reject extremism, violent and otherwise. Any response must bring together all those capable of responding to the challenge.Justin Welby talks about treasuring and preserving our values, but also of reshaping them. This would appear to be contradictory, but the context suggests that he is referring to both the values that have built peace and progress and also those that we have developed that bear the hallmarks of selfishness and self-preservation.
This is the battle that Justin Welby is calling for.
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In five decades, the number of people with no religion in Britain has grown from just 3 per cent of the population to nearly half, according to a new survey. Among adults aged under 25, nearly two-thirds define themselves as "nones", or people with no religious affiliation.
The findings present an enormous challenge for the churches over how they make faith appealing to young people, in a world where many young will be appalled at how the male-dominated church leadership has made discrimination against women and homosexuals a defining feature of orthodox mission.
If the trends continue, Methodists will be extinct in a few decades and the Church of England also faces massive decline by the end of the century.
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What is really happening at this synod is an earnest effort by pastors of the church to determine how best to encourage people to live the Catholic faith. This is no easy task. A move too far in the direction of merely repeating old formularies will not work. A move away from what constitutes the very definition of what it means to be Catholic will not only erode the church’s self-identity and betray her founder’s mandate, it will also insult and alienate many Catholics who strive to live by the church’s teachings. This is what we pastors call the art of pastoral practice.
The practice is best modeled by Jesus’ encounter with the woman “caught in the very act of adultery” (John 8: 1-11). His interlocutors somehow thought that they could drive a wedge between his allegiance to biblical law and mercy. So they cast the woman before him and demanded that he say whether she should be stoned, as the law stipulated. The tension built as Jesus doodled in the sand. Finally he replied, “Let you who is without sin cast the first stone.”
The story does not end there. Jesus turned to the woman at his feet and delivered gentle, memorable words—a message that makes the whole story an encounter of faithful mercy: “Go and sin no more.” If this model—finding the balance between justice and mercy, which are often in tension—weighs heavily on the minds of bishops gathered in Rome, that will be an achievement for the church and its pastoral model.
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Dr. Samuel Kabue, coordinator of the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network says, "The inclusion of persons with disability is not an option but a defining characteristic of the Church."
Members of EDAN, a program of the World Council of Churches, met in the Netherlands to develop a new statement with the working title "Gift of Being: Called to be a Church of All and for All."
The new document aims to build on the WCC interim statement on disability "A Church of All and for All" issued in 2003, the WCC said in a statement.
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So the first wall is the wall of withdrawal. Many of my Christian friends perceive a growing difference between the secular world and the Christian world, the difference between Jay-Z and Hillsong and the Jesus culture. The difference between Quentin Tarantino and Eugene Peterson, Richard Dawkins and Henri Nouwen, Columbia College and Calvin College. Many of my friends fear they are being written out of polite society because they believe in the Gospel. With that comes a psychology of an embattled minority. With that comes a defensiveness and a withdrawal, a fear, and a withdrawal into sub-culture. I certainly have friends how live in a sub-culture, work in a sub-culture, Christian in the sub-culture, socialize in the sub-culture, and if you live in a broader society, that is governed by the spiritual longing that doesn’t know how to express itself, is withdrawing into your own separate sub-culture really the right thing to do.
I think that’s being governed by fear and not love.
The second wall is the wall of condescension. In a lot of the walls come from a unique psychology which I have observed. Which is a weird mixture of – this is going to sound a little rude – in the Christian culture a mixture of wanton intellectual inferiority complex combined with a spiritual superiority complex.
And the second wall is the wall of condescension. There is sometimes a belief among some people that those who have been with Christ a long time can adopt a paternal attitude toward those who have not been with Christ, or who have come to Christ recently. And this is a caring condescension. It’s people wanting to help. But it’s also a form of pride to know the route God has chosen for each of us. It’s a form of closed-mindedness. It’s off-putting. People who have come to Christ recently may not at all, may not have lived in the church for very long. But they have lived, and read and thought and they haven’t come back from these experiences with empty hands and they have as much to teach as to learn.
The third wall is the wall of bad listening.
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A leading Nigerian evangelical, Samuel Kunhiyop, author of African Christian Ethics,serves as general secretary of Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), a 5-million-member denomination in Nigeria. ECWA has been doing frontline evangelism in Nigeria since 1954. In recent years, this group has planted hundreds of congregations in Muslim areas of Nigeria. Kunhiyop spoke with Timothy C. Morgan, CT's senior editor for global journalism.
Is Nigeria as bad as we read in news headlines?
It’s even worse. Hundreds of churches have been destroyed, over 50 in Kano alone. One church and ministry has been built seven times and destroyed seven times. Another has been built three times and destroyed three times. Pastors have been murdered in their houses. Another was murdered in the church during a prayer service.
The situation is much worse further north in Yobe and Borno states, the headquarters of Boko Haram. People have fled residences where their forefathers lived for generations. Christians have been the victims.
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After nearly 20 years as lead pastor of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll has resigned. Driscoll, 44, had faced mounting criticism over church leadership and discipline within Mars Hill and how he wrote and promoted his popular books.
The decision came less than two months after Driscoll stepped down from leadership while the church investigated charges against him. Earlier in August, he had been removed from the church planting network he founded, Acts 29.
In a statement, the church's board of overseers accepted his resignation, but emphasized that they had not asked Driscoll to resign and were surprised to receive his letter.
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Although Hansard now records the ABC’s response to Lady Howe’s Q4, in view of the nature of the debate and his non-governmental position, such assurances carry different weight from those made by a government minister at the dispatch box and subsequently relied upon under Pepper v Hart.
With regard to the application of the Equality Act, the Archbishop’s specification of “parochial appointments” implicitly acknowledges that the House of Bishops considers other appointments differently, i.e. hospital chaplains. With regard to remarriage after divorce, this dispensation is not strictly within the gift of the bishops, as clergy are provided a “conscience clause” directly through s8(2) Matrimonial Causes Act 1965.
On Monday 20 October, the House of Commons will consider the Motion: “To approve a Church of England Measure relating to women bishops”. Following the expected vote in favour, the Measure will be presented to the monarch for Royal Assent after which it becomes part of the law of the land.
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Attalaf al Nour, a farmer who lives in Iraq’s Sunni heartland, long enjoyed a simple life that revolved around livestock, crops and trips to the city to sell his grain.
But since July, when Islamic State militants swept into Iraq, his world has been upended by new geographic and political borders that don’t yet appear on any map. They are fracturing Iraq’s fragile cohesion by forcing thousands of families to cross, at their peril, militant checkpoints to reach their markets, schools and jobs.
“Iraq is broken like never before, thanks to Daaesh,” said Mr. Nour, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State. “We are all divided and our lives are now upside down.”
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Another question has to do with the relationship between the seminary and the Church (large C, meaning denominations). Churches started seminaries. People who are heavily invested in Church have funded these institutions. Churches entrust their candidates to seminaries so that they might be equipped to pastor, teach, and lead us. Since Dunkle and Copenhaver are ordained ministers, should the Church be consulted? Should the boards listen to our denominations? Of course, the lines are blurry. Boards and Churches are often members of one another. But I’m wondering about the relationship on an official capacity, should there be more mutuality in place when making such major decisions? Decisions that could have a major impact on the seminary's future viability?
Churches have worked hard to make sure that standards in place, particularly when it comes to women, people of color, and a variety of sexual orientations. If the reports are valid, Dunkle has acted far outside of the Church’s professional standards. Should a seminary president (who is also ordained) be held to the same standards that we expect of the pastors?
Churches have worked hard to make sure that standards are in place when it comes to sexual relationships. We all have friends and loved ones who have been caught in scandals. Forgiveness and love are extremely important. The Church has figured out ways in which pastors are cared for and brought into reconciliation with their community and calling. This looks different in different circumstances. Sometimes the person needs to step down from pastoral duties, consent to spiritual direction, or go to therapy. Pastors work to make amends with their families and their communities.
In both cases, it seems like there has been a disregard of the Church.
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The church has faced steep losses since the early 2000s with a perfect storm of changing demographics, low fertility and departures by traditionalists.
The 2013 reporting year saw a continuation of the downward trend, with a membership drop of 27,423 to 1,866,758 (1.4 percent) while attendance dropped 16,451 to 623,691 (2.6 percent). A net 45 parishes were closed, and the denomination has largely ceased to plant new congregations.
The new numbers do not factor in the departure of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, of which the church continues to report over 28,000 members and over 12,000 attendees, despite the majority of South Carolina congregations severing their relationship with the Episcopal Church at the end of 2012. If South Carolina departures were factored in, the membership loss would be closer to 50,000 persons.
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Some of the most interesting debates taking place in Catholicism these days on family and marriage issues revolve around the work of gay Catholics who are orthodox in their stance on church teachings, as articulated in the Catechism and elsewhere.
Yes, this is a complex crowd. There are important debates in these circles about the degree to which homosexual orientation itself should be seen as a unique gift from God and, by implication, a part of God's plan for creation. There are also debates here about the degree to which sexual orientation should be openly celebrated as a key source of a person's public identity. (Can orthodox Catholics use "gay" language in a way that is positive and helps the church?) I get all of that.
All I am saying is that the language used in these discussions is often very close to the language that news consumers are hearing from the Vatican – filtered through the political, not doctrinal, lens of the press. The "tone" of the discussions in this niche in Catholic thought, and some content, is very similar to the current Vatican language that we are reading.
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The leader of the Church of England has spoken of his plan for Britain’s “ambitious” young bankers to give up work for a year and join a “quasi-monastic community” so they can learn about ethics ahead of entering the City.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has called on some of the UK’s brightest and most ambitious young bankers to quit work temporarily so they can pray and serve the poor.
He said he believed their natural ambition would encourage them to join his Godly community.
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When we began our quest for the 100 best Christian books, we knew that the material we were contemplating had already been through several refining fires. It had been worked on by its author, judged worthy to be published, and, over time, had impressed enough readers to be noticed — and, mostly, to be kept in print.
IT IS sometimes easy to forget it, given the variable quality of the books that come into the Church Times office for review, but works that get into print can be categorised, by and large, as quite good. Many that we review are not only good: some are very good. But “best”?
Best is, of course, a value judgement. We have kept it for this project because it is so obviously subjective. “Best” does not just cover a book’s intrinsic worth: it also prompts a consideration of what a book can achieve. Throughout our debate, we found ourselves balancing a title’s historical position with its place in our memories. A different set of judges on a different day — perhaps even the same set of judges — would certainly have come up with a different list.
But, perhaps, not that different.
Read it all and see what you make of their list.
Photographer Charlie Phillips talks to Dan Damon about the rituals and fashions of Afro-Caribbean funerals in London. Starting with the Windrush generation in the 1950s to today. Charlie's work will be published in the book 'How Great Thou Art'. The title for this book is borrowed from the popular hymn sung at funerals.
Watch the whole Youtube clip.
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Using strikingly open language, an interim report of a Vatican synod on modern family life says the church needs to welcome and appreciate gays, and offers a solution for divorced and remarried Catholics who want to receive Communion.
At a press conference to present the report, Cardinal Tagle of the Philippines said the most discussed topics at the Synod so far were the impact of poverty, war and immigration on families.
But one veteran Vatican journalist called the newly proposed language on gays and civil marriages a “pastoral earthquake.”
“Regarding homosexuals, it went so far as to pose the question whether the church could accept and value their sexual orientation without compromising Catholic doctrine,” said John Thavis, a former Rome bureau chief for Catholic News Service.
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Update: An AP article is here--read it all also.
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If Christians are to accept...so-called [same-sex] marriage, they must accept that our liturgies and our services, our pastors and priests, our forefathers and foremothers have been for centuries wrong about the meaning of marriage. What they heard, what the pastor read, what their grandparents knew to be true was wrong as rain. And not just a little wrong, but fundamentally mistaken about the most essential elements of marriage. If... [same-sex] marriage is right, then there is almost nothing in the old Book of Common Prayer that is right.
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One can contextualize the message of the Gospel well or poorly, and it is important to know not only the need for contextualization but also how to engage in the process appropriately. Paul Hiebert has helpfully suggested that there are four levels of contextualization: no contextualization, minimal contextualization, uncritical contextualization, and critical contextualization. The no contextualization approach understands the Christian faith as something that is not a part of human culture; it rejects the notion that culture shapes how one receives and practices Christianity. The minimal contextualization approach acknowledges that differences exist between cultures, but it tries to limit cultural adaptation as much as possible. Under this model, missionaries might translate the Bible into a foreign language but will likely arrange new church plants in a fashion similar to the churches in their home country. Uncritical contextualization tends to prioritize culture over the Gospel. It minimizes the eternal truths found in Scripture in order to emphasize cultural convictions and practices.
Critical contextualization seeks a balanced approach. In the words of Hiebert, in critical contextualization the Bible is seen as divine revelation, not simply as humanly constructed beliefs. In contextualization the heart of the gospel must be kept as it is encoded in forms that are understood by the people, without making the gospel captive to the contexts. This is an ongoing process of embodying the gospel in an ever-changing world. Here cultures are seen as both good and evil, not simply as neutral vehicles for understanding the world. No culture is absolute or privileged. We are all relativized by the gospel....
Out of all of these approaches, contemporary Christians should prefer critical contextualization.
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In a new publication, ISIS justifies its kidnapping of women as sex slaves citing Islamic theology, an interpretation that is rejected by the Muslim world at large as a perversion of Islam.
"One should remember that enslaving the families of the kuffar -- the infidels -- and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah, or Islamic law," the group says in an online magazine published Sunday.
The title of the article sums up the ISIS point of view: "The revival (of) slavery before the Hour," referring to Judgment Day.
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What are you afraid of? That’s what Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson asks writers who shy away from writing about faith.
The beloved author has won accolades after writing so openly about belief, but it remains a subject few other writers take on.
“It’s courageous of Robinson to write about faith at a time when associations with religion are so often negative and violent,” Diane Johnson wrote in her New York Times review of Robinson’s latest book, “Lila,” which was released Tuesday (Oct. 7).
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Is another way of putting it that the focus on divorced and remarried Catholics and on annulments risks overshadowing the bigger question, which is how to prevent marriages from breaking down in the first place?
Absolutely. The preventative approach is important. Of course, we never should be making a choice between helping people who are suffering and trying to prevent them from getting hurt in the first place. We have to do both.
What would be most useful to you as an American bishop out of this synod?
I think the most useful result would be a confirmation of the beauty of the Church’s teaching and a resolve on the part of the Church at all levels, not just the bishops, to support marriage and family.
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When asked how important it is to maintain the parish system 83% say it is important, 12% not important, and 5% have no strong feelings either way. There is no other topic in the survey (which asked 29 questions in total) on which there is such uniformity of opinion – except the belief that there is a ‘personal God’ (83%)....
One reason for the high level of support for the parish system may be clergy’s belief that the CofE exists to serve the whole nation. When asked who the Church should prioritise 2/3 say ‘England as a whole’ and only 5% say regular churchgoers.
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There are at least three levels of violence. The first demonstrates mere power and greed, with mobs and soldiers driving people out of their homes and businesses and into the streams of refugees. According to United Nations estimates, at least 1 million Iraqis have been displaced during the past four months.
The second level of everyday violence, she said bluntly, is "just shooting people."
On the third level, people move beyond deadly violence into unbelievable acts of terror. A Muslim who fled the fighting, said Ahmed, told her one story about what happened to some Iraqi men who could not flee fast enough. The Islamic State soldiers "lay them on the ground, after shooting them," and then rolled over the bodies with a tractor in "front of their families, just to devastate them."
[Andrew] White said those who survive are left haunted by what they have seen and, in some cases, what they themselves have done.
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With food and jobs scarce, and their savings depleted, Syrian Christians and their neighbors are struggling to provide for their families.
Despite their own trauma, many believers are choosing to stay in their beleaguered communities and reach out in love amid their neighbors' pain.
Christians in Syria have been able to distribute food with the help of Baptist Global Response, a Southern Baptist-related relief organization. Families also are receiving blankets and medical care. Children who have been out of school for years once again are being educated.
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The US-led coalition has unleashed more than 40 airstrikes on Anbar since August, helping drive Isis back from the critical Haditha dam.
However, the strikes have failed to blunt the militants’ overall advance, which has accelerated dramatically in the past three weeks. They have taken two military bases and a string of strategic towns, putting the Iraqi government’s already tenuous presence in Anbar at risk. Daily attacks on Iraqi security forces are taking place around the provincial capital, Ramadi.
After the capture of Hit last week, Ramadi and Haditha are now the only two government-held enclaves standing in the way of an unbroken Isis supply line running along the Euphrates river from Raqqa, its de facto capital in Syria, to Baghdad.
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After 16 years, Egypt has completed the restoration of a famous Cairo landmark — the St. Virgin Mary's Coptic Church, also known as the Hanging Church.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and the country's Coptic Christian pope, Tawadros II, attended the Saturday's ceremony marking the end of the $5.4 million restoration project.
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Despite the elusiveness of a common good, we can and indeed are called to pursue creative work for the good of others. We can do that regardless of whether we find ourselves within the acceptable mainstream or at the margins of society. That is the example of Martin Luther King Jr., John Perkins, Dorothy Day, Fanny Crosby, Sojourner Truth, and countless others who have gone before us. It is also the example of Jesus.
Our laws and our culture are in a state of flux, and we do not yet know what the new normal will look like. But we can move forward without knowing how the story ends, because of our faith in how the Story ends.
I am encouraged by what I see in the ministry of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. The enforcement of the all-comers policy against groups like InterVarsity is a cultural marker that these groups are now outside of the mainstream of acceptability on the campuses that they serve. But InterVarsity has largely avoided the language of persecution. It has also worked for years to cross race and class lines, and to learn from those differences.
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While Malala’s courage in defying the Taliban’s barbarism won her the admiration of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, her Pakistani detractors’ criticism reflects the national malaise that young Malala has committed herself to fight. Hundreds of young Pakistanis, most of them supporters of cricket icon Imran Khan, have started the #MalalaDrama hashtag on Twitter to describe Malala as a tool of the evil West who is seeking to impose Western values on Islamic Pakistan. A few on Twitter even called for her to be charged with blasphemy, the catch-all accusation frequently used in Pakistan against those advocating anything but the most primitive ideas. Luckily, she now lives in Birmingham, England, after having come to Britain for medical treatment for her head wound.
Malala began documenting life under the Taliban in 2009, after they took control in the Swat Valley of northwestern Pakistan and then tried to shut down her school. The Taliban and their Islamist supporters oppose education for girls, and their concept of education for boys is far from enlightened. A young village girl with little outside exposure, Malala wished to connect to the rest of the world. She says she was inspired by the Pakistani Benazir Bhutto, who became the Muslim world’s first woman prime minister and was killed in 2007 by terrorists for challenging their ideas.
By rejecting the Taliban’s version of Islam—which was being brutally imposed by force of arms—Malala showed greater foresight than many of Pakistan’s politicians, generals and public intellectuals who have gradually ceded space to extremist Islamists. She didn’t buy into the propaganda description of the Taliban as a nationalist reaction to U.S. dominance or Indian influence, recognizing them as a menace that would set the country back several centuries.
Read it all from the WSJ.
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I happened to come across these this week, and I haven't seen them since 1990 when we first caught them on boxing Day in England (really). French with english subtitles, beautifully filmed, and, perhaps most notably, full of Christian themes--KSH.
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I admire Isabel Sawhill deeply, but I respectfully disagree with this recommendation.
First, American marriage isn’t disappearing, it’s fracturing along class lines. In upscale America — about one-third of the society — marriage is thriving. Most people marry, few children (fewer than 10 percent) are born to unmarried mothers, and most children grow up through age 18 living with their two married parents. Among the more privileged, then, marriage clearly functions as a wealth-producing arrangement, a source of happiness over time, and a benefit to children.
Indeed, scholars today increasingly identify America’s marriage gap — in which the affluent reap the benefits of marriage while the non-affluent increasingly do not — as an important driver of rising American inequality. Wouldn’t it be odd, and sad, if American elites, at the very moment in which the role of marriage as both an indicator and producer of high status in their own lives is crystal clear, decided to throw up their hands in resignation when it comes to marriage in the rest of the society?
Second, changing what we support from “marriage” (a social institution) to “responsible parenthood” (a piece of advice) means downplaying the role of society and putting all responsibility on the individual.
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Most of the tutors, not all of whom are church members, have just finished a full day at work. “We never start by just opening the books,” said Jon Findley, a bank data-base manager who has been volunteering for 24 years. “These kids bring their day with them. So you listen. It’s important that they know someone wants to hear about their lives. I don’t want to be another person who lets them down.”
Since the program started in 1964—one night a week, that first year, in the church basement—more than 6,000 children have been taught. Now tutoring is available four nights a week. The children who journey downtown from some of the city’s bleakest, most dangerous neighborhoods could be excused for complaining about the hand life has dealt them. But complaining is easy; working to better oneself is hard. The volunteers could be excused—even commended—if they chose only to give money to charities instead. But writing a check is easy; being the person who does something—the one who shows up—is hard.
The rewards, though, are lasting. Tamatha Webster’s daughter no longer has to struggle to learn in chaotic classrooms. She has been a faithful attendee on tutoring nights for seven years now, and because of her intelligence and diligent work has been awarded a scholarship to one of Chicago’s finest private schools.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Books Children Education Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
“If there’s one thing that is essential in ministry it’s knowing that you are in the hands of, and that you belong to, God Himself. That He’s chosen you, that He’s called you, that you are precious to God.”
With these powerful words the Archbishop of Canterbury began his address to the Trinity College community at the start of their new term, speaking to a packed chapel of women and men heading towards leadership in the Church of England.
His message followed the theme of Isaiah 44, where God reaffirms Israel’s chosen status and reminds them that the One they belong to is more powerful than the mess they’re in, and so commands them not to be afraid.
Read it all and you can watch the whole Youtube video (about 12 1/2 minutes).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
Church of England clergy are overwhelmingly committed to the parish system, despite the challenges it poses, a new survey by YouGov suggests.
This is one of the clearest findings to come out of new research devised by the team behind last year's Westminster Faith Debates.
The survey asked 1500 Anglican clergy, chosen at random...how important the parish system was to them: 83 per cent said important, 12 per cent said not important, and five per cent held no strong view.
The only other of the 29 questions asked that generated such unanimity, regardless of church tradition, concerned the nature of God: 83 per cent believed in a personal God; nine per cent answered: "No one can know what God is like."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
Liberalism seems to have an irrational animus against Christianity. Consider these two stories highlighted in the last week by conservative Christian blogger Rod Dreher.
Item 1: In a widely discussed essay in Slate, author Brian Palmer writes about the prevalence of missionary doctors and nurses in Africa and their crucial role in treating those suffering from Ebola. Palmer tries to be fair-minded, but he nonetheless expresses "ambivalence," "suspicion," and "visceral discomfort" about the fact that these men and women are motivated to make "long-term commitments to address the health problems of poor Africans," to "risk their lives," and to accept poor compensation (and sometimes none at all) because of their Christian faith.
The question is why he considers this a problem.
Palmer mentions a lack of data and an absence of regulatory oversight. But he's honest enough to admit that these aren't the real reasons for his concern. The real reason is that he doesn't believe that missionaries are capable "of separating their religious work from their medical work," even when they vow not to proselytize their patients. And that, in his view, is unacceptable — apparently because he's an atheist and religion creeps him out. As he puts it, rather wanly, "It's great that these people are doing God's work, but do they have to talk about Him so much?"
Read it all and make sure to read the Rod Dreher article and the Slate article mentioned.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Missions * Culture-Watch Education Law & Legal Issues Media Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
In Detroit, a group of Catholics borrowed the idea of flash mobs for "Mass mobs" to help revitalize urban churches.
Every month, a group called Detroit Mass Mobs picks a church, spreads the word on Facebook — and just like that, it fills up and buzzes with the energy it once had.
St. Florian Catholic church is an eight-story, red-brick church built in 1908 by the Polish families who flocked here to work for Dodge, Ford and Packard. It seats 1,500 people, but normally only about 200 people attend noon Mass. On a recent Sunday, Thom Mann, an organizer with Detroit Mass Mob who's not a regular at St. Florian, had to get here early because, he says, "there'll be standing room only."
"People are upset that the churches are closing, but the simple reason is, people don't go," Mann says.
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The Church of England is on its "last chance" and must make some hard decisions about clergy and parishes if it is to have a future, according to a leading academic.
Linda Woodhead, professor in sociology of religion at Lancaster University, said: "What my and other people's research shows is that people of my age are the last generation who in large numbers care about the Church of England."
Prof Woodhead, aged 50, told Christian Today: "I am of the very last generation that has any interest in investing in the Church and to think about its future." She doubted that the Church would die out completely, but warned it was in danger of shrinking into small enclaves dominated by the white middle classes.
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Having spent most of his career writing original music for TV and film scores, as well as orchestral-choral / filmic music for commercial release and live performance, Steven wanted to do some composing that would bring together his two vocations: composing music for media and being an ordained minister in the Anglican Church.
The result was the Psalms Project, a contemporary journey through the vivid landscape of the Psalms, told in the musical language of feature films.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch History Media Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Theology: Scripture
...as I sat through presentations that explored the height and breadth and width and age of the cosmos, explanations of the expansiveness of time and space--all knowable only because of modern technology and learning--I was struck by a number of ancient truths.
First, as Richard Mouw (former President of Fuller Seminary) reminded us, God is slow. The universe is 13.4 billion years old (I think I’m remembering that correctly!). It took billions of years for life on earth to exist, much less for humans to populate it. That’s how much time God has. That’s how long God is willing to work in order to create and ultimately recreate this world. As we read in 2 Peter: "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
Second, God is faithful.
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For many evangelicals, the Osteens are on the periphery of Christianity. They represent the “prosperity gospel”—a message that claims that God will bless the faithful with financial gain. Prosperity preachers often live extravagant lifestyles and point to their wealth as evidence of their message. They often quote biblical passages, taking them very literally, to further their claims that God’s desire is health and wealth.
Many evangelicals, however, assert that God doesn’t work in this way. Faithfulness to God doesn’t mean blessings from above, especially in such worldly pursuits. They try to distance themselves from the prosperity gospel, claiming that it doesn’t represent Christianity but a misunderstanding of it.
It is possible, however, that the Osteens represent not the margins but the center of evangelicalism. Considering the Osteens’ popularity, they garner a sizable audience that shouldn’t be ignored. Additionally, when one compares the Osteens to other popular evangelical authors such as Max Lucado and Rick Warren, several patterns emerge, suggesting that Osteens aren’t that far from what most evangelicals are looking for.
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When I ask him how God fits into his understanding of the universe, Prof Cox says: “It doesn’t at all. I honestly don’t think about religion until someone asks me about it.” And that’s because, he explains, science is not about asking grand questions but very simple ones. The way to find out answers to big questions is “almost accidentally”.
Using physics that is beyond me, Prof Cox explains how his fridge shows that there is no afterlife (thermodynamics, apparently). But then he qualifies himself. “Philosophers would rightly point out that physicists making bland and sweeping statements is naive. There is naivety in just saying there’s no God; it’s b------s,” he says. “People have thought about this. People like Leibniz and Kant. They’re not idiots. So you’ve got to at least address that.”
He suspects that another civilisation exists in the observable universe, given that it contains 350 billion galaxies. But they would be so far away that we’d never make contact. “
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The Archbishop of York has been challenged over "discrimination" against a gay clergyman who married his same-sex partner.
Jeremy Pemberton can no longer work as a priest in Nottinghamshire and has been blocked from taking a job as a hospital chaplain in the county.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell challenged the archbishop over the case as he arrived at Southwell Minster.
However, Dr John Sentamu said he could not comment due to legal reasons.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
A parish priest and a number of Christians have been kidnapped from a Syrian village near the border with Turkey, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said on Tuesday.
The Latin Patriarchate, which oversees Latin Church Catholics in Israel and neighbouring countries, said Father Hanna Jallouf had been kidnapped on the night of Oct. 5 in Knayeh, a small Christian village. It said his kidnappers were brigades linked to the Islamist Nusra Front.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary Middle East Syria * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches
When I was 8 I decided I didn’t want to go to church anymore and I refused to go every Sunday. As far as I was concerned, church was a venue for weddings and funerals, nothing else.
I didn’t give my faith any more thought until I was in my 30s.
To my horror, my wife had started going to church and had decided to become a Christian. I refused to talk to her about church or her faith because I thought she had been taken in by the “cult” and did my best to talk her out of it.
I thought we had been happy together, both believing in God, but not Jesus. Now she was even happier, talking about her faith in Christ, going to church and reading the bible through choice.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
The court, now entering its second decade under Mr Justice Brian McGovern, has shone a light into some dark recesses of Ireland’s financial and business world, exposing greed and human misery on a grand scale alongside some shoddy and dubious, accounting, auditing, banking, business, legal, regulatory and stockbroking practices.
It has heard of property and other deals involving misappropriation, forged signatures, deceit, lies and secret profits; suspect property and money transfers aimed at avoiding repayment; exorbitant expenses for senior bankers; and slipshod and questionable loans, investments and valuations.
It has also shown existing laws provide limited opportunity to penalise some of these practices and revealed gaps in legislation on corporate crime, including the absence of an offence of reckless lending.
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He urged the Catholic Church not to “capitulate to culture” nor to succumb to a weakening of discipline that he said had “caused havoc” within the Anglican Church. He said that he had watched the growth of the ordinariate with close interest.
“Allowing Anglican patrimony to flourish should not just be taken as an exception, but it could be a charter for the future,” he said.
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The Rt. Rev. Kee Sloan’s new novel “Jabbock” is almost a lifetime in the making.
Now a bishop in the Episcopal Church for the Diocese of Alabama, Sloan first put pen to paper while in seminary in 1978. The story, he said, is that of a young man growing up south of Vicksburg. In the woods behind his house, he stumbles across a man fresh out of prison, living off catfish caught from the bayou. Through the book, the boy grows up alongside this man as he recovers his faith.
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The Anglican Primate of the Church of West Africa, the Most Reverend Professor Daniel Yinkah Sarfo, has said there is the need for churches to preach messages that will convince wayward persons to have a heart for true repentance. He observed that while it was desirable to get armed robbers, prostitutes, corrupt politicians and greedy professionals to decide to go to church, the messages from the pulpit these days were not convincing enough to get them have a change of heart.
“They are comfortable being in church and going through all the motions of Christianity, yet their hearts are far away from God. This is because the messages they hear are philosophies on how to be successful in the world,” he said.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Province of West Africa * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Africa Ghana * Theology
The prominent Anglican Bishop, Michael Nazir-Ali, formerly the Bishop of Rochester, has spoken of the overriding importance of the Catholic Church's global voice for the future of Christianity in a world threatened by Islamic militancy and secularism. He said the Catholic Church potentially had "a great future and a huge opportunity" in the emerging world order and that it now had allies in upholding orthodoxy, even in unexpected quarters. However, he said that how effective it would be depended on how Rome viewed its own position and on its willingness to address its approach to certain issues. He identified these as culture and language and discipline.
Bishop Nazir Ali, who has both a Christian and a Muslim family background and is now President of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue (OXTRAD), made his remarks to the clergy of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham - the structure set up by Pope Benedict to allow Anglicans to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church, bringing with them elements of their Anglican patrimony. He was speaking on the subject: "A Global Christianity in the Making" to the Ordinariate clergy's plenary session at St Patrick's Catholic Church in Soho Square, London
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The switch to Heights Community Church goes hand-in-hand with church leadership’s effort to re-brand the church into something more welcoming to new and younger churchgoers.
The sign outside, on the corner of Grandin Road and Memorial Avenue Southwest, was altered weeks ago, but the change inside the church is intangible.
“What we’re doing, culminating this Sunday in our launch, has been tectonic shifts,” the Rev. Nelson Harris said. “I truly have never been more passionate or excited about my pastoral ministry or this church than I am at this moment.”
Harris, a former Roanoke mayor, has been a pastor for 25 years and was baptized, married and ordained at what is now Heights Community Church. Following a nationwide trend of declining church participation, the crowds for his Sunday sermons were getting smaller.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture Teens / Youth Young Adults * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
The Muslim population in Australia has climbed nearly ___% percent since 2001 and numbers some ____.
Make sure to guess both the % number and the absolute number and then read it all and find the answer.
Peter Hong raises his voice to the congregation he pastors in Logan Square, a mixed-income neighborhood in Chicago. “Your entire debt is paid in full!” he shouts, as “Amen!” and “All right!” echo back from the pews. As he bounds across the stage, his red-checked shirt untucked over jeans, he exudes enough energy to fill the cavernous, high-ceilinged Seventh-day Adventist church that New Community Covenant rents on Sundays.
The pews are packed full, with a multiethnic, multigenerational gathering that includes more than Hong’s fellow Korean Americans. Hong is 44 but brims with youthfulness as he displays his own brand of impassioned preaching, a firebrand of grace. But then the tone of the service shifts as Hong jumps off the stage and confesses without pretense: He is bone-weary from more than 12 consecutive years of ministry. Congregants return the flow of grace, pouring down the aisles in droves to surround and pray for him.
One of the people who approaches Hong is Trinity Evangelical Divinity School professor Peter Cha, who has mentored countless Asian Americans as an educator, pastor, and former staff member with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Globalization History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
The discussion preceding the synod of bishops on the family has ignored the most vulnerable party in divorces and remarriages: children. In so doing, it mirrors the discussion of sex and marriage in western culture more broadly, which focuses on the gratification of the desires of adults—however legitimate—while paying no attention to the needs of children.
For some children, no doubt, their parents’ divorce brings relief. For many, however, it leaves a wound that never fully heals. Children find themselves caught between two parties who each have a claim on them. They can frequently feel like pawns in a game, or like a piece of land fought over by conflicting nations. They have to grow up fast to take care of adults who, in their hurt, have begun to act like children.
Divorce ends the world that the child knows. It says that the foundation of her life, the structure that produced her and formed her is no more. This is captured well in the title of a book by a professor of youth ministry, Andrew Root: The Children of Divorce: The Loss of Family as the Loss of Being. The title is not an exaggeration.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Globalization Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
A giant milestone in the moral revolution passed today when the U.S. Supreme Court turned down every single appeal from several states on the issue of same-sex marriage. This decision not to take at least one case under consideration stunned both sides in the same-sex marriage battle. Last weekend’s edition of USA Today featured a front-page story that declared the virtual certainty that the Court would take at least one of the cases and declared same-sex marriage to be “a cause whose time has come.”
Well, same-sex marriage may well be an issue whose time has come in the culture, due to the massive moral shift that has taken place over the last few decades, but the nation’s highest court has decided that now is not the time for it to take up such a case. Faced with the opportunity either to stop same-sex marriage in its tracks or to hand down a sweeping decision tantamount to a new Roe v. Wade, the Court took a pass.
Some will argue that the Court’s decision was a strategic choice intended to preserve its dignity and stature. Already, many defenders of natural marriage are doing their best to argue that the Court’s refusal to take a case is better for the cause of marriage than a sweeping decision in favor of same-sex marriage. The proponents of same-sex marriage had hoped for just such a decision, and attorneys were jockeying for position, wanting to be the lead counsel for the “gay marriage Roe decision.” But make no mistake, the proponents of same-sex marriage won this round, and they won big. They did not get the sweeping coast to coast ruling they wanted, but what they got was an even faster track to the same result.
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More than 300 Anglican priests, parishioners and other Christians have signed an open “love letter” to bishops in the Church of England who are secretly gay urging them to “come out” about their sexuality.
In one of the most unusual petitions ever addressed to the leadership of the established church, they have issued a direct plea to members of the episcopate who are gay or bisexual to have the “courage and conviction” to acknowledge it publicly.
The signatories, who include at least 160 priests and several members of the Church’s governing General Synod, pledge to “welcome and embrace” those bishops who decide to go public but strongly object to any attempt to involuntarily “out” anyone.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Media Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK
This year Robert Wilson has been back to Helmand to mark the end of Britain's long conflict. His pictures are going up on huge billboards across Britain this week, some close to military bases, others not. For the images, Wilson was looking for ordinary human details to personalise the war, and has chosen sites across the UK where he can juxtapose his photographs with scenes of normal life.
For example a billboard showing a makeshift military bus stop in Camp Bastion will go up on the side of a bus stop in Yeovil and a photograph of a makeshift garrison church will be displayed opposite a church in Camden, London.
Read it all and make sure to enjoy the photographs.
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If you are a Christian who doesn’t smoke, abstains from sex outside your heterosexual marriage and can get your priest to vouch that you go to church at least three times a month, you may qualify for a new Catholic alternative to health insurance.
Taking a cue from evangelicals, a group of traditionalist Catholics on Thursday (Oct. 2) unveiled a cost-sharing network that they say honors their values and ensures that they are not even indirectly supporting health care services such as abortion that contradict their beliefs.
Christ Medicus Foundation CURO, as the group is called, will be financially integrated with Samaritan Ministries International, which was launched in 1991 by an evangelical home-schooling dad. The SMI network now serves 125,000 people and is exempt from the Affordable Care Act.
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When Shamon Smith witnessed her mother being abused, she never dreamed it would spark within her a passion to address domestic violence all these years later.
A woman of deep faith, Smith realized many victims seek help from their pastors, who often didn't know how to help abused congregants facing very real dangers within violent relationships.
As a result, her North Charleston church is hosting a free three-day domestic violence conference Oct. 17-19 titled "Uniting the Pastors, Equipping the Clergy and Gathering God's People."
"Pastors have sent victims back to their abusers," Smith said. "They felt they were doing the right thing."
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Pope Francis has summoned bishops from all over the world to Rome to discuss issues concerning families – including hot-button issues like artificial contraception and gay civil unions.
The meeting, called a synod, opened on Sunday and is seen as a test of Francis' vision of a more merciful Church.
Not since the landmark Second Vatican Council half a century ago has a church meeting raised so much hope among progressive Catholics — and so much apprehension among conservatives.
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Arrest and imprisonment were only a matter of time. Bonhoeffer’s time came in April 1943 and landed him in Berlin’s Tegel prison. Astonishingly, with the German capital under regular Allied bombardment, Bonhoeffer continued even as a prisoner to enjoy a privileged existence. During his confinement in Tegel, according to Marsh, he received “extra portions of food, hot coffee, and cigarettes.” Visitors brought flowers and fresh fruit. An uncle stopped by to break open a bottle of champagne. Most importantly, Bonhoeffer had access to books, pen, and paper. During his confinement, he read and wrote ceaselessly.
All such niceties vanished in the crackdown that followed the failed July 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler. Transferred to the custody of the SS, Bonhoeffer was moved to Buchenwald and then to Flossenbürg, where he was finally executed. Little reliable information about Bonhoeffer’s last days is available, and Marsh does not pretend otherwise. That the end was grim and brutal suffices.
In 1928, on the cusp of his journey of discovery, Bonhoeffer had observed that in modern life “religion plays the part of the parlor.” It had become a place “into which one doesn’t mind withdrawing for a couple of hours, but from which one then immediately returns to one’s business.” In our own day, faith remains in the parlor, the subject of polite and passing attention. The work that matters happens elsewhere. For Christians daring to rethink that proposition, Bonhoeffer’s life serves as an object lesson in what is to be gained—and lost.
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St Mary le Strand, which is located in the middle of the Strand, has a long and interesting history. The original medieval church was pulled down in 1549 by Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, to make way for Somerset House. The current church was then rebuilt between 1714 and 1724, by the celebrated architect James Gibbs and St Mary le Strand has since been remembered as his Baroque Masterpiece.
The current St Mary le Strand was one of fifty new churches built in London under the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches, an Act of Parliament in England in 1710, with the purpose of building fifty new churches for the rapidly growing conurbation of London. Despite this ambitious plan, only twelve of these churches were ever built, with St Mary le Strand being the first.
Unlike many London churches, St Mary le Stand managed to escape severe damage during the Second World War, as the inspecting architect would sit in the church's muniment room during the bombings, to push incendiary bombs off the roof.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary England / UK
When Brianna and Chris Lindsay married in June, they had the church, the minister, the bridesmaids … and a foot-washing ceremony for the bride and groom.
It was, they said, a sign of their mutual submission.
“First he took off both of my shoes and we had a water basin and pitcher,” said the bride, recalling the five-minute ceremony during which a friend read a poem about the couple. “In return, I got down in my dress, took off his socks. … It probably was a little awkward for us — maybe a little — but we felt like it was an important message to show people.”
In an age of big-ticket destination weddings and reality show “bridezillas,” some evangelical Christians are opting for what writer Catherine Strode Parks calls “ A Christ-Centered Wedding.”
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Both Taylor's loss of "higher times" and Rushkoff's burden of the "infinite present" help us understand why we're so compelled by things like the Rapture—or anything apocalyptic. Living in a flattened timescape, we long for moments to take us out of the profane and everyday. In the absence of "higher times," global disasters and narratives of apocalypse stand in as sacred moments that rupture the monotony of secular time. "Where were you when . . . ?" is a question of almost spiritual gravitas for anyone alive on 9/11 or the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Especially since the advent of mass broadcasts of breaking news, we mark time by shared moments of global calamity and terror, existential pauses that give us transcendent perspective.
These are real if perverted expressions of our longing for the "higher" time we've lost, for pivot points in history, for an escape from the present. In a world where there's "nothing new under the sun," where generations come and go "but the earth remains forever" (Ecc. 1:4), we long to be part of an unexpected story, to witness something significant. But must that "something significant" be the earth's fiery end?
Christians of all people need not buy into the prevailing culture's preoccupation with doomsday. Let the world have its apocalyptic versions of the Rapture—Christians have something better. Surely there are movies to be made about not destruction, but resurrection.
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