Posted by Kendall Harmon

Culture has changed dramatically in the past century as Christendom has given way to secularism and pluralism. This new reality has now arrived in the urban south. We must ask if Christianity has anything to say in response. Join us for Listen & Speak as we discuss a Christian posture towards culture. Featuring pastor and author Scott Sauls and storyteller Andrew Peterson.

You can check out the website there and you can register here.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* South Carolina* TheologyApologeticsSeminary / Theological Education

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Posted September 26, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




The American religious landscape has undergone substantial changes in recent years. However, one of the most consequential shifts in American religion has been the rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans. This trend emerged in the early 1990s. In 1991, only six percent of Americans identified their religious affiliation as “none,” and that number had not moved much since the early 1970s. By the end of the 1990s, 14% of the public claimed no religious affiliation. The rate of religious change accelerated further during the late 2000s and early 2010s, reaching 20% by 2012. Today, one-quarter (25%) of Americans claim no formal religious identity, making this group the single largest “religious group” in the U.S.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has released two statistical reports, which sounds very dull, but stick with me. “Ministry Statistics in Focus: Stipendiary clergy projections” looks at how many stipendiary clergy there might be over the next 20 years, given different scenarios. “Ordained Vocations Statistics” sets out the number of those heading into training for ordained ministry over the past few decades and the profile by gender, age, etc. Both reports describe the patterns of the past. More than that, they illuminate the present and stimulate questions about the future.

I can find myself in these statistics. This may come as a surprise to those who know me, as I am lay. They don’t have any numbers about lay people, so how do I find myself in the documents? The report about stipendiary clergy projections doesn’t even have much about self-supporting ministers or those with PTO, because we can’t currently produce any accurate baseline numbers. Research and Stats are working on that, so expect better information next year. Surely the only reports I should be able to find myself in are the ones about church attendance?

But when I look at these reports, I can see in the retirement statistics the previous Bishop of Ely, +Anthony Russell, who confirmed me.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 26, 2016 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

All it took was for a KLOVE radio intern’s finger to slip, and a classic power ballad by Journey became an unlikely worship sensation overnight.

The incident reportedly occurred Tuesday evening, as new intern Kyle Criswell attempted to queue up Michael W. Smith’s song “Open Arms,” but mistakenly selected hit rock band Journey’s 1981 power ballad of the same name instead.

Criswell realized his mistake as the sappy love lyrics “Lying beside you, here in the dark / Feeling your heartbeat with mine / Softly you whisper, you’re so sincere / How could our love be so blind” began pumping into his headphones. Horrified, the young assistant immediately signaled the on-duty DJ to come over and help him figure out how to correct his mistake.

But then, something amazing happened, as thousands of new listeners began to tune into the station to hear the hit new worship song, calling in and demanding the station replay the track.

Read it all from The Babylon Bee.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* General InterestHumor / Trivia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted September 25, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

White rioters poured into the streets, burning and looting homes, businesses and churches in a black neighborhood and leaving this city deeply traumatized. That was 1921.

Last week, not far from where those haunting events took place, the streets of Tulsa were calm after a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black motorist. The video of the shooting angered many Tulsa residents, but the subdued reaction was markedly different from the violent clashes that took place in Charlotte, N.C., in recent days, after the police killed a man there.

Why one place erupts and another does not is never easy to discern. Tulsa quickly released videos showing the facts. But some here trace part of the reason for Tulsa’s emphasis on prayer, and not protest, in recent days to the lingering scars of the 1921 riot, which is regarded as one of the deadliest race riots in the country’s history and still lingers in Tulsa’s consciousness.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 25, 2016 at 2:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What is truly astonishing is the way that the Democrats’ planks on emerging culture-war issues echoed the (often more radical) stands adopted by the Methodists. Among the rights of children, for example, the Methodists included the right “to a full sex education, appropriate to their stage of development.” Affirming the rights of women, the Methodists supported full equality with men and demanded and end to “sex-role stereotypes.”

To counter overpopulation, the convention recommended the distribution of “reliable contraceptive information and devices.” Less than a year before Roe v. Wade, the convention urged “removal of abortion from the criminal code” but stopped short of approving abortion on demand. Finally, the Methodists embraced affirmative inclusion by reserving 30% of seats on all church boards and agencies for nonwhites, even though barely 6% of church members were African-American.

The events of 1972 also hastened the steady decline in membership and influence among the liberal mainline churches. Before the 1970s were out, the politically and socially conservative Southern Baptists superseded the United Methodists as the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. As one generation gave way to the next, more and more young Methodists, Presbyterians and the like grew up to become religiously something else or—especially among millennials—nothing at all.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 25, 2016 at 6:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the wake of July’s vote on same-sex marriages at General Synod, Indigenous Anglicans intend to “proceed towards self-determination with urgency,” the Anglican Church of Canada’s three Indigenous bishops say.

General Synod voted this summer to provisionally approve changes to the marriage canon, which would allow same-sex marriages. The proposed changes must pass a second reading, slated for the next General Synod in 2019, before they can take effect.

On Thursday, September 22, National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald; Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh; and Bishop Adam Halkett, of Missinipi, released ajoint statement they say was requested by an Indigenous circle that met after the results of July’s vote were revealed. The bishops begin by saying that they do not speak for all Indigenous peoples, although, they add, they have consulted “broadly and deeply” with many. The statement voices displeasure both with the decision and the process it was made, and expresses desire for a more self-determined Indigenous Anglican community in Canada.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 24, 2016 at 4:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The majority position of the Way Forward Working Group (composed of some of the best legal and theological minds of our church) agreed that blessing committed same-sex couples is not a departure from the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ, and therefore not prohibited by Te Pouhere (our church’s constitution). Many places provide such blessings, and people in committed same-sex relationships hold a bishop’s licence. Under the 2016 revision of Te Pouhere, bishops can even authorise such blessings in places under their jurisdiction.

I propose that our doctrine of marriage be changed to being between a couple, with the intent that it be lifelong and monogamous. Such a change would enable the sort of diversity illustrated in my first paragraph. The change would remove the current hypocrisy around marrying divorcees, clarify practice in relation to committed same-sex relationships, and facilitate honesty and openness.

Within this, I propose we affirm the current position that any minister shall have full discretion to decline to conduct any marriage service or blessing, and that we also affirm and encourage vocations to religious life, singleness, and chastity.

Yours in Christ,

(Rev) Bosco Peters

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 24, 2016 at 12:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The crisis spawned by Boko Haram has drawn hundreds of thousands of people to a relatively little-known city in Nigeria that has finally become safe enough for them to wait out an end to the awful, deadly war.

With villagers from the countryside pouring in, it is almost as though the entire city, Maiduguri, has become a sprawling refugee camp.

Tented government encampments dot the exurbs where people wait for bags of food to arrive. Once-quaint neighborhoods overflow with cardboard hovels filled with young children who are lucky to eat three meals a day.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 24, 2016 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Adam] Ford, who once yearned to be a pastor, stressed that he is trying to be critical and supportive at the same time.

"God can and does use goofy things like lasers and smoke machines to bring people to Christ, sure, but I believe church services that are reminiscent of WWE productions have peaked and will be less and less successful and prevalent moving forward," he said.

The key is that Ford is a modern man who is filling an ancient role, said media scholar Terry Lindvall, of Virginia Wesleyan College.

"The biblical satirist shares in the blame and shame of his defendants. He may be God's prosecutor, but he is also entwined with the people he ridicules," wrote Lindvall, in his book "God Mocks: A History of Religious Satire from the Hebrew Prophets to Stephen Colbert." A skilled satirist, he added, holds up a prophetic mirror that "offers a comic frame in which to look at and to look through the heart; the satirist finds that none are righteous, including himself."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & Culture* General InterestHumor / Trivia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted September 24, 2016 at 6:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has just released two related reports on numbers in ordained ministry. These are not related to annual ministry figures; the last figures (from 2015) were released in June, and caught the headlines for a number of reasons. These reports are related more to the aims of the Renewal and Reform process, and look back at the historical context as well as projecting forwards. Although there is no new research data included, the reports do contain some important observations which have implications for both national and diocesan approaches.

The first thing to say is that these reports are really helpful, with relevant information, well presented, and with interesting narratives to complement the information. This is a reflection of two important changes, one in strengthening the analysis of what is happening through the Research and Statistics team (they are very impressive—do go and visit them if you are passing through Church House) and the other in focussing more clearly on vocations at a national level within Ministry Division, not least through the appointment of Catherine Nancekievill as Head of Discipleship and Vocation. Is it too optimistic to think that the C of E is actually getting its act together in this area…?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureYoung Adults* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted September 23, 2016 at 4:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Turn around in your seat at the crematorium in the Berkshire town of Thatcham and you will see a web-cam, fixed to a beam, following the proceedings. It enables anyone who could not make it to the service to follow from afar. The valley of the shadow of death is now being live-streamed.

Demand is growing. The crematorium gets one live-streaming request a week. Obitus, the company that hooked up the system, currently has cameras in 25 locations, charging £2,500 ($3,245) to install and manage the technology.

Forty years ago, “virtually every funeral was the same,” says Paul Allcock, president of the national funeral directors’ society—from the cortege to the Church of England rites. Nothing like the outdoorsy family that inquired this week about using a camper van as a hearse—typical, says Mr Allcock, of a customer base that is less religious, more diverse, and keen to personalise their departure.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted September 23, 2016 at 1:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Education is at the heart of the work the Church of England does for the common good. Through its 4,500 primary and 200 secondary schools, it educates around one million children a day. It is estimated that around 15 million people alive today attended a Church of England school.

The fundamental purpose of Church of England education is to nurture people to live life in all its fullness, inspired by Jesus’s message in the Gospel of John: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it abundantly.[John 10:10]” Non-church schools also have inspiring visions, albeit articulated in different language; to inspire and educate the whole person, building them up to flourish in the world.

As teachers across the country well know, the education of children, in church and non-church schools, is taking place against a backdrop of deep uncertainty and rapid change.

Read it all from the TES.

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

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Posted September 23, 2016 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Average Sunday attendance for over-18s had fallen from 30,424 in 2014 to 29,019 in 2015: a fall of five per cent. Easter communicants were down one per cent to 51,435, while the number of Christmas communicants had fallen three per cent to 49,972.

“I’d like to make clear I am not here as a doom-and-gloom merchant, merely to present the facts,” the chairman of the Representative Body, James Turner, said.

“Attendances appear to be falling, but that is not the case in nearly half of our parishes. We fear the church is losing touch with our young people, but there are indications that, through hard work and intentional investment, good things are happening around the country.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 23, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Changing Attitude have welcomed the establishment of a Reflection Group under the leadership of Right Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich. Whilst expressing disappointment that a group tasked with reflecting on issues of human sexuality does not appear to include any openly gay people, we recognise that this simply reflects the reality within the church’s leadership - that LGBT people are invisible, our voices often silenced, and our experiences unheard. We welcome the opportunities which have arisen as part of the Shared Conversations to included the lived experience, deep conviction and prophetic witness of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, and we recognise the enormously costly nature of the contribution many people have made to that process.

The Reflection Group must now consider the Church’s steps into the future. In doing so, they will be called to listen carefully to all they have heard during the Shared Conversations. We call upon them to lead the House of Bishops towards a future that celebrates the gifts of all God's people including the LGBTI members of the Church of England and embodies the radical equality to which we are called in Christ.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 22, 2016 at 11:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The problems noted earlier in relation to Stott and evangelicals may have seemed minor details or differences in subjective interpretation but they are in fact signs of one of the book’s most fundamental weaknesses: regular basic inaccuracies. This is perhaps not surprising given the original print run had to be recalled because it contained at least one error so serious that it had to be removed to prevent a libel action. Nevertheless, the number and range of errors is astonishing. We are told that the Blair government (elected in 1997) passed legislation “in the early 1990s” (110), that a bishop saw events in 2007 as “God’s commentary on same-sex marriage” (128, although same-sex marriage was not introduced to Parliament until 2013) and that David Hope was Archbishop of York (149) when he described his sexuality as a “grey area” (although it was several months before that appointment when he was Bishop of London). In one place there is even the appearance of careful research when it is claimed that “the electors of the diocese of New Hampshire came to choose a new bishop in the summer of 2003 – five years to the day after resolution I.10 was carried at Lambeth” (170) but the claim is false. The authors seem to have confused his election by the diocese – which was in July, although they explicitly date it to August – with its confirmation by the General Convention. In the short space of two pages (200-201) we find a crude caricature of the Anglican Covenant, a claim that FOCA later became GAFCON (when it was GAFCON that launched the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans) and a description of the decision in 1992 not to secure women bishops at the same time as women priests as an “odd half-measure…dreamt up as a way to respect the ‘integrity’ of the different sides in the battle” when it was much more a matter of realpolitik – given how hard it proved to secure a 2/3 majority even for women priests (as described in chpt 5, p. 86) to have included women bishops in the legislation as well would have been to ensure its defeat. Given such recurrent lapses of memory or poor research on matters of public record, the many often entertaining and scurrilous but unverifiable vignettes of personal experience frequently used to illustrate and support their picture of the CofE need to be taken with a very large pinch of salt.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 22, 2016 at 8:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Kevin Robertson was among three priests elected suffragan bishops at a synod of the diocese of Toronto, Saturday, September 17. Photo: Diocese of Toronto

A gay man living with a male partner is among three priests to have been elected suffragan bishops in the diocese of Toronto this weekend.

On Saturday, September 17, members of an electoral synod elected the Rev. Riscylla Walsh Shaw, Canon Kevin Robertson and Canon Jenny Andison as suffragan, or assistant, bishops. Each will be responsible for one of the diocese’s four episcopal areas: York-Scarborough, York-Credit Valley, Trent-Durham and York-Simcoe. Archbishop Colin Johnson, diocesan bishop, will decide which bishop will serve in each area. Bishop Peter Fenty is currently the bishop responsible for York-Simcoe.

Canon Kevin Robertson, incumbent at Christ Church, Deer Park in Toronto, was elected on the fourth ballot of the second election. According to an article on the diocese of Toronto website, Robertson, who lives with his male partner, said it was a “historic day.” He said he believed he was the first openly gay and partnered bishop-elect in the diocese and perhaps even in the entire Anglican Church of Canada.

His election, Robertson said, together with this summer’s provisional vote at General Synod to allow same-sex marriages, showed a growing acceptance of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) people in the church.

Read it all. You can read more about the Suffragan Bishop-elect there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 22, 2016 at 6:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 2013 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, declared war on Wonga and other payday lenders crucifying borrowers with 5,000% interest loans. Three years later it looks as if his prayers may have been answered.

CFO Lending, which was fined £34m this week by the Financial Conduct Authority, is just the latest operator brought to its knees by regulators punishing bad lending behaviour. CFO, which traded under brand names Payday First, Money Resolve and Flexible First, will have to hand money back to nearly 100,000 victims of its unfair practices.

Citizens Advice said complaints about payday loans have collapsed by 86% between 2013 and 2016. But campaigners warn that the industry is reinventing itself with still “eye-watering” interest rates on three-month loans aimed at people earning less than £20,000 a year on insecure work contracts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 21, 2016 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England will see the number of traditional clergy drop by 15 per cent in just 20 years unless it dramatically increases ordinations over the next decade, new figures show.

While falling numbers in the pews have attracted headlines in recent years, senior clerics are also concerned about a separate looming decline - in the pulpit.

Bishops fear a fall in the number of priests could make the task of reversing declining congregations by winning new converts more difficult than ever.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryMenPsychologyReligion & CultureSociologyWomenYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted September 21, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What a resource--check it out.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

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Posted September 20, 2016 at 10:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I meet all sorts in my job. You might say it’s a broad church. A few weeks back I was on another shoot when, during a break, the talk got around to religion. In these interesting times, it often does.

Eventually someone mentioned “believing in the sky fairy”, and there was general approval, a bit of laughter. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t much fussed. Generally speaking I’m in favour of a secular society, one without a state-sanctioned religion and where everyone minds a polite responsibility to go quietly about their business and not bother the neighbours with strongly held opinions on the matter of belief.

The sky fairy comment, as it happens, was in response to a general point someone made about the Anglican church — and this sort of thing is absolutely commonplace. Remembering to treat Christianity with unbridled contempt is an entry-level requirement for most modern conversations about religion in Britain.

Read it all from Neil Oliver (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 20, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The global tragedy of the forced displacement of millions of people is now a crisis that calls us to work together in new and creative ways in response to such suffering and disruption. The trauma experienced by the world’s 60 million refugees speaks to our common humanity, and pleads with us to take action as we reach out to respond to their suffering. However, people are not only fleeing conflict and violence, but also moving around the world to escape from poverty or the effects of climate change. People search to find places where they can work and feed their families, to find better opportunities or freedom to live in peace and safety, whoever they are. All this demands a much more intentional and robust collective response in which the churches and other faith communities are more than ready to take their place.

In the United Kingdom, in my own country Zambia, and in many of the 164 countries around the world in which the Anglican Communion is present, the churches, together with other local religious communities, are working with their United Nations and civil society partners and with governments to provide sanctuary and protection to those fleeing conflict and poverty.

In addition, as our church communities reach out in loving service to those who have lost everything and who often arrive profoundly traumatized, bearing both physical and psychological scars from their experiences, we know that these people, whom the world labels as refugees, asylum seekers or migrants are, like all the people of the earth, treasured human beings made in the image of God.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of Central Africa* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaEngland / UKEuropeMiddle East

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Posted September 20, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dioceses have responded to the call to work towards a 50% increase in candidates for ordination with new posts and new procedures. A review of numbers in ordained ministry over the last 67 years shows that the 50% increase in candidates for ministry by 2020 agreed by the General Synod in February, 2015, is needed to stabilise and increase the numbers ministering in parishes, chaplaincies and new forms of church.

The Church of England is seeking to increase by half the numbers training for ordained ministry and to sustain those numbers for a decade: an increase from about 500 to 750 by 2020. At the same time, the Church is also seeking greater diversity among those training for ministry. This will better reflect the communities where the Church is working, in terms of age, gender and ethnic and social background. The 50% increase is an aspiration and not a limit if more candidates come forward and dioceses require more new clergy.

The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Rev Andrew Watson, chair of the Ordained Vocations Working Group said, "The aspiration to increase the number of new clergy by 50% is part of a wider vision to release and develop the gifts of the whole people of God.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted September 20, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With children it is usually cancer: incurable sickness, unbearable pain, debilitating, degrading misery. What child wouldn’t prefer to go an be with Jesus? Belgium’s Federal Control and Evaluation Committee on Euthanasia (it’s a thing) agrees. Far better for children to be given a fatal injection than to cough up blood all night long, whether or not they go to be with Jesus. Indeed, Jesus doesn’t really come into it. Why should he? We’re talking about the exercise of free will for the alleviation of unbearable physical suffering. It is liberal, progressive and compassionate. A child could understand it, especially at the age of 17.

Belgium legalised euthanasia in 2002, and now injects people whether or not they are suffering a terminal illness. If you’re depressed and feeling suicidal for no particular reason at all, Belgium will provide a way out. They extended euthanasia to children in 2014. It is the only country in the world that has no age restriction. At least in the Netherlands you have to be 12 years of age before you can decide you’d prefer to be with Jesus than all those nasty doctors and nurses. In Belgium, the Federal Control and Evaluation Committee on Euthanasia can give their blessing to your death if you’re 10, eight, six… provided you’re in unbearable physical pain and know what you’re doing.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child… (1Cor 13:11).

One hesitates to use the word ‘evil’ of statutes promulgated by well-intentioned politicians in the context of a liberal democracy, with all the constitutional checks and balances afforded by reason and experience. But Belgium’s abolition of all age restrictions on “the right to die” must surely qualify as one of the most wicked and damnable decrees in the history of Christendom.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 19, 2016 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Supporters of a change in the Church of England’s stance on sexuality have voiced dismay after a new panel of bishops to help “discern” its future course on issues such as same-sex marriage was chosen seemingly dominated traditionalists.

The 10-strong “Bishop’s Reflection Group” appointed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York includes a string of prominent evangelicals and some seen as staunch conservatives but no-one who has openly advocated a change in teaching or practice on the issue.

Liberals voiced anger while opponents of any change also privately hailed the make-up of the group, set up after a four-day gathering of all the bishops last week, as better than they expected from their point of view.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

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

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Posted September 19, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A homosexuality debate by Church of England bishops will remain private to allow views to "deepen and flourish", the new Bishop of Oxford has said.

The College of Bishops met in Oxford earlier this week to discuss attitudes towards sexuality.

The Right Reverend Dr Steven Croft told BBC Oxford talks were "constructive" and would continue through the autumn.

He said the bishops would reveal their conclusions to the General Synod in February next year.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships

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Posted September 19, 2016 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 19, 2016 at 2:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What we now see is occurring because Christians have allowed our own minds to become dull, darkened, and depraved. We’ve allowed this to happen, not out of malice toward God or bad intentions, but because our passive minds have resulted in passive lives and a weakened, impotent, wandering, and often confusing and contradictory witness to the Gospel and the life of Christ within.

Simply put, the world has done a better job of evangelizing us to its ways than we have of evangelizing the world to the magnificent good news of the Gospel.

Upholding constitutional rights and the human dignity of those who are same-sex attracted is a matter of basic human decency. But same-sex marriage is something completely different. As a gay man, allow me to make what is perhaps a startling declaration: same-sex marriage is a great coup for the devil, far greater than individual homosexual acts or relationships ever were or ever could be. Same-sex marriage mocks Christ’s relationship with his Bride, the Church. That is the source of the fury being hurled at those who speak out against same-sex marriage.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 19, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Perhaps the most significant thing about the Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church that met in June in Crete is that it took place at all. The Eastern Orthodox churches hadn’t met in this way in nearly a century, and it was their first meeting since the fall of the communist regimes that had decimated the religious landscape of Eastern Europe, home to the majority of Ortho­dox Christians. Even if the decisions taken at the council are contested, there is now a mechanism in place by which they might be revisited.

In the Orthodox Church, nothing happens quickly. Yet the ripples of conciliarity being felt from the June meeting are significant, and they will not soon die out. Some within the Orthodox Church are proposing regular meetings, perhaps not unlike the Lambeth conferences held every decade in the Anglican Com­munion. Regular assemblies like this would be something new, and all of a sudden they feel more possible.

The Eastern Orthodox Church is composed of 14 self-governing churches (15 if you count the Orthodox Church in America, whose independent, self-governing status is contested). Of these, four did not attend, largely due to disagreements over some of the texts that were to be discussed in Crete.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church* TheologyEcclesiology

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Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We want to wish the Archbishop well in his retirement. We note the Archbishop’s final presidential address at Governing Body, and still struggle to understand how his approach to scripture is not just licence to disregard its authority. We believe that the inclusivity of Jesus, to which the Archbishop referred, was one not only of loving everyone, but also of calling everyone to a degree of repentance which would result in following him exclusively as Lord. We note Jesus gave an invitation to everyone, but warned repeatedly and frequently of consequences for those who rejected him. We are therefore delighted that one of the closing discussions at Governing Body got people talking about the need to engage in mission and evangelism. We hope and pray that these are the issues that occupy the time and energy of the Church in Wales in the years to come.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Wales* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Wales* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 19, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

GAFCON UK is puzzled as to why the Church of England needs a 'Bishops' Reflection Group' on homosexuality. Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference is clear, and the Bible is universally clear. We stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are same-sex attracted, and faithfully living according to God's revealed plan for human flourishing. As pastors, teachers, friends, and neighbours we can have no other response. The Church of England needs to have the courage of its foundational convictions, return to them, and move on to its mission of calling the nation to turn to Christ as the only Saviour and Lord.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 19, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Federal authorities said they are investigating the stabbing of nine people Saturday night in a shopping mall in St. Cloud, Minn., as a possible terrorist act, and a news agency linked to Islamic State said the group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The suspect is a Somali-American man who was known to local police but hadn’t previously been on the radar of counterterrorism investigators in Minnesota, according to an official familiar with the investigation. For years, Minnesota has grappled with the radicalization of some young men in the state’s Somali community.

“We are currently investigating this as a potential act of terrorism,” Richard Thornton, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Minneapolis division, said at a news conference Sunday. “We do not at this point in time know whether the subject was in contact with, had connections with, was inspired by, a foreign terrorist organization.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted September 18, 2016 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religion is big bucks — worth $1.2 trillion annually to the American economy, according to the first comprehensive study to tabulate such a figure.

“In perspective, that would make religion the 15th largest national economy in the world, ahead of 180 other countries in terms of value,” said Georgetown University’s Brian Grim, the study’s author.

“That would also make American religion larger than the global revenues of the top 10 tech companies, including Apple, Amazon and Google,” he continued. “It would also make it 50 percent larger than the six largest American oil companies’ revenue on an annual basis.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther Faiths

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Posted September 18, 2016 at 3:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly 225 years after the ratification of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the cause of conscience protected by the principles of “no establishment” and “free exercise” may be losing support in the minds and hearts of the American people.

Appeals by religious individuals and groups for exemption from government laws and regulations that substantially burden religious practice are increasingly unpopular and controversial. So much so that many in the media have taken to using scare quotes, transforming religious freedom into “religious freedom.”

Now the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights appears to be recommending that we make it official: Our first freedom is first no more.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church is half-aware of this. Five years ago the Church’s education-spokesman bishop, John Pritchard, suggested that just ten per cent of pupils should be selected on religious grounds. Subsequently it has rowed back from such reformism, but it has spoken approvingly of the rule that new faith schools may only select half of pupils on religious grounds. This is the rule that the government now plans to drop, so as to encourage new Catholic schools.

So the C of E is in a funny position. It is on the fence about selection by church attendance: it understands that the practice is in tension with its claim to serve the entire community, and puts it in a problematic alliance with the sharp-elbowed middle class. But the government is encouraging it to get off the fence, to be more hard-core religious. It must dare to defy this offer. Actually, it should say, we do not want to be ‘more religious’ in a way that damages our reputation for serving the wider community, and makes hypocritical churchgoing even more common. Our religious duty sometimes involves being ‘less religious’.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 18, 2016 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"I don't know if it's any better with the Anglican Church in England, but the...[Episcopal] Church in America seems to have gone stark raving mad."

Read the background and the larger quote there.


(Carl Van Vechten)

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

3 Comments
Posted September 17, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In other words, Jesus casts his disciples in the same light as the crowds who will eventually clamor for his crucifixion. It is not just Israel as a whole who has hardened hearts and blinded eyes: it is Jesus’ inner circle, his closest confidantes, his chosen few.

In Mark’s view, the disciples aren’t heroes. Jesus clearly didn’t pick his disciples because of their superior understanding or their “sensitivity to the Spirit,” as we sometimes called it in my church growing up. If anything, Mark goes out of his way to portray the disciples as clumsy, self-absorbed, and insensitive to the Spirit. They can’t see Jesus for who he really is. They may have eyes, but they’re no better than sightless glass. Their hearts are as lively as cold stone.

Odd as it may sound, as a frustrated young Christian, disappointed with my efforts at spiritual self-improvement, I found comfort in Mark’s dark view of the disciples. Looking back on my quest for the right formula for holy living, I remember being unsure what to make of Bible verses that promised, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin” (1 John 3:9), and, “[T]hough you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart” (Rom. 6:17). I had no trouble, though, identifying with Mark’s disciples: sometimes eager, often failing, occasionally getting things right and demonstrating faithfulness, but more regularly getting things wrong and showing infidelity. The disciples in Mark’s gospel are not so much paragons of sainthood as they are examples of the full range of human fallibility. Mark shuts the door on the naïve notion that Jesus came simply—in the words of theologian Robert Farrar Capon—to teach the teachable or improve the improvable. And that meant I could stop trying to drum up teachability or improvability on my own.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 16, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The longer I spent immersed in the study of classical antiquity, the more alien and unsettling I came to find it. The values of Leonidas, whose people had practised a peculiarly murderous form of eugenics, and trained their young to kill uppity Untermenschen by night, were nothing that I recognised as my own; nor were those of Caesar, who was reported to have killed a million Gauls and enslaved a million more. It was not just the extremes of callousness that I came to find shocking, but the lack of a sense that the poor or the weak might have any intrinsic value. As such, the founding conviction of the Enlightenment – that it owed nothing to the faith into which most of its greatest figures had been born – increasingly came to seem to me unsustainable.

“Every sensible man,” Voltaire wrote, “every honourable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror.” Rather than acknowledge that his ethical principles might owe anything to Christianity, he preferred to derive them from a range of other sources – not just classical literature, but Chinese philosophy and his own powers of reason. Yet Voltaire, in his concern for the weak and ­oppressed, was marked more enduringly by the stamp of biblical ethics than he cared to admit. His defiance of the Christian God, in a paradox that was certainly not unique to him, drew on motivations that were, in part at least, recognisably Christian.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 16, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the summer of 1905, the Catholic cassock, and whether to ban wearing it in the streets, sparked a passionate debate in France . For Charles Chabert, a leftwing MP, the black ankle-length soutane was not just an affront to modernity but a reminder of the threat the monarchist Catholic Church posed to the secular republic that he, and his colleagues, sought to consolidate with a bill enforcing a strict separation of state and religion.

Some priests would find it hard to part with the garment, he conceded, but others, “the most clever, the most educated”, would welcome the ban as liberation. Conjuring up an imaginary cleric, shy and buttoned up, Chabert added: “Look at him. The garb makes him a prisoner of his own ignorance . . . Of this slave, let’s make a man.”

Aristide Briand, author of the separation bill, disagreed. By policing garments, the state would be perceived as “intolerant”, and, even worse, the subject of “ridicule”, he quipped.
Fast forward 111 years, France is again debating religious garb — this time, the burkini.

Read it all from the FT (if necessary another link is there).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Admittedly, his face has adorned more religious imagery than any other in history.

But now Jesus is being put forward as an icon of an entirely different sort – in the world of fashion.

The Church of England has given its blessing to London Fashion Week with an official video making the Biblical case for the clothing industry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2016 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pretending that the refugee crisis is going to disappear is “futile, foolish”, and turning vulnerable people away from the UK “simply shifts the burden to those less able to bear it”, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams has warned.

He was speaking at a multifaith gathering at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London, on Monday, to mark the release of an open letter to the Prime Minister, signed by more than 200 religious leaders, some of whom were also in attendance (above). It calls on the Government to accommodate more refugees in the UK more quickly, and, in particular, to reunite families that have been separated by conflict.

“The pace in responding to the refugee crisis seems very slow,” Lord Williams said. “We have had months of discussion on the subject of reuniting children with parents, and as yet have remarkably little to show for it.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigration* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ballarat's Anglican Bishop Garry Weatherill has declared his support for same-sex marriage and said he opposed the Federal Government's proposed plebiscite on the issue.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday introduced legislation into the Lower House for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage to be held on February 11.

At this stage, Labor is expected to block the passage of the bill.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 15, 2016 at 4:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The College of Bishops of the Church of England met in Oxford from 12-15 September 2016.

As is the usual pattern of meetings of the College every third year the College of Bishops are joined for part of their meeting by bishops from the Scottish Episcopal Church, Church of Ireland and Church in Wales. Representatives from each of the sister churches made presentations to the college and engaged fully in discussions during the first days of the meeting.

A wide ranging agenda included presentations and discussions on Safeguarding, the Renewal and Reform programme, the post-Brexit political landscape, clergywomen in leadership, clergy wellbeing and issues of sexuality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 15, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The former Bishop of Rochester has rejected claims put forward by some Members of Parliament that a visit by a British delegation to Syria was ill-advised.

In a statement submitted to The Church of England Newspaper, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali said, he, Baroness Cox, Lord Hylton, the Rev Andrew Ashdown and other members of the unofficial delegation had challenged the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad over his indiscriminate use of force in that country’s civil war, which has led to tens of thousands of civilian casualties.

The group’s visit had been attacked in the press for “giving a ‘war criminal’, that is President Assad, a photo opportunity and a tool for propaganda. In fact, it was a pastoral visit to the people of Syria, especially Christians, who have suffered so much at the hands of jihadist extremists,” he wrote.

“Britain maintains relations with and encourages visits to countries like the Sudan, Iran and Zimbabwe. Why is Assad being demonised to this extent? In the Middle East, the choice is not between angels and monsters but between one kind of monster and another,” Bishop Nazir-Ali said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2016 at 2:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



The share of Americans who do not identify with a religious group is surely growing: While nationwide surveys in the 1970s and ’80s found that fewer than one-in-ten U.S. adults said they had no religious affiliation, fully 23% now describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular.”

But there are differing ideas about the factors driving this trend – and its implications for society. While it appears the U.S. is becoming less religious, some contend that’s not necessarily the case. Instead, they say, the growth of the “nones” may simply indicate that people who are not religious are becoming more forthright and willing to say they have no religious affiliation, perhaps because being a “none” has become more socially acceptable.

Do survey data support this notion? The answer is yes – but only partly.

Read it all (Hat tip: Becka Alper).

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

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Posted September 15, 2016 at 10:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the New Testament too, some of the passages often cited are not about loving, committed, faithful relationships between people of the same sex, but about pederasty and male prostitution. But all that apart, and given that each of the passages purported to be about homosexuality can be interpreted in more than one way, we come to the fundamental question as to whether taking the Bible as a whole, we can come to the same conclusions about committed, faithful, loving, same-sex relationships as we did about slavery.

We are not thereby abandoning the Bible but trying to interpret it in a way that is consistent with the main thrust of the ministry of Jesus, who went out of His way to minister to those who were excluded, marginalised, and abandoned by His society because they were regarded as impure and unholy by the religious leaders of His day, either because of their gender, age, morality or sexuality. Taking Holy Scripture seriously means paying attention to Jesus’ ministry of inclusivity.

And all of that without bringing into the reckoning what we now know about same-sex attraction in terms of psychology and biology and the experience of homosexual people. And surely if God is the creator, He reveals Himself to us through new knowledge and insights so that, for example, we no longer believe the world was created in six days. As I have tried to show, in the Bible there are a number of totally different perspectives on the same issue. What was responsible for this shift was a growth in understanding about the issue in question.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Wales* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Wales* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

4 Comments
Posted September 15, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religion is still viewed in government circles as little more than a parade of “fairies, goblins and imaginary friends” despite claims that it would now “do God”, according to Britain’s former minister for faith.

Baroness Warsi said there is still misunderstanding and hostility towards religion in “ever secular” Whitehall circles, despite efforts to change the culture.

The former Tory Chairman urged Theresa May – whom she described as “somebody of faith … somebody who understands faith” - to reinstate the post of faith minister which was quietly dropped after the last election.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

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

0 Comments
Posted September 14, 2016 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop of the Diocese of Kaduna, Anglican Communion, Reverend Timothy Yahaya, has lamented the high cost of living Nigerians are presently going through.

He noted that the present hardship was biting hard on the masses, stressing that it was further made worse due to the sharp increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Reverend Timothy observed that Nigerian economy was fuel driven; therefore any hike in fuel would have an immidiate effect on virtually every aspect of everyday life in the country.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

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Posted September 14, 2016 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He compared biblical interpretations of same-sex relationships with those of slavery – a practice once defended by the Church. As opinions on that changed, he suggested, so may the Church’s view on same-sex relationships.

“In spite of all the passages in favour of slavery, when you examine the Scriptures as a whole and the ministry of Jesus in particular, you realise it is about freedom from all that diminishes and dehumanises people. No Christian I hope would today argue that slavery is good, but for nineteen centuries the Church accepted it and defended it. God through His Holy Spirit has led us into the truth of seeing things in a totally different way today and we are rightly horrified when we read about people who have been kept as slaves by others.

“What all this amounts to is that one cannot argue that there is one accepted traditional way of interpreting Scripture that is true and orthodox and all else is modern revisionism, culturally conditioned. Scripture itself is diverse and theological views held in some biblical books are reshaped in the light of experience by other writers….

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Wales* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Wales* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

6 Comments
Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians of every tradition, in whatever context, share many things in common. At the core of Thy Kingdom Come is one of the most important: a reliance on God to send the Holy Spirit to empower us as witnesses to the good news.

In Acts 1.8, shortly before his ascension, Jesus tells his disciples that they “will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”. Jesus links being a witness and the empowering work of the Spirit. We cannot be witnesses on our own.

When I spoke with Cardinal Vincent Nichols recently, he said that those days of prayer at Pentecost had had far deeper resonance in his own life and prayer than ever before. There was a real sense of new growth, he said. For me, it seemed to be a fresh sign of the Lord saying to us: “The Spirit is given to you to carry on and do the work.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We don’t have to go too many days without coming across a story of revenge – some variation on the spurned lover who cuts off the sleeves of their ex’s clothes and gives their silver car a coat of red gloss paint. Many books and films are driven by a revenge-type plot, building up the tension until the bad guys gets their comeuppance, with the sense of relief that brings. There seems to be endemic in humans a desire for personal justice that is powerful and potentially deadly.

Certainly that was the case in first-century Rome. In Reading Romans in Pompeii, Peter Oakes invites us to imagine how Paul’s letter might have sounded to a mixed group of people meeting in the rented workshop of Holconius the cabinet-maker. If Holconius’s daughter was mugged by a known criminal in the neighbourhood, Holconius could expect to muster up a group from the congregation, go to the man’s house, beat him up, and take back any belongings – in revenge.

But Paul wants Christians to find different ways of dealing with vengeance, different ways of handling people who wrong us.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted September 13, 2016 at 1:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Church of England priest has won a national award for her outstanding contribution to work on helping make funerals more accessible for Deaf people.

Canon Gill Behenna, Chaplain with the Deaf Community in the Diocese of Bristol and the Church of England's Deaf Ministry Adviser, was named Funeral Minister of the Year at The Good Funeral Awards, with Rev Kate Bottley runner-up.

Canon Gill won the award in recognition of her outstanding and ground-breaking contribution to the funeral experience of Deaf people.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the OrdainedPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 13, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



One week ago (on September 5) the second session of the month-long Anglican Leadership Institute began. This session's participants are pictured above with the Very Rev. Dr. Peter Moore, Director of the Anglican Leadership Institute (top right).

The institute is a leadership training initiative that brings future leaders in the Anglican Communion to South Carolina for periods of study, teaching, reflection and nurture.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Latest News* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & Culture* South Carolina

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Comes now Bishop Bruno, he of the forkèd tongue, and for a response to the charges files a motion to dismiss the Title IV proceedings against him in their entirety. His reasons stated are twofold:

(1) The complainants violated the confidentiality provisions of Title IV by disclosing the substance of their charges, and of ECUSA's responses to them; and

(2) [Now get this] The complainants violated Canon IV.19.2 by resorting to a proceeding in the secular civil courts before filing their charges against +Bruno under Title IV.

Note that while +Bruno is technically correct that the earlier stages of the Title IV proceedings against him were confidential, the violation of that confidentiality by the Complainant (i.e., the members of St. James the Great) does not furnish canonical grounds for a dismissal of the charges. Under the Canon he cites (IV.13.9[a]), it is only misconduct "that the Hearing Panel deems to be disruptive, dilatory or otherwise contrary to the integrity of the proceedings" on the part of the Respondent (i.e., Bishop Bruno) or the Church Attorney that can provide grounds for the imposition of sanctions -- which, by the way, do not include the dismissal of all charges, as +Bruno requests.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Los AngelesTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 12, 2016 at 3:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I just bootleg the gospel,” Howard Butt Jr. told 1,500 Baptist men in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1954. Butt meant he had no license to preach, but that didn’t stop him from doing it. The 89-year-old well-known author and speaker, as well as creator of the Laity Lodge Retreat Center, passed away yesterday evening from complications related to Parkinson’s.
“Howard was a mentor, a motivator, and a model servant whose mind and heart were profoundly poured out on me at a most critical time,” said Christianity Today International president and CEO Harold Smith.
“His words of exhortation and encouragement to both my wife and me during a challenging first year of executive leadership offered us the assurances of God’s watchcare and direction—even in an industry experiencing such tumultuous change,” Smith stated. “Truly, the power of Howard’s presence in word and deed has left a God-anointed legacy that will inspire me and the entire CT team for years to come.”

Read it all.

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Posted September 12, 2016 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The letter writers are, however, unlikely to accept this conclusion. Their call for full inclusion asked for much more. They want the bishops to “enable those parishes that wish to do so to celebrate the love that we have found in our wives and husbands”. But this is to address a separate question from that of inclusion. It is a question not of including people but of deciding which of the many patterns of life found among LGBTI people the church can faithfully celebrate. Even their own proposal would not be fully inclusive of all LGBTI people once inclusion is to be understood beyond “full participation in ministry”. It would still exclude from the church’s liturgical celebrations those who, for whatever reason, do not choose to marry their same-sex partner but to structure their relationships in other ways.

Despite this, the appeal to inclusion continues in order to persuade people to go further and commend same-sex unions. But this is a quite distinct matter involving inclusion and approval of certain ways of life as morally acceptable rather than inclusion of people. The reason for this continued appeal to inclusion was caught by Justin Welby speaking at Greenbelt where he said:

We cannot pretend that – so I’m putting one case then I’m going to put the other – we cannot pretend or I can’t pretend myself that inclusion from the point of view of someone in a same sex relationship just to take a simple…that inclusion of someone in a same sex relationship that falls short of the blessing of the Church is going to feel like inclusion – it’s not going to be perceived as inclusion. I think we’re conning ourselves if we say that there is some clever solution out there that means you can do less than that and it will feel like inclusion.

Here – voicing the views of many – he has developed the language of inclusion in two important but flawed respects. It refers to a subjective experience – something must “feel like inclusion”– and then to inclusion in a specific form as being necessary if it is “to be perceived as inclusion” and meet that subjective test: the “blessing of the Church” on “a same sex relationship”. These two moves are what then lead to a number of problems.

Read it all from Fulcrum.

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Posted September 12, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon


President and Mrs. Bush, I want to say a personal word on behalf of many people. Thank you, Mr. President, for calling this day of prayer and remembrance. We needed it at this time.

We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious, or political background may be. The Bible says that He’s the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles. No matter how hard we try, words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. September eleven will go down in our history as a day to remember.

Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God.

Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God.

We’ve always needed God from the very beginning of this nation, but today we need Him especially. We’re facing a new kind of enemy. We’re involved in a new kind of warfare. And we need the help of the Spirit of God. The Bible words are our hope: God is our refuge and strength; an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking now. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands these feelings that you may have. We’ve seen so much on our television, on our — heard on our radio, stories that bring tears to our eyes and make us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.

But what are some of the lessons we can learn? First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I’ve been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept by faith that God is sovereign, and He’s a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says that God is not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a mystery. In 1st Thessalonians 2:7 it talks about the mystery of iniquity. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Who can understand it?” He asked that question, ‘Who can understand it?’ And that’s one reason we each need God in our lives.

The lesson of this event is not only about the mystery of iniquity and evil, but secondly it’s a lesson about our need for each other. What an example New York and Washington have been to the world these past few days. None of us will ever forget the pictures of our courageous firefighters and police, many of whom have lost friends and colleagues; or the hundreds of people attending or standing patiently in line to donate blood. A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart. But instead it has united us, and we’ve become a family. So those perpetrators who took this on to tear us apart, it has worked the other way — it’s back lashed. It’s backfired. We are more united than ever before. I think this was exemplified in a very moving way when the members of our Congress stood shoulder to shoulder the other day and sang “God Bless America.”

Finally, difficult as it may be for us to see right now, this event can give a message of hope — hope for the present, and hope for the future. Yes, there is hope. There’s hope for the present, because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation. One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in America. And God has told us in His word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins and return to Him, and He will bless us in a new way. But there’s also hope for the future because of God’s promises. As a Christian, I hope not for just this life, but for heaven and the life to come. And many of those people who died this past week are in heaven right now. And they wouldn’t want to come back. It’s so glorious and so wonderful. And that’s the hope for all of us who put our faith in God. I pray that you will have this hope in your heart.

This event reminds us of the brevity and the uncertainty of life. We never know when we too will be called into eternity. I doubt if even one those people who got on those planes, or walked into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon last Tuesday morning thought it would be the last day of their lives. It didn’t occur to them. And that’s why each of us needs to face our own spiritual need and commit ourselves to God and His will now.

Here in this majestic National Cathedral we see all around us symbols of the cross. For the Christian — I’m speaking for the Christian now — the cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering. For He took upon himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, our sins and our suffering. And from the cross, God declares “I love you. I know the heart aches, and the sorrows, and the pains that you feel, but I love you.” The story does not end with the cross, for Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the cross to the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life, for Christ has conquered evil, and death, and hell. Yes, there’s hope.

I’ve become an old man now. And I’ve preached all over the world. And the older I get, the more I cling to that hope that I started with many years ago, and proclaimed it in many languages to many parts of the world. Several years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast here in Washington, Ambassador Andrew Young, who had just gone through the tragic death of his wife, closed his talk with a quote from the old hymn, “How Firm A Foundation.” We all watched in horror as planes crashed into the steel and glass of the World Trade Center. Those majestic towers, built on solid foundations, were examples of the prosperity and creativity of America. When damaged, those buildings eventually plummeted to the ground, imploding in upon themselves. Yet underneath the debris is a foundation that was not destroyed. Therein lies the truth of that old hymn that Andrew Young quoted: “How firm a foundation.”

Yes, our nation has been attacked. Buildings destroyed. Lives lost. But now we have a choice: Whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people, and a nation, or, whether we choose to become stronger through all of the struggle to rebuild on a solid foundation. And I believe that we’re in the process of starting to rebuild on that foundation. That foundation is our trust in God. That’s what this service is all about. And in that faith we have the strength to endure something as difficult and horrendous as what we’ve experienced this week.

This has been a terrible week with many tears. But also it’s been a week of great faith. Churches all across the country have called prayer meetings. And today is a day that they’re celebrating not only in this country, but in many parts of the world. And the words of that familiar hymn that Andrew Young quoted, it says, “Fear not, I am with thee. Oh be not dismayed for I am thy God and will give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand upon” my righteous — on “thy righteous, omnipotent hand.”

My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we trust in Him. We also know that God is going to give wisdom, and courage, and strength to the President, and those around him. And this is going to be a day that we will remember as a day of victory. May God bless you all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEschatology

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Posted September 11, 2016 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Terry] Barr, an English professor, and Michael Nelson, a history professor, came up with the concept for the one-credit class designed to compare and contrast devotion and perspective. The course description — “Woo Pig Sooie!? Roll Tide!? Go Cocks!? What is it about college football that turns otherwise sane people into raving lunatics?” — makes it one of the most unusual offerings at this private liberal arts college of 1,026 students nestled on 240 acres.

Or any other school.

When freshman Moriah Austin of Columbia tells her family and friends about the class, it's usually the same reaction.

“They're jealous,” she said. “They want to be in here with me.”

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr Freier's letter notes that the doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer - that marriage is between a man and a woman "under God" - would remain unchanged.
"I do not believe the Anglican Church in Australia is likely to revise its doctrine of marriage," he writes.
"But ... the church also understands the desire of two people to express their commitment of love and self-sacrifice and Christians have not always shown the respect or perspective they should."

Read it all.

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Posted September 10, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The proposed plebiscite on same-sex marriage has been one of the more contentious topics in 2016. Individual Anglicans have adopted a variety of positions taken in good conscience based on their Christian understanding of the principles and issues, and this is right and proper.

Personally, I welcome the plebiscite, though with strong reservations that we must guard the tenor of the debate, and keep it positive. The Government promised a plebiscite in campaigning for the July election and, having been elected, they have the reasonable expectation of honouring this commitment. Further, those who oppose same-sex marriage will surely find it easier to accept it becoming approved in law if they have been given a vote. It is of course, far from certain at the present time that the measures will gain parliamentary approval.

If the plebiscite does happen it will be important that Christians – and others – vote according to their conscience and their view of what is best for society, and that the Government brings legislation to enact the will of the people. It is proper to expect that the Parliament should honour the results of the plebiscite.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Polyamory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 10, 2016 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our visit to Syria has been attacked in the Press for giving a "war criminal" (that is, Bashar al-Assad) a photo opportunity and a tool for propaganda. In fact, it was a pastoral visit to the people of Syria, especially Christians, who have suffered so much at the hands of jihadist extremists.

Their ancient churches have been destroyed, they have been killed in their own homes and driven out of their ancient communities. Anna (not her real name), who still speaks the Aramaic of Jesus as her native language, told us of how the rebels (some belonging to the so- called "moderate opposition") dragged out her brother and cousin and shot them dead before her eyes for refusing to convert to Islam. They then shot and wounded her, leaving her for dead.

This is why the leadership of all the churches in Syria, including Syrian Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, Armenian and Evangelical is unanimous in its opposition to the extremists and in its advocacy of peaceful change in the land.

Read it all.

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Posted September 9, 2016 at 3:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

William Stocks, a white, Alabama-born, Republican-leaning member of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, arrived at the tiny apartment of a Syrian refugee family on a Wednesday night after work. He was wearing a green-striped golf shirt and a gentle smile, and he was eager to teach yet another improvised session of English 101.

Mr. Stocks, 23, had recently moved to Georgia from Alabama, states where the governors are, like him, Southern Baptists. They are also among the more than 30 Republican governors who have publicly resisted the federal government’s plan to resettle refugees from war-ravaged Syria, fearing that the refugees might bring terrorism to their states.

To Mr. Stocks, such questions belonged in the realm of politics — and he had not come that evening for political reasons. Rather, he said, he had come as a follower of Christ. “My job is to serve these people,” he said, “because they need to be served.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigration* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 9, 2016 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The muezzin’s call to prayer sounded. In minutes, pilgrims lined up in rows around the Kaaba. I made my way to the women’s section, and squeezed into a six-inch space between two ladies. People from all parts of the world, side by side. I prayed that this moment of harmony and peace spread through our world.

There is much more: We prayed under the blazing sun at Arafat, where Prophet Muhammad gave his last sermon. We spent a night in Muzdalifa, under the stars—call it spiritual camping. I collected pebbles to stone the pillars symbolizing Satan. “Will you be stoning the devil or give your proxy to your husband?” a woman asked. With millions converging, people can get trampled. But I put my faith in God and did my own stoning. A lamb was sacrificed to honor Abraham’s sacrifice.

By day five, we had completed our rituals. I was now a Hajji.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted September 9, 2016 at 11:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Asked about...[the GAFCON] statement, Dr Chamberlain said: “I read it and listened to the news. I can well understand what is being said by my brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Susie Leafe, who chairs Reform, told the BBC that she sympathised with Dr Chamberlain for having been “hounded by the secular press and forced into making a statement”: “All human beings have a range of complex desires. Who he is attracted to should not make any difference to his ability to do the job of a bishop,” she said.

The Bishop of Grimsby, Dr David Court, who trained at Oak Hill, and described himself as coming from a “more traditional part of the Church . . . who may struggle with some of the issues here”, joined the BBC Lincolnshire interview on Sunday to show support for Dr Chamblerlain. “I am here to give credence to the fact that we want to work together, and that it is possible.”

Read it all.

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Posted September 9, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Latest NewsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 8, 2016 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From the official Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination’s Gender Identity Guidance, just released last week:

Even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.

Now, churches hold events “open to the general public” all the time — it’s often how they seek new converts. And even church “secular events,” which I take it means events that don’t involve overt worship, are generally viewed by the church as part of its ministry, and certainly as a means of the church modeling what it believes to be religiously sound behavior.

Read it all from Euguene Volokh at the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMulticulturalism, pluralismPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 8, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recently I had a surreally disquieting experience. Someone had randomly posted up a photograph of girls in school uniform on my school’s Old Girls’ Facebook page (this school used to be a convent boarding school but is now a girls’ Catholic day school). Above the photo was a caption referring to private schools having to face up to new transgender issues.

I added a one-line comment, saying I hoped that such schools would not give in to political correctness on this matter. There were instant strong objections to my remark. So I added a couple of paragraphs, explaining why Christians follow history, the Bible, biology and common sense on sex and gender and recommending a couple of books. This led to an irrational and angry response on the part of several commentators who demanded that the thread be closed immediately. It was.

I thought of this incident when reading Gabriele Kuby’s book, The Global Sexual Revolution: Destruction of Freedom in the Name of Freedom, recently republished from the German by Angelico Press. Her book, as its title suggests, carefully explains, with the aid of much research and citing many telling statistics, just why western society (it doesn’t apply to the rest of the world) has moved in recent decades from militant feminism to the destruction of marriage and now to an aggressive push for “gender ideology” and the right to “choose” your sex.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHistoryMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyWomen* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An ordained Anglican cleric Don Cupitt, whose BBC series The Sea of Faith argued for this kind of mythical view of Christianity and all religions, is a ‘non realist’ in his view of God and rejects any idea of an objective transcendent God. A new book by Linda Woodhead and Andrew Brown, Bad Connections: How the Church of England lost the English People, proceeds on the assumption that too much religion, belief in an objective God revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, is bad for the church and for society. The church should shake off all this evangelical gospel nonsense and concentrate on being the social cohesion for the English. The Church of England is consumed by its obsessive warfare over sex and women, and needs just to drop doctrinal arguments and be open to the world and its cultural diversity.

It is no surprise that a sociologist of religion and a Guardian journalist hold this view of Christianity and Church: it is a very middle class and sophisticated secularist spin on Anglicanism as a totally non-demanding way of life, tinged by aesthetic beauty from the glories of its language, history, music and art, untroubled by claims to ordering of one’s sexual life, let alone to the gospel message that we are sinners in need of redemption. All this religious stuff is very alienating and off-putting.

Read it all (may require subscription).

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

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Posted September 8, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in Iraq should be given independent rule or allowed to join a region of their choice in a post-war settlement, the leader of the country's largest Church has suggested.

The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I says in a report this week that should Iraq be reclaimed from Islamic State, there should be an interim political settlement allowing Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain to become "self-administrative".

Many of the Christians who have been forced to flee could return to their homes if Islamic State is defeated, he says.

He calls for a referendum to give Christians a choice on whether they want to be governed from Baghdad, to be part of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan or even place themselves under a "Sunni state".

Read it all from Christian Today.

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

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Posted September 8, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

David Ison, the dean of St Paul’s, who was also involved in gathering signatures for the letter, said the status quo was not an option. “I believe that there’s a growing consciousness across the church that our response to lay and ordained LGBTI Christians cannot stay as it is. We need far greater honesty and transparency with one another, and to ensure that all LGBTI people are welcomed and affirmed by a church called to share the redeeming love of Christ with all.”

Responding to the letter, Nicholas Holtam, the bishop of Salisbury, said: “It is not surprising that the bishops are receiving letters from all sides in advance of our meeting next week. We are in a long process, seeking the way forward together. This letter is encouraging of that process, both in content and the number of signatories. It is a very welcome and supportive contribution.”

Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, said he was glad to receive the letter. “It was especially good to recognise the signatures of synod colleagues from many of the different traditions that make up our richly diverse church,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We hope that this will be with the sense of urgency and sensitivity that so many of us expressed within Synod. In particular, we pray it will continue to develop the new “relational approach” that has enabled us to bridge our sometimes unhelpful “tribal divides”.

Whilst not wishing to pre-empt the work of the College of Bishops, we would ask that the steps that are proposed create greater clarity and consistency in our approach to this complex issue. In particular, we are keen that the College of Bishops is unequivocal in its acknowledgement that all, including those who identify as LGBTI, are essential to the health and future of our church and mission to the wider world.

Read it all and see the list of signatories there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of my favourite videos on YouTube features the great Welsh evangelical preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones in conversation with Joan Bakewell on Late Night Line-Up in 1970.
Over the course of 19 minutes, this genial man and the hostess with her cut-glass accent earnestly dialogue about the big questions in life: Man’s place in the cosmos, the nature of God, the reality of sin, and the truth claims of Christianity.
Perhaps what’s most striking about this interview is not the content itself so much as the container: a prime-time television show on the BBC, which would have had viewing figures of millions.
Can you imagine Jonathan Ross in conversation with Canon J. John today? Or Dick Lucas propping up the Good Morning Britain sofas? Where are the Martyn Lloyd-Joneses on Who Do You Think You Are?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 7, 2016 at 4:53 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

South Sudan is on the brink of genocide, the Primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan warned members of the UN Security Council. On 3 Sept 2016 the Most Rev. Daniel Deng, Archbishop of Juba, urged a 15 member UN delegation to strengthen peacekeeping forces in Africa’s newest nation.

What had begun as a political dispute within the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) between President Salva Kiir and Vice-President Riek Machar had taken an ominous turn. "People have been made to believe it's a tribal war,” the archbishop (pictured) told the delegation, adding: “What happened in Rwanda - we're afraid it can happen in this country," according to wire service reports of the meeting.

On 4 Sept 2016 the UN Security Council delegation led by US Ambassador Samantha Powers and Senegalese Ambassador Fode Seck, with representatives from Angola, China, Egypt, France, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Venezuela wrapped up a three day visit to Juba to meet with government and civil society leaders.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesEpiscopal Church of the Sudan* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan

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Posted September 7, 2016 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amazon seems like a tough place to work, whether you are in the marketing department in Seattle or in a warehouse in Allentown, Pa., where workers have been reported to collapse from exhaustion trying to fulfill their daily quota of shipments. But Amazon is only one especially visible example of the sorry state of work in the digital economy. American workers put in more time on the job than most of their global economic peers, and increasingly, the boundary between work and not-work is a fuzzy one. As a result, the labor force increasingly experiences work as precarious, discontinuous and materially unrewarding.

There is also a problem in the way we talk about our work. As the stability of work that characterized the industrial era becomes rarer, the terms that theologians, philosophers and the magisterium developed to describe the moral significance of jobs—not just terms like career and craft, but vocation and co-creativity, too—become irrelevant. Despite the strength of its social teaching, the Catholic Church, not to mention many Protestant denominations, has yet to develop terms people in the postindustrial West can use to connect their work to their religious commitments.

For most Christian groups, the issue of work is a theological demilitarized zone. Clergy and laity tend not to discuss it. Clergy often have work experience outside the church to draw upon in the (unlikely) event that a congregant seeks guidance on a work issue, but they almost certainly have no theological training on this topic. Courses on marriage and sexuality are staples of university and seminary curricula, but courses on work are rare. This mutually acceptable silence is a great pastoral failure, a squandered opportunity to understand the universal call to holiness in everyday economic life.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 7, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Wednesday, August 17, the Wyoming Supreme Court heard a case that has huge implications for each and every one of us.

The case involves Judge Ruth Neely, who has served with distinction for twenty-one years as the municipal judge in Pinedale, Wyoming. Since municipalities have no authority either to issue a license or solemnize a marriage, you would think that she’s unaffected by all the hoopla over same-sex marriage. But you would be mistaken. Because of her beliefs about marriage, the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics (CJCE) wants to remove her from her job and disqualify her for service anywhere in the Wyoming judiciary.

The story began on a cold Saturday morning in December 2014. Shortly after the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals declared Wyoming marriage statutes unconstitutional, a reporter from the Sublette Examiner called Judge Neely to ask if she was “excited” to perform same-sex marriages. It was only because she had accepted a part-time job as a circuit court magistrate that this question had any relevance at all. In that unpaid position, she was authorized, but not obligated, to solemnize marriages. She gave a perfectly reasonable reply. She said that if she were ever asked, she would help the couple find someone to do the job. However, she would “not be able to do” it herself.

Based on this solitary exchange about a hypothetical scenario, the commission has been waging what they call a “holy war” against her for more than a year. They are not content to send her a letter clarifying what she should have done, nor even a letter of reprimand. Instead, they are leveling the greatest possible punishment allowable by law—and the implications of their arguments are chilling.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Check them all out.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 7, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It would be good, at this time, for us traditionalists to remind ourselves that Bishop Chamberlain’s commitment to his partner most likely involves the kinds of virtues traditional Christians have long celebrated between people of the same sex: loyalty, comradeship, kindness, and a host of others. The fact that the bishop practices these virtues while experiencing himself as same-sex attracted is no proof that those virtues are thereby diminished. And it is also no proof that he is living a so-called double life.

But maybe I could also say something about what I find myself wishing Bishop Chamberlain might say publicly someday. I find myself thinking about something another Englishman, Martin Hallett, wrote several years ago:

There are probably nearly as many Christians with homosexual feelings who do not believe that homosexual sex is right for Christians as there are those who are advocating its acceptance…. A friend of mine in Sweden (Erik) is a Lutheran priest who believes in the traditional biblical teaching on sexuality and has homosexual feelings himself. He determined, from the beginning of his call to the ordained ministry, that he would be open about his sexuality at every stage…. Ultimately, as more evangelicals make such a public stand, it will seem less costly and will, I believe, have a tremendous impact for the kingdom of God…. [I want to] encourage those leaders in the church who have homosexual feelings but who believe homosexual sex is wrong to be more open. People like Erik… are not a tiny minority in terms of all homosexuals in the church…. I wish their voices could be heard saying that “We believe our homosexuality is part of our value and giftedness to the church, but homosexual sex is a sin.” What a difference this would make to the life, witness, and future of the body of Christ.

What a difference indeed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 7, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is the idea of being in a celibate relationship possible or helpful? Jayne Ozanne argues vehemently that it is not possible to define or distinguish a sexual from a non-sexual relationships, since no-one can give here a list of things that you can and cannot do in either situation. (In fact, Sean Doherty has offered an answer to that question.) But that is a nonsense position; there is no end of situations where two people are required not to be in a sexual relationship, including a school teacher and pupil, or a professor and undergraduate student. Is it really the case that all such limitations are meaningless? This is the ethical situation of the hair and the beard: suppose (for health and safety reasons) an employee is required not to have a beard. How many whiskers are actually allowed before this constitutes a beard? If I don’t shave for a day, am I contravening this? Or two days? or three? There is no objective answer—subjective judgement is required—but this does not make the regulation meaningless.

Gavin Ashenden argues online and on the radio that Nick Chamberlain’s appointment is very unhelpful. I do like the way he starts the broadcast with a personal expression of support and sympathy for Chamberlain, and that he immediately goes on to agree that the appointment, in principle, is perfectly reasonable, and has clear historic precedent. But he then goes on to criticise Chamberlain’s use of the word ‘gay’, as buying into a sub-Christian and mistaken anthropology which defines us by our sexuality. I disagree with Gavin here, since Chamberlain says very clearly to the Guardian and his sexuality is only part of who he is, and he would much rather talk about ministry. It is notable that he makes no comment along that lines that he wants the Church to change its position.

Then of course there is the intervention by Peter Jensen from Sydney in the name of GAFCON. I don’t really understand why Jensen believes he has a brief to comment on affairs in the C of E; I have never taken it on myself to pronounce on the way he leads his diocese. The letter notes that the appointment is in line with the current position of the Church—but still thinks the appointment is a ‘major error.’ That doesn’t really make sense. What I think he intends to say is that the Church’s current position is a major error. The objection is to ‘same-sex relationships which are not sexual.’ The difficulty here is that I am in a number of same-sex relationships which are not sexual; I call them my friends, and Nick Chamberlain appears to be doing the same. It was interesting to note that, in his interview on Radio 4’s Sunday programme yesterday, he underplayed it as an ‘exclusive’ relationship, saying of his friend that ‘he, amongst many others, helps me stay sane.’

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speak Up is a new resource from the Evangelical Alliance and the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship to equip and inspire Christians with confidence and knowledge of the current legal freedoms we have to share our faith.
The good news of Jesus is something we all have a part in sharing. Through our everyday lives – in the local playground, at the bus stop or over a cup of tea – we all have amazing opportunities to introduce people to Jesus.
We won't always be sure how it will be received, but the Christian message must be proclaimed. Romans 10:141 says: "And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" In this country we've got the freedom and privilege of being able to speak up and demonstrate the love of God and the transforming power of Jesus in our communities.

Read it all and download the resource itself.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyApologeticsEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 7, 2016 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians living in the Palestinian territories and elsewhere in the Middle East will this week be urged not to flee from the region as persecution intensifies.

Church leaders who will meet beside the Dead Sea are expected to urge Palestinians in particular to stay put despite the severity of the challenges they face.

Father Issa Misleh, of Jerusalem's Orthodox Church, and spokesman for the Middle East Council of Churches, told The Jordan Times that if Christians left the Middle East as a result of the growing terrorism, the outlook will be dire for the territories.

"This would be the end of the Palestinian cause."

Read it all from Christian Today.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted September 6, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The sleepy town of Nain was electrified by Jesus’s visit and the reported healing of the young man, by almost every account. His mother threw Jesus a large party the next day—with the most expensive of wines.

Yet as with much of his “ministry” the net result of the events at Nain remain to be seen. Will his latest reported "healing" silence critics who set accuse him of ignoring a more systematic approach to sickness and poverty? Or would it simply embolden those who condemn him for his "selectivity"?

Jesus himself could not be reached for comment, typical of his longstanding response to criticism. But his close associate Peter said to this reporter, “You have eyes but do not see.”

Others wonder if there is anything to see at all.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 6, 2016 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gandalf is the instrument of Providence, but a strange sort of instrument. His power is limited and less than Sauron’s; his interventions are decisive but rare; frequently he is absent when he is most needed. He is forbidden to dominate. For in the First and Second Ages of Tolkien’s world the gods interfered in man’s fate and so obscured it’ in the Third Age their emissary is present, but as a helper only. The Age ends with the destruction of the ring, and the time of man’s dominion begins. So when Frodo and the High Kindre, whose time has also passed, step into the ship that bears them to the Grey Havens, Gandalf is also on board.
Anyone inheriting the fantastic device of human language can say The Green Sun. Many can then imagine or picture it. But that is not enough.... To make a secondary world inside the Green Sun will be credible commanding Secondary Belief will demand a special skill, a kind of elvish craft. Few attempt such difficult tasks. But when they are attempted, and in any degree accomplished, then we have a rare achievement of Art... indeed story telling in its primary and most potent mode - Tolkien
This standard, set by Tolkien in his contribution to the Essays Presented to Charles Williams, is met in his own work. He possesses elvish craft. He adds to it the scholar’s perspective and the humanist’s faith. And yet he never allows the magical balance of mystery and perception to be lost. For reasons his world of fantasy is more gripping than the events that occur next door, say at Ten North Frederick. For Tolkien’s fantasy does not obscure, but illuminates the inner consistency of reality. There are very few works of genius in recent literature.

This is one.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr Idowu-Fearon said: “It is clear that Bishop Nicholas has abided by the guidelines set down by the Church. In fact, his lifestyle would make him acceptable to serve the church at any time in its history. I reject the suggestion that his appointment is an ‘error’.

“I do recognise that this is a sensitive area for many people whatever their convictions. It is also a difficult time for Bishop Nicholas with revelations about his private life being made public in such a dramatic way, against his will, by anonymous sources that seem to be out to make trouble.

“The Anglican Communion is a worldwide family and, like any family, we don’t agree on everything,” he added. “But we are committed to working together on difficult issues. I want to reassure the Communion of my commitment to what was set out at the Lambeth conference in 1998 – that human sexuality finds it full expression in marriage between a man and woman. But all baptised, faithful and believing people are loved by God and full members of the body of Christ regardless of their sexual orientation. The Anglican Communion has never made sexual orientation a condition of eligibility to hold office within the church and I reject the suggestion that it has.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 6, 2016 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since it is dated a bit now, it is wise to familiarize yourself with it again.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Nicholas’ appointment was made following the recommended and established procedures for suffragan posts, and was approved by the Archbishop of Canterbury (as metropolitan of the Province of Canterbury). The archbishop, and the members of the advisory panel, were in full possession of the facts of the appointment and unanimous in their support.

A story has been published on the Guardian website this evening about sexuality and the church. The same story will appear in the newspaper tomorrow, and it includes an interview with Bishop Nicholas in which he is open about the fact that he is gay. Bishop Nicholas gave this interview willingly and after much careful thought and prayer, and he did so with the express intention of acting in the best interests of the Diocese of Lincoln and of the Church of England.

I am satisfied now, as I was at the time of his appointment, that Bishop Nicholas fully understands, and lives by, the House of Bishops’ guidance on Issues in Human Sexuality. For me, and for those who assisted in his appointment, the fact that Bishop Nicholas is gay is not, and has never been, a determining factor.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Reverend Colin Coward, a Church of England priest and founder of Changing Attitude, a pressure group seeking to change the Anglican approach to sexuality, said the church was still a long way from accepting gay people on equal terms: “Contrary to what the Archbishop of Canterbury has said, there is a problem for those bishops who are gay and have partners — only one has felt able to come out.”

He added: “To my knowledge, there are at least 10 other bishops in the church who are gay, many of whom are in some kind of relationship. I would encourage gay bishops to be open, but I would not ‘out’ them against their will.”

Welby recently told a Christian festival that he was “consumed with horror” at the way the church had treated gay people and “can’t see the road ahead” for it on same-sex relationships.

Read it all (subscription required).

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

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Posted September 6, 2016 at 6:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We are writing to you as married lesbian and gay members of the Church of England. Some of us are clergy; some of us are members of the laity. We are just a few of the many gay and lesbian people in this country who have in the past two years been able to celebrate with families, friends, and in our cases often our local Church community, the enriching and life enhancing love we have found in our wives and husbands.

We would like you to know that we will be praying for you as you meet in September as a College of Bishops.

Now that the Shared Conversations are at an end it is time for the Church of England to move forward and make clear the commitment to ‘good disagreement’ that was at their heart.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This Labor Day, we draw our attention to our sisters and brothers who face twin crises—deep trials in both the world of work and the state of the family. These challenging times can pull us toward despair and all the many dangers that come with it. Into this reality, the Church shares a word of hope, directing hearts and minds to the dignity of each human person and the sanctity of work itself, which is given by God. She seeks to replace desperation and isolation with human concern and true solidarity, reaffirming the trust in a good and gracious God who knows what we need before we ask him (Mt. 6:8).

A World of Work in Disarray

We behold signs that have become too familiar in the years following the Great Recession: stagnant wages, industry leaving towns and cities behind, and the sharp decline in the rate of private-sector organized labor, which fell by more than two-thirds between 1973 and 2009 down to 7%. Millions of families still find themselves living in poverty, unable to work their way out. Poverty rates among children are alarmingly high, with almost 40 percent of American children spending at least one year in poverty before they turn eighteen. Although this reality is felt nation-wide, this year new research has emerged showing the acute pain of middle and rural America in the wake of the departure of industry. Once the center of labor and the promise of family-sustaining wages, research shows these communities collapsing today, substance abuse on the rise, and an increase in the number of broken families.

Family in Crisis

The family is bent under the weight of these economic pressures and related cultural problems.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 5, 2016 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ZENIT spoke with Father Tarcisio Giuseppe Stramare of the Congregation of Oblates of Saint Joseph, director of the Josephite Movement, about Tuesday's feast of St. Joseph the Worker....

ZENIT: What does “Gospel of work” mean?

Father Stramare: “Gospel” is the Good News that refers to Jesus, the Savior of humanity. Well, despite the fact that in general we see Jesus as someone who teaches and does miracles, he was so identified with work that in his time he was regarded as “the son of the carpenter,” namely, an artisan himself. Among many possible activities, the Wisdom of God chose for Jesus manual work, entrusted the education of his Son not to the school of the learned but to a humble artisan, namely, St. Joseph.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 5, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

David Jenkins was an Anglican bishop who questioned some of the fundamental beliefs of Christianity.
His views on the virgin birth and the resurrection caused a storm of protest and considerable opposition to his appointment as Bishop of Durham.
His forays into the field of politics saw attacks on both Conservative and Labour administrations for what he saw was their over-reliance on market forces.
An academic theologian, rather than a parish priest, he became for many, the symbol of modernisation and liberal ideas in the established church.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Elevating the "saint of the gutters" to one of the Catholic Church's highest honors, Pope Francis on Sunday praised Mother Teresa for her radical dedication to society's outcasts and her courage in shaming world leaders for the "crimes of poverty they themselves created."

An estimated 120,000 people filled St. Peter's Square for the canonization ceremony, less than half the number who turned out for her 2003 beatification. It was nevertheless the highlight of Francis' Holy Year of Mercy and quite possibly one of the defining moments of his mercy-focused papacy.

Francis has been dedicated to ministering to society's most marginal, from prostitutes to prisoners, refugees to the homeless. In that way, while the canonization of "St. Teresa of Kolkata" was a celebration of her life and work, it was also something of an affirmation of Francis' own papal priorities, which have earned him praise and criticism alike.

"Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer," Francis said in his homily.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureWomen* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * Theology

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Posted September 4, 2016 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The future is so much in the hands of God, I find it much more easy to accept today because yesterday is gone and tomorrow has not come and I have only today,” she also wrote in the book.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted September 4, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In some cases, churches had banded together to use their collective buying power to secure green energy tariffs from companies that bought or produced at least 80 per cent of their electricity from renewable sources, said Tim Gee, campaigns leader at Christian Aid.

A number had saved money but in certain instances this was because the churches had not switched suppliers in a long time, he said.

“The very cheapest electricity supplier is still fossil fuels,” he said, but the churches had still been able to obtain the cheapest available renewable energy tariffs.

The overriding reason for acting, he added, was to send a message to governments and investors that there needed to be a shift away from fossil fuels if the world were to avoid dangerous levels of climate change.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 3, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...there are aspects of this appointment which are a serious cause for concern for biblically orthodox Anglicans around the world, and therefore we believe that this appointment is a major error.

In 2003, Jeffrey John’s candidacy for the post of Bishop of Reading caused deep divisions within the Diocese of Oxford and beyond, and this news about Nicholas Chamberlain will exacerbate the same divisions within the Church of England and throughout the wider Anglican Communion.

In this case the element of secrecy in the appointment to the episcopacy of a man in a same sex relationship gives the impression that it has been arranged with the aim of presenting the church with a ‘fait accompli’, rather than engaging with possible opposition in the spirit of the ‘shared conversations’.

We remain opposed to the guidelines for clergy and Bishops, permitting them to be in same sex relationships as long as they publicly declare that the relationship is not sexual. This creates confusion in terms of the church’s teaching on the nature of sex and marriage, and it is not modelling a helpful way to live, given the reality of our humanity, and temptation to sexual sin.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsGlobal South Churches & PrimatesGAFCON I 2008Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted September 3, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case they’re wrong. In the foreground is a young woman with fuchsia lipstick, Jackie O-style sunglasses and a colourful headscarf. Behind her is a young man, with a hip, trimmed beard, headphones jammed in his ears and one hand casually resting in his pocket.

They are part of Generation M, and the eponymous book, subtitled Young Muslims Changing the World, is the first detailed portrait of this influential constituency of the world’s fastest growing religion. According to author Shelina Janmohamed, they are proud of their faith, enthusiastic consumers, dynamic, engaged, creative and demanding. And the change they will bring about won’t depend on the benevolence of others: instead, the Muslim pound, like the pink pound before it, will force soft cultural change by means of hard economics.

To demonstrate all that, the cover image was crucial. “When you’re talking about Muslims in particular, but actually people of religion in general, the images you get are really quite depressing,” she says over coffee and baklava in her garden in the outer suburbs of London. “But I think this really captures it. It’s bold, it’s vibrant, the woman’s got so much attitude. They are exactly the kind of people I’m writing about.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksGlobalizationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted September 3, 2016 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




One of the more surprising consequences of the fire that destroyed London 350 years ago this week was the way it spawned an entire literature of loss. While the most famous accounts of the Great Fire, by diarists Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn, didn’t see the light of day until the 19th century, broadside ballads with titles such as “The Londoners’ Lamentation” and “London Mourning in Ashes” began to appear on the blackened streets within weeks.

Some were eloquent in their simplicity: “Old London that, / Hath stood in State, / above six hundred years, / In six days space / Woe and alas! / is burn’d and drown’d in tears.” But there were also heroic couplets and Pindaric odes and Latin verses. There were outrageously mannered compositions – “And still the surly flame doth fiercer hiss / By an Antiperistasis” – and conceits of metaphysical weirdness. The makeshift camps outside the City walls were so full of sleeping refugees that the area was “the Counterfeit of the Great Bed of Ware”.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 2, 2016 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The bishop of Grantham has become the first Church of England bishop to publicly declare that he is gay and in a relationship. In a move that will be embraced by campaigners for equality but is likely to alarm conservatives who fear the church is moving away from traditional teachings, Nicholas Chamberlain said there had been no secret about his long-term – albeit celibate – relationship with his partner.

But a threat by a Sunday newspaper to reveal Chamberlain’s sexuality had pushed him to speak publicly. He acknowledged that the revelation would cause “ripples” within the church. “It was not my decision to make a big thing about coming out,” he told the Guardian in an exclusive interview. “People know I’m gay, but it’s not the first thing I’d say to anyone. Sexuality is part of who I am, but it’s my ministry that I want to focus on.”

Chamberlain was consecrated last November, and all those involved in his appointment – including Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury – were aware of his personal situation. During the process of being appointed as suffragan bishop of Grantham, he said, “I was myself. Those making the appointment knew about my sexual identity.” His appointment was made by the diocesan (senior) bishop of Lincoln, Christopher Lowson, and endorsed by Welby.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 2, 2016 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than six decades after its founding, Missionaries of Charity now has more than 5,500 members following Mother Teresa’s credo in 133 countries. They work at leper colonies, hospices, orphanages, drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities. Hundreds of thousands of lay volunteers also contribute.

For her commitment to pluralism, as well as “the spirit that has inspired her activities,” she was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. After receiving the award, the already-famous nun achieved levels of popularity and influence second only to the pope, John Paul II. This in a church that supposedly oppresses women.

Mother Teresa’s ascension challenged the narrative that women couldn’t become significant players in the Catholic Church. In some ways, she was more powerful than the cardinals who select the pope, not all of whom had the personal relationship with John Paul II that Mother Teresa had.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

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Posted September 2, 2016 at 11:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But the law left critics, including some Christian lawmakers, embittered, warning that it will maintain Christian's second-class status. The Coptic Orthodox Church, to which most Egyptian Christians belong, had at first opposed the bill but later backed it—and critics say it bent to heavy government pressure.

Under the law passed Tuesday, Christians must apply to the local provincial governor when they want to build a church.

The law stipulates that the size of the church must be "appropriate" to the number of Christians in the area. According to an official supplement to the law, the governor should also take into account "the preservation of security and public order" when considering the application.

The law "empowers the majority to decide whether the minority has the right to hold their religious practices," said Ishaq Ibrahim, a top researcher in the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

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

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Posted September 2, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A kindhearted Muslim man volunteered to help a Christian student who was mobbed for alleged blasphemy in Zamfara State, Nigeria. Radical Muslims ran amok and set the man's home on fire, killing eight people.

The anger of the Muslims led to a riot in the Abdu Gusau Polytechnic in Talata-Mafara, Zamfara State, a local church leader said to International Christian Concern (ICC). The radical mob of Muslim students destroyed Christian campus offices, after which they proceeded to wreak havoc in the town proper.

"When I heard this from my pastor and one of my members, I immediately called some security officials because the radicals went on rampage in town," said Rev. John Danbinta, Anglican Bishop of Zamfara, in an interview with ICC.

Read it all from the Christian Times.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted September 1, 2016 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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