Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the context of the present dispute, this means that the Court will base its final decision upon a close examination of the various deeds and other documents evidencing ownership and title, as well as the governing documents (constitution, canons, articles and bylaws) of the parishes, the Diocese, and of the Episcopal Church (USA) itself.

As to the ability of the Diocese to withdraw from ECUSA, it would seem that it has already been finally adjudicated (by the courts of Illinois) that there is no language in the Constitution or canons of ECUSA which would prevent a Diocese from withdrawing. That is also a decision drawn under neutral principles, and so is in harmony with the method shown in the All Saints Waccamaw case. I should think that Judge Goodstein will find the reasoning of those two cases both persuasive and binding upon her.

Resolution of that question will not, however, necessarily resolve the issue of property held in trust. Under the Waccamaw decision again, an express written trust of some kind will be required -- one that satisfies the Statute of Frauds under South Carolina law (it must be in writing, and signed by the actual owner of the person so placing the property into a trust). The Dennis Canon alone will not work -- that was one of the express holdings in the Waccamaw case which will be binding upon Judge Goodstein.

There was no evidence of any such trust document or documents offered at the trial, to my knowledge. Consequently, the decision on this point, while open, should not be a difficult one under neutral principles.

Read it all and please follow and read all the links as well.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South Carolina* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 10, 2014 at 6:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all (HT: Anglican Journal).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of CanadaSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted December 19, 2014 at 4:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There we are: Evangelicals are hidebound and change-allergic, straining attempts at compromise. Never mind that Archbishop Welby – who, as the Times itself says, "backed the push for female bishops" – is himself widely known as an evangelical.

There's also a glitch in the Times saying that Libby Lane's appointment will test the compromise. If Thomas' concern is male oversight for conservative churches, why wouldn't he be satisfied with a female suffragan who draws her authority from a male bishop? He should have been asked, don’t you think?

Nor does the article's grasp of history sound much better. Not when the story says, "The tradition of all-male bishops dates to the Church of England’s break with Rome five centuries ago, in the days of King Henry VIII."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & CultureWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted December 19, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They are angry at the loss, frustrated that the battle for Mosul is on hold and that Baghdad has failed to support them. In the meantime, they have backing from the Americans who have visited this camp and offered to start training soon.

"Maybe in the next week. Maybe," says Hamdani. But the Americans have made no promises to provide the weapons Hamdani says he needs. "The weapons come from Baghdad."

So far, Baghdad has delivered one small shipment of 1,000 Kalashnikov rifles and 30 heavy machine guns. It's not nearly enough, says Hamdani, against a dangerous enemy that is well-armed with U.S. weapons seized in Mosul when the Iraqi army collapsed in June. The fleeing Iraqi army left behind millions of dollars worth of U.S. armaments.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq

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Posted December 19, 2014 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Director Ridley Scott ’s $140 million “Exodus: Gods and Kings” isn’t exactly drowning in a red sea, but its $24.1 million opening box office last weekend wasn’t spectacular, either—nearly $20 million below that for March’s “Noah,” another expensive biblical epic. Like “Noah,” this movie had a director who couldn’t bring himself to believe in the story he was telling.

Mr. Scott is famously hostile to faith. The “biggest source of evil is of course religion,” he told Esquire in 2012. Theoretically, that shouldn’t make a difference to his moviemaking.[...but it has].

Mr. Scott’s Moses (Christian Bale) not only can’t match Charlton Heston; his job is not to try. This Moses is a 21st-century skeptic who, instead of becoming the instrument of God in freeing the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, sits back and calls God “cruel” and “inhumane” for visiting plagues upon Egypt. Gone is the rhythmic narration in the Book of Exodus (and DeMille’s movie) in which Moses travels again and again to the pharaoh to demand, “Let my people go” (not uttered in the new movie). God, for his part, is depicted as a vengeful 11-year-old brat ( Isaac Andrews ) who resembles no one so much as Joffrey, the nasty child-tyrant in HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchHistoryMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted December 19, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Currently, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of Durham, London and Winchester automatically take seats in the House of Lords. The remaining 21 seats are occupied by Bishops in order of seniority (length of service). Under the current system, it would be many years before women bishops were represented in the Lords.

The Government’s Bill, which is supported by the Church of England, proposes a modification of this rule for the next ten years....

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 19, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Women bishops would be fast-tracked into the House of Lords, under government proposals set out... [yesterday].

Ministers want to change the law to allow female bishops to take up the "spiritual" seats in the Lords, when they become available.

Usually they are allocated to the most senior or longest-serving bishops.

On Wednesday, Reverend Libby Lane was announced as the first female bishop for the Church of England - a month after a historic change to canon law.

The general synod voted to back plans for female bishops in July and formally adopted legislation on 17 November.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is an old saying that, ‘Delegation without preparation is abdication’. When someone responds to the call to take up a senior post there is a pressing need and responsibility to prepare them for the demands of the ministry entrusted to them.

This is true especially for diocesan bishops, but also for all other aspects of the episcopacy, for deans, for leaders of large churches and great churches, in theological colleges and so forth. The Green report sets out a process which enables proper preparation for wider responsibility to be held within a clear Christian context of development of personal spirituality and prayer in order to be equipped and also to be dependent on the grace that we receive through the gift of the Spirit. Not to undertake this seriously is to put unreasonable stress on those in positions of leadership, neglecting to love them as we are called to do. In the midst of any vocational call there remains the constant need to remember the sacredness of the human person....

The Church, gathered and dispersed, stands as a holy nation, a royal priesthood, and God’s own people. The Green report is one of a portfolio of reforms being proposed cover the whole range of ministry, or to be accurate, will do once they are fully rolled out over a period of years. They will be introduced at General Synod in February and there will be opportunities for people to engage with and comment on the proposals. The reforms are rooted in a love for the whole people of God. They begin with the recognition that we can’t simply go on as we are if we are to flourish and grow as the Church of England. Our call is not to manage decline.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 19, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I' ve worked up a good lather in the so-called “culture war” around homosexuality and same-sex marriage for about two decades now. And I’m just as committed to the Christian view on sexuality as I am to engaging the issue in spirited and civil debate. However, to debate the issue seriously and truthfully, we must seek an honest picture of what our opponents actually believe — working from what we think they believe is neither helpful nor respectful.

While there are people of many diverse beliefs and convictions — including gay and lesbian people — who oppose same-sex marriage, here are 10 foundational truths that inform the traditional, orthodox Christian belief.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted December 18, 2014 at 5:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Though I respected, and continue to respect, both groups [IVCF and Campus Crusade] equally, I eventually chose IVCF because it put more focus on friendship evangelism and less on door-to-door evangelism. Whereas the door-to-door method follows a sales model, with the evangelist approaching a stranger and then taking him through a carefully scripted gospel presentation (the booklet of choice in my day was “The Four Spiritual Laws”), the friendship model attempts first to cultivate a relationship with a non-believer (who might live in your dorm or attend classes with you) and then introduce the gospel in a more casual and natural way.

At the time, I did not possess any theories about the most effective or most biblical method of evangelism. I gravitated toward friendship evangelism because it better suited my personality and because, well, it “felt” right. Like many other Americans, I’ve always hated the “hard sell” and have quickly (if politely) closed the door or hung up the phone whenever a solicitor has tried to sell me something. If I was going to share the message of grace with my fellow students, I did not want it to sound like a sales pitch. I wanted it to rise up organically from our friendship, or at least from a sense of shared interests and passions.

Jonathan Dodson, founding pastor of City Life church in Austin, Texas, has practiced, and clearly respects, both forms of evangelism. However, in his new book, The Unbelievable Gospel: Say Something Worth Believing (a 2015 CT Book Awards winner), he argues that our current social-cultural moment has made the door-to-door model not only less effective, but potentially counter-productive. “Wave after wave of rationalistic, rehearsed (and at times coerced and confrontational) evangelism,” he writes in his preface, “has inoculated, if not antagonized, the broader culture.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristologySoteriology

2 Comments
Posted December 18, 2014 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Militants have stormed a remote village in north-eastern Nigeria, killing at least 33 people and kidnapping at least 100, a survivor has told the BBC.

He said that suspected Boko Haram militants had seized young men, women and children from Gumsuri village.

The attack happened on Sunday but news has only just emerged, after survivors reached the city of Maiduguri.

Meanwhile, Cameroon's army says it has killed 116 Nigerian militants who had attacked one of its bases, AFP reports.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 18, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Parents have spoken of their disgust after a clergywoman told children that Father Christmas is not real.

Rev Margaret McPhee made the mistake during a choir concert for primary school children from Stalham Academy, in Norfolk.

During the service at St Mary's Church in the town, the curate asked pupils what they thought Christmas was about.

When one child said "Father Christmas", she replied that he was make-believe and not real.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture

6 Comments
Posted December 18, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In retrospect, it appears we may have been too hard on Noah.

When Darren Aronofsky’s movie about a family and a flood was released in March, many of us thought it was going to be the worst big-budget Bible-based movie of 2014. But with two weeks to go before the deadline, Ridley Scott slipped in an entry that is even worse.

Exodus: Gods and Kings had the potential to be one of the greatest films of all time; instead it’s one of the worst movies of the year. Director Ridley Scott aspired to produce the next Ten Commandments (1956) and instead gave us a revisionist version of the story that is almost as lame as the justifiably forgotten Wholly Moses! (1980).

In the future, this movie should be taught in film schools to show all the ways a movie based on a Bible story can go wrong.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 17, 2014 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fair returns to savers, fair interest rates on loans and the aspiration to be a flagship credit union are among the aims of the Churches' Mutual Credit Union Ltd (CMCU) which has received formal authorisation from the regulatory authorities today. This has been a rigorous process undertaken by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. CMCU plans to begin to offer its services to those eligible for membership from February 2015.

CMCU has been formed for and with the help of the Church of England, the Methodist Church of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church in Wales. CMCU President, Canon Antony MacRow-Wood, said, "I am delighted at the news of authorisation. CMCU will help many, even in its first year of operation and, in due course, it should become a significant financial resource to the church and individuals throughout England, Wales and Scotland. CMCU will enable a virtuous re-cycling of money within the church community, through a combined portfolio of savings and loan products."

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Development and Appointments Group would like to thank Lord Green for this report and for his leadership of the group charged by us and the Archbishops to review the way in which the Church prepares clergy for senior posts and how they are encouraged to develop and grow in their discipleship and leadership in mission once they are appointed. I would also like to thank the members of various task groups who contributed as ideas were developed, and those who have taken part over the longer term - in shaping source material through being members of nomination panels, participating in diocesan consultations for bishops and deans and participating in research projects. This work has emerged from a long period of reflection on the complexity of senior clerical leadership - a ministry in which we are called to be priests, prophets and theologians as well as to be leaders of Christ' great gift, the Church - a body which needs constant nurturing and stewarding to ensure that its organisational life flourishes and resources our call to mission.

The report challenges the nature and quality of the support currently provided in both areas - a challenge we must take seriously as we become increasingly aware of the extent of the issues facing the Church in its witness to and sharing of the Gospel.

Read it all and follow the link to the full report.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 17, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

She took the call herself the night the Islamic State came into Mosul. ‘Convert or leave or you’ll be killed,’ she was told. The callers, identifying themselves as Isis members, knew the household was Christian because her husband worked as a priest in the city. They fled that night.

Like many of their Christian neighbours they sought refuge in the monastery of St Matthew. But Isis took that over, tore down the Cross, smashed all Cross-decorated windows, used it for their own prayers and flew their black flag on top of the church. Across what was Nineveh, Iraq’s Christians spent this year fleeing from village to village, hoping to find safety somewhere.

This woman’s husband and son continued their ministry among the scattered congregations of Iraq. But the wife, who took the call, is now in west London. We spoke there one Sunday morning earlier this year. To attend the morning service in a Syriac church and hear the Lord’s Prayer uttered in the original Aramaic in which Jesus taught it is profoundly moving at any time. But this year the prayers of this beleaguered congregation of Iraqi Christians in Acton have taken on a terrible, plaintive urgency.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 17, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The reaction among church leaders themselves has been mixed, with some praising the celibacy movement as a valid way to be both gay and Christian. But others have returned to the central question of how far Christianity can go in embracing homosexuality — even if people abstain from sex.

Al Mohler, president of the flagship Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of the country’s most respected conservative evangelical leaders, said in an interview that there is “growing and widespread admiration” for Tushnet and others, including Wesley Hill, an evangelical scholar who founded the spiritualfriendship blog.

Given that LGBT people are coming out and “being welcomed,” he said, “it is now safe and necessary to discuss these things aloud in evangelical churches — and that’s hugely important.”

Read it all.

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

3 Comments
Posted December 17, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Downing Street have today announced that the new Bishop of Stockport - and the first woman bishop in the Church of England - will be the Revd Libby Lane, currently Vicar of St Peter's, Hale, and St Elizabeth's, Ashley.

As Bishop of Stockport she will serve as a suffragan (assistant) bishop in the Diocese of Chester. She will be consecrated as the 8th Bishop of Stockport at a ceremony at York Minster on Monday 26 January 2015.

Libby Lane was ordained as a priest in 1994 and has served a number of parish and chaplaincy roles in the North of England in the Dioceses of Blackburn, York and Chester. For the past 8 years she has served as Vicar of St. Peter's Hale and St. Elizabeth's Ashley.

She is one of eight clergy women from the Church of England elected as Participant Observers in the House of Bishops, as the representative from the dioceses of the North West.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 17, 2014 at 4:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the days that followed, many healthcare workers talked with Brown-Haithco about their vocations. These conversations often mirrored the tone she had set in her memo, neither ignoring the risks of treating Ebola patients nor succumbing to panic. A calling doesn’t exclude fear, she explained, but fear “does not prevent us from moving with compassion toward someone in need.”

Neither does fear encourage a dull news cycle. When the Ebola outbreak began, the American public heard from doctors, nurses, public health experts, and WHO officials. Once healthcare workers were diagnosed in Dallas, we heard about PPE procedures, CDC guidelines, and airport screenings. We heard about hospital employees in New York who faced discrimination for working near an infected patient, and about the exotic dancers who started a GoFundMe account to support their voluntarily quarantine. Most recently, we heard about the $27,000 the city of Dallas spent taking care of Bentley, the beloved dog of Dallas nurse and recovered Ebola patient, Nina Pham.

But during the initial frenzy of U.S. Ebola coverage, we didn’t hear much about hospital chaplains, the members of hospital teams tasked with providing spiritual and emotional support to patients, their families, and medical staff. According to university estimates, there were 42,410 stories mentioning Emory and Ebola published between July 31 and September 22; Brown-Haithco and her chaplain colleagues were interviewed four times, including a segment with Matt Lauer that never aired.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfrica* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 16, 2014 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a speech to the Ecclesiastical Law Society in Westminster that offered a staunch defence of the Church of England as an important counterweight to the upheaval created by successive governments, Mr Grieve said: “The desire for addressing [public] discontent is genuine, but we often seem to lurch from efforts at promoting optimism based on economic indicators to hand-wringing expressions of sympathy with our electorate’s concerns.

“There seems little sign at present that any of these exertions are really helping restore the nation’s confidence in existing or reformed political processes and institutions.”

He seized on plans concocted by Chris Grayling, the justice minister, to repeal the Human Rights Act and found a “British bill of rights”.

“I think this proposal is illustrative of a growing trend, which affects successive governments irrespective of party,” he said. “Those in power are failing to look at issues in the round and in the long term.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 16, 2014 at 7:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Yes we grieve, like all decent, democratic and humane societies should, over the tragedy that has visited Peshawar. But our grief also tells a story that cannot but discomfit those who repudiate everything that terrorism and terrorists stand for. It tells us that proximity alerts us to Islamist barbarism that distance tends to dull.

When 200 teenaged girls were abducted by Boko Haram and pressed into sex slavery in Nigeria, we barely took note of that crime. When the Islamic State militia massacred Yezidis, forcing survivors to take shelter in the barren Sinjar mountains where children died like flies, we merely took note of it. Earlier, when terrorists attacked a school in Beslan, Russia, in September 2004, leaving 385 dead, among them 186 children, we wondered what it was all about.

Just as the story of global trans-border terrorism does not begin with the devastatingly spectacular attacks of 9/11, the story of innocents being massacred in the name of jihad does not begin with the ghastly attack on the school in Peshawar. These are stories with prologues and preceding chapters; each day, each week, each month a new chapter is added to these stories.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 16, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a desperate letter to President Goodluck Jonathan and Senate President David Mark leaked to SaharaReporters this past weekend, a commanding officer stationed in Nigeria's northeast details several troubling issues plaguing troops combatting Islamist terror group Boko Haram in the region.

The officer stated that, corruption, maladministration, lack of resources and troops motivation has militated against a successful campaign to end Boko Haram's deadly reign of terror in the northeast.

The officer's lengthy complaint which he claims would lead to a threat to his life forewarns that if his pleas continue to be ignored by the country's leadership that both the Nigerian Army and the country will crumble under the insurgency.

Read it all from Sahara Reporters.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted December 15, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even though Ridley Scott’s ‘Exodus’ won the box office crown this weekend, it only earned an estimated $24.5 million, performing lower than studio executives hoped. While it is difficult to determine why many moviegoers chose to stay home, some have speculated that Scott’s casting decisions had something to do with it. - See more at: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/12/15/exodus-underwhelms-box-office-boycottexodusmovie-work/#sthash.up1koZgo.dpuf

Read it all and watch the interview.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture

0 Comments
Posted December 15, 2014 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the school year began in Mosul, the largest city controlled by the Islamic State, the extremists sent a message to teachers: Report for work or lose your jobs.

Then, directives bearing the group’s black flag and hung in schools dictated the new order. Males and females were split up. Girls were to swap their gray skirts and blouses for black gowns and veils that covered their faces. Sports were only for boys. Civics classes were scrapped. At the University of Mosul, one of Iraq’s top institutions, the schools of fine arts, political science and law were deemed un-Islamic and shuttered.

The teachers were in a bind. Not showing up meant defying a group that often murdered its foes. But going to work could anger the government in Baghdad, which still paid their salaries. Out of fear, many teachers complied.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted December 15, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hours after five hostages escaped from the Lindt cafe, one of the remaining women switched off the lights inside.
Premier Mike Baird has asked Sydneysiders to go about their day as usual on Tuesday
There is an exclusion zone near the cafe, bordered by Pitt, Elizabeth, Hunter and King Streets.
NSW Police have activated Task Force Pioneer, which they use in terrorism related incidents.
A coalition of Muslim groups has expressed their shock and horror at the siege. They have urged calm.
Sydneysiders have united under the hashtag #illridewithyou offering company to Muslims wearing religious garments as they travel in the city.

Read it all and there are loads of links to follow.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 15, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While certainly Neuhaus was..-[indeed] still is - a tremendous influence on me, [my wife] Dianne's announcement set me to examining my Lutheran life, and in some ways it's not as Lutheran as it once was. I write regularly for a Catholic magazine. Everybody senior on the staff at First Things is Catholic. I know as many priests as I do pastors, people I hang out with on email and the like, and I point out not a few of those priests were once Lutheran pastors. Not to slight you or anyone you know, it has just happened in my life that my intellectual and best theological compatriots these days are largely Roman Catholic.

What I have always sought - since seminary on - is to be in a church that finally gives expression to the catholicity of the Augsburg Confession. There is no Lutheran expression doing that. Most of my 17 years as editor of Forum Letter was spent, so it seems, showing Lutherans how far we have fallen from the practice of parish life described in our own confession.

There are evangelically catholic centers of Lutheran congregational life, and some that are deeply so, And there are evangelically catholic-minded pastors seeking parish renewal by Creed, Catechism, Confession, and praise God for it. The Church must continually struggle "against forces that always strike the Church and gospel: the fashions and fads of Gnosticisms ancient and new . . . the devaluation of the sacraments through neglect, the socially accommodating spirit of Church Growth excitements, and the gross appetite of a politicized bureaucracy." (Forum Letter 19:9, September 1990). It may be, I'll find out, the best field for the contestation in that struggle is with Rome.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranRoman Catholic* TheologyEcclesiology

0 Comments
Posted December 14, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Within the past year, a series of experiences brought the Rev. Jerome Anderson to his knees.

Not in a posture of defeat, but humble submission to God’s plan.

As a leader in the Christian community, Anderson is accustomed to counseling people during life’s darkest moments, helping them to not just find light at the end of the tunnel, but teaching them how to apply scripture to their situation.

A timeline of the past 18 months of the minister’s life is parallel to the Biblical account of the sufferings of Job in the Old Testament that depicts love, long-suffering and restoration.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicy

0 Comments
Posted December 14, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S.-led coalition of countries involved in airstrikes against Islamic State will never bomb the jihadist group out of existence, a Nobel peace prize winner warned Friday.

Shirin Ebadi was one of Iran’s first female judges. She was demoted after the 1979 Islamic revolution and went on to become the country’s most prominent rights campaigner. She won the Nobel price in 2003 and was forced into exile in 2009.

After spending most of her adult life coping with and combating the impact a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam has had on herself, her family and her homeland, she is convinced that there is no military remedy to a problem that appears to intensify with every passing year.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Eagle Flight Squadron, a nonprofit that has been turning out private pilots since 1975, teaches teens about aviation, discipline and leadership.

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / YouthTravelUrban/City Life and IssuesYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 13, 2014 at 4:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There’s only one problem: apparently none of it ever happened.

Yes, a version of that quotation was uttered by a pope, but it was said decades ago by Paul VI, who died in 1978. There is no evidence that Francis repeated the words during his public audience on Nov. 26, as has been widely reported, nor was there was a boy mourning his dead dog.

So how could such a fable so quickly become taken as fact?

Part of the answer may be the topic of the pope’s talk to the crowd that day, which centered on the End Times and the transformation of all creation into a “new heaven” and a “new earth.” Citing St. Paul in the New Testament, Francis said that is not “the annihilation of the cosmos and of everything around us, but the bringing of all things into the fullness of being.”

The trail of digital bread crumbs then appears to lead to an Italian news report that extended Francis’ discussion of a renewed creation to the question of whether animals too will go to heaven.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* General InterestAnimals* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEschatology

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Posted December 13, 2014 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

HARPER: Well, I'll tell you. Just in the last two weeks I have participated in four major conversations on race and racial justice in multiple different contexts, from white to multiethnic, national leaders, grassroots—there's major conversations happening, and people are beginning to make the bridge between conversations and protest.

ABERNETHY: Talk and protest, but I'm wanting to hear what you think has to be done, and how it can be done, and whether it can be done.

HARPER: Well, the number one thing that needs to be done is we need to grow in understanding. I think that we haven't listened to the young people, churches including, and so when I say listen, I really mean listen to the stories of the young people, because they are ones that are bearing the brunt of most of the crisis that we're experiencing—Michael Brown, Jonathan Crawford. I mean, the drug wars in particular focused massive amounts of ammunition, of police forces in our urban centers, and as a result those places have become war zones, and our young people are the ones who are bearing the brunt of that.

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 13, 2014 at 11:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sierra Leone has banned public celebrations over Christmas and the New Year, because of the Ebola crisis.

Soldiers are to be deployed on the streets throughout the festive period to keep people indoors, officials say.

Christmas is widely celebrated in Sierra Leone, even though Islam is the largest religion.

Sierra Leone has the most cases of Ebola in the current outbreak. Some 6,580 have died, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaSierra Leone

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Posted December 13, 2014 at 10:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is not surprising that such remarks [from Pope Francis] would be ignored, given the media's high-priestly role within our "current Kingdom of Whatever," to use Brad Gregory's felicitous phrase, in which "men and women in larger numbers prioritize the fulfilment of their self-chosen, acquisitive, individual desires above any social (including familial) solidarities except those they also happen to choose, and only for as long as they happen to choose them." By warning that any society that mistakes rights for competing individual interests and freedom for mere licence will inevitability descend into resentment and violence, Francis was effectively storming the West's holy of holies, the sacred centre of liberalism as such. Far easier to grant blanket coverage the pope's off the cuff "Who am I to judge?" remark, which poses no challenge whatsoever to the effete sensibilities of liberal individualism, than to wrestle with a thoroughgoing challenge to the sustainability of liberalism itself.

Nor is it surprising that the media would be drawn to a broad-brush characterisation of an ageing, listless Europe, made by a pope who has graced the cover of Rolling Stone, no less! Once again, this says rather more about the media's slobbering servitude to "the new" - which cannot help but sneer at any tradition or institution or system of thought that does not melt away before the ineluctable demands of fashion and the fickle rule of individual choice - than it does about the pope's open-handed invitation to join together "in building a Europe which revolves not around the economy, but around the sacredness of the human person, around inalienable values ... a Europe which courageously embraces its past and confidently looks to its future in order fully to experience the hope of its present."

On both counts, the media conceals its ignorance, its arrogance and its incurious disregard for whatever does not fit within its unavowed agenda behind the threadbare alibi that it is simply reporting what is newsworthy - as if that were an objective category which the media is duty bound to serve, and which it itself has no role in shaping.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 13, 2014 at 9:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On a Sunday morning in September 2011, Eloise Louis stood on a street corner in Harlem, looking for a church. She was just hours off a plane from her native France, jet-lagged and buzzy with anticipation. An aspiring jazz singer with spiritual yearnings and a self-taught knowledge of civil rights history, she had finally set foot on black America’s hallowed ground.

Just across 116th Street, Ms. Louis noticed worshipers lining up to enter First Corinthian Baptist Church, and she joined the procession. An usher, seeing her white skin and hearing her French accent, directed Ms. Louis into the portion of the balcony set aside for spectators.

“I’m not a tourist,” Ms. Louis pleaded. “I’m here for Jesus.” The usher must have sensed something genuine and desperate in her tone, because he moved her to the front rows of the balcony among the regular congregants. From there, she heard the gospel songs and the preaching, and even with her spotty English, as she recalled, “something touched my heart.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 13, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Interstellar’s scientific pretensions capture the religious spirit of our times. What should we make of all the talk of the incompatibility of science and religion? Nothing: Longing for future glory is alive and well among the scientifically literate. Some of their own apparently comprise the most fervent devotees of future hope, displaying the same desire for human transcendence as the ancients but clothing it in modern science. Interstellar is worth reflecting on, not for any dubious relation it may bear to our future, but because of its indebtedness to the past: It is an ancient myth retold and centuries of scientific progress have diminished none of its appeal.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMovies & TelevisionPhilosophyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 12, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to the Religious Freedom in the World Report 2014 by the Catholic Church’s Aid to the Church in Need organization, freedom of religion has deteriorated in almost half the countries of the world, and sectarian violence is at a six-year high. Yet freedom of religion is one of the basic human rights, as set out in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. More fundamentally, it was the cause for which the modern world established the concept of human rights in the first place. Revulsion at a century of religious wars in Europe helped spur Enlightenment thinking about the social contract, the moral limits of power, and the centrality of human rights.

The world needs a new, enlightened movement: of people of all faiths working together for the freedom of all faiths. The record of religion in the past, and tragically also in the present, has not been good. Throughout history, people have hated in the name of the God of love, practiced cruelty in the name of the God of compassion, killed in the name of the God of life, and waged war in the name of the God of peace. None of the world’s great religions has been exempt from this at one point or another. The time has come to say—enough.

The challenge is simple and it is posed in the first chapter of the Bible. Can we recognize God’s image in a person who is not in our image; whose color, creed or culture is not our own?

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 12, 2014 at 11:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new troubling trend marks the U.S. church: the decline in Catholic funerals. It will affect Catholic life in the future if a basic tradition dies out. It also affects pastoral life now if people deprive themselves of closure after the death of a loved one.

Those for whom funeral rites are not celebrated today have often been lifelong Catholics who presume their children will arrange a traditional funeral for them when they die. Some parents may want to alert offspring that they want a funeral Mass.

In 1970, according to statistics from the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), there were 426,309 Catholic funerals in the United States. More than 40 years later, in 2011, there were 412,145, a decrease despite an increased U.S. Catholic population over that time.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than a thousand participants carried touches and banners through the Christmas-decorated streets of Vienna, with messages such as “Freedom of Religion is a Human Right”, “100 millions Christians suffer persecution”, “Stop the Genocide against Christians”, and not least the leading banner with the text “Murder — Rapes — Burning churches — Forced Islamization”, a clear protest against Islamist behaviour in many countries. The march was led by a priest holding a large crucifix, while Dr. Elmar Kuhn of CSI gave a speech while walking. The Maltese Church, which is located in the middle of the march, was rang its bells in support.

In addition to the usual flyers with information about the situation, the organizers also distributed buttons with the Arabic letter ‘N’. This is the sign that Islamic State and other Islamists paint on the walls of homes and other property belonging to Christians, marking them as targets of attacks, abductions, killing and destruction — a sign now used extensively in the formerly Christian country of Syria. This practice strongly resembles the methods used by German national socialists during the 1930’s to mark up Jewish property. This is a cause of reflection in times where Christians even in the West frequently need police protection due to their conversion from Islam, or due to being too clear and outspoken in their criticism of Islamic ideology.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeAustria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted December 12, 2014 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Not all lawyers agree that gay rights are being violated in this case. Not all Christians agree a true expression of Christianity is being extended in this case. But at the core of this fight, this is not an argument over what kind of sex students should or shouldn’t be allowed to have.

What we’re really fighting over is the right to diversity. Lost in the fireworks of this case is that Canadian students choose TWU and its Covenant because it reflects their identity. Mr. Ruby’s and the Law Societies fight imply that such identity can’t be trusted in their definitions of public life.

“Within the confines of religion, the most inane nonsense can be believed and practiced and passed on to one’s children. That’s freedom of religion, have a nice time. But when you go to the government and say I want your approval for this, I want tax status for this, then it’s beyond mere freedom of religion, there has to be a primacy for the right to equality,” Mr. Ruby said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 12, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A radical overhaul of the Church of England's leadership is under way.

A key report, still unpublished, sets out a programme of "talent management" in the Church. The report has been signed off by the two Archbishops, and a £2-million budget has been allocated. It was discussed by all the bishops in September, and the House of Bishops on Monday. A spokesman said on Wednesday that the Bishops "welcomed the implementation plan prepared in the light of those discussions. Details will be published next month."

The Church Times has seen the report, Talent Management for Future Leaders and Leadership Development for Bishops and Deans: A new approach, prepared by a steering group chaired by Prebendary the Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, the former HSBC chairman. It speaks of a "culture change for the leadership of the Church", and outlines a two-stage process.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 12, 2014 at 5:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Here's a change in corporate human resources - more companies are hiring chaplains. These are the same kinds of people with religious training you find in the military or on college campuses. Chaplains work in companies to help people talk through office frustrations. Here's Lauren Silverman of our member station KERA in Dallas.

LAUREN SILVERMAN, BYLINE: Every week, Chaplain John Eaton knocks on the doors of employees at Purdy McGuire, an engineering firm in Dallas.

(KNOCKING)

CHAPLAIN JOHN EATON: Hey Scott. How's it going, man?

SILVERMAN: How's it going is more than a greeting, it's part of Eaton's job. He talks with employees about anything - sports, church, problems at home. Scott Brown is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon faith. He likes the check-ins.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 12, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is there a religion angle on this story? Of course. Kudos to Time for making that abundantly clear.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaGuineaLiberiaSierra Leone

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Posted December 11, 2014 at 4:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Where any of these fights on religious freedom are going to go, will in great part depend upon whether people of faith will stand up and speak now, or will they sit in silence. The outcome is up to you”

These were the words of Alan Sears, CEO, President, and General Counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who was in Rome recently for the Humanam Conference on the Complementarity of Man and Woman.

Founded in 1994, ADF is an American Christian nonprofit organization with the stated goal of "defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.”

Alliance Defending Freedom, is a network of attorneys dedicated to intrinsic values, such as the sanctity of life, religious freedom, and protecting conscience.

With 38 victories before the Supreme Court, ADF has actively defended public prayer, use of religious displays, such as crosses and religious monuments on public lands and in public buildings. The organization opposes abortion and has protected healthcare workers’ right to not partake in that which they find morally objectionable. ADF actively promotes marriage between man and woman.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 11, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The optimism of modern medicine has roots in the Enlightenment, which in turn is rooted in the worldview of classical antiquity: what we call evil is a form of ignorance; it is not rooted in human nature. In this, it is remarkably similar to Confucianism. The Chinese philosopher Mencius (Meng Zi, about 372 to 289 BCE) used a parable to propose that all men are by nature good unless they are deformed. A murderer sees an infant tottering on the edge of a pond. However vicious his murders may have been, he will instinctively pull the child back to save it from drowning. This leaves out two alternative scenarios. The murderer may be a sadist who enjoys watching children drown. Or he may only have concern for children of his own tribe; but the child may belong to the enemy tribe beyond the river.

We started out with the question of how human beings can commit horrible atrocities. Given what biological science can tell us about aggression it is not an inevitable instinct (something, say, similar to the Christian doctrine of original sin), nor simply a deformation of an originally benign human nature (as Enlightenment philosophers thought). Human nature, whatever it is, allows human beings to love and to kill. Religion can induce individuals to do either. Both benevolence and hatred can be learned and taught. Thus I think that we started out with the wrong question. We should have asked: How can it be that horrible atrocities are not committed continuously, all the time? Put differently: How can one sustain a decent society? The answer is that there must be institutions that inculcate decency rather than triggering murderous impulses.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 11, 2014 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon


Now Charles Dickens’s legendary tale, A Christmas Carol, has been given a new lease of life in a small Yorkshire town.

For unbeknown to many, while the story was set in the fog of London, it was actually the swirling mists of Malton, near York, and a young lawyer from the town, that inspired Dickens to create his haunting tale.

Still a struggling writer, Dickens met Charles Smithson when he was working for a firm of solicitors in London. The two men, both at an early stage in their careers, shared the same mischievous sense of humour and became lifelong friends.

When Smithson later returned home to Yorkshire, Dickens became a regular visitor to his home, staying for three months with Smithson and his wife, Elizabeth. It was during this time that Dickens was working on the idea for A Christmas Carol. He had already created some of the characters but he was looking for a stage to set them on. And local legend has it that it was in his friend’s tiny office that he decided to place Scrooge and Bob Cratchit, and the single coal burning in the grate.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Far worse than death itself is the prospect of being separated from the love of God for all eternity. Of course we should be motivated by love to reach out to people with kindness and to share with them about God’s love. It is not particularly effective to try to preach people into the Kingdom from a fear of Hell, but, nonetheless, a genuine relationship with Christ does deliver people from eternal death. The assurance of His love for us and His relationship with us can carry us through terrible temporal times.

Last week, four young Iraqi boys all under fifteen were captured by ISIS. They were told that they would be killed unless they renounced their faith in Jesus and promised to follow The Prophet. They refused, saying “No, we love Jesus.” As a result, all four were beheaded. Such things used to seem far away from a different land and a different age, but now, the truth is that those same pressures are coming against us. It could be any place and any time that we are challenged.

For decades now we have been fighting the liberal message that there are no consequences from sin, either temporally or eternally. We went so far as to break with those who preach this false Gospel. It is not that we insist on puritanical behavior because otherwise our sensibilities would be offended. We have stood up against the departure from Scriptural faith because the faith that we have received teaches us that to depart from it brings the consequence of eternal death. The battle has been about whether or not people go to Hell.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* TheologyEschatologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pastors should stop signing state-issued marriage licenses. They should stop immediately. Individuals and organizations whose agenda is murky at best are hijacking the marriage debate. We have stopped asking the right questions and started reacting to the debate swirling around us.

On the one hand are people who want to radically redefine marriage in the eyes of the state. They are advocating for open and equal access to the benefits given by the state to married individuals. They want tax benefits, inheritance rights and parental privileges that are automatically given to people who marry.

To this group, pastors and churches need to have a simple and clear answer: “Blessings on you. I don’t need to get a benefit from the government that you cannot get. My contracts should not be better than your contracts. Your kids should be as protected as my kids.”

The only way I can with good conscience say this is if I am no longer part of the civil process. No functionary of any religion ought to be able to finalize a marriage contract individuals are making with the state. It is an abhorrent intermingling of church and state. Until the state sees this clearly and changes its rules, we should abandon the system voluntarily.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Scottish Government has announced that same-sex marriage ceremonies will be possible under the Marriage an d Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 from 31December 2014.

Under the legislation, marriage is redefined so that two people can marry irrespective of their gender. The Act also allows for the possibility of civil partnerships being registered in the context of a religious ceremony. The Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) is currently in a period of discussion regarding its understanding of same-sex relationships and pending the conclusion of that period of discussion, the College of Bishops has produced
the guidance contained in this note to support and inform clergy and lay readers, as public representatives of the Church, in the exercise of their ministries and in their provision of pastoral care....

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland

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Posted December 11, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today’s counterculture speaks with the voice of tradition, virtue, and religious commitment. There are now more than thirty LFN student groups from colleges across the United States (and Mexico). They uphold the idea that sex comes after marriage, that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that the natural family is the irreducible foundation of all civil societal associations. Like the ’60s radicals, they refuse to keep quiet. Yet unlike the ’60s radicals, they refuse with civility. They carry themselves with decorum and respect. The manner of their actions corresponds to the content of their ideas: unabashedly witnessing to the truth of marriage, sex, and the family.

I know from personal experience that being countercultural means dealing with insults, contempt, exclusion. My peers prod and jeer, and the authorities regard as troublesome. They act on the underlying cultural assumption at public universities, which is, “You’re innocent until proven conservative.”

When I once said something favorable about traditional marriage, one friend said to me, “Get out of your patriarchal circle,” while another terminated the conversation because my “very existence offends” her. I remember attending a university performance of vignettes whose subject had to do with sex (reflecting the level of wit among my peers), with one skit about students at a school known as “Our Lady of Perpetual Repression.” It felt like some quasi-religious ceremony in which a phantom group of social conservatives were displayed like Guy Fawkes puppets to be burned in effigy.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPoetry & LiteratureReligion & CultureSexualityYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tripp Hudgins, an Ameri­can Baptist pastor and a musician at All Souls Epis­copal, ex­plained that All Souls previously had a choir that was getting older and dwindling in numbers. It consisted of a dozen faithful people who couldn’t quite do what they hoped to do. At the same time, the congregation had an “Angel Band” which occasionally played in worship. The band began playing every week, going back to old-time music and drawing upon the folk revival that in Berkeley never ended. Then the band members stepped into the loft to learn the choir music. As they did, they were able to carefully tear down the sacred and secular divide.

Hudgins admits that the process wasn’t always easy. “We all have a spiritual soundtrack. There is music of spiritual significance that can bring us into worship,” he noted. “People from the choir era struggle when choral music is not there. That’s their music. That’s what they pray to. For them, the banjo is secular.”

But another generation has a different soundtrack. Its sacred music might consist of mountain music and songs by Mum­ford & Sons. Hudgins lights up with excitement as he talks about surprising people in worship with music that sits at the intersection of sacred and secular.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryMusicReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 10, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church attendance is down, disaffection with organised religion is high because of sexual scandals, and the influence of religious leaders is waning, even when they speak of secular concerns, such as the rights of the poor and asylum seekers. And yet, are we seeing a rising dismay among secularists? That’s a question being put to a symposium this week at the University of Western Sydney. Dr David Burchell, co-convenor of the symposium, Secularism and its Discontents, explains.

Listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism

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Posted December 10, 2014 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church giving is serious business. Scores of newsletters, workshops, and books are devoted to it, and consultants exist to advise institutions on how to maximize funds. A five-year study released last year estimated that "tithers"—Christians who donate 10% or more of their income to church or charity—contribute more than $50 billion a year. (And that’s not counting the many who give a smaller percentage of their income.) There's even crime associated with tithing: In March, Texas megachurch pastor Joel Osteen’s church was robbed of $600,000 in donations from a single weekend.

Somehow, though, the offering process, when ushers pass baskets down the rows and worshippers voluntarily drop in checks or cash, has remained basically unchanged since the 19th century. But who carries cash, let alone checks, anymore?

Luckily for churches, a wave of apps and other digital giving options have risen up to bridge the gap.

Call it the 21st-century offering plate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* Theology

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Posted December 10, 2014 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Most Americans believe Christmas goes better with a visit to church, religious Christmas songs in public school concerts, and more focus on Jesus.

And while there’s much banter on cable TV talk shows about a “War on Christmas,” most Americans are fine when people wish them “Happy Holidays.”

All these findings are included in a new survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research, which asked 1,000 Americans about their views on Christmas in a phone survey Sept. 26 to Oct. 5, 2014.

“Christmas traditions that have nothing to do with the Christian faith continue to multiply,” says Scott McConnell, vice-president of LifeWay Research. “Still, most Americans want more of Jesus in their Christmas rather than less.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyChristology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams has waded into the debate over withdrawal from the European Union insisting it could leave the UK “dangerously dependent” on the City.

He said leaving the EU would be a “deeply regressive” step and claimed Britain would have almost nothing else “distinctive” to offer outside it. Going it alone could turn the country into an “offshore financial facility”, he added.

The former Archbishop also said it was also becoming impossible to have a “reasonable conversation” about immigration in the UK at present.

And he suggested that hostility towards the EU was being fuelled by an increasingly assertive sense of English identity, partly as a response to Scottish nationalism.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

6 Comments
Posted December 10, 2014 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Listen to it all (just under 16 minutes).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 10, 2014 at 6:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Gordon statement in question uses the term “homosexual practice.” Does that cover everything, including handholding by same-sex couples?

Gordon has never been a place that has a master list of dos and don’ts. The wider question being asked is, Does Gordon theologically treat same-sex sexual union as sin? The answer is yes. We don’t see a place in the Bible where God appears to bless same-sex sexual union. The language of homosexual practice is really speaking to the arc of a relationship that leads up to sexual consummation.

We take seriously the challenges of our brothers and sisters who have same-sex attraction. We uphold the idea that same-sex attraction is not to be acted upon in the life of the Christ follower. Some within American evangelicalism and even within the Gordon community don’t share that conviction. But that is the theological position of the institution.

OneGordon, a group that supports LGBT persons connected to Gordon, has a public campaign to drop “homosexual practice” from Gordon’s life and conduct statement. Is there anything the college and OneGordon agree on?

It’s my hope that we can learn from each other. The theological positions of a Christian college are not determined by popular vote or advocacy. I appreciate the heartfelt concerns and desires expressed by members of the Gordon family in the OneGordon group who really want the college to change its position. [But] if a change were to occur, it [wouldn’t be] because there were so many signatures on a petition.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological EducationTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted December 10, 2014 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two October evenings in 1949 brought together an alcoholic war hero and a fiery young evangelist. From then on, neither would be the same.

The preaching in that rented circus tent in Los Angeles changed Louis Zamperini, then 32 — who put away the bottle forever and devoted the rest of his life to Christian testimony and good works.

And those Los Angeles nights also changed the preacher, Billy Graham, and the future course of American evangelicalism as well. In Graham’s autobiography, “Just As I Am,” he calls that chapter of his life “Watershed.”

On Christmas Day, a movie directed by Angelina Jolie about Zamperini’s extraordinary survival amid the horrors of Japanese POW camps opens in theaters. “Unbroken,” is based on the award-winning book by Laura Hillenbrand.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged people to reject the culture of consumerism this Christmas and not to feel pressured to lavish expensive gifts on family and friends.

The Most Rev Justin Welby criticised “tit for tat giving” and said that small and meaningful presents gave just the same caring message as those that cost the Earth.

He said that shopping in charity shops, or donating time to loved ones or worthy causes, could be as equally well received and would prevent the sense of dread that accompanies the arrival of credit card bills in the New Year.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsAdventChristmasParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 9, 2014 at 4:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mohammed Hamzah Khan, 19, rose before dawn on Oct. 4 to pray with his father and 16-year-old brother at their neighborhood mosque in a Chicago suburb.

When they returned home just before 6 a.m., the father went back to bed and the Khan teens secretly launched a plan they had been hatching for months: to abandon their family and country and travel to Syria to join the Islamic State.

While his parents slept, Khan gathered three newly issued U.S. passports and $2,600 worth of airline tickets to Turkey that he had gotten for himself, his brother and their 17-year-old sister. The three teens slipped out of the house, called a taxi and rode to O’Hare International Airport.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureTeens / Youth* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Truro, together with a group of cross-party MPs, has criticised the effectiveness the benefits system in a comprehensive report into Britain's hunger crisis released today.

The Feeding Britain report was published by the all-party parliamentary inquiry into hunger and food poverty, led by Labour MP Frank Field and the Bishop of Truro, Tim Thornton, and was compiled with funding from the Archbishop's charitable trust.

The report said that benefit-related problems were the reason most often given for people resorting to a food bank. Problems with the administration of benefits, creating delays or income gaps which create emergency needs were some of the problems cited.

Read it all.


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

0 Comments
Posted December 9, 2014 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When a family turns to the food bank in a time of need, they are met with warmth and compassion that is qualitatively different to what the state can provide. So when they are provided with food, it acts as a social gateway to a discussion about the wider problems in someone’s life.

We believe this offers a valuable opportunity for us to redesign a fragmented approach to support. We want to help more food banks evolve into hubs where services like debt and welfare advice are in one place, and end the system where people are sent from pillar to post in a constant cycle of referral.

We therefore propose a practical solution. We will bring together the voluntary sector, stakeholders and retailers in a new national voice: Feeding Britain. This will have three key goals that have been difficult to address by individual food banks in isolation. First, we will seek to double the redistribution of surplus food. Second, we will pilot twelve regional hubs that bring local agencies together. Third, we will pilot schemes to tackle school holiday hunger.

Read it all from Frank Field and John Glen.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The film doesn’t ignore faith, but it includes no mention of Jesus or Graham. Faith is portrayed more generically — unlike the 2010 book by Hillenbrand (she also wrote the best-selling “Seabiscuit”), which was praised by Christian readers for capturing the drama of Zamperini’s conversion.

Zamperini died from pneumonia on July 2 at age 97. His son, Luke Zamperini, is helping promote the film.

Jolie’s role as director prompted questions about the film’s faith element; given Jolie’s own lack of faith, some reviewers questioned whether the actress would give short shrift to Zamperini’s faith.

“There doesn’t need to be a God for me,” Jolie said in 2000. “There’s something in people that’s spiritual, that’s godlike.” Her husband, actor Brad Pitt, has said he is “probably 20 percent atheist and 80 percent agnostic.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 9, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

LAWTON: Federal officials say the new heroin crisis is crossing race, age, gender and geographical lines.

BOTTICELLI: What we’ve seen with this, with this upsurge has really been a demographic shift. So not only do we see younger users who are using heroin, but also much more suburban and rural use.

LAWTON: Fredericksburg, George Washington’s boyhood home, is one of the most historic small towns. But this seemingly idyllic small town has seen an explosion of heroin abuse, as 21-year-old John Cizik and his girlfriend Tayler Beets can confirm.

J. CIZIK: It’s not surprising when you hear about people doing it. Sad to say. But it’s true.

TAYLER BEETS: You just see it a lot in this town. Like, good kids.

REV. TOBY LARSON (Celebration Anglican Church): You’re only kidding yourself if you think it’s not in your town. It’s everywhere.

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenDrugs/Drug AddictionMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 9, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England said it was in the process of filing shareholder resolutions on climate change at BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

"The resolution is intended to challenge the companies to run their businesses so that they participate constructively in the transition to a low carbon economy", The Church of England wrote in a blog. (bit.ly/1tUBUlN)

The Church said it chose BP and Shell because they have the biggest carbon footprints of all the companies listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Read it all and make sure to read the whole C of E blog post also.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 8, 2014 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has advised cash-strapped families in the UK to show they care about loved ones by buying Christmas presents from charity shops or simply showing kindness.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said that although gifts have become an essential part of the festive period, it is not all about financial outlay and people should not feel pressure to match what others give them.

Writing in the Christmas edition of Radio Times, he said people can show they care with offers of babysitting, dinner invitations to the elderly or giving time to the local community.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Blog readers are asked to remember that this piece is responding to the Atlantic article posted in later September on the blog i recommend reading the article and the comments--KSH).

I have been thinking quite a bit lately about aging.

Three things fuel those ruminations. The first is that I am aging. I have been able to deny it for several decades but my retirement this year coincided with several manifestations of mild and generally innocuous physical decline. The second is my participating with several of my brothers and sisters in being a care-giver for my 89 year old father.

The third was a provocative essay published in the September issue of The Atlantic. The author is a prominent oncologist and medical ethicist named Ezekiel Emanuel. The title of Dr. Emanuel's is largely self-explanatory: "Why I Hope to Die at 75." He has no desire to live past that age, largely because by then his creative contributions to medicine will be over. No longer being socially useful, he would become a burden, a condition he has no desire to bear. He would not directly cause his own death but would indirectly facilitate it by eschewing standard medical treatments such as annual check-ups and colonoscopies.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 8, 2014 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have spoken to numerous politicians on this, and I know well that, whereas it’s easy to be cynical, the reality is that there are huge numbers of people, both from government and opposition, all across the spectrum of opposition parties, who are absolutely committed to ensuring the wellbeing of their constituents and all the people in their country.

They are guided by a strong moral compass and we need to recognise that and not always be too cynical about what we see our politicians doing. The issue is how you turn that moral compass into practical action.

If we want to understand what is driving people to the point where they will put up with the shame of having to ask for help from a food bank (and people usually arrive with an unjustified sense of shame); if we want to find the practical solutions that will substantially reduce the numbers of people needing to do so; then the only way we can do this is by a collective effort, drawing on the wisdom of politicians from every political background, of food banks, charities and non-profits working in the sector, of retailers and of Government departments.

You might think from some of yesterday’s coverage, and today’s, that the report is asking the Government to move into the food bank sector. It’s not. It is far more interesting and creative than that.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 8, 2014 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a society where people are validated by numbers of likes and re-tweets and where weddings are grand spectacles, publishing images from the big day for the admiration of others is de rigueur. As with our culture at large, extreme weddings and ‘destination’ weddings are both more private and more public.

Throughout the past century, the trends of the elite have filtered down to the public who, inspired by media and commercial culture, adopt and adapt, mirror and modify. Unlike weddings in the past, where people married as a means of uniting families or property, or where weddings were about deferring to parents’ expectations, contemporary couples use weddings as sites for personal expression and distinction. Yet, even extreme or destination weddings incorporate the past in the present. Though weddings can be sites of resistance of traditional values or gender roles, they are rarely sites of rebellion. Ultimately, as couples publicly pledge their love, they pledge allegiance to convention and to the new.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted December 8, 2014 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Koran should be read at the next Coronation, says Lord Harries of Pentregarth, the retired Bishop of Oxford. Or at least, he said in the House of Lords, such a reading had gone down very well in Bristol cathedral before a service last year for the mayor and high sheriff, who were both Muslims. The bishop thought, the next Coronation should reflect similar “hospitality”.

This seems to me damagingly misconceived. For a start, look at it from the Muslims’ point of view. The Koran is not just another book, not even one that is holy, as the Bible is held to be by Christians. The Koran is the uncreated word of God. That is the universal belief. It wasn’t composed by Mohammed. It cannot be changed....

The central fact to grasp about the Coronation is that it is not a mere jumble of colourful ceremonial but a service of Holy Communion. Inserted into this is the anointing and crowning of the monarch. This is less clear from films of the Coronation, which cut out, for example, the reception of the Sacrament by the Queen.

The reason for the “privileging” of one religion is simple: the Church of England is established. The monarch is the head of state and the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. It might not seem that the Queen interferes in the running of the Church, but then how much does she interfere in the running of the country? She is a constitutional monarch, but that does not make the constitution unimportant.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 8, 2014 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has been called the nativity war. A French court’s ban on a nativity scene in a town hall in order to preserve France’s secular traditions has triggered a fierce backlash.

“Why not ban Christmas and the public holidays that go with it?” thundered Le Parisien on Sunday. Its headline read: “Spare us a nativity war.” According to the newspaper, 86% of more than 12,000 readers surveyed were in favour of keeping nativity scenes in public places.

The court in Nantes ordered regional authorities in the western town of La Roche-sur-Yon to remove the crib from its building’s entrance hall, after a complaint from the secular campaign group Fédération Nationale de la Libre Pensée.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Arican-American clergy, academics and activists will hold a march on Washington this week, protesting the grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Mo. and New York City and call on the federal government to intervene in the prosecutions of police officers accused of unjustified use of force.

I talked with Reverend Raphael Warnock and Eddie Glaude, Jr., two prominent African-American religious thinkers, about the role of black churches in the wake of major protests and demonstrations inspired by events in Ferguson and New York City. Warnock is the senior pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga. — a pulpit once held by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — and was in Washington to attend a conference hosted by the Black Church Center for Justice and Equality. Glaude is a professor of religion and chair of the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University. In 2010, he wrote an attention-grabbing essay called "The Black Church is Dead."

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 7, 2014 at 2:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What is clear from the study are the increasingly entrenched perspectives of two Americas: A growing secular America champions an unburdened sexual libertinism whose version of sexuality is freed from the constraints of traditional sexual morality, a morality that often issued from religious-based truth claims. Meanwhile, religious conservatives in America remain quite skeptical about the general population’s enthusiasm for throwing off supposedly outmoded notions of sexuality.

But another narrative of America’s religious landscape is also clear from the survey—one that Russell Moore and I wrote about at National Review discussing preliminary statistics that sociologist Mark Regnerus described at a spring conference of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. What we said then remains important: Evangelical Christians aren’t liberalizing on the issues of sexual morality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted December 7, 2014 at 6:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism

0 Comments
Posted December 7, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I had been ordained for a month and was meeting with two people appointed to evaluate my fitness for ministry....The question that I've never forgotten was, "Do you preach for a decision?"

The question has haunted me. We preachers proclaim good news and speak about all the amazing ways that good news penetrates, comforts, challenges and transforms lives. But my questioner had a point: proclaiming good news ought to in some way lead to a response, a decision of some kind. Otherwise proclaiming the good news of unconditional divine love can be an exercise in what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace." Preaching ought to lead to people caring more, giving more and living more. It is the assurance of God's presence, to be sure, and it is testimony to God's healing love. But it is also an invitation to do something.

--John M. Buchanan, Christian Century, October 4, 2011, issue, page 3

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriology

1 Comments
Posted December 7, 2014 at 5:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More help is needed to prevent families in the UK going hungry, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

Justin Welby says food is being wasted in "astonishing" amounts, but hunger "stalks large parts" of the country.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he backed a parliamentary report, to be released on Monday, which aims to end hunger in the UK by 2020.

The report is expected to call for a new publicly-funded body, known as Feeding Britain, to make this happen.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A few weeks later in England, I was talking to some people – a mum, dad and one child – in a food bank. They were ashamed to be there. The dad talked miserably. He said they had each been skipping a day’s meals once a week in order to have more for the child, but then they needed new tyres for the car so they could get to work at night, and just could not make ends meet. So they had to come to a food bank.

They were treated with respect, love even, by the volunteers from local churches. But they were hungry, and ashamed to be hungry.

I found their plight more shocking. It was less serious, but it was here. And they weren’t careless with what they had – they were just up against it. It shocked me that being up against it at the wrong time brought them to this stage.

There are many like them. But we can do something about it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionPovertyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 7, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Yes, when the “heart becomes really deceitful above all things,” it truly becomes “desperately wicked.” People have trouble understanding this if they have not experienced profiling or the inability to find a job. But the Church must understand. It must understand how our core relations affect everything, for better and for worse. With this recognition will come new opportunities for healing alienation and mistrust.

First, we need to think incarnationally by placing ourselves on the side of the alienated, just as Jesus did. Jesus comes to us as a circumcised Jew, a member of a politically disenfranchised class in a land occupied by Romans, a man from a ghetto known as Nazareth (see John 1:46). Jesus knew alienation through and through, but responded in a transformative mode. He affirmed the humanity of the non-Jew, the uncircumcised, the despised Samaritan, the slave, the woman of ill repute, the foreigner or immigrant with his unfamiliar language and Greek culture, and even the hated Roman soldier who represented the occupier. As theologian Ray S. Anderson wrote in The Shape of Practical Theology (IVP Academic, 2001): “Jesus penetrated through these social and cultural forms of humanity and addressed the true humanity of each person, and so revealed his own humanity as the touchstone of divine grace.”

Second, incarnational thinking opens us to what we would rather avoid in ourselves, and it calls us to community. Why do I feel uncomfortable around you? Do I focus on another’s rage to hide my complicity in it? Am I afraid of losing popularity? Church leaders should cultivate human souls (see Heb. 13:17) by teaching them to build community. The incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, is the model. He comes not as the doctor diagnosing and exacting a cure but as one who suffers with us. The poor and marginalized trust Jesus because he becomes them (Phil. 2:7; Matt. 25:40). Intentionally hearing one another’s stories is essential to “breaking down the dividing wall” that fosters alienation (Eph. 2:14).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence

0 Comments
Posted December 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What do we make of the latest statistics about cathedral attendances?

I've been a cathedral dean for half my ministry, and was a canon residentiary before that. So I once knew a fair amount about Coventry Cathedral and Sheffield Cathedral. 12 years at Durham completes a trio of three very different cathedrals (and if you count my years as an honorary vicar choral at Salisbury, that makes four).

In the last decade or so, the rhetoric has been that cathedrals are 'a success story of the Church of England'. (Some immodestly replace the indefinite article with the definite.) I've often wondered what this means, and whether success/failure language ought to belong to the way we perceive church life. In the heritage sector, there is now much more talk about the importance of 'intangible values', not just the things we can observe and measure. I'm not the only one to worry that church growth/fresh expressions language is seduced by the easy appeal of measurables ('bums on seats'). I doubt if these are what ultimately matter when it comes to understanding the dynamics of a faith community.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all and you can read Nancy Clark's original article there.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 6, 2014 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the bioethicist Laurie Zoloth, the president of the American Academy of Religion, has her way, she’ll be remembered as the woman who canceled her organization’s conference, which every year attracts a city’s worth of religion scholars.

Two weeks ago, at her organization’s gathering, which is held jointly with the Society for Biblical Literature and this year drew 9,900 scholars, Dr. Zoloth used her presidential address to call on her colleagues to plan a sabbatical year, a year in which they would cancel their conference. In her vision, they would all refrain from flying across the country, saving money and carbon. It could be a year, Dr. Zoloth argued, in which they would sacrifice each other’s company for the sake of the environment, and instead would turn toward their neighborhoods and hometowns.

“We could create an A.A.R. Sabbatical Year,” she told the crowd in a ballroom at the San Diego Convention Center. “We could choose to not meet at a huge annual meeting in which we take over a city. Every year, each participant going to the meeting uses a quantum of carbon that is more than considerable. Air travel, staying in hotels, all of this creates a way of living on the earth that is carbon intensive. It could be otherwise.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureTravel* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 6, 2014 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Among the entries:

--Cheerful Confidence after Christendom

--How to Survive a Cultural Crisis

--Is Christianity in Britain in Terminal Decline?

Read it all (yes, really).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Considering that it took the Mormon Church more than a century to acknowledge what scholars have long known to be true, it may take another hundred years for the elders in Salt Lake City to proclaim that the prophet, seer, revelator and founder of their religion was the kind of guy who would have to register with the police today before moving into a neighborhood.

Still, for all its painful equivocating, the Mormon Church has done a fine thing in opening up about its past. For too long, the Mormons have tried to airbrush an extraordinary chapter in the history of the American West. Here was a sect, though persecuted and ridiculed, determined to institutionalize in the New World something that Islamic patriarchs and Old Testament graybeards practiced in the old.

Sir Richard Burton, the 19th-century sex enthusiast, traveled to the Great Basin to witness this experiment in the Americas. Mark Twain, after visiting the social frontier of the Mormon kingdom, called it “a fairyland to us, for all intents and purposes — a land of enchantment and awful mystery.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 6, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First, the report makes it clear that there is no avoiding the need for the exercise of soft power, and in fact the exercise of hard power (from sanctions to the use of violence) is itself only effective as an addition to the impact of soft power. It is soft power in its many ramifications that makes it possible for this country to exert a benevolent and beneficial influence in the world around.

I saw an example of that when at the degree awards ceremony for Coventry University some two or three weeks ago, one of the best modern universities: 60 per cent of students were from overseas; they are a powerful source of earnings, and they will return home with a brilliant education and an exceptional experience of the UK, in most cases they will be our friends for life.

Secondly, the report points especially to the rapid increase in complexity and what it calls hypersensitivity in the modern world. There has been an introduction of information technology, with more than five billion mobile telephones around the world; we have the growth of access to the world-wide web, which means you can sit in Kaduna and look at what is happening in London, you can look at the shops in New York, you have access to cultural influences of the most extraordinary kind; and the possibilities of this both for governments and for non-state actors are ever more powerful with the advent of the sophistication of modern computers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 5, 2014 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This month marks the tricentennial of the birth of the most famous man in America before the Revolution. George Whitefield, born on Dec. 16, 1714, was a Church of England minister who led the Great Awakening, a series of Christian revivals that swept through Britain and America in the mid-1700s. Whitefield drew enormous audiences wherever he went on both sides of the Atlantic, and his publications alone doubled the output of the American colonial presses between 1739 and 1742. If there is a modern figure comparable to Whitefield, it is Billy Graham. Buteven Mr. Graham has followed a path first cut by Whitefield.

What made Whitefield and his gospel message so famous? First, he mastered the period’s new media. Cultivating a vast network of newspaper publicity, printers and letter-writing correspondents, Whitefield used all means available to get the word out.

Most important, he joined with Benjamin Franklin, who became Whitefield’s main printer in America, even though Franklin was no evangelical. Their business relationship transformed into a close friendship, although Whitefield routinely pressed Franklin, unsuccessfully, about his need for Jesus.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristologySoteriology

1 Comments
Posted December 5, 2014 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Welby says while the event in the Vatican was a unique event, bringing together so many different religious leaders, it's also crucial to build on that momentum with a programme of implemention and he says he believes the Global Freedom Network has the ability to do that.....

In the Church of England, he says, two dioceses are already very involved in teaching and training people in awareness of this issue to help people ask questions of how they invest, where they buy things from and where those goods might be made.....

In the modern slavery bill currently going through the British parliament, he notes, there are obligations on retailers to look at their supply chains....the Anglican leader also says he's been involved in running ethical funds and has seen first hand the impact that they can have on pressuring retailers to stop the use of slavery in the manufacturing supply chains....

Read it all and listen to the whole interview (just over 4 minutes).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMenPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityViolenceWomen* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gundlach's study also offers several startling insights. Besides demonstrating the Princetonians' eagerness to embrace selectively some modified forms of evolution, Gundlach explains the critical impact that the fundamentalist antievolution crusade had upon the Princeton Battle Plan. Likewise, Gundlach describes the Princetonians' remarkably robust commitment to the Reformed doctrine of divine providence. The Reformed tradition's vision of God's sovereignty over creation and the reality and efficiency of creaturely activity, from universal laws like gravity to the minutest choices of individual people, Gundlach explains, was "a distinctive teaching of Calvinist orthodoxy that enabled the Princetonians to embrace evolutionary thinking (carefully construed) not only as compatible with their theology, but even as an expression of it."

Gundlach's work also contains some implications that might give participants in today's debates about theology and evolution reasons to rethink their approaches. By pitting purely naturalistic evolution over against an allegedly literal interpretation of Genesis 1-2, both militant secular atheists and "creation scientists" usually employ reductionistic binary reasoning when it comes to issues of science and theology. Gundlach's study, however, suggests other historic alternatives are available to Christian scholars. He shows that theologians and philosophers at Princeton had a thorough knowledge of contemporary science and that many scientists were well-informed about theology. The same cannot always be said of those who engage in the debate over origins today. Moreover, Gundlach demonstrates that "creation science" is actually a modern movement with shallow roots in Christian orthodoxy. Many conservative Protestants today continue the Princeton tradition's critique of modern evolutionary theories because of the metaphysical assumptions and antisupernatural bias in purely naturalistic explanations of the origins of the universe. Ironically, however, other conservative Protestants, especially some with an affinity for Princeton's Calvinist theological tradition, categorically reject Warfield's efforts to reconcile Christian theism with non-Darwinian evolutionary views. They favor an interpretation of Genesis 1-2 that actually stands closer to Price and his intellectual heirs. The distinguished Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke, for example, resigned his position at Reformed Theological Seminary in 2010 because of his advocacy of theistic evolution and, more important, his criticisms of "scientific creationists" for denigrating modern science. Gundlach also demonstrates why, since the Scopes trial, such views have not often been welcomed in conservative circles. Even though they affirmed inerrancy and the historicity of Adam, A. A. Hodge, Warfield, and J. Gresham Machen could not teach at some conservative seminaries today because they held that Genesis could be harmonized with a non-Darwinian view of evolution. Perhaps Gundlach's study will help conservative Christians rethink some of the missteps made in the early 20th century.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesReformed* TheologyApologeticsSeminary / Theological Education

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Writing for Life and Work magazine, he said that churchgoers should embrace digital technology as they set about engaging a new kind of recruit.

He went on: “It might pain me to say it, but it’s time for a radical change and I don’t mean a change of hymns, or a visually aided sermon or a new time of day for traditional forms of worship —– I mean something much more far reaching than that.

“I’m looking for a way of including the many hundreds of people who are fully engaged in the practical and project work that our churches are doing throughout Scotland, but whose belonging to the faith community is not necessarily complemented by regular attendance at Sunday worship.”

Read it all (requires subscription)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyTeens / YouthYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* Theology

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Posted December 4, 2014 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sir Fred Catherwood, who has died aged 89, was an accountant and businessman who in 1979 became one of the first Conservatives to be elected to the European parliament in Brussels. His life was shaped more directly and profoundly, however, by his evangelical Christian beliefs. He was the sort of pro-European Conservative whose views are almost extinct in the current party and he made little secret of his opposition to the economic price of Thatcherism.

Catherwood’s ecumenism extended to working closely with Labour governments in the 1960s as director general of the National Economic Development Council (NEDC, known in the jargon of the time as Neddy), the ultimately ill-fated attempt to bring management and trade unions together with government to boost Britain’s industrial regeneration. In 1971, the year he stepped down from the post, he was knighted. He transferred that enthusiasm for economic co-operation to Europe, where he ultimately became vice-president of the European parliament (1989-91). For much of this time he also ran weekly Bible classes at Westminster Chapel, the independent evangelical church in central London.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted December 4, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is a fantastic interview by the BBCWS with Denis Brian, author of The Seven Lives of Colonel Patterson How an Irish Lion Hunter Led the Jewish Legion to Victory. Among many other things, he says of Patterson "If you combined Roosevelt, Hemingway and Lawrence of Arabia you might have a man like John Henry Patterson." Listen to it all (about 3 minutes). Careful listeners will also be interested in the quote from Ze’ev Jabotinsky who once said of Patterson: “In all of Jewish history we have never had a Christian friend as understanding and devoted as he.”

Update" you may read more about the book and denis Brian there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I mean, there is no excuse that I can think of for choking a man to death for selling illegal cigarettes. This is about cigarettes. This isn't a violent confrontation. This isn't a threat that anybody has reported, a threat of someone being killed. This is someone being choked to death. We have it on video with the man pleading for his life. There is no excuse for that I can even contemplate or imagine right now. And so we've heard a lot in recent days about rule of law, and that's exactly right. We need to be emphasizing rule of law. And a rule of law that is Biblically just is a rule of law that carries out justice equally.

Romans 13 says that the sword of justice is to be wielded against evildoers. Now, what we too often see still is a situation where our African-American brothers and sisters, especially brothers, are more likely to be arrested, more likely to be executed, more likely to be killed. And this is a situation in which we have to say, I wonder what the defenders of this would possibly say. I just don't know. But I think we have to acknowledge that something is wrong with the system at this point and that something has to be done.

Frankly, nothing is more controversial in American life than this issue of whether or not we are going to be reconciled across racial lines. I have seen some responses coming after simply saying in light of Ferguson that we need to talk about why it is that white people and black people see things differently. And I said what we need to do is to have churches that come together and know one another and are knitted together across these racial lines. And I have gotten responses and seen responses that are right out of the White Citizen's Council material from 1964. In my home state of Mississippi, seeing people saying there is no gospel issue involved in racial reconciliation.

Are you kidding me? There is nothing that is clearer in the New Testament that the gospel breaks down the dividing walls that we have between one another.

Read (or listen to) it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted December 4, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A majority of presbyteries in the Church of Scotland have agreed to a historic legal change, enabling individual congregations to opt out of traditional teaching on marriage and appoint a gay minister who is in a civil partnership.

While official returns will not be released until the new year, it was revealed last night that at least 27 of the 45 voting presbyteries had already accepted the principal of a “mixed economy” within the church, the compromise agreed at this year’s general assembly.

The policy laid out in an “overture” — or proposal — was drawn up as a way of maintaining the doctrinal position of the Church, to the satisfaction of some of its evangelical members, while allowing more liberal congregations to break with tradition and appoint gay clergy.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 4, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Does Hanks know that the word "Mysteries" -- with a big "M" – is at the heart of all Orthodox Christian discussions of faith and theology? I think that is a safe assumption. Does he know that he can use the word "mystery" in a secular forum and few reporters will know that? Maybe.

So what is my point? Am I arguing that the Post needed to devote a large chunk of its Kennedy Center Honors feature on Hanks to the role that Christian faith does or does not play in the actor's life and career?

Well, if part of the point of the story is that this complex man – often hailed for his moral convictions and character – has kept essential parts of his life quite closeted, I think it might have been interesting to ask why. That might include at least a few sentences about his family and his faith.

Think about it. You see, the contents of his mind and his soul might have SOMETHING to do with his art.

Perhaps there is a reason that he keeps some parts of his life private, yet not all that private. I mean, what kind of Hollywood superstar burns crosses into the frames of his doorways?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first premise of the demonstration hinges on a distinction between natural or innate desires and desires of a more artificial or contrived variety. Examples of the first type include the desire for food, for sex, for companionship, for beauty, and for knowledge; while examples of second type include the longing for a fashionable suit of clothes, for a fast car, for Shangri-La, or to fly through the air like a bird. Precisely because desires of the second category are externally motivated or psychologically contrived, they don't prove anything regarding the objective existence of their objects: some of them exist and some of them don't.

But desires of the first type do indeed correspond to, and infallibly indicate, the existence of the states of affairs that will fulfill them: hunger points to the objective existence of food, thirst to the objective existence of drink, sexual longing to the objective existence of the sexual act, etc. And this is much more than a set of correspondences that simply happen to be the case; the correlation is born of the real participation of the desire in its object. The phenomenon of hunger is unthinkable apart from food, since the stomach is "built" for food; the phenomenon of sexual desire is unthinkable apart from the reality of sex, since the dynamics of that desire are ordered toward the sexual act. By its very structure, the mind already participates in truth.

So what kind of desire is the desire for perfect fulfillment? Since it cannot be met by any value within the world, it must be a longing for truth, goodness, beauty, and being in their properly unconditioned form. But the unconditioned, by definition, must transcend any limit that we might set to it. It cannot, therefore, be merely subjective, for such a characterization would render it not truly unconditioned. And this gives the lie to any attempt -- Feuerbachian, Freudian, Marxist or otherwise -- to write off the object of this desire as a wish-fulfilling fantasy, as a projection of subjectivity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyApologetics

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Evangelicals are teaming up with environmentalists to support the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants.

The Rev. Mitchell Hescox, president and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network, submitted comments from more than 100,000 “pro-life Christians” who he said are concerned about children’s health problems that are linked to unclean air and water.

“From acid rain to mercury to carbon, the coal utility industry has never acted as a good neighbor and cleaned up their mess on their own,” Hescox told reporters on Monday (Dec. 1). “Instead of acting for the benefit of our children’s lives, they’ve internalized their profits while our kids (have) borne the cost in their brains, lungs and lives.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

6 Comments
Posted December 3, 2014 at 11:52 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ritter points to a maxim popular among Methodists: "In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity."

"I don’t know of anyone who feels that homosexuality is a central issue in the Christian faith, but behind it lies the larger issue of biblical authority,” he said. "It is difficult to see how a house divided on such a foundational issue could stand— unless perhaps it is a duplex."

Unity is itself an essential, said Methodist pastor Jason Byassee. "Every pastor has counseled married couples who say, 'It’s hard to be together,'" said the Duke Divinity School fellow. "We say, 'I know. It’s called cross-bearing. Figure this thing out.'"

"Staying together or separating is less important than our being a people of grace and truth," said Renfroe. "That’s when God will bless our witness to the world."

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, joined Pope Francis and other world Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish leaders in Rome today to sign a historic declaration to end modern slavery.

The ground-breaking Global Freedom Network – which launched with backing from Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis in March 2014 [link] – brings together faith leaders in a commitment to eradicate modern slavery by 2020 throughout our world and for all time.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 3, 2014 at 7:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We’re all familiar with our Lord’s words that it’s “more blessed to give than to receive.” As it turns out, this maxim is not only true as a matter of faith, it’s empirically true, as well.

This is the subject of a new book, “The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose,” by BreakPoint favorite and Notre Dame Professor Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson, a doctoral student at Notre Dame.

The book is based on research from Notre Dame’s “Science of Generosity” initiative. As Smith and Davidson write in the introduction, “By grasping onto what we currently have . . . we lose out on better goods that we might have gained . . .”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchBooksPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Whatever we may think about any or all of these points, and even if I am wrong about a good deal of this, I don’t need to be right about all of it for the following to be inevitable—- just as in the case of the Episcopal Church, and in some Christian Churches, and some Lutheran Churches, and some Presbyterian Churches, and some Baptist Churches this whole move will result in loss of membership. It will not stop the current bleeding, it will accelerate it. Just take a look at the before and after stats for these other mainline churches.

If we want to further diminish the integrity and influence of our church in our American society, then this is a good way to assure that will happen. The old saying ‘in essentials unity, in non-essentials diversity’ is a good dictum, as long as we agree on what the essentials are when it comes to something as fundamental as ordination or the nature Christian marriage which is supposed to be holy matrimony. But alas we don’t agree on these vital things. We cannot have a ‘United Methodist Church’ if we don’t at least agree on the most basic theological and ethical essentials which are currently enshrined in our Discipline— both the doctrines enshrined in our Discipline and the ethics as well. Short of that, we should quietly agree to become two different Methodist Churches.

Of course any such major change as a reorganization into two jurisdictions requires a two thirds vote at the General Conference. I can’t see such a two jurisdiction solution getting to that number of votes. Quo Vadis then UMC? My suggestion is that those who cannot in good conscience abide by the Discipline as we have it, and John Wesley’s teachings on celibacy as we have it, and the Bible’s teachings on sexual ethics and marriage (see Mt. 19 where the latter is defined quite clearly as heterosexual monogamy) should be brave and start a new venture, the Progressive Methodist Church. Those prepared to continue to abide by our doctrines and disciplines should simply stay and go forward.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 3, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the small hours of December 2nd gunmen snuck up on a group of sleeping quarry workers in Mandera country, close to Kenya’s border with Somalia. They were rounded up and made to lie face-down on the ground. Thirty-four of the men, who make a pitiful living mining and breaking stones, were executed with a bullet to the head; two were beheaded; all were non-Muslims.

Ten days earlier in the same remote part of Kenya gunmen flagged down an early-morning bus. Each passenger was asked to recite a verse from the Koran and to respond to a Muslim greeting. Those who failed were shot in the head. Twenty-eight people, many of them teachers going home for the Christmas holidays, were killed.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenyaSomalia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 2, 2014 at 4:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"I'm most excited about working to make the [Episcopal] Church something that is important in people's lives," Chittenden said. "It's a complex time in the history of the Church—society's attitude toward the Church is changing, which presents a challenge, but it's an exciting challenge."

[Nils] Chittenden—who came to Duke following eight years of work at the University of Durham, England—said it took some time to understand the philosophy and functioning of an American university. However, he quickly grew to love his work and the people he met at Duke, forming strong relationships across the University.

Part of Chittenden's job involved providing spiritual counseling to anyone who sought it.

"My goal was not to be a chaplain only for Episcopalian students, but a chaplain who could provide an Episcopalian perspective for any students seeking that," Chittenden said.

Read it all.




Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK

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




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