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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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More than two dozen Jewish community centers across the U.S. reported receiving false bomb threats on Wednesday. It's the second wave of bomb threats in two weeks: On Jan. 9, 16 community centers received threats in a single day.
No actual bombs have been found, according to the JCC Association of North America, and many centers have already reopened and resumed regular operations.
The FBI is investigating "possible civil rights violations in connection with threats," The Associated Press reports.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Judaism * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Church of England’s briefing paper was drawn up by its mission and public affairs council, led by Philip Fletcher, and its environment working group, chaired by the Bishop of Salisbury. It is being issued to environmental officers in every diocese and is intended to help to inform bishops and other leading clergy as the church is increasingly pressured by local campaigners to take a stand.
The document says fracking can be “a morally acceptable practice” if it forms part of a transition to a greener economy and is subject to robust regulation and planning procedures. “Having concluded that shale gas may be a useful component in transitioning to a low carbon economy, we are persuaded that a robust planning and regulatory regime could be constructed,” it says.
It also says it is “essential” that legitimate concerns of those who face disruption from fracking are heard and that “appropriate protections and compensation are in place”.
Read it all (subscription required).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Energy, Natural Resources * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
To prepare for his signature role, Christopher interviewed priests to "help get the tone right." Finally, he created a Los Angeles-area panel of priests to help him deal with questions about how a Jesuit would have handled some rites, and tricky war-zone issues, in the era before the Second Vatican Council.
The goal was to show respect for the priesthood, while avoiding what he called "embarrassed priest situations and celibacy jokes." It was especially sobering to learn how to handle rushed deathbed confessions and Last Rites.
"I tried to humanize Mulcahy as much as possible, although I knew there was a certain danger there since he is a priest. But I felt there was an even greater danger if we let him turn into a stereotype," he explained.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch History Movies & Television Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Pastoral Theology
Narcissus would seem to be an unlikely character to show up in companies of Christians. And yet the progeny of Narcissus keep showing up in our communities of created and saved souls. They are so glaringly out-of-place in the context of the biblical revelation defined by the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, one would think that they would be immediately noticed and exposed. More often they are welcomed and embellished, given roles of leadership and turned into celebrities.
It is an odd phenomenon to observe followers of Jesus, suddenly obsessed with their wonderfully saved souls, setting about busily cultivating their own spiritualities. Self-spirituality has become the hallmark of our age. The spirituality of Me. A spirituality of self-centering, self-sufficiency, and self-development. All over the world at the present time we have people who have found themselves redefined by the revelation of God in Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection, going off and cultivating the divine within and abandoning spouses, children, friends and congregations.
But holy living, resurrection living, is not a self-project. We are a people of God and cannot live holy lives, resurrection lives, as individuals. We are not a self-defined community; we are a God-defined community. The love that God pours out for and in us creates a community in which that love is reproduced in our love for one another.
Read it all.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has defended the right of Christians to protest when crosses are removed from public places.
In a new book on the meaning of the cross and resurrection, both in the early Church and in the modern world, Lord Williams of Oystermouth says it is "reasonable" to "get rather indignant" when crosses are removed from certain public places.
The Christian cross is a "sign" of God's love and freedom, he says.
It is a sacrifice that symbolises the forgiveness of sins.
Read it all.
ove, therefore, becomes the hallmark of nonviolent resistance requiring that the resister not only refuse to shoot his opponent but also refuse to hate him. Nonviolent resistance is meant to bring an end to hate by being the very embodiment of agape. King seemed never to tire of an appeal to Anders Nygren's distinction between eros, phila and agape to make the point that the love that shapes nonviolent resistance is one that is disciplined by the refusal to distinguish between worthy and unworthy people. Rather agape begins by loving others for their own sake, which requires that we "have love for the enemy-neighbor from whom you can expect no good in return, but only hostility and persecution."
Such a love means that nonviolent resistance seeks not to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win a friend. The protests that may take the form of boycotts and other non-cooperative modes of behaviour are not ends in themselves, but rather attempts to awaken in the opponent a sense of shame and repentance. The end of nonviolent resistance is redemption and reconciliation with those who have been the oppressor. Love overwhelms hate, making possible the creation of a beloved community that would otherwise be impossible.
Accordingly, nonviolent resistance is not directed against people but against forces of evil. Those who happen to be doing evil are as victimized by the evil they do as those who are the object of their oppression. From the perspective of nonviolence King argued that the enemy is not the white people of Montgomery, but injustice itself. The object of the boycott of the buses was not to defeat white people, but to defeat the injustice that mars their lives.
Read it all from ABC Australia's Religion and Ethics site.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology
And so we come to the final apologia for Kelvin Holdsworth's mistake, again from his sermon yesterday: "Nobody at that service that night could be in any doubt that we proclaimed the divinity of Christ and preached the Gospel of God's love."
Well yes, you possibly did recite the Nicene Creed at some point after its key verses were repudiated, but saying that makes the heresy before it OK is like saying that if you deliver a devastating uppercut to a stranger walking down the street, handing him a plaster afterwards makes it OK.
This story hasn't gone away despite the best efforts of the Provost to say nothing, to say he'll say something and then say nothing, to ignore his boss, to ignore the sensible, cogent, important theological questions that even the head of the Episcopal Church of Scotland accepts are perfectly valid.
In ministry, or indeed any position of responsibility, the sooner you learn the lesson that it's better when you're caught red-handed to admit a mistake and ask for forgiveness than to try and defend an indefensible corner, the better.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Scottish Episcopal Church * Culture-Watch Books Multiculturalism, pluralism Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Christology
Isabelle was licensed during the daily Eucharist service at Lambeth Palace, attended by staff as well as her family and friends. She was previously Tutor in Biblical Studies at St John’s College, Nottingham and Associate Priest in the parish of Edwalton.
Speaking at the time of her appointment in November last year, the Archbishop said: “I am delighted to welcome Isabelle to the team at Lambeth. The Chaplain is a central part of life here, supporting the Archbishop and the family, maintaining the rhythms of worship and prayer and providing pastoral support for the community who live and work here.”
“Isabelle comes to us highly commended by her diocese where she has served in several ministry roles, lay and ordained, in university, college and parish. She brings a pastoral heart, a spiritual richness and a rigorous theological understanding to what is a demanding role. We look forward to welcoming her, husband Paul and daughter Aelwen to London and life at Lambeth.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
The Queen accompanied her nephew, David Armstrong-Jones, to church near her Sandringham Estate...[this past weekend], just days after his father, Lord Snowdon, died.
Braving wet and cold conditions, the royal party attended the morning service at St Mary the Virgin church in the village of Flitcham, Norfolk.
Read it all from the Telegraph and don't miss the pictures.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK
Koran in the Cathedral - The Times. pic.twitter.com/xLf1vyH3EZ— Gavin Ashenden (@gavinashenden) January 17, 2017
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Scottish Episcopal Church * Culture-Watch Multiculturalism, pluralism Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Christology Theology: Scripture
[Michael] Gilbreath (a CT editor at large) hearkens back to the 1963 Birmingham civil rights campaign, to the world of Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, and other heroic Christian leaders. Today, we idolize these figures for leading a beleaguered people to the Promised Land. But as Birmingham Revolution makes clear, the civil rights movement was no slam dunk. Uncertainty, scarce resources, and outside hostility could have ground its progress to a halt.
The Birmingham campaign was pivotal. On the heels of defeat in Albany, Georgia, victory in Birmingham restored the movement's momentum. Failure could have crippled it, by drying up funding, discrediting the nonviolent method, and validating fears that the leaders were—take your pick—extremists, rabble-rousers, too Christian, not Christian enough, too Southern, or insufficiently urban.
How—amid the noise and ambiguity, the internal struggles and self-doubts, the bone-deep weariness and constant fear of death—did the Birmingham leaders maintain their focus? And how might their example instruct the church today? Gilbreath gives four answers.
Read it all
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump remembers representing the family of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black male who was fatally shot in February 2012 in Sanford, Florida.
The shooter, George Zimmerman, was a neighborhood watch volunteer who was found not guilty in a high-profile murder trial.
The verdict, among others Crump has seen, has left minority communities feeling like second-class citizens, he said Sunday at Morris Street Baptist Church.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations * South Carolina
As [Ralph] Abernathy tells it–and I believe he is right–he and King were first of all Christians, then Southerners, and then blacks living under an oppressive segregationist regime. King of course came from the black bourgeoisie of Atlanta in which his father, “Daddy King,” had succeeded in establishing himself as a king. Abernathy came from much more modest circumstances, but he was proud of his heritage and, as he writes, wanted nothing more than that whites would address his father as Mr. Abernathy. He and Martin loved the South, and envisioned its coming into its own once the sin of segregation had been expunged.
“Years later,” Abernathy writes that, “after the civil rights movement had peaked and I had taken over [after Martin’s death] as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,” he met with Governor George Wallace. “Governor Wallace, by then restricted to a wheel chair after having been paralyzed by a would-be assassin’s bullet, shook hands with me and welcomed me to the State of Alabama. I smiled, realizing that he had forgotten all about Montgomery and Birmingham, and particularly Selma. ‘This is not my first visit,’ I said. ‘I was born in Alabama–in Marengo County.’ ‘Good,’ said Governor Wallace, ‘then welcome back.’ I really believe he meant it. In his later years he had become one of the greatest friends the blacks had ever had in Montgomery. Where once he had stood in the doorway and barred federal marshals from entering, he now made certain that our people were first in line for jobs, new schools, and other benefits of state government.” Abernathy concludes, “It was a time for reconciliations.”
Read it all (my emphasis).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
You can find the full text here.
I find it always is really worth the time to read and ponder it all on this day--KSH.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Almighty God, who by the hand of Moses thy servant didst lead thy people out of slavery, and didst make them free at last: Grant that thy Church, following the example of thy prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of thy love, and may strive to secure for all thy children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch History Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Clutching the blood-stained Bible she had with her when Dylann Roof executed nine family and friends around her, Felicia Sanders told the self-avowed white supremacist in court Wednesday that she still forgives him for his actions. They have scarred her life but haven't shaken her faith.
Addressing Roof the day after a jury sentenced him to death, Sanders said the mass shooting that killed nine black worshippers at Emanuel AME Church in June 2015 has left her unable to hear a balloon pop or an acorn fall without being startled. She can no longer shut her eyes when she prays.
But she will carry on, she told him, and continue to follow the words of God still clear in the battered Bible she cherishes.
"I brought my Bible to the courtroom ... shot up," she said. "It reminds me of the blood Jesus shed for me and you, Dylann Roof."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Capital Punishment Law & Legal Issues Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * South Carolina * Theology Christology Theology: Scripture
Hayhoe is the director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, where she teaches and conducts research as an atmospheric scientist and an associate professor of political science.
As a Texas-dwelling, evangelical Christian, atmospheric scientist, Hayhoe can often win the ears of many religious communities, receive invitations to address students at Christian colleges, or have conversations with mega-church-going Republican climate cynics she otherwise mightn’t meet or who wouldn’t listen.
Her faith and, now, her web series, has led many people to tell her they had believed or suspected that human-influenced climate change was a liberal hoax but that she has changed their minds, she said.
Read it all.
In terms of religion, this inauguration exhibits the confluence of two major currents of indigenous American spirituality.
One stream is represented by Norman Vincent Peale’s longtime bestseller “The Power of Positive Thinking” (1952). The famous Manhattan pastor is Trump’s tenuous connection to Christianity, having heard the preacher frequently in his youth. For Peale and his protege, the late Robert Schuller of Crystal Cathedral fame, the gospel of Christ’s death for human sin and resurrection for justification and everlasting life was transformed into a “feel-good” therapy. Self-esteem was the true salvation.
Another stream is represented by the most famous TV preachers, especially those associated with the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, T. D. Jakes, Joel Osteen and Paula White are the stars of this movement, known as Word of Faith.
Read it all from Michael Horton in the Washington Post.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Politics in General Office of the President * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
The Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, has been named as the favourite to succeed Richard Chartres as Bishop of London.
Cottrell is 3/1 favourite with bookmakers William Hill for the Church of England's third most senior job after Archbishop of Canterbury and York.
Although the formal appointments process has not yet begun, his name is increasingly being spoken of in Church circles as someone with the experience and charisma to lead the Church of England's fastest-growing, most diverse and most complex diocese.
Read it all from Christian Today.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary England / UK
The uncertainty and turmoil caused by Brexit could prove worthwhile if it acts as a catalyst in the redistribution of power and wealth to the North, a leading figure in the church has claimed.
According to the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, last year’s vote presents politicians with a fresh opportunity to boost prosperity in the region – and to avoid deepening division across the country. The intervention from the senior clergyman comes amid growing concerns about the impact of Brexit on the North’s economy, following reports that the region is twice as dependant on EU trade as other parts of the UK.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Archbishop of York is set see how heavenly food is produced during a tour of North Yorkshire.
Dr John Sentamu will embark on a mission in the Northern Ryedale deanery from Friday, which will see him visit a number of places including Michelin-star The Star Inn, at Harome, near Helmsley, over the following three days.
The mission is the first in a series which will see the Archbishop go back on the road to visit all 21 deaneries in the Diocese of York over the next two years.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
Another 5,000 French Jews emigrated to Israel last year, figures showed Monday, continuing a trend that has seen tens of thousands quit the country after a series of attacks targeting the community.
The Jewish Agency of Israel issued the update as France marked two years since attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices and on a Jewish supermarket in Paris, where four shoppers were shot dead.
Daniel Benhaim, who heads the Israeli-backed group in France, said that insecurity had been a "catalyst" for many Jews who were already thinking of leaving.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Psychology Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Europe France Middle East Israel * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Judaism
A total of 41 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds said Britain has “no specific religious identity” in a ComRes poll published to launch the new Faith Research Centre in Westminster.
And a third of 25 to 34-year-olds believed the same, the poll of 2,048 adults found.
Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, had an entirely different perspective on how religious Britain is compared to the over 55s and pensioners.
Read it all.
Here are three things that will stay with me:
First is the way that the perpetrators at Auschwitz tried to dehumanise their victims – in a way that actually cost the humanity of both. It worked to some extent. Prisoners killed others in order to live – and were then killed themselves. Others gave their lives, like St Maximilian Kolbe and St Edith Stein.
Second, these atrocities were committed by ordinary people. When one of the priests leading our retreat was asked who was to blame, he said: "People did it to people.”
Third, it was idolatrous and demonic.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Europe Germany Poland * Theology Theodicy
Which, if any, of these films are actually worth seeing?
Critics weren’t bowled over by any of them. The best reviewed of the lot was “Hail, Caesar!”, the least acclaimed Coen film since 2008’s “Burn After Reading.” Audiences were more negative and box office was disappointing. At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed it; I might almost be the ideal audience for this film, though it doesn’t seem to play as well for everyone as it does for me.
That goes double for “The Young Messiah,” a film few critics found as compelling and creative as I did.
Read it all.
The body of Archbishop Brown Turei, one of three leaders of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, is to lie in state at Kauaetangohia Marae near the northernmost point of East Cape for two nights before his funeral on Saturday.
Brown Turei died surrounded by his family and loved ones in Gisborne Hospital on Monday, aged 92.
He was ordained a deacon in 1949 and a priest the following year.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ
Bishops have painted a hopeful picture of a post-Brexit Britain in their New Year messages.
After the Prime Minister’s declaration that Article 50 will be triggered in March, so that Britain can leave the EU in March 2019, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his message, spoke of a “tough campaign” that had “left divisions”, but argued that reconciliation was possible: “I know that if we look at our roots, our culture, and our history in the Christian tradition . . . we will find a path towards reconciling the differences that have divided us.”
The message, filmed in Coventry, celebrated the welcome given to refugees in the city
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
Thirteen leading international asset owners and five asset managers with over £2 trillion under management launched the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) today to better understand how the transition to a low-carbon economy affects their investments. The TPI will assess how individual companies are positioning themselves for the transition to a low-carbon economy through a public, transparent online tool. The heads of funds involved launched the Initiative this morning at the opening of the stock market at the London Stock Exchange.
The Initiative has been led by the Church of England's National Investing Bodies and the Environment Agency Pension Fund in partnership with the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics. Data has been provided by FTSE Russell.
Preliminary assessments released today include the oil and gas and electricity utilities sectors. As part of a phased rollout, management quality and carbon performance assessments of additional sectors and individual companies will follow in the coming months.
Read it all from the C of E.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Stock Market Energy, Natural Resources * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The flaw in his approach is that while the Muslims who chose the reading seem to have been only too aware of the differences, and chose to declare them in their Koranic reading during the Christian worship, the Provost, on the other hand, appears to have been unaware.
When asked if he had known what the passage of the Koran said about Jesus, how it denied what Christians hold central to their faith, he “declined to comment further”.
This was not, then, “a dialogue about the ways we differ”. It was not even a strategy of parity. If there had been a conversation in which he had said, “Let us insert into each other’s worship and prayers readings from our sacred scriptures which confront and contradict each others’ faith”, how would the Islamic community have responded? We will never know, because the exercise was not actually the one he claimed it to be.
Read it all from Gavin Ashenden.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Scottish Episcopal Church * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Christology
Since it was finally completed in the fourteenth century, the tower of the Priory of St Mary Overie, later the Parish Church of Saviour and now the Cathedral for the Diocese of Southwark, stood high above the surrounding community on the south bank of the Thames. It was the ‘Shard’ of its day, an architectural presence in this busy, congested, exciting district of London. Within the tower, bells were hung, the first ring associated with the marriage in the Priory Church of King James I of Scots to Joan Beaufort, niece of the then Bishop of Winchester, Cardinal Beaufort on 12 February 1424. The bells rang out to call people to prayer, to mark the joyous and the sad occasions of life, to warn and to welcome. In the eighteenth century the ring of twelve was consolidated in the way that we have come to know the ring. Now in the twenty-first century it has been our privilege to undertake much needed work on the bells to ensure that they ring loud and clear for future generations.
Read it all and don't miss the wonderful pictures.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary England / UK
‘Tim, there’s a priest at the door.’ She gripped her hands in front of her sweatshirt, balling her fists into her stomach. ‘He wants to know if you want to speak with him.’
Tim laboured to chew and swallow the food in his mouth. ‘A priest?’
‘From the Church of England.’ Tim’s father and I checked each other’s faces for comprehension. Only Tim intuited immediately why a priest had come calling.
‘No.’ Tim shook his head. ‘Please tell him no.’
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary England / UK
Saward’s case led to changes in attitudes toward rape victims and important legal overhauls. Victims of sexual assault were given the right to appeal lenient sentences and the media was blocked from identifying a victim before a defendant was charged. In 1990, Saward became the first person in Britain to waive her right to anonymity as a victim of rape. With Wendy Green, she wrote a book, Rape: My Story, in which she spoke openly about her trauma, how it had led to suicidal thoughts and how she had overcome them. “I believe forgiveness gives you freedom,” she wrote. “Freedom to move on without being held back by the past.” Saward went on to give training to judges and police on how to treat rape victims.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality Violence Women * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
LAWTON: Immigration is going to be a really interesting issue to watch this coming year, and the years ahead, not just legal and illegal immigration, but also refugees coming in, and how the Trump administration handles that. And again, if any refugees—I mean the Obama administration set a goal for fiscal year 2017 of 110,000 refugees to be brought into this country. What’s going to happen to that?
DIONNE: I think that all disappears under the Trump administration
LAWTON: And, again, you had a pretty broad faith coalition—evangelicals, Catholics, mainline Protestants, Jews and others really coming together to say we want to bring people in, we want to help resettle them, and so they’re not going to be on board with some of that policy, and some of them, especially in the mainline Protestant community, have said, we’re going to make our churches sanctuary churches, so that rather than being deported, immigrants can come here and receive some kind of protection. So that’ll be a very interesting issue.
ABERNETHY: Many bits of action, too, all over the place, by police chiefs, by mayors already.
Read it all from PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.
The Obama administration’s failure to beat back the rise of radical Islam reflects a greater failure of thinking elites. Steeped in an intellectual culture of secularism, Western leaders have consistently denied both the Koranic motives of America’s enemies, and the Christian underpinnings of the U.S. system of values. They look for economic and social reasons for this clash of cultures and dismiss the far more terrible possibility that humanity is actually at war over the nature of God.
This estrangement from the sacred continues a trend begun during the Enlightenment of the 18th century.
But its roots are in the 17th century’s rise of science. The scientific method transformed a world of miracles into a world of material. Its successes, in time, made atheism seem the default setting of true reason. But is it?
The physicist Stephen Hawking, who publicly confirmed his atheism in 2014, doesn’t believe that God is needed to explain creation. “The laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing,” he explained. The philosopher Roger Scruton, writing in this newspaper, thoroughly undid this argument simply by asking, “But what created the laws of physics?” Such an obvious flaw in Mr. Hawking’s reasoning should have been clear to anyone who wasn’t being carried off on the skeptical tide of the times.
As a former secular Jew who converted to Christianity, I understand the temptation of such skepticism. My baptism in 2004 was an act of transgression. I sensed it at the time and know it all the more certainly today. I was nearly 50 then. I had lived my adulthood as a postmodern man, a worldling of the coasts and cities. For me to accept the truth of God and his incarnation in Jesus Christ was to defy the culture of the age.
Read it all.
1) Revival cannot be scheduled. Revival cannot be predicted, but neither can it be precluded. There simply are no natural laws that guarantee revival. True revival is a sovereign work of God (Zech. 4:6). In other words, revival is always a miracle. Revival is not "in our pocket." Once we fall into the trap of thinking that revival is at our beck-and-call, we will begin to develop earthly strategies that we are convinced will produce the desired end. We will become sinfully pragmatic in the business of religion, as we justify virtually any tactic or method just so long as it gets "results". But this is precisely what we must avoid at all costs.
(2) Someone has defined revival as "a copious effusion of the influence of divine grace," i.e., a bountiful outpouring of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. J. I. Packer defines revival as "a work of God by his Spirit through his word bringing the spiritually dead to living faith in Christ and renewing the inner life of Christians who have grown slack and sleepy" (Revival, 36). Or again,
"Revival is God stirring the hearts of his people, visiting them . . . coming to dwell with them . . . returning to them . . . pouring out his Spirit on them . . . to quicken their consciences, show them their sins, and exalt his mercy . . . before their eyes" (Keep in Step with the Spirit, 256).
Read it all.
He was ordained in 1991 and served for 4 years as curate of All Saints, Crowborough in Chichester diocese. He and Heather then left to move to Sydney Australia, as Mike took up a post as Junior Lecturer at Moore Theological College. While there he also did research for an MTh, with a dissertation on the concept of truth in John’s Gospel, and made many friends.
I first met Mike in 1998 when he returned to the UK to be a research fellow at Oak Hill Theological College in London. Some of his lectures were quite stretching (such as this one, and this one which he contributed to The Theologian journal), and I never understood his compulsive need to talk about Arsenal football club and include diagrams or witty quotes in all of his handouts! But he was a good friend and a mentor. We met up weekly to read the Bible and pray together during a year when I was doing MPhil research in the Old Testament, and we’d occasionally pore over the Septuagint or a Latin Church Father, or he’d advise me about college committees he had gotten me involved with. Always with at least one cup of coffee (and occasionally with a glass of something different).
Mike’s PhD from Kings College, London (completed in 2004) was on the eternal relation between God the Father and God the Son in selected patristic theologians and John’s Gospel, which highlights his interest in integrating systematic, historical, and biblical theology. Much of this work made it into his most recent publication Your Will Be Done: Exploring Eternal Subordination, Divine Monarchy and Divine Humility. He was keen to encourage Christians to engage more carefully in systematic theology, which he saw as something of a weakness in evangelical circles. In a helpful talk from 2006, for example, he examined the biblical foundations of systematics and outlined a biblical method of engaging in it, which many found persuasive.
Read it all (my emphasis).
(Oak Hill College)
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Just a few hours after he told a crowded courtroom “I still feel like I had to do it,” Dylann Roof was sentenced to death by a federal jury for carrying out a cold, calculated massacre inside Charleston's Emanuel AME Church in a bid to spark a race war.
The 12-member panel – three white jurors, nine black – deliberated for a little less than three hours before unanimously deciding that the 22-year-old white supremacist should die for his crimes rather than spend his life in prison without the possibility of parole.
It will be up to the presiding judge to formally impose that sentence, but he is bound by law to follow the jury’s decision. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel has scheduled the formal sentencing hearing for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Read it all from the local paper.
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Christians are determined by the conviction that a brown-skinned Jew—whose body was publically tortured to death on a cross by a consortium of government and religious officials, and whose crucified body was resurrected from the dead, opening up the realm of God to people of every color, including people who believe their skin is without color—is the truth about God.
The invention of whiteness is the sin of designating humanity by reference to physical characteristics for the purpose of one race (white) dominating nonwhite races. Race is humanly conceived, structurally maintained, deeply personal, and (from a specifically Christian standpoint) sin.
Because power is used to maintain and institutionalize racial privilege, racism is more insidious than disorganized, infrequent racist acts by disconnected individuals. Though a social construction, rooted in sinful misunderstandings of our humanity in Christ, race is a political reality that has far-reaching economic, social, and individual deleterious consequences.
While race is a fiction, a human construction, racism is a fact.
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Switzerland has won a case at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) obliging Muslim parents to send their children to mixed swimming lessons.
It said authorities were justified in giving precedence to enforcing "the full school curriculum" and the children's "successful integration" into society.
The ECHR acknowledged that religious freedom was being interfered with.
But judges said it did not amount to a violation
Read it all.
[The] Right Reverend Dr Jacob Ayeebo, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Tamale has bemoaned the current situation where faith was becoming insignificant to growing numbers of people in society.
He said “Growing numbers of people are less interested in spiritual principles and more desirous of learning pragmatic solutions for life”.
He said most teenagers prioritised education, career development, friendships, and travel, adding “Among adults, the areas of growing importance are lifestyle comfort, success and personal achievements”.
Read it all.
On the surface, Hollywood is a land of loose morals, where materialism rules, sex and drugs are celebrated on screen (and off), and power players can have a distant relationship with the truth. But movie studios and their partners have quietly — very quietly, sometimes to the degree of a black ops endeavor — been building deep connections to Christian filmgoers who dwell elsewhere on the spectrum of politics and social values. In doing so, they have tapped churches, military groups, right-leaning bloggers and, particularly, a fraternity of marketing specialists who cut their teeth on overtly religious movies but now put their influence behind mainstream works like “Frozen,” “The Conjuring,” “Sully” and “Hidden Figures.”
The marketers are writing bullet points for sermons, providing footage for television screens mounted in sanctuaries and proposing Sunday school lesson plans. In some cases, studios are even flying actors, costume designers and producers to megachurch discussion groups.
Hollywood’s awareness of its need to pay better attention to flyover-state audiences has grown even more urgent of late, as ultraliberal movie executives, shocked to see a celebrity-encircled Hillary Clinton lose the presidential election to Donald J. Trump, have realized the degree to which they are out of touch with a vast pool of Americans. Tens of millions of voters did not care what stars had to say in support of Mrs. Clinton.
Read it all.
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...this obsession with things which are ‘less than God’ is rooted in a more profound malaise – the House of Bishops is not spiritually serious. By this I mean to say that they don’t seem to believe that the substance of Christianity is a matter of eternal life and death. The House of Bishops seems to be filled with just the same sort of social justice pleading that a liberal atheist would be perfectly at home with, with the consequence that the Bishops sound just like every other well-meaning middle class worrier....
The Bishops, in other words, seem to embody the cultural cringe that most Christians in England suffer from – that feeling when you are a reasonably intelligent and committed believer, but in mixed company refrain from mentioning anything to do with Christian faith for fear of causing offence, or, worse, being mistaken for a fundamentalist. The trouble is that the Bishops are there precisely to articulate the Christian faith in the public sphere and – surely! – to run the risk of offending when they do.
What the Bishops have failed to do is articulate a coherent narrative, not about what Christianity is in general and as a whole, but what Christianity means for the English people at this point in our national life.
Read it all (emphasis mine).
It is with profound shock and sadness that we announce the sudden and unexpected death of our Principal, the Revd Dr Mike Ovey, at the age of 58.
As the Oak Hill community comes to terms with the loss of our dear brother and leader, we cling on to the promise that ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life’. It reminds us that for Mike, death is not an end but a glorious beginning.
Read it all and you can read comments by Archbp Peter Jensen there.
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[SCOTT] SIMON: What are some of the reasons you think more people's families, I guess I should - I almost said why more people are choosing to be cremated. And that might technically be true - but usually after their death.
[BARBARA] KEMMIS: So cremation is simply cheaper than burial. Of course, when you consider a funeral or a memorial service or celebration-of-life expenses, those are extra. And consumers also report that they see extra value with cremation and that they have more flexibility. To put it bluntly, death, even when it's anticipated, is inconvenient.
We don't want to lose our loved ones. We don't want to drop everything and gather and grieve and do what we need to do. But we must. And we can do that. But as families are spread across the country in various states, it's more and more difficult to bring people together on short notice. Cremation can expand the timeframe of grieving and memorializing your loved one.
Read it all.
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Almost 1,000 days since she was kidnapped with 275 other schoolgirls from school dormitories in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, the 24th girl to be released from captivity has been found.
Rakiya Abubakar Gali was discovered on 5 Jan. by the Army, who were questioning captured Boko Haram militants. She has a six-month-old baby.
The mass abduction on 14 April 2014 eventually generated headlines around the world and fuelled a social-media storm, with the hashtag #bringbackourgirls and campaign group Bring Back our Girls (BBOG). It says 195 are still missing.
Fifty-seven girls escaped shortly after being taken by extreme Islamist militants Boko Haram, while others have recently found freedom.
Read it all.
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I want to add a postscript to this tribute. In her death, Jill has somehow become public property. That is entirely understandable. Whilst remaining gentle and vulnerable, Jill was a tireless campaigner, fine communicator, a loyal and compassionate friend, a perceptive counsellor, and a courageous justice-seeker. It is interesting that so many tributes have been paid to her by those who are not involved with the church. But Jill was also a faithful Christian believer, whose testimony to God’s goodness and love undergirded all that she was and did. Working for justice in the area of violence against women was in every way her Christian calling, and one she pursued with faithfulness and vigour; indeed, I believe it is impossible to understand her work or her legacy without acknowledging the centrality of God’s love in her life. So, since she has offered such encouragement to other Christians, we might ask why her work received more attention from those outside the church than those within it and why, now that she has gone from us many Christians are wondering why they never learnt from her or supported what she was doing. So here’s the challenge. If the outpouring of tributes following Jill’s death, helps us in the church to re-think our own agendas, recognizing our blind spots, and our entrenched parochialism, Jill’s work will continue. For even now, she is surely encouraging us towards a bigger vision, where we can engage with the needs of our culture and our world, with more insight, compassion and care.
Read it all.
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Two high-profile TV adverts this season seem to point back to the sentiment of Dickens’ tale. Sainsbury’s sign off with the strap line ‘Christmas is for sharing’, whilst John Lewis prefer ‘Give someone the Christmas they’ve been dreaming of’. Behind the marketing strategy seems to be a genuine search for a more profound message to accompany the call to consume. Both are centred on sharing and people, not objects or wealth.
Margaret Oliphant, Scottish novelist and historical writer, wrote that A Christmas Carol ‘moved us all those days ago as if it had been a new gospel’. And its popularity and pertinence remain undimmed. But shining even brighter is the old Gospel – the ultimate story of second chances and redemption that is ready to move us again this Christmas and lead us to sharing it with others.
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“The purpose of religious language…is to evoke an attitude...”
You may need to enlarge the page to see it better; I sure did; KSH.
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
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To give shape and meaning to life we need to inhabit narratives capacious enough to permit development and to accommodate new themes. Not only stories are needed but communities to inhabit them. We all need somewhere we belong and where membership gives us dignity and something to live up to....
God so loved the world that he was generous and gave himself to us in the person of the infant Jesus whose destiny was not command and control but to love his enemies into loving. We no longer regard Caesar as god and the coming of the Christ-child has also changed our picture of God and reveals a generous God who does not in his heart of hearts resemble Caesar.
And so the wise men significantly “departed into their own country another way”.
A genuine encounter with the Christ-child, an infant born in a stable to an ordinary mother in a far off province of the Empire, may not on the surface seem very earth-shaking but in reality it changes everything.
Read it all (emphasis mine).
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Federal authorities warned Friday that ISIS sympathizers "continue aspirational calls for attacks on holiday gatherings, including targeting churches."
The bulletin was issued by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security and issued to law enforcement agencies and private security companies around the US.
Read it all.
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[Sebastian] Kahl wanted to go to the service at the Memorial Church, not just because of what he and his girlfriend went through, but also out of respect for the fates suffered by others. A gesture of compassion. But then he hears the news that the police have arrested the wrong man. His girlfriend is afraid that the terrorist is still running around in the city and that he could kill again and the couple remains at home. They both want to spend Christmas with their families and Kahl feels he has much to be grateful for. He sees his survival akin to "being born again."
5:20 p.m., Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
It is 40 minutes before the services are set to begin, but so many people have come that police have already had to close the church to non-invited guests. The benches inside are full. The closer the hour comes, the more anxious the mood in front of the church becomes. An interpreter tells the heavily armed police that she has to go inside because otherwise the journalists who have traveled from France won't know what is being said from the altar. Some visitors are so brazen that they try to sneak between the Christmas market stalls toward the church entrance. But they don't get far and the police officers react angrily.
A group from the Muslim community Ahmadiyya shows up wearing T-shirts reading: "Love for all, hate for none." When Aiman Mazyek, of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, is allowed to pass with a small entourage, two women standing in front of the church snap: "Of course the Muslims are allowed in."
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...glimpses into the life of the holy family are rare.
Three qualities, however, seem evident. First, there was a firm, but loving authority in the home. This can be seen in the one episode where there was a misunderstanding between Jesus and his parents. (Luke 2:41ff) A second familial practice was implicit in this event: they were faithful in keeping holy days, as well as in Sabbath and synagogue worship. Thirdly, both Mary and Jesus demonstrated a deep intimacy with the Hebrew Scriptures. Great portions of the Law, Prophets and Psalms appear to have been memorized. We might like to know more about their daily lives, but this much we may safely assume: There was a strong, positive and loving discipline; a sure trust in God’s providential care; a commitment to regular worship; and a deep and practical knowledge of the Scriptures.
How such qualities are needed today in our homes—where
the Bible is read and children hear and see their parents reading and praying the Scripture
prayers are said as individuals and as families
parents and children go to church and worship together
God’s name is spoken with reverence and where his teachings are believed
wholesome and proper authority is respected
It was from this kind of home that Jesus went out to minister to a hurting world. For those of us who are parents or grandparents is there any better gift we can give our children or grandchildren than a decision to model our home and family in this way?
Read it all.
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So while Christians ask, “What would Jesus do?” Jews ask, “What does Jewish law say?” That’s completely understandable from a traditional Jewish perspective, and it is often praiseworthy. But, I wish Jews would learn from their Christian cohorts and ask directly, “What would God say?” Just as the Prophet Micah did by asking, “What does God require of us?”
Christmas and its celebration of the birth of Jesus compels me to think about the concept of a messiah. I am grateful to my Christian neighbors and friends. Through their religious holy day, I am better able to confront and clarify my own religious convictions and theological certitudes.
Like a brightly lighted Christmas tree, Christianity dispels a lot of darkness, theological as well as moral. In its glow, it challenges Christians and non-Christians alike to consider that which is transcendent, eternal and greater than us all. Merry Christmas indeed.
Read it all.
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Churches, parishes, and individuals will be urged next spring to join a global disinvestment mobilisation to end the dependence on fossil fuels.
The campaign Bright Now will launch the event next May to increase pressure on big investors to move their money away from coal, oil, and gas producers into green-energy technologies.
The campaign, which is run by a Christian charity that campaigns on climate change, Operation Noah, is putting together a resource for churches on how they can disinvest from fossil fuels and reinvest in renewable energy.
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I wouldn’t characterize the New Testament descriptions of the risen Jesus as fuzzy. They are very concrete in their details. Yes, Mary doesn’t recognize Jesus at first, but then she does. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24) also don’t recognize Jesus at first. Their experience was analogous to meeting someone you last saw as a child 20 years ago. Many historians have argued that this has the ring of eyewitness authenticity. If you were making up a story about the Resurrection, would you have imagined that Jesus was altered enough to not be identified immediately but not so much that he couldn’t be recognized after a few moments? As for Mark’s gospel, yes, it ends very abruptly without getting to the Resurrection, but most scholars believe that the last part of the book or scroll was lost to us.
Skeptics should consider another surprising aspect of these accounts. Mary Magdalene is named as the first eyewitness of the risen Christ, and other women are mentioned as the earliest eyewitnesses in the other gospels, too. This was a time in which the testimony of women was not admissible evidence in courts because of their low social status. The early pagan critics of Christianity latched on to this and dismissed the Resurrection as the word of “hysterical females.” If the gospel writers were inventing these narratives, they would never have put women in them. So they didn’t invent them.
The Christian Church is pretty much inexplicable if we don’t believe in a physical resurrection. N.T. Wright has argued in “The Resurrection of the Son of God” that it is difficult to come up with any historically plausible alternate explanation for the birth of the Christian movement.
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The scale of religious persecution around the world is not widely appreciated. Nor is it limited to Christians in the troubled regions of the Middle East. A recent report suggests that attacks are increasing on Yazidis, Jews, Ahmadis, Baha’is and many other minority faiths. And in some countries even more insidious forms of extremism have recently surfaced, which aim to eliminate all types of religious diversity.
We are also struggling to capture the immensity of the ripple effect of such persecution. According to the United Nations, 5.8 million MORE people abandoned their homes in 2015 than the year before, bringing the annual total to a staggering 65.3 million. That is almost equivalent to the entire population of the United Kingdom.
And the suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land. We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith.
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An urgent call for funds to help fleeing refugees from embattled South Sudan has been issued by the Archbishop of Uganda.
The Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev Stanley Ntagali, issued his appeal last week following the influx of South Sudanese refuges in West Nile and Northern Uganda.
Archbishop Ntagali said that there was a need for the Church in Uganda to supplement government efforts to respond to South Sudanese refugees in Uganda.
In his appeal, he said that the increasing numbers of refugees still need shelter, food, clothing, psycho-social support, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH); and for their sustainable livelihood, the need to acquire vocational skills is a requirement.
Read it all.
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Congo Bishops urge settlement of political crisis before Christmas https://t.co/d3iib4OCzT— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) December 22, 2016
Mediators urged Congo’s president and opposition parties to reach an agreement before Christmas on a peaceful settlement to the country’s political crisis, saying dozens already have been killed this week amid protests over the president’s stay in power.
“Enough is enough,” Msgr. Marcel Utembi, one of the Catholic Church mediators, said Wednesday. “A solution must be found as soon as possible by all political actors, but in particular by the government in order to reassure the Congolese people.”
He also conveyed a message from Pope Francis following their meeting this week: “I am concerned by what is happening in your country, which I wish to visit at the opportune moment. I pray for the Congolese people, who need peace so much now.”
Read it all from the WSJ.
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The Church of England has squared up to commercial giants John Lewis, Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer with its bid for Christmas ad of the year.
The Church's new two minute film "Joy to The World" features Gogglebox vicar and Songs of Praise presenter Kate Bottley and has been released on the Church's official website and social media channels.
The film highlights the hectic life of a vicar at Christmas, combining priest, social worker, parent and dog owner up to the traditional midnight service on Christmas Eve and the magical first moment of Christmas Day.
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In many parts of our troubled, uncertain world, Christian minority communities along with other minorities are being similarly targeted. In some places, this is motivated by a desire to eradicate the indigenous Christian presence completely. These are acts not only of terror but of genocide; criminal acts for which the international community must bring those guilty to account. Yet although so vulnerable and often forgotten and marginalised, our brothers and sisters are being courageous in the Lord. Indeed, ‘God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong’ (1 Corinthians 1.27).
In other places conflict and corruption have become so normal that the world forgets the suffering of the poor.
I ask your prayers for those of us who live in safety that we may not be bystanders afar off, beating our breasts as we retire to the security of our homes, but that we may draw nearer to the cross of Jesus, stand there alongside our suffering brothers and sisters and be ready to take our part in practical action for change. I pray that Christ will strengthen all his people in our inner being with power through the Holy Spirit to be faithful, to have courage and to live in hope.
More than ever we need Christ like communities proclaiming the good news of the gospel in word and action.
Read it all (my emphasis).
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Rashad Ali is a British Sunni Muslim who devotes most of his life to combating extremism and urging young co-religionists to reject the siren voices of jihadism. At the risk of making himself unpopular with some members of his community, he actively assists the government’s efforts to counter hard-line Islamism. He works mostly in his own country but also follows the Muslim scene in many other places.
Like many others working in his field, he is convinced that recent events in Syria have made his life much, much harder. Whether in Britain or in Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia or Morocco (all countries he has visited recently), he finds that ordinary Sunnis are appalled and angry over the suffering of civilians in east Aleppo before and during the collapse of the rebel stronghold.
The news has made them furious with Russia, which claims inter alia to be deploying its fighter-bombers in support of local Christians; angry with Iran and the Shia Muslim militias that it sponsors in Syria; and disappointed with Western countries for doing nothing to restrain the Russo-Iranian coalition. A common grievance, says Mr Ali, a fellow of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, is that Western consciences are moved by the plight of ethnic and religious minorities, such as the Kurds or Yazidis or small Christian sects, but indifferent to ordinary Sunni Arabs.
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In many ways, the class that met here Tuesday night could be in any university in the United States. There were desks arranged in a circle to facilitate discussion. There were student presentations based on dense readings. And there was the faint buzzing from the fluorescent lights overhead.
But in other important respects, the class was anything but typical. Coils of razor wire glinted under security lights outside the window, and more than half the students wore the drab green uniforms that mark them as inmates in New York’s only maximum-security prison for women.
This was Union Theological Seminary’s course on African religions in the Americas. Six seminary students boarded a van in Manhattan over 16 weeks this fall, commuting about 35 miles north to reach the secure walls of the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. Part of a nationwide trend in prison education programs, it was a process that proved as educational and powerful for the graduate students as for the 10 inmates.
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Jediism, the worship of the mythology of Star Wars, is not a religion, the Charity Commission has ruled.
The commission rejected an application to grant charitable status to The Temple of the Jedi Order.
It said Jediism did not "promote moral or ethical improvement" for charity law purposes in England and Wales.
In the 2011 census, 177,000 people declared themselves Jedi under the religion section, making it the seventh most popular religion.
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A cross-party group of peers has been set up to come up with ways to reduce the size of the House of Lords.
Earlier this month peers voted to reduce the size of the Upper House, which currently has 809 members.
There have been calls to make it no bigger than the Commons, which is set to be cut to 600 MPs.
Read it all.
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Amazing things happen. Westminster Abbey is building itself a new tower — the foundation stone was laid quietly last week by the Prince of Wales. Not since Hawksmoor slapped his pseudo-Gothic towers onto the west front in 1745 has anyone dared such a venture on so hallowed a building. Could this be the start of something new?
Admittedly almost no one will be able to see the structure. Designed by the abbey’s architect, Ptolemy Dean, it is sandwiched at the back of the abbey between the Chapter House and Poets’ Corner. It will give access to the Abbey’s upper triforium, for a new exhibition gallery. But the principle is important. Old buildings need to stay alive. If Hawksmoor thought he could improve on Henry III, we can too.
The abbey was technically a cathedral only under Mary I but everyone regards it as the “cathedral of the nation”. It is one of my favourites, a dotty old bag lady of a place, perpetually rustling through her aisles, chapels, cloisters and mausoleums, like a Dickensian character in search of a secret.
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The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said: “I’m a keen social media user and I think it’s a great way to stay in touch with family and friends as well as get a sense of what’s going on in the wider world. That said, it’s greatly encouraging that two thirds of people would consider a social media fast over Christmas.
“The festive period is a time to connect at a much more meaningful level. Putting down your phone for just a few days gives you time to strike up conversations you might not have had, get out and enjoy social activities with friends, or just relax and enjoy a traditional Christmas without the constant distraction of newsfeeds and timelines.
“Even if it’s just for a day or two, why not take up the challenge and enjoy a short social media fast this Christmas – you might be surprised how good you feel as a result.”
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It’s also commonly asserted by our liberal critics that it is not the type of theology that matters for church growth but whether the theology is believed strongly and articulated clearly. However, we would suggest that different convictions, though equally strong and clear, produce different outcomes.
For example, all the growing church clergy in our study, because of their theological outlook, held the conviction that it is “very important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians.” As theological conservatives, these pastors believe Jesus is the only way to salvation and that they must “Go and make disciples everywhere.”
Conversely, half the clergy at the declining churches held the opposite conviction, believing it is not desirable to convert non-Christians. As theological liberals, these pastors believe there are many paths to salvation and that it’s culturally insensitive to peddle your beliefs on those outside your religious community. Comparing the two theological outlooks, which do you think is more likely to generate church growth?
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“The church is in the [St Marks] cathedral complex signaling the vivid symbolism of the explosion,” says Ishak Ibrahim, a religious freedoms researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. “It aims at terrorizing the heart of Coptic Orthodoxy in Egypt”.
The terrorist group vowed further attacks and declared ‘a war against polytheism’ referring to the Christians’ belief in the trinity pejoratively in a statement.
This particular attack fits in with the pattern of ISIS’s notorious aim to shock and awe, hitting a minority religion and at women. It also shows the difficult position Coptic Christians find themselves in Egypt today, as the largest religious minority in the Middle East at around 10 million people. On the one hand an easy target for a callous terror group. But on the other, living as a second class group in their own country, under a different kind of threat from the authorities.
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“A half a Revelation, please.” The Rev. Stuart Cradduck allowed the theological implications of the request to hang in the air for a moment.
“Why settle for half when you could have a full revelation?” Mr. Cradduck answered.
Then he turned to the bank of wooden kegs under the stained-glass windows to fill the beer-lover’s order.
It was the last Saturday in November and Mr. Cradduck, the rector of St. Wulfram’s Church in this Midlands town, was serving behind an improvised bar in the church, dressed in a black cassock and clerical collar. With events like the “Land of Hops and Glory” beer festival, Mr. Cradduck and other Anglican modernizers are trying to make their churches hubs of increasingly secular communities.
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(Diocese of Southwark Photo)
Downing Street has announced today that the Revd Prebendary Dr Woyin Karowei Dorgu is to be the 13th Bishop of Woolwich. He succeeds the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave who is now the 99th Bishop of Lichfield. He will be consecrated in Southwark Cathedral on St Patrick’s Day 17th March 2017.
Dr Dorgu was ordained Deacon in 1995 and Priest in 1996 and has served all his ministry in the Diocese of London. His curacy was at St Mark, Tollington Park and since 1998 he has been building the community of faith at St John, Upper Holloway.Bishop of Woolwich designate
Born and brought up in Nigeria, Dr Dorgu worked as a medical doctor before ordination. He has a deep concern for mission and regularly leads open-air evangelism in his parish and has seen his church grow remarkably. He is much involved in the life of the Church Primary School in the parish where he has been Chair of Governors and supports staff and pupils. He is married to Mosun who is a Consultant Child Psychiatrist.
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O Tempore, O Mores. George Carey, ex-Archbishop of Canterbury, has been evicted by King’s College London from its "wall of fame" on The Strand (a public gallery of illustrious people associated with the university).
Meanwhile, dozens of other alumni continue to gaze imperiously from an otherwise grey concrete facade. Was Carey too male, pale and stale? Perhaps not, as Desmond Tutu also lost his pane. Yet we smell a rat.
Back in 2010, at the height of the gay marriage debate, LGBT student campaigners demanded the removal of Lord Carey for opposing this policy. The university, however, stood firm, a spokesman explaining that "Lord Carey’s views are his own and offered as part of an open debate".
Read it all from the THE blog.
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A Holy See diplomat has said that Christians face increasing discrimination, even in countries where there is not obvious persecution.
Mgr Janusz Urbanczyk, the Holy See’s permanent representative to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), was speaking last week at a conference in Vienna on combating intolerance and discrimination against Christians across the OSCE region. The region includes 57 countries in Europe, Central Asia and North America.
Mgr Urbanczyk said that even though the OSCE region does not see “blatant and violent persecution” of Christians as in some parts of the world, “manifestations of intolerance, hate crimes and episodes of violence or vandalism against religious places or objects continue to increase.”
In addition, he said, “offending, insulting or attacking Christians because of their beliefs and their values, including in the media and in public debate, based on a distorted and misinterpreted concept of freedom of expression, often goes uncontested.”
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Every person in this nativity tableau [see picture at link] bar one is spending their first Christmas as a Christian.
And two of them, a shepherd and an angel, were baptised at the very service in which they performed this nativity, to the music of a Christian version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.
They are truly men and women from the East, being born again in a stable.
Their miraculous stories are among the remarkable events that have been taking place this year at St Mark's, part of the Hanley team ministry in Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, which has seen more than 50 Muslims convert to Christianity in one year alone.
Read it all from Christian Today.
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The world’s largest Islamic nation is Indonesia, where Muslims represent a large majority of a population of some 250 million. Christians make up about 10 percent of that number, and relations between the two faiths have on occasion been rocky. Matters reached their worst in the late 1990s, a time of economic crisis and the collapse of the long-standing military dictatorship. During the chaos, Christian minorities in regions like Sulawesi were subjected to ethnic cleansing and Chinese Christians in major cities were targeted for violence and mass rape.
In large part, these crimes resulted from economic grievances—Chinese merchants were targeted as scapegoats. Active Islamist terror movements also appeared, with ties to al-Qaeda. For some years, Indonesia seemed to epitomize Muslim-Christian tensions at their most alarming.
Subsequently, conditions have improved enormously, or rather, reverted to traditional norms of tolerance. Although Christians must be very cautious about any attempts at evangelism, congregations worship openly, and Indonesia is now home to some spectacular megachurches.
The most encouraging manifestation of improved attitudes is Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is commonly known by his Chinese nickname, Ahok. Since 2014, Ahok has been governor of the nation’s capital, Jakarta, a city with a population of 10 million, with some 30 million in the larger metropolitan region.
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What do you collect?
Back issues of Private Eye. Members of my congregation tend to feature in it quite regularly so it’s helpful to be able to keep tabs on them.
First thing you do when you arrive back in London?
Go to the Millennium Bridge, with it’s fabulous views of the city — ancient and new....
What would you do as Mayor for the day?
Raise awareness levels of child poverty, which in some areas is really quite shocking.
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For rector Sarah Lunn, it’s only a stone’s throw from the small sandstone church of St James to the purpose-built surgery in the tiny Cumbrian village of Temple Sowerby where she often meets troubled parishioners referred to her by one of two GPs.
Lunn, who looks after 12 agricultural parishes nestling between the Lake District fells and the Pennines from her home base at Long Marton, is not at the surgery to talk to patients about Jesus, but simply to listen to whatever they feel they need to get off their chest – and at the same time take the pressure off struggling local primary health services.
The GP practice run by doctors Jo Thompson and Helen Jervis is up against it – like many others in Cumbria – because it is two doctors down and can’t attract anyone else to replace them, despite the beauty of the area.
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On Monday, December 12, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi walked alongside the Coptic Pope Tawadros (Theodore) II at the funeral procession for victims of the bombing that had killed at least twenty-five people at the chapel of St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo the day before. At the funeral, Sisi announced that the government had identified the suicide bomber, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahmoud Shafik Mostafa, and arrested four other people—three men and one woman—in connection with the attack. He also had strong words of condemnation: “Those who commit acts such as this do not belong to Egypt at all, even if they are on its land.”
This series of events was strangely similar to what had taken place almost six years ago in another Egyptian city. In the early morning of January 1, 2011, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the midst of a large crowd of worshippers who were leaving al-Qiddissin Church in Alexandria. Twenty-three people died. Soon thereafter, President Hosni Mubarak appeared on state television to condemn the attack: “The blood of their martyrs in Alexandria mixed to tell us all that all Egypt is the target and that blind terrorism does not differentiate between a Copt and a Muslim.”
Much has changed in Egypt since 2011. Mubarak is no longer in office. He was ousted by a peaceful popular uprising a little over a month after the Alexandria attack. Mohamed Morsi—the Muslim Brotherhood–backed candidate who became the first democratically elected president of Egypt in 2012—has come and gone. He was ousted by a coup d’état led by Sisi in 2013. Sisi is still in power, having won an “election” (with 97 percent of the vote), and he has aggressively opposed his rivals, notably the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet with all of these developments, one thing has not changed: Attacks against Christians have continued.
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Overall, there has been significant decline in English Anglicanism since 1980, but limited growth as well. Between 1980 and 2013 the number of members on the electoral roll (a loose list of those who are church members) dropped by 41 percent and usual Sunday attendance dropped by 37 percent. The number of infants being baptised remains large, but is now decidedly a minority of the birth cohort (around 20%). All dioceses, apart from London, have shrunk in recent years. But the decline is highly varied. Dioceses farthest from London, such as Truro and Durham, have tended to decline fastest. In both cases, their usual Sunday attendance has halved between 1990 and 2014.
But such broad-brush figures about England conceal as well as reveal. The Diocese of London, having declined in the 1980s, saw its adult membership rise by over 70 percent between 1990 and 2010, rebounding back to where it was around 1980. It is unclear to what extent London is an outlier or a harbinger of the future. All other dioceses have seen their electoral roll fall in that time, most by substantial amounts. Below are the “top five” dioceses measured by electoral roll in 2013, compared with 1990. This measure has its flaws, but the picture it presents is backed up by other data.
Read it all from David Goodhew.
Under current Church rules, gay clergy wanting to enter into civil partnerships are required to assure their bishops they will remain celibate – in line with traditional Church teaching that sex is only permitted within heterosexual marriage.
Such clergy also have to make similar official assurances to their archbishop before they can be promoted to the rank of bishop.
But sources said the bishops could now call for the rule to be scrapped so that clerics living with same-sex partners would no longer have to make a solemn vow.
They would still be expected to remain celibate.
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Little could dampen the enthusiasm of 13-year-old Tony Atef as he wore his soccer outfit and headed to Egypt’s most successful club, Al Ahly, to partake in the team’s junior soccer tryouts. After Tony scored two goals, a coach approached him, asking for his name to record among those accepted. But his dream of making the team died quickly, when the coach noticed the small tattoo of a cross on his wrist. Tony was quickly sent home. There would be no place for a Coptic Christian on an Egyptian soccer team.
Tony’s case soon went viral, after his brother took to social media to decry bigotry and discrimination. Embarrassed, the club invited Tony for another tryout, but it was too late. Similar stories soon emerged of other Coptic kids being rejected by other soccer teams. A newspaper pointed out that there wasn’t a single Copt among the league’s top 540 players. In fact, there had been only five Copts among the league’s players in the last few decades, and some of them spoke out about the discrimination they faced.
During Mass this past Sunday, an Islamic State suicide bomber made his way inside St. Peter and St. Paul’s Coptic Church in Cairo and detonated his bomb, leaving 25 people, mostly women, dead. The bombing, the deadliest since the 2010 New Year’s Eve bombing of the Two Saints Church in Alexandria, drew swift condemnations from governments around the world. But as much as such attacks remind the world of the plight of Copts, it is their daily encounter with discrimination and persecution that poses the greatest threat to their future.
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This [Will] Herberg challenge radically affected Oden's work in the 1970s, as he evolved from backing an edgy liberalism to spreading an ecumenical approach to orthodoxy in shelves of books. Oden kept publishing into the final years of his life, until his Dec. 8 death at the age of 85. "Here was a guy who -- until his mid-40s -- had been a success on that career track in the contemporary academy," said Seamands. Oden had a Yale University doctorate and thrived in an era "built on the idea that new is better and that you looked down on anything old. You were supposed to idealize whatever people called the latest thing. That's how you got ahead."
In the 1950s, Oden embraced Marxism, existentialism and the demythologization of Scripture. He was an early leader among Christians supporting abortion rights. In the 1960s he plunged into transactional analysis, Gestalt therapy, parapsychology and what, in one of my first encounters with him, he called "mild forms of the occult."
As he dug into early church writings from the ancient East and West, Oden came to the conclusion that "I had been in love with heresy." In a 2012 interview with Good News magazine, Oden explained: "My basic question early on in the 1970s was, is the Resurrection really just an idea or is it a fact of history? ... Did this Jesus rise from the dead? Not symbolically, not just as a fragile memory of the earliest Christian rememberers, not just as an ever-questionable matter of fallible human remembering, but did Jesus actually rise from the dead. And finally, I did believe. And that changed my life."
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Eyes closed and on bended knee, Pastor Edward Ducree gave thanks to God for guiding his congregation through a "painful week."
Emanuel AME Church had just endured the final days of the Dylann Roof trial, which ended with the jury finding the self-proclaimed white supremacist guilty of 33 charges.
“We thank you for being with us last week - a painful week,” Ducree prayed. “It was a week that reminded us of horrific acts that happened in this fellowship hall.”
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The Church of England’s overriding compulsion to jettison its workers in favour of self-protection suggests that promoting (or attempting to re-gain) its reputation is more important than upholding basic principles of justice. The church is sacrificing its present loyal workers and members in order to atone for its past sins and omissions.
Innocence has manifestly become a difficult concept for the church to handle in the area of child safeguarding. What happened to the common law presumption? While the church’s measures and guidelines are developing, there are few safeguards, if any, put in place to protect the innocent and wrongfully accused. David Potter MBE (…) has been caught up in the injustice of the church’s procedures and was supported by his bell ringers who also appreciated the unfairness. They acted like a quasi-jury: consider that these are 30 adult minds – not necessarily impartial, but certainly ‘good men and true’. The Dean and Chapter failed to persuade any of them that David Potter MBE (…) presented an ongoing risk to children. Some of them doubtless have children.
And so we must add the name of David Potter MBE (…) to those of Bishop George Bell, Bishop Michael Perham and Sister Frances Dominica, along with sundry unnamed and unknown others who are suffering indignity if not excommunication. In the fitful fever of paedomania, the mere allegation of child abuse has surpassed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as the unforgivable sin. While the Church of England becomes a safe place for children, it is hell for those wrongly accused of abuse. Pastoral care? What’s that?
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One of CEEC’s tasks, prompted by “Guarding the Deposit”, is to consider together the various ways evangelicals will respond to this situation and how the wider church might face the reality of our diversity over human sexuality. “Guarding the Deposit” outlines three broad ways the church might act in 2017 and beyond.
Its hope is that the Church of England will maintain its current teaching and practice as the 2007 Synod committed us to do. Alternatively there may be a full acceptance of same-sex relationships as in a few other Anglican provinces. This would undoubtedly lead to major division within the CofE and the destruction of the Anglican Communion in its current form. There may therefore be an attempt – as in the Pilling Report – to offer some form of supposed via media with official permission for marking of same-sex relationships.
But, as “Guarding the Deposit” argues, this too would both represent a departure from apostolicity and lead to continuing conflict. It would therefore require some form of agreed visible differentiation and structural separation within the Church of England (and wider Communion).
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The story Charleston tells itself, which emphasizes faith & underplays race, now includes conviction of Dylann Roof https://t.co/ufmfTKhpt6— NPR (@NPR) December 17, 2016
[Denmark] Vesey planned an audacious insurrection involving thousands of black people in the Charleston area, free and enslaved, whom he had quietly recruited. They would raid the city's arsenals and burn the city to the ground. It was to be the largest, bloodiest slave revolt on American soil.
But another member of the African Church told his master about the plot, and Vesey and his fellow conspirators were rounded up, tried, convicted and hanged. The African Church was burned to the ground. The thwarted rebellion terrified Charleston's white leaders and slave owners, who moved to outlaw black churches and forced the African Church's congregation to worship for decades in secret. After Emancipation in 1865, the congregation formally reassembled. Vesey's son was said to be among the people who helped build their new house of worship that the congregants called "Emanuel," which means, "God with us."
But to the folks in Charleston's black community, it was known affectionately as Mother Emanuel.
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On St. Andrew's Eve, 29th November, the Anglican Church at Puerto Pollença celebrated 30 years of its ministry. St Andrew is the patron of this congregation. Although active for these 30 years, only a couple of years ago, the congregation moved to a new multi-purpose premises, which is well used by this active parish, led by their priest, the Revd Nigel Stimpson.
Read it all from Bishop David Hamid.
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So how does Pope Francis’ record look so far? He remains popular and scandal-free. When secret recordings of the pope discussing Vatican finances in July 2013 leaked, he sounded as committed to reform in private as he does in public, calling the Holy See’s costs “out of control.” Yet it remains an open question whether the Curia will implement his ambitious reforms, such as improving Vatican accounting or eliminating unnecessary positions. The Vatican bank also changes at a glacial pace, and it will take years to judge whether transparency efforts pay off.
The most immediate change comes from how Francis’ style has had an influence on everyone who works within the Vatican’s walls. Rather than live in the Apostolic Palace, Francis chose to live in a guesthouse. This makes him physically and spiritually closer to his employees and visitors. He also left behind fancier vestments and speaks plainly and directly to his subjects.
Under Francis, the Vatican looks less like a medieval court and more like a responsive government. He has placed a bishop exclusively in charge of helping the homeless near the Vatican. He ordered the installation of showers and bathrooms for the homeless, brought in refugee families to live at the Vatican, and welcomed the homeless for private tours. The pope has also publicly criticized the Vatican for “spiritual Alzheimer’s.”
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...something of my own stuckness was softened by the comments this week of the theatre director Alexander Zeldin. His new play is now on at the National Theatre in London and soon to be on in Birmingham. “In this political moment” he said “it is important to feel life strongly”. He is not offering policy proposals but he is contributing to the conversation by amplifying the stories of people, in the few weeks before Christmas, who are in temporary accommodation. In one scene, a son is washing his mother’s hair in the kitchen sink with washing up liquid – and drying it with a filthy tea towel – that on one review night made the audience gasp. The scenes like this are made much more powerful by the fact that there is no special theatre lighting in this production. As the audience, we are in the kitchen, not watching people in the kitchen. The fourth wall that normally separates actors and audience has been dissolved.
In Advent, much of the theological imagery turns on the themes of light brightening the darkness and the anticipation of God becoming a child, vulnerable to the vagaries of human politics and power. Taking our cue from the play, it might be that we need to change the lighting when illuminating the stories of people who are vulnerable and in need of support
Read it allfrom the BBC.
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Late Thursday, [Jennifer] Pinckney drove home after a jury found Dylann Roof guilty of all 33 charges against him, including hate crimes and religious obstruction. She prepared to speak with her girls again. This time, she could tell them that a jury had found the man who killed their father guilty. At the least, he would spend his life in prison.
"The first step is over," Pinckney said. "It gave us at least a little bit of closure before the holidays and before we get going again in January."
She hopes the penalty phase of Roof's trial, set to start Jan. 3, goes as quickly as the first.
Read it all from the local paper.
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“Where is the theology?” is a question that has been levelled at the Church of England’s Renewal and Reform programme. It appears to some that we are being asked to embrace some potentially far-reaching changes, with associated long-term consequences that are not easy to predict, but that no one has sat down and thought all this through theologically. The homework has not been done.
I would like to argue that the Renewal and Reform programme both rests on some substantial theological foundations and makes a significant theological judgment, with roots that go deep into the New Testament and subsequent Christian tradition. Moreover, this theology connects with practical matters such as diocesan funding formulas and clerical training programmes.
The importance of the choice of the words “renewal” and “reform” to be the title of the programme should not be underestimated. These two words have a long history in Christian theology, which their secular co-option in contemporary culture should not obscure. It is not an entirely straightforward or simple history, but the roots stretch back to the New Testament itself via early Latin translations, where the verb “reformare” was sometimes used for Greek words normally rendered in English by “transform”, as at Romans 12.2; 2 Corinthians 3.18; and Philippians 3.21.
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7. Assisted suicide grows in availability and popularity.
Assisted suicide spread this year to California, Colorado, and Canada as polls reveal that a strong majority of 67 percent of Americans believe this practice is morally acceptable for terminally, painfully ill patients. Christian arguments for the dignity of all life made in God’s image suffer limited effectiveness in Western culture, which views “death with dignity” as the compassionate choice. What happens, though, when option becomes expectation for the suffering? Without acknowledging God as Creator or recognizing purpose to suffering, there are no cultural resources to resist technocratic exploitation.
6. Christian education weathers threat—for now.
Not even legislative reprieve in California or unexpected national election results brought comfort to Christian school administrators worried that anti-discrmination concerns will force them to choose between biblical teaching and financial survival. There is no choice in the short term but to fight to preserve government aid in the form of tax exemption, grants, and subsidized loans. Many Christian colleges can’t survive without it. But in the long term, some administrators are pushing for landmark compromise, while others plan to forsake government dependence in favor of full freedom to teach and enforce biblical morality. Either way the implications for theological education cannot be exaggerated.
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Dylann Roof, a gun-obsessed loner who tried to provoke a race war after soaking up online hate, faces a potential death sentence after a jury convicted him Thursday of 33 federal crimes stemming from his massacre of nine black parishioners at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church.
A federal jury with three black members and nine whites deliberated for two hours before finding the white supremacist guilty of hate crimes, obstruction of religion and firearms violations. Roof stood facing forward, impassive, as the jury foreman read each count in order, accompanied by: "We find the defendant Dylann Storm Roof guilty."
They will return Jan. 3 to decide whether he will be put to death or imprisoned for life for committing the shooting rampage.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Violence * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
It makes many people queasy nowadays to talk about the wrath of God, but there can be no turning away from this prominent biblical theme. Oppressed peoples from around the world have been empowered by the scriptural picture of a God who is angered by injustice and unrighteousness. If we are resistant to the idea of the wrath of God, we might pause to reflect the next time we are outraged about something—about our property values being threatened, or our children’s educational opportunities being limited, or our tax breaks being eliminated. All of us are capable of anger about something. God’s anger, however, is pure. It does not have the maintenance of privilege as its object but goes out on behalf of those who have no privileges. The wrath of God is not an emotion that flares up from time to time, as though God has temper tantrums. It is a way of describing his absolute enmity against all wrong and his coming to set matters right.
On September 2, 1990, a murder occurred in New York City that horrified the nation. The Watkins family from Provo, Utah, a father and mother with their two barely grown sons, had come joyfully to the city for a long-anticipated trip to attend the US Open tennis matches. While waiting on the subway platform for the train to Flushing Meadows, the family was assaulted by a band of four youths. The older of the two sons went to his mother’s rescue as she was being kicked in the face, and he was killed in the attempt. The judge, Edwin Torres, sentenced all four attackers to life without parole, the toughest sentence possible in New York at that time, and in doing so issued a striking statement expressing grave alarm for a society in which “a band of marauders can surround, pounce upon, and kill a boy in front of his parents [and then] stride up the block to Roseland and dance until 4 a.m. as if they had stepped on an insect. For a mother to hold a dying child in her arms, murdered before her very eyes, is a visitation that the devil himself would hesitate to conjure up. That cannot go unpunished.”
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Bellringers at Leeds Minster have turned down an invitation to ring York Minster’s bells at its Christmas services, in an ‘act of solidarity’ with York’s axed ringers.
Deputy ringing master Robert Childs said members discussed the invitation from York’s Dean and Chapter during a practice session, and 13 members voted no, with two abstaining.
He said Leeds’ ringers would normally have relished the opportunity to ring York’s bells, which were the finest in the country in terms of the sound.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Lawyers for Dylann S. Roof, accused in the killings of nine people at a South Carolina church, rested without presenting a witness on Wednesday. Earlier, federal prosecutors concluded their death penalty case against Mr. Roof by presenting Polly Sheppard, a trustee of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, who survived the June 2015 shooting there. She testified that Mr. Roof had asked her if he had shot her yet; when she said no, he told her he was “going to leave you to tell the story.”
She did, first in a panicked, terrified call to a 911 operator, and on Wednesday to a federal courtroom packed with the family members and friends of the fellow congregants who died.
Ms. Sheppard was the government’s final witness, and soon after, Mr. Roof’s lawyers rested in the case, which is being tried in Federal District Court here. Under questioning from Judge Richard M. Gergel, Mr. Roof, 22, said that he did not wish to testify in his own defense.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence Women * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Innovative leadership happens in the space between style and substance.
It happens in the middle territory between foundational theology on one end, and trivial, stylistic fads on the other. It happens in the arena of methods, systems and communication tools. That’s why church leadership teachers talk so much about them.
So the next time you go to a church conference or watch a leadership talk, don’t run home determined that the key to breakthrough in your church is to line the back of the platform wall with pallets, or create a viral video for your church Facebook page. When we do that, we’re missing the essence of what truly innovative leaders are trying to tell us.
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