Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Willesden concluded by saying:

"We lack a consensus on what we mean by "good disagreement" - is it about process or is it about outcomes? I think that many who want change believe that it's possible, on the basis of good disagreement, to have pluriformity of practice in the Church. Others don't believe that it's possible to live in that way because of the canonical and legal constraints of uniformity that exist in our Church.

We will find this debate a continuing source of disagreement because we haven't coalesced around an end point. When we legislated for women to be bishops, even those opposed came to the view that the Church of England had to make it possible for women to be bishops in the Church of God according to our canons and formularies. In this debate, we haven't even begun to find a place where we can coalesce. The Bishops' Report acknowledges a place of starting. More conversation is needed. We don't yet know the next stage - nor yet when and whether we can bring any further report to Synod. Please make the fullest possible use of the groups and the debate to enable those deliberations."

Read it all and the presentations are below.



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Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State fighters are relying increasingly on unconventional weapons such as armed drones and poison gas car bombs as they stage their final defence of Mosul in Iraq.

Iraqi troops pushed further into the city over the weekend, taking the southern district of Tayaran immediately north of the airport.

Isis numbers are said to be lower than first feared — between 2,000 and 3,000 — and several hundred have already either been killed or have blown themselves up in suicide bombings.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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Posted February 27, 2017 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In general, how do you characterize the relationship between law enforcement and the public today?

First of all, it’s never been great. This is not new, the idea that people don’t like cops. We as a society have to ask, what’s the big picture here? But we haven’t gotten beyond individual incidents. Outrage can raise an issue, but it doesn’t by itself lead to effective reform. And there will always be pushback from law enforcement if people are outraged at legitimate use of force.

Across the country’s 17,000 police departments, there is no accepted definition for excessive use of force. How does that affect law enforcement?

Police have a working definition of use of force. And the differences between jurisdictions aren’t that great. But what worries police so much isn’t cops getting in trouble for doing their job wrong, it’s getting in trouble when they’re doing their job as trained. That’s what terrifies them. A lot of cops I’ve spoken to say they’re less likely to confront criminals because there’s a great risk to their career and family if they have to shoot someone. Police are avoiding situations that might lead to force.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 26, 2017 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

SOS: Our society has a taboo against cannibalism passed down from the time of the Greeks and Romans. But you found that consuming humans was more widespread than culture might have us believe.

BS: Yeah, when you think about human cannibalism the first thing that jumps to mind would be criminal cannibalism. Jeffrey Dahmer and all these other horror shows. Or the Donner Party. Strandings. The guys that got stuck in the Andes, the rugby team. Those are the things that immediately come to mind.

But what I found was that there’s ritual cannibalism all over the world. For example, funerary practices. There were many cultures that didn’t come under the influence of the ingrained Western taboo, that weren’t taught that cannibalism was the worst thing you could do to another person. And there you find these funerary practices where the dead are consumed, or you find instances where body parts are used medicinally. Or, sort of on the other side, there are instances where cannibalism is used to terrify your enemies.

But there’s more to cannibalism than just “we ran out of food” or “this is a crazy person,” and I tried to emphasize that.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 26, 2017 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Black parents across America have long instructed their children on navigating discrimination and avoiding its sometimes deadly consequences. But for black immigrant Muslims, this conversation takes on an entirely different dimension.

Growing up, Ahlaam Ibraahim, a Somali-American student at the University of Washington, felt the dual struggles of being a religious and ethnic minority. "As a black woman, I'm scared of the police because I see people that look like me killed simply for being black. As a Muslim woman, I'm scared of being attacked and killed," Ibraahim says. "Do they notice I'm a Muslim because of my hijab and my blackness because of my melanin?"

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 26, 2017 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some 250 delegates have gathered in the Norwegian capital Oslo on Friday to draw attention to the world’s forgotten humanitarian crisis —that of northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, where Boko Haram once dominated and have left destruction in their wake.

The humanitarian crisis in northeast Nigeria is one of the most underreported disasters in the world—only recently have people turned their attentions to this beleaguered region. Over the last seven years, Boko Haram, one of the most brutal militant groups the world has ever seen, has caused untold loss of life and liberty across northeastern Nigeria and parts of Niger, Chad and Cameroon in and around the Lake Chad Region.

Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, the epicenter of the insurgency, estimates that the destruction caused by Boko Haram in Borno alone amounts to about $6 billion. At the height of the insurgency, Boko Haram sowed its destruction across the entire[ty of] northern Nigeria, hitting targets as far away as the country’s capital Abuja, some 430 miles from Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.

Read it all.

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Posted February 26, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We are both reassured to know that there are already processes in place to continue a necessary conversation and pursue a deeper theological reflection on what it is to be fully human. The archbishops have spoken of the need to fashion a new, properly informed, and radical ‘Christian inclusion’ in the Church. We look forward to sharing in that debate.

We recognise that there is hurt and distress surrounding the disagreements we have had, and that the hurt and the distress is being felt most deeply by some who engaged in the shared conversations. We share that distress. We reaffirm our recognition that the gospel calls us to a common humanity in Christ and to the joyful celebration of good and flourishing relationships.

We are committed to truth, and to living in hope and love where there is disagreement.

Read it all.

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Posted February 25, 2017 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The debate gave me the opportunity to speak to Synod and my speech is copied below. You will see that I commit myself to explore to the maximum the freedom under the Church’s current law and guidance to offer rich and meaningful ministry to LGBTI+ people (see footnote), as indeed I have tried to do since I came to Liverpool.

I have no doubt that our further steps and conversations nationally will include LGBTI+ Christians more fully than the recent report was able to do. In my speech I use the phrase "maximum freedom", which is a phrase much used in the report. Since the report did not command the confidence of the Synod I do not propose to use that phrase now. Instead I use the phrase at the head of this bulletin, a phrase used by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in their letter written after the debate: “we need a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church."

Read it all.

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Posted February 25, 2017 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Times of change are by their nature times of paradox. To be purposefully paradoxical is to recognise that whilst consistency may be a feature of the endpoints of a journey it is rarely present all along the way. What nineteenth century physics found to be true for the trajectories of photons passing through a pair of narrow slits, twenty-first century theology must allow to be the case for a church traversing through a time of challenge and change. Some aspects of change will get ahead of others. Some parts of the church may move faster, further, or at a different angle than their neighbours. Messy Church won’t just describe a brand of work with children. In many ways we will be more like the pluriform Church of the New Testament, marvelously malleable under the hand of the Holy Spirit.

Such an embracing of paradox with a purpose provides the context for an exploration of the Archbishop’s radical inclusion that is much, much more than the maximum freedom which one Synod member tellingly remarked may mean little beyond “the prisoner being allowed to walk around their entire cell”. It opens up the possibility of exploring our prayers, our discipline, our outreach, our ministry and our teaching, and doing so with the expectation that things are going to look significantly different afterwards. Moreover, radical inclusion requires that we should no longer be reflecting about sexuality issues without LGBT+ members being present, nor doing so in a context where they feel marginalised or unsafe. “Talking about us, without us” must never again be a charge that can justifiably be levelled against us.

We are, after Synod, very much at the beginning of a journey, but it is both a better journey than we might have expected and a journey with God. That is what matters the most.

Read it all.

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Posted February 25, 2017 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Whatever moment this may be, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Statement calling for a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church” did not address any of the layers beneath the surface of the iceberg.

Another example of leaving the issues unaddressed, and/or misdiagnosed, was found in a speech during the General Synod. A Synod member used the story of Jacob wrestling an angel and demanding a blessing to represent the LGBT community in the Church. Dr. Ian Paul, a conservative in the Church of England, lamented the analogy noting that such misappropriation of a Biblical text to support something which the Bible nowhere blesses is nothing less than a pretext, that is, a text without a context. “And as this happens,” Paul observes, “God is silenced:”
“This process of atomisation, isolation and decontextualisation is writ large all over the argument for change in the Church’s teaching, and it is why the debate is about so much more than just sex and marriage. It is about whether we will allow God to speak to us by his Spirit through the pages of Scripture, and in so speaking will form us in the likeness of Christ.” (Emphasis Ashey's).
And so we have two Bishops of the Church of England now openly breaking ranks with fellow bishops, joining the crowd that repudiated the “take note” resolution, and taking up the Archbishop’s banner of “radical inclusion” (intended or not) to advocate for “much much more than the maximum freedom” bishops offered pastorally, and to go to places “in relation to law and guidance where we have not previously gone.” - including, presumably, not yet authorized prayers and blessings for same sex unions. This is how Biblical revisionists establish facts on the ground, as we called them in TEC, right up to and including the change in the doctrine of marriage through the authorization of same-sex marriage.

Read it all.

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Posted February 25, 2017 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The BBC has appointed a second Muslim executive to be in charge of religious television programming after attracting criticism previously from those who thought the job should go to a Christian.

The corporation has appointed Fatima Salaria, a BBC editor who commissioned Muslims Like Us, a reality-style show, and a series of programmes about radicalisation.

She attracted criticism last year by giving Anthony Small, the convicted fraudster and former boxing champion a platform on Muslims Like Us. Small, now known as Abdul Haqq, was a member of the inner circle of Anjem Choudary, the hate preacher. He had previously expressed support for Islamic State but was cleared in 2015 of trying to join the jihadist group.

Read it all (requires subscription).


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Posted February 25, 2017 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....around 2000, something shifted. In this century, per-capita growth has been less than 1 percent a year on average, and even since 2009 it’s been only 1.1 percent a year. If the U.S. had been able to maintain postwar 20th-century growth rates into this century, U.S. per-capita G.D.P. would be over 20 percent higher than it is today.

Slow growth strains everything else — meaning less opportunity, less optimism and more of the sort of zero-sum, grab-what-you-can thinking that Donald Trump specializes in. The slowdown has devastated American workers. Between 1985 and 2000, the total hours of paid work in America increased by 35 percent. Over the next 15 years, they increased by only 4 percent.

For every one American man aged 25 to 55 looking for work, there are three who have dropped out of the labor force. If Americans were working at the same rates they were when this century started, over 10 million more people would have jobs. As Eberstadt puts it, “The plain fact is that 21st-century America has witnessed a dreadful collapse of work.”

Read it all.

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Posted February 25, 2017 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A rather less cheering picture, though, emerges if we look instead at real trends for the macro-economy. Here, performance since the start of the century might charitably be described as mediocre, and prospects today are no better than guarded.

The recovery from the crash of 2008—which unleashed the worst recession since the Great Depression—has been singularly slow and weak. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), it took nearly four years for America’s gross domestic product (GDP) to re-attain its late 2007 level. As of late 2016, total value added to the U.S. economy was just 12 percent higher than in 2007. (SEE FIGURE 2.) The situation is even more sobering if we consider per capita growth. It took America six and a half years—until mid-2014—to get back to its late 2007 per capita production levels. And in late 2016, per capita output was just 4 percent higher than in late 2007—nine years earlier. By this reckoning, the American economy looks to have suffered something close to a lost decade.

Read it all from Commentary (my emphasis).

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Posted February 25, 2017 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First, evangelicals have been involved with refugee resettlement for a long time and in a lot of churches. Many evangelical leaders have advocated for refugees, from all different faiths, for years. They know the program, and they know the refugees — and they know it’s safe and a good way to show the love of Christ.

Second, evangelical leaders, knowing the facts, are emboldened to speak when alternative facts may be holding sway elsewhere, particularly when those alternative facts are hurting the most vulnerable. In the Christian tradition, we call that speaking prophetically — like prophets in what Christians call the Old Testament, we have to sometimes speak to our own people and remind them of what is right.

Third, many evangelical leaders have had an uneasy connection with the Trump administration. Yes, they know that white evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for President Trump, and many strongly agree with Trump’s stated concerns about religious liberty, the Supreme Court, and more. But they want — and even need — room to disagree with a president who has said and done many things contrary to their beliefs. Speaking up for refugees is one of the areas where many believe they can.

Read it all from Vox.

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Posted February 24, 2017 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rod [Dreher]’s forthcoming book, The Benedict Option, is beginning to attract some considerable press attention. The Wall Street Journal has recently featured the book as part of a profile of the Clear Creek Catholics in rural Oklahoma. (I visited them last summer to attend a conference they held and was quite impressed by their hospitality and the amount of work a relatively small group of people have managed to do in a fairly short time.) Then yesterday the excellent religion reporter Emma Green reviewed the book for The Atlantic.

I will be reviewing the book more extensively next month when it releases. For now, I wanted to make a few notes on how the book is being read and received by a larger audience as the ideas begin to find life outside the relatively small readership of trad Christian blogs.

The idea of being a religious minority that selectively secludes itself from the mainstream in order to protect its religious life is a very comfortable one for many American Catholics and, I would think, many Orthodox as well. Both of these groups have been minorities in America from the beginning and have at times faced severe opposition from their neighbors precisely because of their religious faith. For them, the sort of selective, strategic withdrawal that Rod is proposing makes a great deal of sense and, indeed, fits quite well with their own experience.

Evangelicals, however, hear the same language and react quite differently. There are a couple reasons for this: Partly, it is due to an understandable reaction against more schismatic fundamentalist versions of evangelicalism that seem to have done the same thing Rod is proposing. The consequences were frequently disastrous. (As someone who grew up in such a church, I understand this concern.)

A second motivating factor, I am increasingly convinced, is a classically evangelical craving after the approval of our peers. For 30 years we have been trying to tell the world “no no no, we aren’t weird like those other Christians,” we say with our voice dropping on the word “other.” “We’re normal people like you.” The ways our parents did this differ from how millennials tend to do it, but the end result is the same.

That said, I am increasingly convinced that Rod’s project (and it’s one that I am deeply committed to as well) has much less to do with the question “how can orthodox Christians create thick communities to preserve the faith in a post-Christian world?” and is much more about “how do we rebuild civil society at a time when most of the west’s social institutions are in decline?”

Read it all.

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Posted February 24, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A coalition of institutional investors with $4trn under management, led by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, as trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund (CRF), and the Church Commissioners for England, have again asked ExxonMobil to disclose how it will ensure its business will remain resilient as global efforts to mitigate climate change proceed.

The CRF and the Church Commissioners filed a similar proposal for consideration at Exxon's 2016 annual meeting. Despite Exxon's unsuccessful attempt to exclude the proposal from a vote at the meeting, it received support from 38.2% of voting shareholders, a record for a climate change resolution at the company.

"As investors, we are concerned that, unlike many of its peers, Exxon has not taken the steps necessary to demonstrate its resilience in a lower carbon future," DiNapoli said. "We want to know what Exxon's strategy is for continued profitability as governments around the world live up to their commitment to the Paris Agreement 2 degree scenario."

Read it all.

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Posted February 23, 2017 at 4:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The community standards state: "Facebook removes hate speech, which includes content that directly attacks people based on their: race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases."

Johnston's post only cited Scripture and did not directly attack any person.

The Ohio mother contended that with the way the Facebook algorithm is set up is that all that is needed for her account to be frozen is for liberal trolls and LGBT activists to report her account.

Read it all from the Christian Post.

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

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Posted February 23, 2017 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bavaria will ban the full-face veil in schools, universities, government workplaces and polling stations, the southern German state said on Tuesday.

The move comes seven months before a federal election where immigration will be a prominent issue and the Bavarian conservatives that govern the region, the sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's, are worried about losing votes to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD).

"Communication happens not only via language but also via looks, facial expressions and gestures," Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said after the regional government agreed a draft law to ban the full-face veil for civil servants and in public places where there are concerns for public safety.

Read it all.

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Posted February 23, 2017 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There was a time when Christian thinkers like Dreher, who writes for The American Conservative, might have prepared to fight for cultural and political control. Dreher, however, sees this as futile. “Could it be that the best way to fight the flood is to … stop fighting the flood?” he asks. “Rather than wasting energy and resources fighting unwinnable political battles, we should instead work on building communities, institutions, and networks of resistance that can outwit, outlast, and eventually overcome the occupation.” This strategic withdrawal from public life is what he calls the Benedict option.

Dreher’s proposal is as remarkable as his fear. It is a radical rejection of the ties between Christianity and typical forms of power, from Republican politics to market-driven wealth. Instead, Dreher says, Christians should embrace pluralism, choosing to fortify their own communities and faith as one sub-culture among many in the United States.

But it is a vision that will not be easily achieved. Conservative Christianity no longer sets the norms in American culture, and transitioning away from a position of dominance to a position of co-existence will require significant adjustment, especially for a people who believe so strongly in evangelism. Even if that happens, there are always challenges at the boundaries of sub-cultures. It’s not clear that Dreher has a clear vision of how Christians should engage with those they disagree with—especially the LGBT Americans they blame for pushing them out of mainstream culture.

Read it all from The Atlantic.

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Posted February 23, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many Americans might not know the more polemical side of race writing in our history. The canon of African-American literature is well established. Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, James Baldwin are familiar figures. Far less so is Samuel Morton (champion of the obsolete theory of polygenesis) or Thomas Dixon (author of novels romanticizing Klan violence). It is tempting to think that the influence of those dusty polemics ebbed as the dust accumulated. But their legacy persists, freshly shaping much of our racial discourse.

On the occasion of Black History Month, I’ve selected the most influential books on race and the black experience published in the United States for each decade of the nation’s existence — a history of race through ideas, arranged chronologically on the shelf. (In many cases, I’ve added a complementary work, noted with an asterisk.) Each of these books was either published first in the United States or widely read by Americans. They inspired — and sometimes ended — the fiercest debates of their times: debates over slavery, segregation, mass incarceration. They offered racist explanations for inequities, and antiracist correctives. Some — the poems of Phillis Wheatley, the memoir of Frederick Douglass — stand literature’s test of time. Others have been roundly debunked by science, by data, by human experience. No list can ever be comprehensive, and “most influential” by no means signifies “best.” But I would argue that together, these works tell the history of anti-black racism in the United States as painfully, as eloquently, as disturbingly as words can. In many ways, they also tell its present.

Read it all.

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Posted February 22, 2017 at 4:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an interview for Image magazine in 1997, I asked Hassler about the origin of his Catholic worldview. He responded, “I’m indebted to those first few grades in parochial school for teaching me that everything in life is connected.” A bit later he added, “I guess maybe I see life as a whole.” It is part of Hassler’s gift, throughout his career, to see life as a whole, juxtaposing events and characters, thus yielding new meanings and interrelationships, making the entire work appear to fly. In a word, Hassler’s style is not “magic realism” but realism magically transformed.

Again and again Hassler transforms the banality of evil into Flannery O’Connor-type characters and events. A crazed woman kills a burnt-out teacher; a brilliant teacher stricken by multiple sclerosis turns psychotic in his despondency; an unloved juvenile delinquent is crushed beneath a walk-in cooler like the Wicked Witch beneath Dorothy’s Kansas cottage. But like St. Augustine, who speaks of God’s love treating “each of us as an only child,” Hassler (who includes many only children in his fiction) treats every character in that way. Jon Hassler discovers God’s presence in everyday life, as his novels throw a grace-filled light upon caring teachers, open-hearted wives and lovers, priests and spinsters—and a latchkey child who responds to an old man’s need for friendship and for love.

Read it all.

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Posted February 22, 2017 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many Muslim parents send their children to church schools because they prepare young people for “life in modern Britain”, a senior figure in the Church of England has said.

The Rev Nigel Genders said that church schools offered a “deeply Christian” education yet were attractive to families of other religions because they took faith seriously.

Mr Genders, chief education officer at the Church of England, which has about 4,500 primary schools, said that they would never drop their religious character even though more children from non-Christian families were attending them.

Read it all (requires subscription)

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Posted February 22, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A church in the middle of Cairo is bombed. A 70-year-old woman is stripped naked and paraded through a southern Egyptian village.

Military vehicles run over Coptic protesters, dismembering and mangling 27 people in the worst massacre of Christians in the country's history.

Firebrand preachers shout incensed anti-Christian messages from the pulpit and mobs attack Coptic churches, businesses and homes.

This is now a daily routine for Egypt's Coptic Christians, the largest Christian minority in the Middle East.

Read it all.

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Posted February 22, 2017 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It used to be so simple. Girl met boy. Gametes were transferred through plumbing optimised by millions of years of evolution. Then, nine months later, part of that plumbing presented the finished product to the world. Now things are becoming a lot more complicated. A report published on February 14th by America’s National Academy of Sciences gives qualified support to research into gene-editing techniques so precise that genetic diseases like haemophilia and sickle-cell anaemia can be fixed before an embryo even starts to develop. The idea of human cloning triggered a furore when, 20 years ago this week, Dolly the sheep was revealed to the world (see article); much fuss about nothing, some would say, looking back. But other technological advances are making cloning humans steadily more feasible.

Some are horrified at the prospect of people “playing God” with reproduction. Others, whose lives are blighted by childlessness or genetic disease, argue passionately for the right to alleviate suffering. Either way, the science is coming and society will have to work out what it thinks.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsScience & TechnologySexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 22, 2017 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It takes a lot to declare a famine.

If a population can't find enough food it's not strictly a famine. Nor is it famine if one third of the population is severely malnourished.

The United Nations' definition of famine is when three conditions coincide: at least 20 per cent of a population faces extreme food shortages, 30 per cent of people experience acute malnutrition, and at least two people per 10,000 die every day.

This week both the UN and the World Food Program agreed with South Sudan's decision to declare a state of famine in parts of the country's south.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionPoverty* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 21, 2017 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"My overall conclusion: the appellants are right.” These were the words of Lady Justice Arden in the Court of Appeal today – and yet we lost our legal challenge to the government’s ongoing ban on mixed-sex civil partnerships.

Lady Justice Arden’s two fellow judges disagreed – and outvoted her. All of the judges were critical of the status quo, whereby civil partnerships are still only available to same-sex couples, despite 13 years passing since their introduction and clear demand for them among mixed-sex couples. But the other two judges concluded that the government should be allowed more time to make a decision on whether to extend civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples before its position becomes unlawful.

Naturally we are deeply disappointed by this ruling. The narrowness of the defeat makes it all the harder to swallow: we came so close to winning, yet lost on a technicality. Nevertheless, there is so much in the ruling that is positive.

Read it all from the Guardian.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMenReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsWomen* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 21, 2017 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The plain truth is that the Washington religious liberty case is going to be resolved in favor of the proprietor of the business, as it should be.

We need to be as deferential as we can to the rights of conscience, especially as they pertain to small/family businesses. I wouldn’t want the state to harshly fine me if I declined to arrange flowers for the Westboro Baptist Church’s annual banquet.

Progressives are fighting a losing battle, and the optics of financially ruining a 72-year-old grandmother are terrible. If progressives are on the right side of history and we are just moments away from same sex unions being celebrated as marriages by virtually everyone of every faith, then find another florist and leave this poor lady alone.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted February 18, 2017 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like I keep saying: this may not be the end of the world, but it is the end of a world. When the might of the State of Washington and the American Civil Liberties Union comes down on the head of gentle, grandmotherly, small-town florist, and seeks her ruin for declining to arrange flowers for a gay wedding, you know that we are dealing with a bottomless well of hatred. You know exactly what we are dealing with here. So, prepare. We are all going to be asked to pay the cost of discipleship. When I interviewed her last summer, Stutzman said to me: “If they can come after me, they can go after anybody.”

True. Expect no justice, tolerance, mercy, or love in these matters. The Religious Right Must Lose. Alliance Defending Freedom, the religious liberty legal organization representing Barronnelle pro bono, is taking tax-free donations to help pay for her defense. If the US Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, or rules against her, the Christian community nationwide will need to step up to pay her fine, and to reward her for having stood in the crucible and held firm, despite the contempt heaped on her head. Today its Barronelle Stutzman; tomorrow it might be you. And one day, it probably will.

I’ll say one more thing here. As regular readers know, I do not like Donald Trump and do not like the glee with which so many of my fellow conservatives view his trashing of longstanding rules and conventions of political behavior. Trump is tearing things down, but what will be left after he’s done that? Having said that, when I contemplate a system and a society that is willing to pour everything it has into crushing a little old Southern Baptist lady who arranges flowers for a living, I find that I have very little enthusiasm for defending that system. A society that would do this to a Barronnelle Stutzman is a corrupt and unjust society. At times like this, it is hard not to adopt a “let the dead bury the dead” attitude toward the whole.

Make sure to take the time to it all and watch the video.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted February 18, 2017 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our nation has a long history of protecting the right to dissent, but simply because Barronelle disagrees with the state about marriage, the government and ACLU have put at risk everything she owns,” Waggoner continued. “This includes not only her business, but also her family’s savings, retirement funds, and home. It’s no wonder that so many people are rightly calling on President Trump to sign an executive order to protect our religious freedom. Because that freedom is clearly at risk for Barronelle and so many other Americans, and because no executive order can fix all of the threats to that freedom, we will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear this case and reverse this grave injustice.”

A lower court ruled that Stutzman must pay penalties and attorneys’ fees for declining to use her artistic abilities to design custom floral arrangements for a long-time customer’s same-sex ceremony. Rather than participate, Stutzman referred Rob Ingersoll, whom she considers a friend and had served for nearly 10 years, to several other florists in the area who were comfortable promoting and participating in their ceremony. The two continued to chat about the wedding, they hugged, and Ingersoll left.

“Rob Ingersoll and I have been friends since very nearly the first time he walked into my shop all those years ago,” said Stutzman. “There was never an issue with his being gay, just as there hasn’t been with any of my other customers or employees. He just enjoyed my custom floral designs, and I loved creating them for him. But now the state is trying to use this case to force me to create artistic expression that violates my deepest beliefs and take away my life’s work and savings, which will also harm those who I employ. I’m not asking for anything that our Constitution hasn’t promised me and every other American: the right to create freely, and to live out my faith without fear of government punishment or interference.”

Read it all.

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

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


Posted February 18, 2017 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As a new era begins in Washington, it is worth asking whether the similarity between President Trump and King David goes any deeper.

Both men came out of nowhere to deal with an urgent national matter. Each was initially treated as a joke by the experts. When David offered to face Goliath, King Saul told him, “You are a lad, and he is a warrior since his youth.” Yet both prevailed, and each did so by spending far less than his adversaries....

Don’t look to David’s life for a detailed road map of what to expect from the Trump administration. Members of the U.S. government take an oath to the Constitution, not to a leader. But anyone who experiences the rabbis’ mash-up of Jacob and David would have no trouble matching Mr. Trump with David, rather than with Jacob.

The sudden and surprising rise of King David and President Trump make them, in modern parlance, “disruptive innovators.” Contemporary society exhibits a remarkable amount of forgiveness for rule-breakers in high-tech industries. Now, some people are agonizing over whether Mr. Trump should be “normalized”—treated the same way that any other leader would be. It is worth remembering that the Bible didn’t fully normalize David’s actions. The king was denied the pinnacle achievement that he sought, building the Temple. The Lord told him: “You have shed much blood to the ground before Me.” Still, David remains revered.

Whether Americans classify Mr. Trump as “normal” is less important than how they respond to his administration. One wise approach was enunciated by David Petraeus. During a November interview with the BBC, the retired general was asked whether Mr. Trump had the “correct” temperament to be president. He replied: “It’s up to Americans, at this point in time, not only to hope that that is the case, but if they can, endeavor to help him.”

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Donald Trump* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted February 17, 2017 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

..The way forward needs to be about love, joy and celebration of our common humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ - all of us, without exception, without exclusion.

Nevertheless while the principles are straightforward, putting them into practice, as we all know, is not, given the deep disagreements among us.

We are therefore asking first for every Diocesan Bishop to meet with their General Synod members for an extended conversation in order to establish clearly the desires of every member of Synod for the way forward.

As Archbishops we will be establishing a Pastoral Oversight group led by the Bishop of Newcastle, with the task of supporting and advising Dioceses on pastoral actions with regard to our current pastoral approach to human sexuality. The group will be inclusive, and will seek to discern the development of pastoral practices, within current arrangements.

Secondly, we, with others, will be formulating proposals for the May House of Bishops for a large scale teaching document around the subject of human sexuality. In an episcopal church a principal responsibility of Bishops is the teaching ministry of the church, and the guarding of the deposit of faith that we have all inherited. The teaching document must thus ultimately come from the Bishops. However, all episcopal ministry must be exercised with all the people of God, lay and ordained, and thus our proposals will ensure a wide ranging and fully inclusive approach, both in subject matter and in those who work on it.

We will also be suggesting to the Business Committee a debate in general terms on the issues of marriage and human sexuality. We wish to give the General Synod an opportunity to consider together those things we do affirm..

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsArchbishop of York John SentamuSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 17, 2017 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Throughout his talk, Idowu-Fearon emphasized the “vigorous and robust” character of the Anglican Communion, as it pursues the “apostolic mandate given by the Lord Jesus, to make disciples of all the nations.” Again and again, he referenced “missionary calling,” the “sacrificial offering” of generations of English Anglicans zealous for global mission, and the C of E’s contributions to the Anglican Communion.

“This is a wonderful, if complex, story that I hope will never be forgotten,” he said. “I hope you realize this, because it is a fact that the Church of England today is giving necessary, effective, and beautiful gifts to the wider Communion.”

The secretary general did not shy away from noting the difficulties Anglican Communion provinces face: “economic displacement and political uncertainty; family dissolution; refugees and migration; grinding poverty; and persecution,” but also “the dispiriting and destructive dynamic of Anglican conflict over human sexuality” and a worrisome fading of the “fertile energy of outward mission.”

He lifted up the 1920 Lambeth Conference as a potential model for how to respond to these challenges: the assembled bishops recognized that communion is founded in “the undeflected will of God,” who desires to “win over the whole human family.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Polity & Canons--Aggressive Title IV Action Against Multiple Bishops on Eve of Gen. Con. 2012* Christian Life / Church LifeMissions* Culture-WatchGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 17, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Resolving issues around human sexuality within the Anglican Communion is like threading a needle – and there is no one solution in sight at present, the secretary general of the Communion has told the Church of England Synod.

Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon said the disagreements and struggles facing the Church of England were not unique to it but could not easily be resolved in some institutional or structural fashion.

“We are not up to the task of resolving them faithfully right now,” he said.

Archbishop Josiah said the “dispiriting and destructive dynamic” of the conflict over human sexuality was divisive between provinces of the Communion as well as within them. He said the differences could impede their common mission to the world. And he suggested the time might be right to set aside difficult matters.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 17, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although it had been a difficult and tense week, my own sense was that the debate itself was the General Synod at its best. I've been in difficult debates on several occasions (most noticeably on the legislation of women in the episcopate). This did not feel like those debates. Over 30 people spoke. There was a 3 minute time limit throughout. Jayne Ozanne, Martin Gorick and Sam Alberry all spoke well, from different perspectives. I saw other Oxford members standing seeking to make a contribution. Over 160 people wanted to contribute. The debate was expertly chaired by Aidan Hargreaves.

We came to the vote which is normally a formality in a take note debate. As expected, it was closely contested. The House of Bishops voted 43 in favour and 1 against (the Bishop of Coventry later admitted he had pressed the wrong button by mistake). The House of Laity voted 106 in favour, 86 against with 3 abstentions. The House of Clergy voted 93 in favour and 100 against with 4 abstentions. The take note motion was therefore defeated.

Given the strength of feeling across the Church and the Synod this seemed to me an appropriate outcome. The Bishop of Norwich said afterwards: “I can guarantee that the Bishops will listen carefully and prayerfully to all the contributions made in the debate today”.

Talking with people afterwards, this felt a very significant moment but not that the Church of England is in chaos or turmoil (as the newspaper headlines indicated the following day).

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 17, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you go here you can see it in the Wednesday agenda. I am providing the direct link to it below (almost 2 hours and 20 minutes).



It is very worth your time to listen to it all.

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

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Posted February 17, 2017 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch and listen to it all.

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

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Posted February 17, 2017 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Selwyn College Cambridge presents the annual Ramsay Murray Lecture on the subject of modern day Russia [including relations with Ukraine and Europe] under the Presidency of Vladimir Putin and given by the BBC's Diplomatic Correspondent, Bridget Kendall.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 16, 2017 at 1:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More American employees are working remotely, and they’re doing so for longer periods of time, according to a Gallup survey released on Wednesday.

Last year, 43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely, according to the survey of more than 15,000 adults.

That represents a 4 percentage point increase since 2012, a shift that meets the demands of many job seekers.

“Gallup consistently has found that flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job,” the polling agency wrote in a report on those and other workplace findings.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 16, 2017 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...clearly, Genesis 2 and Matthew 19 demonstrate that all sexual expression outside the lifelong and permanent union of one man and one woman is sinful. It’s contrary to God’s purposes. We have the picture of Christ who will come for his beautiful bride clean. He died for her. We rob society of that picture when we seek to destroy the truth of what marriage is.

God’s people are called to be set apart and clergy are to be examples to their people, to model holiness, chastity, purity, to model the way of the cross.

If sexual immorality were simply a secondary issue as opposed to a first order salvation issue then the Bible would not link it specifically with salvation (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). And that is why it is so important to speak clearly with regard to sexual sin, because, actually heaven and hell depends upon it. Our very eternity depends upon it. That’s why it’s loving to hold firm to it. And it’s also beautiful and freeing for all that hear this message.

Read it all.

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Posted February 16, 2017 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What practical difference will the vote make? It will not lead to a new report, since we cannot consider one on the same issue in the life of this Synod. It is difficult to see how the position of the bishops will change; if some break ranks, many will respond ‘Why didn’t you speak up earlier?’ It might lead to a fracture in the House of Bishops, as some clearly hope—which will mean dioceses diverging in their teaching and policies. If so, evangelicals will start to withdraw both cooperation and funding—so keep an eye out for the next diocese to run out of money. It has perhaps raised hopes for change again—which are likely to be dashed once more, at least in terms of formal change in the Church. In introducing the report, Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, emphasised yet again that changing this teaching, shared in much of the Anglican Communion and ecumenically, wasn’t in the gift of the Church.

What it has done is highlighted the deep divisions in the Church—but done nothing to heal them. Not only do we disagree, we even disagree about what it is we disagree on. And it has set clergy against their bishops. Some will ask what the bishops have been doing all these years, in terms of teaching and training and holding clergy to appropriate account, to lead to such a deep level of mistrust. But others might ask clergy what they think they are doing in rejecting the teaching of those to whom they have pledged canonical obedience. Either which way, it is incoherent, and no way to run a railway. And in the end it has demonstrated the power of this issue to break the Church. Those seeking change have demonstrated their determination to continue pushing, regardless of the consequences.

As Zachary Giuliano concludes: there are no winners.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

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Posted February 16, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is no easy way to dress up what has been an embarrassing night for the senior leadership of the Church of England.
After three years of so-called shared conversations costing the church more than £300,000, General Synod has chosen not to take note of the Bishops report.
It was neither the Bishops nor ordinary members of the church (the laity) who chose to reject the report. It was the vicars, rectors and priests that decided they could not continue with the current prohibition on blessing or marrying same sex couples in church.
For lesbian and gay Christians, there is widespread rejoicing. But conservative evangelicals are dismayed, the vote confirming what they say is their worst fear that the authority Scripture is no longer the rule of faith and practice.

Read it all.

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Posted February 16, 2017 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Church of England bishop has been forced to apologise to the archbishop of Canterbury after accidentally breaking ranks with his colleagues in a crucial vote on same-sex relationships.

Christopher Cocksworth, bishop of Coventry, said he was embarrassed after he pressed the wrong button on his electronic handset in the tense vote on a highly controversial bishops’ report at the C of E synod on Thursday.

The report was rejected after the House of Clergy narrowly voted against “taking note” of it, although it commanded overall support in the synod. The motion needed the backing of all three houses – bishops, clergy and laity.

Read it all from the Guardian.

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Posted February 16, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There were impassioned contributions from all sides of the argument. Lucy Gorman (York diocese) argued that the Church’s current stance was devastating its mission to the nation, especially among young people, who saw it as homophobic.

The Revd Andrew Foreshew-Cain, who married his male partner in 2014..., begged the Synod not to take note of the report. “Your LGBTI brothers and sisters are not beggars looking for entrance on the borders of the Church,” he said. “We are your family in Christ. We are baptised, faithful, prayerful. I am not a case study. We are flesh and blood.”

Others, including a “same-sex-attracted” Evangelical, the Revd Sam Allberry, said that, while the report was not perfect, they were glad that it had held the line on the traditional marriage teaching. “I was bullied at school for being gay,” he told the Synod. “I now feel bullied in Synod — for being same-sex-attracted, and for agreeing with the doctrine on marriage.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 16, 2017 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England's clergy have issued an extraordinary challenge to its conservative line on marriage by throwing out a bishops' report on sexuality.

In a major revolt against the CofE's hierarchy, members of the Church's General Synod rejected a report by top bishops that said there was 'little support' for changing the view that marriage was between one man and one woman.

The shock result plunges the Church into confusion on its stance on marriage with the bishops' report barred from being discussed until the end of this synod in 2020.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 16, 2017 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church of England clergy have appeared to signal support for gay marriage after they rejected a bishops’ report which said that only a man and woman could marry in church.

The report recommended that the bar on same-sex church marriages continue but that a more welcoming attitude towards homosexuals should be shown by congregations.

However, the motion was rejected by clergy at the General Synod who voted 100 to 93 against. Sources said they believed the recommendation had been rejected by the more liberal members of the clergy who thought the Church should ultimately drop its opposition to gay marriage.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 16, 2017 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all the links are at the bottom of the page (p 1-7).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 15, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first paragraph of the report states, “As St Paul writes, ‘I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me…’ (Galatians 2.19ff). For St Paul that meant setting aside even the wonderful privilege of Jewish identity and giving priority to the cross and resurrection of Christ. It is in this light that the Church of England has to consider the difficulties over human sexuality that have been a source of tension and division for many years.”

What this introduction misunderstands and misses is twofold. Firstly, in both his letters and in the Acts of the Apostles, Paul is a Jew and identifies clearly as a Jew in the present tense. To state that Paul is “setting aside” his “Jewish identity” misunderstands Paul. Second, such misunderstanding in the very first paragraph means the report misses the nuance of Paul’s writings and the reality that he too is grappling with “tension and division” both within his communities and in terms of his own identity. To recognise such a nuance would make clear that questions of identity are not as simple as this report’s introduction suggests and that identity with Christ is not as simple as “setting aside” one’s identity at birth (which itself is a loaded and potentially harmful assumption in a report on sexuality and identity).

In Philippians 3.4-6, therefore, Paul writes that in terms of confidence “in the flesh”, he has more for he is: “a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews.” Even if these “gains” are now regarded by Paul “as loss because of Christ” (Phil 3.7) and as “rubbish” (3.8), Paul’s Jewish identity is not solely in his past. This is made clearer in Romans 11.1 where Paul states in his defence of God’s promises that “I myself am an Israelite, a descendent of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.” Paul’s testimony before the tribunal in Acts 21 is even more direct, demonstrating unambiguously what the Evangelist thinks of Paul’s identity. Paul begins his defence with the words, “I am a Jew” and then repeats this same claim “in the Hebrew language” in Acts 22 (“I am a Jew”) after which he immediately recounts in the past tense that he previously “persecuted this Way”. Moreover, returning to his letters, Paul counters Corinthian boasting with his own in 2 Corinthians 11.22: “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? … I am a better one.”

And here we encounter first-hand the tension in Paul’s identity. Paul is still a Hebrew, an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, in other words, he is a Jew. But he is also a minister of Christ; he is also one who suffers for the sake of the gospel. Paul’s identity is inextricably wrapped up in both.

Read it all.

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Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So what we have seen over the past few days, and particularly now during Synod, is that pro LGBT activists have embarked on an attempt to force the Church of England to change its teachings on sex and marriage, firstly by means of appeal to the rational and reasonable middle ground in the church, branding conservatives as extremists and proposing an alternative conclusion to the Bishops GS 2055 report (eg here).

And then, the fist inside the velvet glove: an all-out assault on the tenets of basic Christian orthodoxy in the public domain outside the church, through the parading of pain and fury at every opportunity on the floor of Synod, and through the secular media. The aim here is to appeal to the public at large, particularly the powerful and influential figures in Government, law and the media, to force change on the church from the outside.

How can this powerful lobby with its emotional force be resisted? In the short term, we can perhaps pray that the Bishops and the majority of Synod members would see through and refute the hypocrisy of the campaigners, who claim to want diversity, when in fact they want to eradicate orthodox faith; they claim to be powerless victims or standing on their behalf, when in fact they stand with the most powerful lobby in the nation. They speak with the language of Christian faith but have imbibed a philosophy that is implacably hostile to the teachings of the bible about the human person, sexuality, marriage, self-control and chastity – and ultimately, as we have seen, hostile to the idea of a Saviour who takes away sin’s deserved consequences.

But what of the longer term? It should be obvious that a church which allows such views with their bullying tactics to flourish as part of legitimate theological diversity, has abandoned any concept of apostolic deposit based on divine revelation. Such a church will soon be forced to reflect the secular ideology of the powerful lobby group more and more, as has happened in north America. The orthodox can agree to being one view among many, and be gradually erased. A better option: stand firm and if necessary force a schism, and at the same time plan for an alternative jurisdiction.

Read it all.

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Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme, The Right Reverend David Walker, the Bishop of Manchester, warned changes to the church's authorised blessings are highly unlikely.

He said: "We know those numbers are just not there at the moment to change the law. We have a liturgy for marriage, we can't change that without the majorities that would be required."

However, The Right Reverend added: "What we have said is that we are committed to maximum freedom and I and many of the other bishops are very keen to explore the full extent of what that means. If we don't change the law but everything else is up for grabs, everything else is up for conversation.

"There is an awful lot we can do which doesn't actually require a change in the law and that is what I want to explore.

Read it all.

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Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is wide recognition on all sides that one of the central issues revolves around how Scripture is interpreted both in and across cultures. It is our conviction that the hermeneutic task is not simply a matter of ‘correctly’ interpreting Scriptural texts, but must involve reading any given text in the light of the whole gospel, with a heart that is open to what the Spirit is saying to the Church in each and every generation. The Reformation principle of scriptura sui ipsius interpres (scripture interprets itself) must give us cause to pause and consider such texts in the light of Jesus’ overriding call to ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”’ (Luke 10:27)

There are three issues that we believe we, the evangelical community, need to be honest about.

The first, which causes us significant concern, is that of the high levels of homophobia that appear to go unacknowledged and unchallenged. Obviously, we understand that to assert a traditionalist position on same-sex relationships is not in itself homophobic, and that those who take a conservative line may not be individually hostile towards LGBT people. However, we would plead for some recognition, reflection and repentance of the fact that Christian teaching on this continues to function as the lynchpin, not just in the Church but also in secular society, of a widespread and sometimes subterranean nexus of negative attitudes that frequently manifest in overt homophobic behaviour. LGBT people are all too familiar with the impact of this, and whilst some are able to withstand it, many find themselves internalising feelings of shame and self-hatred, which all too frequently then result in depression, self-destructive behaviours, and even suicide. Are these really to be seen as the side-effects of the good news of Jesus Christ? Credible Christian witness cannot just be a matter of repeated verbal denials of homophobia but must involve active steps to combat it. Should not the churches be as well known for their efforts in this area as they are for, say, supporting issues of social justice? The issue is even more pronounced in countries across the world where Christians are known to be condoning and at times positively supporting proposals for severe penalties, including capital punishment, for homosexual behaviour. Should not the repudiation of this by churches in this country be immediate, public, and categorical?

Read it all.

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Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jules Gomes: The last few weeks has seen a PR disaster for the Church of England. If not a reading from the Koran that denies the divinity of Jesus at St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, it is a service of Evening Prayer at Westcott House, Cambridge using gay slang and calling the Holy Spirit “Fantabulosa Fairy.” As director of Reform and committed to biblical orthodoxy, you must be hanging in by your fingernails. How long before your fingernails begin to crack and you let go?

Susie Leafe: I’m not sure we can blame the Church of England for what happens in Glasgow but I know what you mean. The great thing to know is that we are not hanging over an abyss—God has promised to build his Church—only he knows what role the Church of England will play in his future plans. As Reform, we have followed the experiences of orthodox Anglicans in North America and like them we are very grateful for the support and leadership we receive from other parts of the Anglican Communion GAFCON and the Global South. As always, we pray and work for the best whilst planning for the worst.

JG: In its recent report the House of Bishops have upheld traditional teaching that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. But in the very same breath the report says that Church law should be interpreted to provide “maximum freedom” for LGBT people. Isn’t this the C of E fudge factory working overtime?

SL: The Report will be discussed at General Synod this week. It describes itself as a compromise and I have not heard anyone endorse it without very serious reservations. Personally, I believe the most worrying element of the Report is the way the bishops have reinterpreted the law of the C of E about where our doctrine can be found. They appear to sideline Scripture and the traditional formularies of the Church, in favour of finding the boundaries of freedom in Canon Law.

Read it all.

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Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can find a daily time table here and the link for a live video feed is there. also, you can find the official synod twitter feed there.

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Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite a warning from the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, that protests and campaigns at General Synod meant that “hackles will rise” and the media “circle like wolves”, efforts to mobilise a vote against taking note of the Bishops’ report on marriage and same-sex relationships are gathering steam.

On Tuesday, OneBodyOneFaith (the group formerly called LGCM) published a series of proposals offering an alternative way forward to that proposed in the Bishops’ report. The recommendations include the publication of a teaching document to “to make clear that clerical civil marriage is not of itself . . . a matter for discipline”.

Other proposals include a new sexuality-and-relationships working group of the Archbishops’ Council, “responsible for holding the theological diversity of the Church of England”, a national lead for LGBTI matters at Church House, and the publication and recommendation of an approved liturgy for prayer and thanksgiving with same-sex couples after a civil partnership or marriage.

Read it all.

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Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The General Synod has rejected moves to end the legal requirement to read banns for couples intending to marry in church services.

Members voted against a Private Member's Motion brought by Rev Stephen Trott, from Peterborough Diocese, calling for draft legislation to be drawn up to transfer 'ecclesiastical preliminaries', the legal paperwork currently carried out by Church of England clergy before a church wedding, to civil registrars.

The motion called for a similar system to the one in operation in Scotland since 1977, when banns were replaced by a Marriage Schedule issued by the civil registrar.

Rev Trott told the General Synod that administering banns was 'fraught with difficulties' and a cause of 'great concern and even stress' to clergy.

Read it all.

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Posted February 14, 2017 at 11:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

South Carolina had a larger number of cases than its neighboring states involving an increasingly popular synthetic drug that in its purest form can kill someone by just touching it.

There were 90 cases involving seized fentanyl in South Carolina in 2015, according to a recently released report by a congressional commission that monitors and investigates the national security implications of the trade and economic relationship between China and United States.

The report singled out China as the United States’ primary source of fentanyl, which was referred to as a “cheap, synthetically produced opioid” – a painkiller that is about 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article132464299.html#storylink=cpy

Read it all.

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Posted February 14, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The ever-litigious bunch at 815 Second Avenue, the New York headquarters of ECUSA, may be getting a taste of their own medicine. Or it may just be a case of litigation inculturated beyond the point of no return: the litigators at ECUSA have been sued by the Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls, one of their own (and a former lawyer in his own right), who worked there as Chief Operating Officer until the Presiding Bishop terminated him last April.

The complaint, unusually filed in Alabama's Mobile County Circuit Court (see remarks below), makes for an absorbing read (or maybe that's just a lawyer talking): you may download it here. (A big tip o' the Rumpolean bowler to The Living Church, which first broke the story.) It names ECUSA and its corporate arm, the DFMS, as defendants, along with 30 unidentified "John Does", who allegedly participated in some manner in the actions alleged

Read it all and note the download link.

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Posted February 14, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last week’s announcement from government that it will close the route opened for some of the most vulnerable refugee children to Britain by Lord Dubs falls far short of our better selves and the example set by those before us.

The route was opened by Lord Dubs to enable a safe passage to Britain for the most vulnerable refugee children. His amendment last year drew exceptionally wide cross-party and public support. Lord Dubs was himself a survivor of the Kindertransport efforts to save Jewish children fleeing the Nazis on the eve of the Second World War.

Those efforts typified something of the best in us. A steadfast and quiet determination to protect children and the most vulnerable and to do so in time when the threat is urgent.

Read it all.

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Posted February 14, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls, the Episcopal Church’s former chief operating officer who was placed on administrative leave in December 2015 and lost his job, has filed a lawsuit alleging a conspiracy by senior leadership of the Episcopal Church.

Read it all.

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3 Comments
Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When you browse online for a new pair of shoes, pick a movie to stream on Netflix or apply for a car loan, an algorithm likely has its word to say on the outcome.

The complex mathematical formulas are playing a growing role in all walks of life: from detecting skin cancers to suggesting new Facebook friends, deciding who gets a job, how police resources are deployed, who gets insurance at what cost, or who is on a "no fly" list.

Algorithms are being used -- experimentally -- to write news articles from raw data, while Donald Trump's presidential campaign was helped by behavioral marketers who used an algorithm to locate the highest concentrations of "persuadable voters."

But while such automated tools can inject a measure of objectivity into erstwhile subjective decisions, fears are rising over the lack of transparency algorithms can entail, with pressure growing to apply standards of ethics or "accountability."

Read it all.

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an unprecedented move, 14 retired Church of England Bishops have released a letter expressing concern about the House of Bishops' report on marriage and same sex relationships. The former Bishop of Worcester Peter Selby, who wrote the letter, speaks to William Crawley.

A man who claims he was beaten when he was a boy by John Smyth, the former head of a Christian charity, says his abuser claimed the beatings could be theologically justified. David Hilborn, Chair of the Theology Advisory Group for the Evangelical Alliance and Angela Tilby, Canon Emeritus of Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford join William to discuss' 'violent theology'.

Trevor Barnes speaks to the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby about his book 'Dethroning Mammon'.

Listen to any or all at the audio link provided at this linked page.

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 7:27 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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0 Comments
Posted February 13, 2017 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Everyone needs to be heard. There has been much talk (on social media) of people boycotting the small groups at General Synod. I am saddened by the thought that I won’t hear their voices. The assumption may be that I won’t listen because I wear purple and the report has already been written and everything is decided. I don’t believe that is the case. I have much to learn in my own pastoral response to LGBTI people and I can only learn it by listening.

Everyone needs to be seen. There has also been much talk (on social media) of gestures of defiance. There will be protest groups outside Synod and others inside proposing alternatives to the ‘take note’ debate. I understand the motives behind this but wonder what will be achieved. Will it lead to change and a greater acceptance of LGBTI people in churches? I’m really not sure. The media will circle like wolves and everyone’s hackles will rise.

We need each other. My sincere prayer is that the new relationships generated among members of General Synod by previous small groups will triumph over the old pattern of playing to the public gallery. Vent your anger at me, but please do it face to face in a small group. Tell me of your frustration, but please do it in such a way that we can talk together about new ways of decision making which model to a war-torn world how we can live well together.

Read it all.

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Using today’s terminology, Anglo-Catholicism has often been caricatured and derided as harbouring a gay subculture. Irrespective of the actual sexual orientation of Anglo-Catholic laity and clergy, past or present, we have borne the opprobrium, and offered safe space to recipients, of homophobia.

And still we love the faith and the Sacraments received by the Church of England as something rich and life-giving, an articulation of Christian truth shared with the ancient Churches of East and West.

I have no formal mandate for saying so, but that is the reason why many Anglo-Catholics, and others, sincerely and gladly accept the retention of the doctrine of marriage as we have received it.

However, aware of the destructive force of homophobic innuendo and denigration, we also know we need a theological language that can articulate and honour difference in human sexual identity and relationship.

Read it all.

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The House of Bishops’ report on marriage and same-sex relationships...is a “morally reprehensible document that needs to be rejected by the Synod”, the Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury, Canon Simon Butler, said on Wednesday.

Describing it as a “betrayal of trust” that left “weapons on the table”, he expected a “very close vote” after the take-note debate scheduled to take place on Wednesday evening.

“If it is defeated, that is a clear signal to the House of Bishops that Synod is unwilling to progress in the direction they are taking,” he said. “If it is a narrow vote, the Bishops would be very unwise to continue down this course, because the whole of the Church’s wider agenda will be subsumed into a conflict that will last for the next period of the life of the Church. That would be a disaster.”

Read it all.

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




The Church of England is facing a fresh crisis over its stance on gay relationships following unprecedented criticism by a group of leading retired bishops over its failure to provide leadership on the issue, and its marginalisation of LGBT members.

The highly unconventional intervention comes before this week’s synod, which will be dominated by rancorous divisions over sexuality. Officials hope the 500-plus members of the church’s general assembly will approve a recent report from bishops which upholds the traditional teaching that marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman.

But a rebellion is being orchestrated by supporters of LGBT rights who are dismayed at the bishops’ restatement of doctrine. The church insists that gay clergy must be celibate, and clergy are forbidden from conducting same-sex marriage services. An open letter from 14 retired bishops, led by Peter Selby, the former bishop of Worcester, and including Richard Harries, former bishop of Oxford, urges their successors to think again. They say serving bishops have sought to manage a conflict “rather than perhaps enabling or leading”.

Read it all.

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 6:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican church is set for a renewed clash on the divisive question of gay marriage this week when its ruling body votes on a key report from the Bishops on same sex relationships.

The Church of England synod, the governing body made up of Bishops, clergy and laity which decides on church law and policy, will vote on Wednesday whether to ‘take note’ - confirm - or reject the report confirming the status quo against gay marriage.

Liberals within the church are hopeful the synod will reject advice from the Bishops’ to leave its policy against gay marriage unchanged.

A vote by the synod in favour of same-sex marriage could eventually pave the way for a fundamental change in Anglican teaching.

Read it all.

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From there:
Dear Fellow Bishop

The Bishops’ Report to Synod on Sexuality

Most retired bishops would be prepared to admit that participation in the synodical processes of the church is not what they most miss about their role as diocesan or suffragan bishops. They also feel some reticence about entering into the current debates occupying their successors on the basis of information that is partial and becomes more and more dated with the passing of the years. There is a dilemma, though: you don’t work for years as a bishop and then easily and suddenly lose the bond you feel for the bishops, your successors and former colleagues. Nor do you lose your concern that the church of which you continue to be a bishop should be faithful in its commendation of the Gospel to the society at large.

So when a report emerges that is the subject of major controversy within the church and society some retired bishops will wish to do what the signatories of this letter are seeking to do, namely to reflect from their particular perspective on what our successors are seeking to say and do about an issue that has been a longstanding source of concern and contention.

Your statement is the product of enormous time and effort, our memories of such situations suggesting perhaps too much time and too much effort. The ‘too much’ comes from the enormous sense of responsibility your document shows to manage a conflict that you and we know causes huge amounts of grief and argument. The result, dare we say, is that whereas it used to be said that bishops often sounded as though they spoke with a pipe in their mouths, now that pipes are rare they sound more as though they see their task as managing – rather than perhaps enabling or leading – the conflicts that are bound to occur. And we remember how exhausting that is, and how it seems to blunt the edge of bishops’ own passionate convictions, which might divide them but also invigorate the conversation.

You write after the Shared Conversations. We well remember having had lots of those, even if they did not have capital letters. But their integrity rested on the assurance that in reporting them the voices of those who participated would not be drowned out by the ‘majority view’ or ‘established position’. Our perception is that while the pain of LGBT people is spoken about in your report, we do not hear its authentic voice. Our experience would lead us to doubt whether there was an expectation around that canons and doctrinal statements would be changed within any reasonable timescale, and that focus seems to have taken far more time than it would have done if the authentic voices of lesbian and gay people had been allowed to express the major focus of their hopes. Going down the road of seeking a change in the law or doctrinal formulation would indeed not have been realistic – but you might not have had to spend as much time explaining why if those other voices had been allowed to come through more clearly.

The result of that focus on the issue of a change in the law is that your call for change of tone and culture, while absolutely right, does not carry conviction. Indeed, from the perhaps luxurious perspective of retirement the tone and culture of your document are incredibly familiar – we’ve been there and talked in that tone of voice, and it prevents calls for a change of culture, of course offered in complete sincerity by you, from ringing true.

We’ll avoid making too many detailed points just now; but hard as you have tried you have really not allowed the theological voice of some of us to be heard properly. In para 8 you draw a contrast between ‘the many who [hold] a conservative view of scripture [for whom] the underlying issue at stake is faithfulness to God’s word’ and others for whom ‘the imperative to read scripture differently stems from a parallel conviction’. If the second group are to recognise their voice in theological conversations their ‘parallel conviction’ needs to be expressed and not just alluded to.

May we end by assuring you that we continue to sympathise with the challenging nature of the task you have in this and other matters. You will receive much negative comment about your report, and we hope that these brief remarks may illuminate the reason for that: it is not that the Shared Conversations were thought to herald changes of law or doctrine; rather there will be deep disappointment that those who are not officially part of your meetings, who experience at first hand the struggles you only allude to, have once again been spoken about by their bishops instead of being enabled to speak in their own voice about their future and the future of the church they belong to and care about.

Yours sincerely in Christ

The Rt Revd Dr David Atkinson, formerly Bishop of Thetford

The Rt Revd Michael Doe, formerly Bishop of Swindon

The Rt Revd Dr Timothy Ellis, formerly Bishop of Grantham

The Rt Revd David Gillett, formerly Bishop of Bolton

The Rt Revd John Gladwin, formerly Bishop of Guildford and of Chelmsford

The Rt Revd Dr Laurie Green, formerly Bishop of Bradwell

The Rt Revd the Lord Harries, formerly Bishop of Oxford

The Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, formerly Bishop of Hulme

The Rt Revd Dr Stephen Platten, formerly Bishop of Wakefield

The Rt Revd John Pritchard, formerly Bishop of Oxford

The Rt Revd Dr Peter Selby, formerly Bishop of Worcester

The Rt Revd Tim Stevens, formerly Bishop of Leicester

The Rt Revd Roy Williamson, formerly Bishop of Bradford and of Southwark

The Rt Revd Martin Wharton CBE, formerly Bishop of Newcastle

Please note that there is also information on the additional signatories to the letter here.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The threat presented by the Islamic State is taking on a new form: child terrorists either directly in contact with or inspired by the militant group. Even as it suffers setbacks on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State is cultivating adolescents in the West, who are being asked to stay in their home countries and strike targets with whatever weapons are available, such as knives and crude bombs. A 16-year-old girl was among four people arrested in the south of France on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack, French authorities said Friday.

“The amount of Islamic State videos and propaganda aimed at children has really jumped in recent months,” said Daniel Koehler, director of the German Institute on Radicalization and Deradicalization Studies. “We haven’t seen anything quite like this, not on this scale and of this quality. They know that in the West, you don’t expect a 10-year-old to be a terror suspect.”

Last September, German authorities arrested a 16-year-old Syrian asylum seeker after they discovered the young man was in contact with an Islamic State handler who was teaching him how to build a bomb.

In December, a 12-year-old German Iraqi boy — guided by an Islamic State contact in the Middle East who warmly addressed him as “brother” and groomed the boy via the encrypted messaging app Telegram — built and tried to detonate a bomb near a shopping center in the western German city of Ludwigshafen. The device failed to explode.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 12, 2017 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was probably inevitable, especially on the cannabis-loving West Coast.

A Christian church has been turned into a marijuana dispensary.

The quaint building that used to house Shawnigan United Church on Vancouver Island has now been “re-christened” the Green Tree Medicinal Dispensary.

There is symbolic power in the transformation. And, depending on your tastes, the metaphorical shift is positive or negative.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 12, 2017 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What then is Pope John Paul II’s exhortation about?

John Paul II explains human sexuality as a “real symbol for the giving of the whole person,” and namely, “without every temporal or other limitation.” He thus formulates very clearly in article 84 that remarried divorcés must refrain from sex if they want to go to communion. A change in the practice of the administration of the sacraments would therefore be no “further development of Familiaris consortio,” as Cardinal Kasper said, but rather a breach in her essential anthropological and theological teaching on marriage and human sexuality. The Church has no authority, without prior conversion, to approve disordered sexual relationships through the administration of the sacraments, thereby anticipating God’s mercy - regardless of how these situations are to be judged on a human and moral level. The door here – as with the ordination of women to the priesthood – is closed.

Read it all from last year, as it is still deeply relevant.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ore than 500 conservative evangelical pastors and leaders representing all 50 states are urging President Donald Trump to reverse his temporary ban on refugee resettlement and his “dramatic reduction” of the total America will accept this fiscal year.

The open letter, published Wednesday as a full-page ad in The Washington Post with more than 100 of the signatories listed, was notable for two reasons. First, it contained only conservative evangelicals, instead of the mix of progressive names that usually sign such open letters. And second, topping the list were Tim Keller and Max Lucado—two well-known and well-respected pastors and authors who rarely speak out on political matters.

Other key signatories include Kathy Keller, Willow Creek’s Bill and Lynne Hybels, authors Stuart and Jill Briscoe, author Ann Voskamp, Southern Baptist seminary president Daniel Akin, and pastors Joel Hunter and Derwin Gray, among many others [full ad available in the linked article].

Read it all from CT.

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Posted February 12, 2017 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all. The film is available on Netflix for those interested.

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Posted February 11, 2017 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pensioners in Germany and Austria are suffering from delayed trauma caused by their experiences in the Second World War, resulting in assaults and threatening behaviour towards care home staff.

The problem is getting worse because the generation of children born after 1929, who were too young to fight in the war but old enough to witness its horrors, are now entering homes and hospices where suppressed memories are resurfacing, home managers and psychologists said.

Last month, an 83-year-old man pulled a pistol on two nurses in a care home in Altheim, Austria, after they found him in a corridor in his wheelchair during the night. They fled and called the police, who overpowered him. Last August, in the western German city of Münster, an 83-year-old man in a care home killed a 74-year-old man with whom he shared a room.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineHistoryPsychologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEuropeAustriaGermany* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 11, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Yet the IRS hasn’t investigated any of the pastors who have participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday. The agency has made a confusing situation worse by providing no explanation for why it has refused to enforce the law against these pastors. Thus many religious leaders remain in legal limbo while the IRS continues to pronounce its ability to monitor and punish them. This inaction has stymied the possibility of a civil-rights lawsuit, making a legislative fix necessary.

The Free Speech Fairness Act would get the IRS out of the speech-police business while prohibiting political expenditures or contributions by tax-exempt organizations. It would provide a relief valve for speech by allowing all charities to speak on political issues, as long as the speech is done in the course of carrying out the group’s regular activities. Because the bill doesn’t allow for political contributions or expenditures, dark money can’t flow through exempt organizations to campaigns.

America’s pastors deserve better than the Johnson Amendment. The Constitution demands that they have the ability to speak from their pulpits without fearing punishment by the officials from one of the most feared federal agencies. President Trump should urge Congress to swiftly pass this law and do away with this injustice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 10, 2017 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"As Christians, we have a historic call expressed over two thousand years, to serve the suffering. We cannot abandon this call now."

The evangelical leaders acknowledge the world is dangerous, adding that they "affirm the crucial role of government in protecting us from harm and in setting in terms on refugee admissions."

"However, compassion and security can coexist, as they have for decades," the ad says. "For the persecuted and suffering, every day matters; every delay is a crushing blow to hope."

"While we are eager to welcome persecuted Christians, we also welcome vulnerable Muslims and people of other faiths or no faith at all," the ad says.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted February 10, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Transforming Work is an innovative, liberating resource for Christians in the workplace - whether you've been working for one year or forty years - offering a distinctive blend of ingredients. It brings together a group of like-hearted people for eight sessions over a year, creating space between gatherings to reflect, to try things out, and to pray... and leaving time for seeds to grow, discoveries to be made, change to happen and for God to do what only he can do.

You may find out more about this there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 10, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"I was saddened and shocked to read in the Ministerial statement released yesterday that only 350 children will be received under the regulations in the Dubs Amendment. Our country has a great history of welcoming those in need, particularly the most vulnerable, such as unaccompanied children.

Refugees, like all people, are treasured human beings made in the image of God who deserve safety, freedom and the opportunity to flourish. Jesus commands us to care for the most vulnerable among us:

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40).

Read it all.

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Posted February 10, 2017 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just three months afterward, the Anglican Consultative Council (a deliberative body in which lay persons, clergy, bishops and Primates all take part as elected representatives of their respective denominations) held its sixteenth triennial meeting in Lusaka, Zambia. Representatives from ECUSA attended, but refused to honor the Primates' requirement to abstain from certain deliberations of the Council having to do with "doctrine or polity." Nor did the Council bar them from doing so.

The Episcopal delegates not only refused, but they gloated about the Council's refusal even to consider the Primates' requirement. In an open letter they sent to ECUSA after the meeting, which was published in the official Episcopal News Service, they reported that although Archbishop Welby had communicated the results of the January meeting to the Council, "ACC members seemed to have little energy for answering the primates’ call for consequences".

Thus just as they flouted Resolution 1.10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference in 2003, when they approved the consecration of Bishop V. Gene Robinson contrary to that Resolution, and just as they have repeatedly, in the years since, rejected all calls to change their course, ECUSA is determined to walk apart from the former Communion while keeping up the pretense that their actions have not turned it into a Disunion. ("How could it be a 'Disunion'?" I hear them asking. "We still attend all its meetings!")

Not only do they insist on exercising their full authority and rights when it comes to participation in Anglican-wide affairs, but they rub it in the GAFCON Primates' faces every chance they get. For instance, Archbishop Welby has invited all Anglican Primates (with the exception of ACNA's, whom he had invited the previous year) to another meeting at Canterbury next October. Just last week, the official news organ of the Anglican [Dis]union published a story about his invitation, and his expectations for the meeting. In the process, they rather loosely characterized ECUSA's actions at ACC-16 in Lusaka (by serving up what is called "Anglican fudge" to describe what happened).

The ECUSA delegates to that meeting issued a response challenging the story's accuracy, and ACNS had to add some further explanation by way of making the fudge thicker. (See the updated story here, and the explanation at the end. What ACNS added is the last sentence to the next-to-last paragraph.)

The upshot is that ECUSA once again saw to it that the other Primates were told in no uncertain terms that ECUSA had never yet acceded to their demands, and was not about to change its course.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican Consultative CouncilAnglican PrimatesPrimates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016Episcopal Church (TEC)Global South Churches & PrimatesSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 10, 2017 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A pastor in Kenya is making a stand against female genital mutilation (FGM) to protect his daughters from an “injustice that would rob them” of their human rights, education, and well-being, an anti-FGM campaigner in the country, Susan Krop, has reported.

The pastor, Emmanuel Longelech, and his three daughters, live in West Pokot, a region of Kenya where an estimated 72 per cent of girls undergo FGM — also known as female circumcision. There are no known health benefits of the procedure, which can cause severe long-term physical and mental damage.

Ms Krop campaigns against FGM in the region. She is chairwoman of the Kongelai Women’s Network, a group of about 100 members funded by ActionAid. The charity works with women and girls in the poorest parts of the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexualityTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 10, 2017 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

'Post-truth’ is a word of our times, at least according to Oxford Dictionaries, who declared it their word of 2016. Their definition said that ‘post-truth’ refers to ‘circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.

The appearance of a new word tends to encourage the idea that the phenomenon itself is new: that it did not exist before there was a neologism to describe it. That is not the case here, even if ‘post-truth’ is the current buzz-word; as historians know well, there has never been a time when public opinion was not shaped more powerfully by emotion and personal belief than by facts. What is different now, perhaps, is how rapidly false stories and fake news can circulate: social media allows the public as well as giant news organisations to be involved in spreading untrue or distorted tales. That is a formidable challenge for those who care about truth.

But even concern about the ease with which false stories can spread is far from new. At the end of the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote incisively on this subject in his poem The House of Fame. This poem describes a dream-vision in which Chaucer (carried by a comically talkative eagle) is borne up into the sky, taken to a castle standing midway between Heaven and Earth. This is the House of Fame, to which all words uttered in the world, spoken or written, find their way.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryLanguagePhilosophy* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 9, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For moms like Stefany Rodriguez-Neely, Marianne Touger and Zakeia Smith, a sinister secret was lurking beneath the surface of their favorite spot online – a website so popular, that more than 100 million use it each day.

“I was clueless. I was like, really?!” Smith told 8 On Your Side. “’Cause I think, when I think Pinterest, or one of those other sites, I think it’s all about crafting and recipes.”

Touger had the same response.

“It never occurred to me, never occurred to me that it would be a problem with Pinterest,” she said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesPornographyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 9, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are signs that Nigerians — among the most resilient and adaptive people on the continent — are losing patience. This week, there were small, but rowdy, protests in Lagos and Abuja, at which demonstrators complained about their “missing president”.

There is an irony that Mr Buhari, a retired major general, is missing in action. He ran the country as a military ruler in the mid-1980s after seizing power in a coup. In civilian guise, his leadership style has verged on the invisible. After winning power in 2015 on the fourth attempt at the ballot box, he set out at a pace that has marked his presidency: it took him six months to name a cabinet. Hopes that he had surrounded himself with a lean team of capable technocrats empowered to get policy cranking have come to naught. Policymaking — such that it is — has been crafted instead by a tiny cabal of loyal, less qualified, stalwarts. Mr Buhari has failed to articulate anything approaching a vision.

During his campaign, Nigeria’s soldier-turned-politician promised to train his sight on three main objectives: to improve security, crack down on corruption and diversify the oil-dependent economy. Progress on the first two has been patchy, and on the third dismal.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 9, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

9. Is it a compromise?
“The Church of England's law and guidance on marriage should be interpreted to provide ‘maximum freedom’ for gay and lesbian people without changing the Church's doctrine of marriage itself, bishops are recommending.”
That’s the top line from the press release, which on its own may suggest a middle way. The report calls itself “a compromise between some bishops who would be inclined to seek more far-reaching changes in the direction of e.g. affirming married same-sex couples within the life of the Church, and some bishops who would like to see the sinfulness of any sexually active relationship outside heterosexual marriage more consistently upheld” (56).
In truth, as has been shown, the report does what the latter group of bishops wish to be done. There is no compromise in substance, only a little compromise in presentation.

In short…
Despite some attempt having been made to soften the report’s appearance, careful reading makes it difficult not to conclude that the bishops, with little reference to the views of the Church, and on a pretext of theological coherence, are determined to confirm for the foreseeable future an uncompromising conservative understanding of all sexual relationships, which offers no greater pastoral freedom, no new teaching, no less intrusive questioning, and a very uncertain call to penitence for homophobia.

Read it all.

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Posted February 9, 2017 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The good news is that the Bishops’ report on human sexuality is reassuring to evangelicals and traditionalists in its determination to adhere to the canonical and biblical understanding of marriage. But like all recent reports, the House of Bishops holds the line in the Church of England by treating this teaching as provisional and subject to change.

The latest report has the character of a staging-post. The Bishops are ultra-apologetic to the LGBT community and the overwhelming subtext is that traditionalists are not dying off quickly enough for the bishops to risk changing doctrine and thereby splitting the Church over the matter. It’ll only be a few years, they reason, before the Church of England can completely capitulate to culture.

Now, of course, many of the more conservative members of the House of Bishops will deny this entirely and I have no doubt that they have personally acted in good faith. But the equivocal language in which the report is hedged indicates that we are involved in a process. This in itself comes from a narrative of progress with which we are all familiar.

According to this widespread cultural narrative, the Church and other archaic organisations are on the wrong side of history and it is only a matter of time before they are dragged kicking and screaming into modernity by any means necessary – including changes to the law, placing facts on the ground and by attrition.

The Church’s integrity and faithfulness is a necessary casualty of these forces of change.

--This appears in the Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2017, on page 11

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Posted February 9, 2017 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We welcome the bishops’ reluctance to be drawn into sweeping ‘solutions’ or idle ‘resolutions.’ We wonder why one part of the body of Christ continues to be regarded as a problem rather than as a gift. We look forward to a genuine transformation of tone and culture away from one that rejects people simply for the way God has made them.

We welcome the bishops’ call for maximum freedom within the current legal constraints. We wonder if the bishops really want to endorse such an uncomfortable contrast between love and law, covenant fidelity and ecclesiastical disapproval, the manifest grace of God and a precise reading of select scriptural texts, the increasingly warm embrace of society and the apparently inexplicable inhibition of the church. We look forward to a time when pastoral care is not invoked to tend wounds the church has so often itself inflicted.

We welcome the call for a new teaching document on marriage and relationships....

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted February 9, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I remain hopeful about the next moves, and the idea of a teaching document. In answer to MTH’s question about its value, I think that it is perfectly possible for a teaching document to articulate a biblical theology of sexuality and look like good news to many people. For me, it would need to include:
1. Sex is God’s good gift in creation. The Church has often struggled with that but, as Diarmaid McCulloch pointed out, that was often because the Church paid too much attention to Greek philosophical ideas, and too little to the teaching of Jesus and Paul.
2. Human life is bodily, and our bodies are inherently good. We are not spirits (or internet browsers) trapped in an unfortunately material world.
3. Sex differentiation is a normal, natural and inevitable part of this bodily life.
4. Our sexual lives should form one part of an integrated physical, emotional, relational, communal and spiritual life.
5 Sex is powerful—powerfully good when used right, and powerfully damaging for so many people when it goes wrong.
6 Humanity is fallen, and this affects all aspects of our sexuality as well as every other area of our life.
7 Sexual activity is therefore bounded, not because sex is bad, but because sex is powerful and we are fallen. The boundaries God has put in place are, rightly understood, there for our flourishing and well-being, and in particular serve to protect the weak from exploitation by the strong.
8 Sex is penultimate—it is not the most important thing about us, and there are more important ways to understand who we truly are.
There is much here which offers good news to a world and a culture in which the misuse of sex does so much harm. Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 9, 2017 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hundreds of asylum-seeking young people are going missing from care once they arrive in Britain, amid concerns they have been targeted for radicalisation by extremist groups during their journey to the UK, a think tank report has warned.

Militant groups such as Islamic State are deliberately preying on vulnerable young people for recruitment, as they make the perilous journey across the Middle East and north Africa, to Europe.

Extremists try to “buy” the allegiance of migrants and make them feel indebted, by working with people traffickers and funding their travel, the research by the Quilliam Foundation found.

Read it all.

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Posted February 8, 2017 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If this is a reasonably accurate account of how the bishops ended up with the report they did then, in evaluating it, among the questions raised are:

Can this process be recognised and received as a reasonable way of faithfully seeking to do what the bishops sought to do in the exercise of episcopal oversight?
Can a plausible case be made that any of the rejected options would have accomplished their goals – particularly the goals of unity and doctrinal coherence and serving the whole church – better than this one?
Can any of the options considered and rejected be implemented within the existing doctrine and law or do their advocates acknowledge that they really require a change in doctrine and/or law and that is therefore what they are demanding?
Can a convincing case be made that one of the three other paths not followed should have been offered as more faithful to the bishops' vision of what is involved in exercising episcopal oversight?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 8, 2017 at 3:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The bishops have clearly sought and struggled to hold us together across our differences and to avoid “major fracture in our Church…at this point” (para 59). We are encouraged that in doing so they have also given due weight to “the unity of the Universal Church” and “the Church of England’s own position in the Anglican Communion” (para 60). As the bishops note, true unity “cannot be detached from our common faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and therefore from the teaching through which that gospel is faithfully passed on” (para 61). This means that there “needs to be a fundamental trust in the clergy to know and be faithful to the teaching of the Church, in their own lives and in their ministry to others” (para 64). We are, consequently, deeply concerned that some of the responses to the bishops' report have made it even more difficult for those of us who wholeheartedly affirm that teaching as good news to have such trust in some clergy.

We hope and pray that the Church of England and wider Communion will see in the bishops’ proposal a framework, perhaps the only framework, which could enable us “to continue to ‘walk together'….in a way that is based on a common commitment to biblical truths but recognises our continuing disagreement with one another” (para 59) and we encourage General Synod to “take note” of it in its February session.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 8, 2017 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Should teachers be able to use body cameras to record the disruptive behaviour of some pupils or, indeed, to celebrate the achievements of others? The question arises because of an experiment doing just that. A criminal justice academic at Portsmouth University, Tom Ellis, has revealed that teachers at two schools in England are using video cameras to record incidents and then play them back to the pupils concerned and to their parents. The practice is not widespread but it is legal. It may be a harbinger of things to come.

It is easy to see the possible utility of such cameras. Disruptive classroom behaviour is a constant problem that blights the education of children and the careers of teachers, and may be getting worse. In 2014 Ofsted released a report entitled Below the Radar: Low-level Disruption in the Country’s Classrooms, which was based on the inspection reports of a sample of nearly 100 schools conducted in the first six months of that year.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 8, 2017 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last September, [Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama known by his chinese nickname as] Ahok told a group of fishermen that politicians who quoted from the Quran to say they should not vote for a non-Muslim were lying to them. But he also told the fishermen to vote their conscience.

Ahok, who has a reputation as a blunt speaker, later apologized, saying he had no intention of insulting the Quran or Islam.

But some Muslims took offense, and hundreds of thousands took to the streets in three massive rallies against Ahok that convulsed central Jakarta in November and December. Demonstrators continue to congregate at the courthouse where Ahok is on trial. Coils of barbed wire and riot police separate pro- and anti-Ahok protesters.

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

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Posted February 8, 2017 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is growing concern about the impact of automation on employment - or in crude terms - the threat that robots will eat our jobs.
But if you want to see how important robotics and artificial intelligence can be to a business Ocado is a good place to start.
"Without it we simply couldn't do what we do at this scale," the online retailer's chief technology officer Paul Clarke told me. With margins in the supermarket business wafer thin, continually bearing down on costs and waste has been vital.
At its Hatfield distribution centre I got a glimpse of how far the process of automating the sorting of thousands of grocery orders has come. For now, you will struggle to spot a robot - unless you count a machine that inserts plastic shopping bags into crates - but software is doing a very complex job of sending the right goods in the right crates to the right human pickers.

Read it all (video recommended if you have the time).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 7, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



There are however serious concerns. It is urged that we must look for contradictory positions to be resolved in ways which are ‘in some way hidden from us’ (paragraph 8). No reason for this optimism is given, yet it is on this basis that the report says that it is still possible for Anglicans to ‘walk together’ (paragraph 59) and claims this was what the Anglican Primates agreed when they met in Canterbury in January 2016.

What our resolution agreed in Canterbury actually said was that while ‘It is our unanimous desire to walk together’, the actions of The Episcopal Church ‘further impair our communion’. This is in line with the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration which identified rejection of apostolic teaching on sexuality and marriage as a manifestation of a ‘false gospel’ which required godly discipline.

It seems therefore that the Church of England bishops have recommended the right thing for the wrong reason. They have retained the Church’s traditional teaching, but because they think that holding opposite views together will eventually produce a consensus, not because it represents an apostolic boundary.

This understanding is confirmed by the fact that the report encourages a relaxation of church discipline and confuses pastoral sensitivity with a permissive church culture which already tolerates, in practice, clergy who have contracted same-sex ‘marriages’....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Primary SourceAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsGlobal South Churches & PrimatesSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 7, 2017 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




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Posted February 7, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Trump’s tough talk on Iran is winning him friends in the Arab world, but it also carries a significant risk of conflict with a U.S. rival that is now more powerful than at any point since the creation of the Islamic republic nearly 40 years ago.

With its warning last week that Iran is “on notice,” the Trump administration signaled a sharp departure from the policies of President Barack Obama, whose focus on pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran eclipsed historic U.S. concerns about Iranian expansionism and heralded a rare period of detente between Washington and Tehran.

Many in the region are now predicting a return to the tensions of the George W. Bush era, when U.S. and Iranian operatives fought a shadow war in Iraq, Sunni-Shiite tensions soared across the region and America’s ally Israel fought a brutal war with Iran’s ally Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 7, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From there:
"I applaud today’s moving, honest and courageous statement by Andrew Watson, the Bishop of Guildford, by making public his experience of abuse at the hands of John Smyth. The traumatic experience he and others went through is utterly appalling and punishment of this kind is wrong. In meetings with survivors of abuse, I have listened to them, prayed for them and wept with them, and am deeply conscious of their suffering. My continued prayers are with Andrew and all the victims of abuse."


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Posted February 7, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am one of the survivors of John Smyth's appalling activities in the late 1970s and early '80s. I am also one of the Bishops in the Church of England. This has placed me in a unique and challenging position when it comes to the events of the past few days. My own story is certainly less traumatic than that of some others. I was drawn into the Smyth circle, as they were, and the beating I endured in the infamous garden shed was violent, excruciating and shocking; but it was thankfully a one-off experience never to be repeated. A while later one of my friends attempted suicide on the eve of another session in the shed (a story movingly told in the Channel 4 Report), and at that point I and a friend shared our story.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityTeens / YouthViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology


Posted February 7, 2017 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cathedrals and churches on four continents have come together to raise awareness and activism about water by launching the JustWater website. It’s an international initiative organised by St George's Cathedral (Cape Town); St Paul's Cathedral (London); St Paul's Cathedral (Melbourne); and Trinity Church Wall Street (New York). The project aims to draw attention to the issues around water - whether these challenges are flooding, drought, rising tides or access to fresh water and sanitation. The Primate of Southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, is the keynote speaker at the launch of the initiative tonight (Monday) in London.

In the coming weeks, major events are scheduled to coincide with the season of Lent and around UN World Water Day on 22 March 2017 to support social justice efforts on water issues. Canon Heather Patacca, Precentor of St Paul's Cathedral Melbourne, said “For many of us access to fresh water is something we take for granted unlike those who walk half a day to draw water from a well or stream. Nothing exists without water. Water raises issues of justice and equity but looks different in each local context.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 6, 2017 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Italian television recently broadcast a heartrending documentary about one of the largest single acts of mass Christian martyrdom in the 20th century. This happened in 1937 when soldiers and militias slaughtered some 300 Ethiopian monks at one of the country’s holiest religious houses. In this instance, the perpetrators were neither communists nor Islamists but Catholic Italians, serving the fascist regime of Benito Mus­solini. That massacre at Debre Libanos was one in­stance in a larger campaign of several years’ duration in which Ethi­o­pian monasteries and churches were systematically bombed and subjected to mustard gas attacks. Outside Ethiopia, the persecutions remain largely unknown.

In popular memory, fascist Italy has always been regarded as a less pernicious member of the Axis powers, but in his colonial policies Mussolini yielded nothing to Hitler. In 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia, and in the words of its local commander, Rodolfo Graziani, “the Duce will have Ethiopia, with or without the Ethiopians.”

The savage Italian campaign ultimately killed several hundred thousand Ethio­pians—some sources say a million. Graziani envisaged the extermination of all local chiefs and elites, much as Hitler would later attempt in Poland. Given the profound identification of the Ethiopi­an church with national spirit, Italian forces particularly targeted religious establishments....

A global church must have a global memory. Let’s never forget Debre Libanos.

Read it all (this appeared in the Christian Century print edition of January 18, 2017 on page 45).


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Posted February 6, 2017 at 12:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

California’s millennials continue to flood hospital emergency departments because of heroin, a trend that has increased steadily statewide and in Los Angeles and Orange counties over the past five years, according to the latest figures.

The state data released last week show that in the first three months of 2016, 412 adults age 20 to 29 went to emergency departments due to heroin. That’s double the number for the same time period in 2012.

Overall, emergency department visits among heroin users of all ages increased, but the sharpest was among the state’s young adults. About 1,500 emergency department visits by California’s millennials poisoned by heroin were logged in 2015 compared with fewer than 1,000 in 2012.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 6, 2017 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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