Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. David Couper, 77, recalled the predawn hours of a March day nearly a quarter-century ago. A fire had broken out at a housing project in Madison, Wis., where he was the chief of police. A police sergeant, hearing about the blaze from a 911 dispatcher, jauntily sang of the apartment complex, “Sommerset Circle is burning down.”

Five black children, the oldest 9 and the youngest 20 months, died in the fire, and revelations about the sergeant’s song prompted protests against the seeming racial insensitivity of the Madison police and fire departments. There were demands that the sergeant be fired, or at least punished beyond the five-day suspension that Mr. Couper meted out.

Instead, Mr. Couper brokered a compromise in which the sergeant issued a public apology in the presence of local black leaders. The controversy gradually subsided. The sergeant, whose record had been spotless until then, stayed on the force until retirement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 26, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My Episcopal church is fading before my eyes. Several months ago, (because I usually arrive late for services) I would find myself wedged into the last few seats in the back of the church. Then, a few months ago, I began to find plenty of seats, even for a latecomer. Now, there is row after row of empty pews as I walk in. The service is short, in large part because the offering is taken and communion distributed in record time. My church is emptying out.

We are in the interim between the unexpected departure of our rector and the hiring of a new one. The departure of the last rector was messy, and in short order the other two priests on staff left, as well. Now we rely on an interim (or "transitional") priest and the vague hope that people will patiently wait for a new leader to arrive. That hope is poorly rooted in fact.

The lengthy interim seems to be a popular tactic in some denominations. The theory, as I understand it, is that a longer interim period allows for more deliberation. During that period of deliberation, a church can complete a "self-assessment" of its needs, and then spend months examining those needs and how they might be met by the new hire. Also, with more time between pastors (as this theory has it), the liturgical habits of the old minister can be washed away, so that the new one can establish her own.

I'm not a fan of this theory.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

4 Comments
Posted January 26, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the wake of an interfaith Vatican conference on marriage two months ago, a coalition of Roman Catholics and evangelicals -- including Southern Baptist Timothy George -- has issued a statement calling the legalization of same-sex marriage "a graver threat" to society than either "easy acceptance of divorce" or "widespread cohabitation."

"We must say, as clearly as possible, that same-sex unions, even when sanctioned by the state, are not marriages," the statement, titled "The Two Shall Become One Flesh: Reclaiming Marriage," says. "Christians who wish to remain faithful to the Scriptures and Christian tradition cannot embrace this falsification of reality, irrespective of its status in law."

At least two additional Southern Baptists -- Rick Warren and Daniel Akin -- have endorsed the statement, which is slated to appear in the March 2015 issue of First Things, the journal's editor Russell Reno told Baptist Press. A list of approximately 30 Christian leaders to endorse the statement may include other Southern Baptists when it is finalized, Reno said.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 25, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now, three weeks into my son’s preschool career and we are already jockeying for a position next year. I’ve spent three paychecks from my part-time job, plus multiple hours of work-at-home time to get the necessary forms filled out and notarized so he can stay in the school.

Earlier this week, a friend dropped off her son’s registration packet with me to hold on to for registration day, since she will be out of town. I asked her how this whole registration thing will go down.

She told me that moms start lining up at 9 a.m. My eyes glazed over. Now I’m starting the registration process again. I am not a stay-at-home-mom, I’m an agent.

Of course, it could be worse. I could be paying for both school AND an admissions coach, who helps parents navigate getting into the best preschools in Manhattan, which cost upwards of $40K in tuition.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 24, 2015 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Courage...is the indispensable requisite of any true ministry.... If you are afraid of men and a slave to their opinion, go and do something else. Go make shoes to fit them. Go even and paint pictures you know are bad but will suit their bad taste. But do not keep on all of your life preaching sermons which shall not say what God sent you to declare, but what they hire you to say. Be courageous. Be independent.

----Phillips Brooks, Lectures on Preaching, the 1877 Yale Lectures (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), p. 59

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted January 23, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The proposals are presented in a report written by Lord Green, a former British trade minister and HSBC chairman, and prepared with outside help from Christopher McLaverty, a former talent leadership chief at BP, an oil supermajor. As much as £2m ($3m) has been set aside to enact the “talent management programme”, which will provide 150 bishops with the means to study at INSEAD’s campus in Fontainebleau, France, over the next two years. The aim is that clergy, who often come into a high-profile post within the church with little training, are given more adequate preparation for their role, including the ability to build and manage a high-functioning support team. “Simply arriving at moments of appointment and then looking to see who might or might not, by a process of amounting to chance, have suitable preparation and gifting, is to abandon all responsibility,” Mr Welby wrote in support of the Green report.

Sending bishops to business school will kickstart a “culture change for the leadership of the church”, the report says. But it admits that the preponderance of phrases such as “talent pool” and “alumni network” peppered throughout the paper may put off more staunch theologians. Yet that hasn’t stopped the language of business breaching the pious institution. In an appendix of Lord Green’s report, the net promoter score (NPS), a loyalty metric developed by Bain & Company, a consultancy, is presented with a straight face as a hypothetical way of evaluating the benefit of the mini-MBA. With a fictionalised NPS of +75 (on a scale of -100 to +100), the church appears to be confident its plans will be well-received.
'
Read it all.

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

4 Comments
Posted January 22, 2015 at 12:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

n his Preface, the Bishop of Coventry notes that that the report is offered as a resource for theological reflection that can "inform the improvisations the church will continue to require in its practice of leadership and anchor them in faithfulness to the gospel…. How do the dynamics of Church life and leadership in the New Testament apply to the Church today? How might we draw faithfully and creatively on the rich traditions of the church over two millennia around authority, responsibility and service? How can we talk constructively about ambition in church life and deal with the realities of disappointment and the experience of failure? These are not just issues for those who exercise senior leadership in the Church of England. We hope this report can contribute to fostering serious thought and prayer about them."

Professor Loveday Alexander, one of the members of the Faith and Order Commission, comments: "What we are offering, as a gift to the Church and as the result of many years of collective reflection, is a theological contribution to practical thinking about leadership development in the Church. We have tried to set out some of the deep spiritual roots of the Church's understanding of what it means to exercise leadership within the body of Christ."

Read it all and note the whole report is there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted January 21, 2015 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of all the silly claims sometimes made by atheists these days, surely one of the silliest is that Christianity was in no way determinative of the politics of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Just take Christopher Hitchens's claim that, on account of King's commitment to nonviolence, in "no real as opposed to nominal sense ... was he a Christian." Wherever King got his understanding of nonviolence from, argues Hitchens, it simply could not have been from Christianity because Christianity is inherently violent.

The best response that I can give to such claims is turn to that wonderfully candid account of the diverse influences that shaped King's understanding of nonviolence in his Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, and then demonstrate how his Christianity gave these influences in peculiarly Christ-like form.

King reports as a college student he was moved when he read Thoreau's Essay on Civil Disobedience. Thoreau convinced him that anyone who passively accepts evil, even oppressed people who cooperate with an evil system, are as implicated with evil as those who perpetrate it. Accordingly, if we are to be true to our conscience and true to God, a righteous man has no alternative but to refuse to cooperate with an evil system.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 20, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We’ve done so much out of respect and admiration for, in celebration and in honor of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that I wonder if these expressions are just that— words left hanging on calendars and parade routes, on school buildings, city streets and expressways, in libraries and museums, in filled rooms with empty people.

I am afraid that we are content with the sound of his words, that we like the way that they make us feel and perhaps, appear to others, that they are consumed but not digested, preached but not practiced, repeated but not remembered. We lick our fingers and then close our mouths satisfied. We push away from the table full of ourselves. Having done none of his work, we take the credit.

We have forgotten that he was a Baptist minister, a pastor, a shepherd while his flock was a nation. We have forgotten that he was not really fighting for civil rights but declaring the truths of the kingdom of God on earth, the message lost in politics, propaganda and people- pleasing. We have forgotten that he was only reminding us of what God says about all of us, that we are created equally—no one human being or culture having more time with the hands of God than the other. His message cannot be reduced to a march, a dream or a stamp. It is we who still need to be moved though we don’t want to be stirred or sent anywhere should it bring discomfort.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many of you who read my editorials are pastors of a local church as I am. Imagine this scenario. One hundred of your most committed and loyal members write you a letter. You know they love your church. Most of them have been members for decades. They serve faithfully in your congregation’s ministries and they give generously. Their letter states they are deeply concerned about a matter they believe is endangering the health of the church they love and they hope you will act to address it.

How would you respond? Would you ask to meet with them and hear them out? I know I would. Maybe you would decide to sit down with a few of their leaders and ask them to speak for the group. Short of that, would you send a letter of your own, thanking those who wrote for sharing their concerns? If not inclined to go that far, would you at least in some way acknowledge that you had received their letter? I mean, you would respond, right? Even if you did not agree with their concerns, as a leader you would feel it important to respond to your members who took the time to write, wouldn’t you? And if not as a leader, then wouldn’t simple politeness require you to make some kind of reply to your brothers and sisters in Christ?

What if you did nothing? What would you expect those 100 members to do? Would you expect them to continue to look to you for leadership? Listen to your sermons, telling them how we Christians should treat each other? Pay your salary?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 18, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In October, Seacoast’s Mount Pleasant Campus pastor took the stage to tell its 14,000 weekend attendees that he felt God calling the church to alleviate, even end, the local foster care crisis.

A few weeks later, 550 church members showed up for two interest meetings to learn more. An orientation meeting drew nearly 100 serious about becoming foster parents, almost as many people as licensed foster homes existing in Charleston County today.

Next week, the first series of foster parents licensing classes is full with 20 couples.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 18, 2015 at 1:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some people have obvious activities to chop. If you're surfing the web for four hours a day or spending your weekends in a casino, you know what needs to be done. But I'd wager most of us have more difficult decisions to make. Streamlining our schedules and keeping our sanity involves continually choosing the best from among the merely good.

In my interview with Bill Hybels from the Spring issue of Leadership, I asked him what changes he'd made to simplify his life. He talked about scheduling. "I know that sounds like such a boring subject," he said, "but sitting down before God with a calendar and a submitted spirit is one of the holiest things you can do."

That's good advice. I don't think following it will magically make our lives simple. If we wanted simple, we wouldn't have chosen ministry. But bringing our complicated lives before God and submitting every detail to his will—that's a pretty good place to start.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 18, 2015 at 1:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Heather] Cook and [Mark] Hansen attended General Theological Seminary in New York at the same time in the 1980s, according to the school's website, and Hansen participated in Cook's consecration ceremony last September.

Hansen, who lives in Millington on Maryland's Eastern Shore, is a lay pastor at St. Clement's Episcopal Church in Kent County. He is also executive director of the St. Paul's Cathedral Trust in America, a nonprofit that supports the London cathedral.

Cook, who served on the Eastern Shore for 10 years, is listed on the St. Paul's Cathedral Trust website as a donor who gave more than $1,000.

A spokeswoman for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland described Hansen as a friend of Cook's. Spokeswoman Sharon Tillman said the church was not involved in the bail payment but was "grateful that she'll now be able to resume treatment."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

12 Comments
Posted January 17, 2015 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In addition to personal hurt, the baggage accumulated here, again, might result in the “baby” of holiness getting thrown out with the “bathwater” of legalism. If the ex-fundamentalist does not become a New Atheist — the inverted modernist equivalent of the rationalizing fundamentalist — he might drift in the Anglican direction. Here he will decide whether to let John Spong usher him through the dusty halls of a bygone Protestant liberalism back towards Dawkins et. al. or, via the “Canterbury Trail,” he will head towards the more romantic tradition of Anglo-Catholicism. The temptation then is to construct an Anglican identity that is more concerned with “not being fundamentalist” than with being Christian. So ex-fundamentalists are largely reacting against pride and legalism, while ex-evangelicals are reacting against the spiritual emptiness of faddish evangelicalism. But, of course, there are degrees of mixture between the two.

In closing, I want to say that although this new generation of Canterbury Trail Anglicans has a lot to offer the Anglican and Episcopal churches which we now inhabit — especially in our greater desire for unity than many a Boomer who busies himself with ecclesial marketing, lawsuits, or even doctrinal and moral “purity” — we also carry a lot of baggage. Not having “stayed put” in those places where we originally received the faith, we struggle here too in this Anglican place to practice what we have come to preach. Here we counsel the local “cradle” Anglican evangelical not to throw overboard the riches of the tradition in order to fill the pews. But we also need to be reminded that without mission, evangelism, and, yes, conversion, the tradition simply becomes liturgical histrionics, much to the annoyance of the local Anglican evangelical. Finally, the new Canterbury Trail Anglicans need to be more than “not fundamentalists” or “not-Southern-Baptists.” Not only would such an attitude contradict the ecumenical spirit, not only does this tempt us to throw out the legitimate orthodoxies held by those we react against, but, contrary to the spirit of humility, it also tempts us to “via media” pride, as if we somehow have got it all together. Truth, humility, and unity are a package.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Identity* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.CanadaEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological EducationSoteriology

0 Comments
Posted January 16, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Diocese of Maryland is in deep pain. Words barely express the depth of our shock and despair over the events and revelations of the past two weeks in the aftermath of the tragic collision involving Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook, which resulted in the death of a cyclist, Thomas Palermo, on Saturday, December 27. She is now in jail, facing charges of manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in a death, driving under the influence of alcohol, and texting while driving.

There are still too many questions for which there are no easy answers, and we are filled with anger, bitterness, pain and tears. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Palermo family in their bereavement and for ourselves as a diocese in mourning. And we continue to pray for our sister Heather in this time of her tremendous grief and sorrow, knowing the Episcopal Church’s “Title IV” disciplinary process is underway to consider consequences for her actions as well as review the process that resulted in her election.

But what now? What do we do with our grief?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

5 Comments
Posted January 15, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Episcopal officials will reassess the process by which the church elected a bishop now accused in the hit-and-run death of a prominent local bicyclist, the head of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland wrote in a letter to members Tuesday.

"A disciplinary process is underway to consider consequences for [Bishop Suffragan Heather Elizabeth Cook] as well as review the process that resulted in her election," Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton wrote in the letter posted online.
Bail set for $2.5m for bishop charged in cyclist's death.

Sutton said the diocese continues to pray for the family of Thomas Palermo, the bicyclist killed in the accident Dec. 27, as well as for Cook "in this time of her tremendous grief and sorrow."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismLaw & Legal IssuesTravelViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 14, 2015 at 5:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Developing Discipleship aims to renew and deepen a conversation about discipleship across the Church of England.

The conversation will begin in General Synod when we meet in February. I hope it will happen in local churches and in dioceses in the coming months.

At the February General Synod, the paper will provided a context for the important conversation and debate about the reports from the four Task Groups to be published later this week.

Read it all and please note the links at the bottom for the paper (a 12 page pdf) and the online discussion site as well.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult Education* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted January 14, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To begin with, the language and culture of confirmation as a rite of passage isn’t going away any time soon, and so we might as well use it to our catechetical advantage. By dispensing with required confirmation preparation and reception, the sacrament can truly become a moment of conversion for Catholics, regardless of when it occurs. In this way, confirmation will take on particular importance for Catholics returning to the Church after being away for a time, especially when such a return coincides with significant life changes—like marriage for instance, or having that first baby. And young people who never drift away from the Church? They’ll likely seek confirmation in their teen years anyway. Thus, for all recipients, the sacrament will cohere with their actual lived experience of faith.

There’s an additional catechetical value to this approach: Confirmation classes will start to mix together maturing teens, young adults, and the retired—and everyone in between! Younger candidates will get to hear older Catholics share about their struggles and joys; in turn, those older Catholics will get to hear the younger candidates express their aspirations and enthusiasms.

I can’t think of a better way to foster the idea that confirmation (and Christianity) is really for grown-ups—grown-ups, that is, that humble themselves and come to Jesus.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationYouth Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

6 Comments
Posted January 14, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

During the twenty-five years I taught Pastoral Care at The General Theological Seminary, and later at Bexley Hall and Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, I always tried to include a unit on Alcohol and Addictions. I was disappointed to see how few students really engaged with the issues, no matter what books I had them read, what speakers I had them hear, or what case studies I had them consider. Periodically I would arrange elective courses on “Alcohol and Addictions” which were taught by skilled clinicians. Alas they were undersubscribed and sometimes had to be cancelled due to insufficient registrations. I was also troubled by the number of seminarians I knew over twenty-five years who arrived at seminary “in recovery” and graduated persuaded that they were really healthy social drinkers. Not a few train wrecks have ensued over the years.

Starting in 2010, I bought numerous copies of So You Think You Don’t Know One? Addicition and Recovery in Clergy and Congregations by Nancy Van Dyke Platt and Bishop Chilton R. Knudsen, and gave them as gifts to all of my seminary students. The book is full of wisdom and superb case studies that are diverse enough to engage almost anyone’s awareness or imagination. These days, I hand out copies to parishioners from time to time as well.

I am convinced that at this tragic time in the life of the Diocese of Maryland, and the Episcopal Church, we are called yet again to come out of the darkness and the silence which still surrounds alcohol and addictions. Perhaps some brave souls will shed their anonymity, though that can be a serious career risk for clergy. Perhaps more of us can raise these concerns in our teaching and preaching. Perhaps we can draw on the expertise of professionals in the fields of alcohol and addictions, some of whom are present in our parishes or communities. In the early days of the AIDS Crisis, one of the activist groups had the slogan: Silence = Death. Indeed it does!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 10, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook will be charged with manslaughter in the fatal crash that killed cyclist Thomas Palermo, new state's attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced Friday morning.
lRelated Episcopal leaders awaiting details of case involving bishop involved in fatal accident

Cook will face charges of leaving the scene of a fatal accident; driving under the influence and causing an accident due to texting while driving. Both the manslaughter and leaving the scene charge carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

A warrant will be issued for Cook's arrest, prosecutors said.

Read it all.

Update: the diocese of Maryland has issued a statement on today's news.

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

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSportsTravelUrban/City Life and Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology


Posted January 9, 2015 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England's Buildings Division has backed a plan to fit all of the C of E's 16,000 churches with WiFi internet access.

The director of the Cathedral and Churches Buildings Division, Janet Gough, said in a statement on Tuesday that the Church was ideally placed to build up a national network.

"We will be talking with those involved to explore how to build on the existing projects, such as the diocese of Norwich's WiSpire programme, and the provision of free WiFi for all visitors at individual cathedrals such as Chester, Canterbury, Ely, and Liverpool, to link up and expand WiFi coverage countrywide."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHistoryReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 9, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Diocese of Winchester retains oversight of Church of England legal matters in the Channel Islands, despite the islands splitting from it.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, ended a 500-year-old relationship when he moved the from Winchester to his own diocese in 2014.

Details of the interim arrangement have now been released.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistory* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 9, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But last Sunday, sitting and trying to be unobtrusive on the back row of the circle of chairs at House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver and watching the eclectic crowd gathering around the central altar, I thought of another thing I might say to pastors and churches about offering a welcome.

Apart from any specific programming or practice that a church might implement in order to be more hospitable to LGBT people, I think I’d suggest that churches would simply do well to ask themselves: Do we want—do we really want—queer people walking through our doors and sitting in our pews and sharing in our post-service potlucks? Are we asking about how to welcome them because we feel that we must, or is it that we really do want these people among us because they’re our neighbors and friends?

I watched Nadia on Sunday walking around the room greeting people who were there. I saw her giving long, tight hugs, high fives, and warm smiles to dozens of folks, lingering to talk with them and (it appeared) hear their stories and concerns from the past week. I watched her during the ten-minute interlude after her sermon, as she cradled one of the infants of the congregation on the edge of the room. And my main impression was, This woman just likes this ragtag bunch of people here. She liked them. She was happy to be with that crew. And they, in turn, seemed happy to be in her company. They seemed to want to talk a bit longer with her, and they didn’t resist those hugs and high fives at all.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 8, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Three local village churches celebrated a special milestone on Sunday 4th January, as they came together to congratulate their vicar on ten years of service to the community.

St John’s in Peasedown and St Julian’s in Wellow are part of the St J’s Group of Anglican Churches, which have been led by Revd Matthew Street since he took up the posts of ‘Rector’ and ‘Priest-in-Charge’ in 2005.

The united parish of St Julian’s Shoscombe and James’ Foxcote are also part of the group – having joined after a Church of England clergy reorganisation in 2010.

Matthew, along with his wife Jane and their daughter Hannah, moved to the Peasedown Vicarage in Church Road after a short stint as curate at Holy Trinity Church in Combe Down, Bath.

Read it all.

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

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Posted January 8, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On a typical Sunday, the pews in Trinity Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. are almost full. But a few months ago, the large stone church with stained glass windows in northwest Washington, D.C. began looking rather empty. Roughly a quarter of the congregation — 50 people — had stopped showing up.

At first, [the] Rev. John Harmon, the head of the church, wasn't sure what was going on. Then he started getting phone calls from parishioners. "Some folks called to say, I'm not coming to church because I don't know who's traveling [to West Africa]," Harmon says.

The congregation at Trinity is an international crowd. More than 20 countries are represented, including several in West Africa. Reverend Harmon himself was born in Liberia before moving to the U.S. in 1982, when he was 18.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaLiberia* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 7, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In summary, the rationale behind the PMM is:

funeral services of suicides conducted by Church of England clergy may be in contravention of Canon B38; and
removing this canonical bar [on the use of “the rites of the Church of England” in these circumstances] “would send a very positive message to society at large, particularly if presented in the context that it was actually recognising current practice.”

Not quite the “legalization of suicide” or a “U-turn on funerals” of the headline; essentially an alignment of canon law with current custom and practice that will have little perceptible impact on the families of those involved. If clergy adherence to canon law were a major concern to the Church, infractions such as these are not necessarily the place at which one would start. As the Revd Gavin Foster has observed[1]:

“the requirements of Canon Law were perceived by clergy to be distant, ‘other’, far away and irrelevant to the everyday life of the Church. [Anglican] clergy seemed to be only vaguely aware of the requirements of canon law and would frequently (and quite often knowingly) breach them.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologySuicideReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

9 Comments
Posted January 7, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Paula Smalley was hurt in a hit and run accident during the busy holiday season in the last couple of weeks. We are admirers of the ministry of the parish of which they are a part and her husband, Craig, is a former member of the diocese of South Carolina and known to many here. You can see a picture of the whole Smalley clan and offer your own thoughts if you wish there.

I will quote here Craig's recent facebook post: "Friends, a note to say that though we are consumed with the work of rehab and recovery, and not able to respond sufficiently, we are wonderfully overwhelmed with the love, care, and encouragement from so many. We feel much like Wayne and Garth, "we're not worthy," but we are grateful."

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPastoral CareSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenMarriage & FamilyTravel* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 6, 2015 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We could honestly and accurately describe it as a mystagogy of marriage. He wants us to move from the icon to the reality. Still, he insists that we must also learn to venerate the icon. “Learn the power of the type,” he says, “so that you may learn the strength of the truth.”

It is important for us to realize that John’s mature doctrine of marriage is almost unique in ancient Christianity. His contemporaries tended to look upon marriage as an institution that was passing away, as more and more Christians turned to celibacy. The best thing Jerome could say about marriage was that it produced future celibates. In Antioch in John’s day, there were 3,000 consecrated virgins and widows in a city of perhaps 250,000, and that number does not include the celibate men in brotherhoods or the hermits who filled the nearby mountains.

Yet John glorified marriage. It pained him that Christian couples continued to practice the old, obscene pagan wedding customs. So shameful were these practices that few couples dared to invite their parish priest to attend and give a blessing.

“Is the wedding then a theater?” he told them in a sermon. “It is a sacrament, a mystery, and a model of the Church of Christ. . . . They dance at pagan ceremonies; but at ours, silence and decorum should prevail, respect and modesty. Here a great mystery is accomplished.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 5, 2015 at 3:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr. Seitz, one of the pledge’s authors, said that as an academic he does not “do the kind of weddings on a regular basis as someone whose full-time job” is in the clergy. And many of those who have signed his pledge appear to be laypeople, or women in traditions in which women do not perform weddings. Like them, he is mostly an observer, and one of his observations is that we are in “a funny time.”

If marriage moves toward becoming just “a contract between two people, the state can take care of that,” Dr. Seitz said. “And it makes a lot of sense — property, custody of children.” But he believes that marriage needs more, and that the state may be weakening, rather than enhancing, the customs and mores that uphold the institution.

Dr. Radner, the pledge’s other author, is on sabbatical in France, which has long separated religious marriage from civil marriage. Seeing the separation up close has only made him more of a fan.

“Just living here made me realize that the church can function rather well,” he said, “and also avoid some of the conflict that we seem to get all embroiled in in the U.S. over sexuality matters, by being somewhat disentangled, practically, from the civil marriage system.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologySeminary / Theological Education

2 Comments
Posted January 5, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England is embroiled in a row over proposals to sweep away laws that forbid a full Christian funeral to people who have taken their own lives.

Most clergy now regard suicide with far more sympathy than when ‘self murder’ was still a crime, and the move will be seen as reflecting a growing acceptance as more Britons choose to end their lives in clinics such as Dignitas in Switzerland.

But some critics within the Church say the reforms will ‘legalise’ suicide, which should still be regarded a serious sin.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologySuicide* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 5, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Allan Edwards is the pastor of Kiski Valley Presbyterian Church in western Pennsylvania, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America. He's attracted to men, but considers acting on that attraction a sin. Accordingly, Edwards has chosen not to act on it.

"I think we all have part of our desires that we choose not to act on, right?" he says. "So for me, it's not just that the religion was important to me, but communion with a God who loves me, who accepts me right where I am."

Where he is now is married. He and his wife, Leanne Edwards, are joyfully expecting a baby in July.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 4, 2015 at 12:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The death of a church isn’t an easy subject, particularly to those who are losing their spiritual home.

But it is something being talked about more and more as church closings are becoming an increasingly regular occurrence — some estimates are nine a day in the United States.

The trend took on a very high profile Dec. 28 when Baptist author and pastor Rick Warren gave the final sermon at Mars Hill Church, the Seattle-based megachurch that dissolved after Mark Driscoll, its lead pastor of 20 years, resigned amid church discipline and leadership issues.

In a pre-recorded video beamed to Mars Hill’s numerous campuses, Warren urged members of the dissolving church to be gracious and forgiving to Driscoll and other church leaders during their grief. He urged an avoidance of bitterness and gossip, and an embrace of forgiveness and gratitude.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 2, 2015 at 4:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Everyone in the Netherlands, where a right-to-die law was passed in 2002, seems to know of someone who has lost a loved one through a mercy killing.

As many as one in 33 people now use euthanasia to end their lives, and the number of cases rose from 1,923 in 2006 to nearly 5,000 in 2013. It is thought that in 2014 around 6,000 people could have chosen to die by this means.

You might be entitled to think that what people do in Holland is their business and nothing to do with us in Britain. But you could not be more wrong.

If campaigners have their way, the law will be changed here, too, to allow those who wish to end their life to do so at a time of their choosing. For opponents of euthanasia, this raises grave moral questions, as well as concerns that unscrupulous relatives might take advantage of elderly family members — whose estates they might covet — by encouraging them to end their lives.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeThe Netherlands* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 2, 2015 at 2:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For me, moral injury describes my disillusionment, the erosion of my sense of place in the world. The spiritual and emotional foundations of the world disappeared and made it impossible for me to sleep the sleep of the just. Even though I was part of a war that was much bigger than me, I still feel personally responsible for its consequences. I have a feeling of intense betrayal, and the betrayer and betrayed are the same person: my very self.

Calling my experience “disillusionment” does not describe how I feel about those with whom I shared military ser­vice. Nor have I become disillusioned with the ability and dedication of the U.S. military to meet specifically identified objectives.

What began to erode for me in Iraq in 2004 was my perception of good and evil. What I lost was a world that makes moral sense.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 2, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When many religious orders were founded centuries ago during the Middle Ages, agriculture was more than a way of life; it was a way of survival. Monasteries were self-sustaining, growing the food they ate. While farming has become less common as society has urbanized, Schortemeyer says the abbey's farm is more than just a quaint business. Other sisters have questioned the ranch's value, but Schortemeyer says it keeps the sisters connected to the outside world.

"When our neighbors are suffering from drought or suffering from flooding, we can totally relate to them. We're not above and beyond. ... It's good to be at the mercy of the environment, and so that other people know we don't live some ethereal life," she says.

Benedictine monasteries, with orders like the Trappists and Cistercians, use the motto Ora et Labora, meaning prayer and work. That motto doesn't represent separate ideas to the sisters. All day long, prayer and work are intertwined.

"Praying with the scriptures is like chewing your cud," Schortemeyer says. "So all through the day, we're ruminating on it. We chew, chew, chew, swallow, regurgitate. So it's not just 'the Lord is my shepherd,' it's 'the Lord is my cowboy.' "

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* General InterestAnimals* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted December 24, 2014 at 7:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Archbp Fred] Hiltz also met with Nigel Stock, the bishop at Lambeth, about when and what the next primates’ meeting would look like. Hiltz said that although Welby had invited all primates to indicate support for a meeting, it was unlikely that there would be one before the end of 2015. The primates last met in 2011.

Hiltz also expressed hope that the next primates’ meeting would not be dominated by a single issue. “If we’re going to have a primates’ meeting, we need not ignore the same-sex marriage stuff, but we ought not to allow it to dominate,” he said. “The Archbishop himself said he wants to focus on prayer, evangelism and reconciliation.”

Another significant point of conversation was around the possibility of an Anglican Congress. “I think an Anglican Congress would be a great thing,” said Hiltz. “A Congress that was focussed around the church in and for the world could make for some very interesting conversations.” Although such a Congress would take some time to plan, Hiltz was optimistic about the effects it could have. He noted that the Anglican Consultative Council would have to be the driving force behind it. “It would take a lot of careful planning,” he said, “but I think it is time.” The last Anglican Congress was held in Toronto in 1963.
- See more at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/hiltz-and-welby-discuss-marriage-canon-reconciliation#sthash.VXWT2mYW.dpuf
Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of CanadaSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryCanadaEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

8 Comments
Posted December 23, 2014 at 7:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis issued a blistering critique Monday of the Vatican bureaucracy that serves him, denouncing how some people lust for power at all costs, live hypocritical double lives and suffer from "spiritual Alzheimer's" that has made them forget they're supposed to be joyful men of God.

Francis' Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was no joyful exchange of holiday good wishes. Rather, it was a sobering catalog of 15 sins of the Curia that Francis said he hoped would be atoned for and cured in the New Year.

He had some zingers: How the "terrorism of gossip" can "kill the reputation of our colleagues and brothers in cold blood." How cliques can "enslave their members and become a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body" and eventually kill it by "friendly fire." About how those living hypocritical double lives are "typical of mediocre and progressive spiritual emptiness that no academic degree can fill."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

3 Comments
Posted December 22, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all (HT: Anglican Journal).

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Eight hours of continuous, unmedicated sleep is one of life’s great pleasures. Actually, scratch “unmedicated.”

--There are no grown-ups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.

--There are no soul mates. Not in the traditional sense, at least. In my 20s someone told me that each person has not one but 30 soul mates walking the earth. (“Yes,” said a colleague, when I informed him of this, “and I’m trying to sleep with all of them.”) In fact, “soul mate” isn’t a pre-existing condition. It’s an earned title. They’re made over time.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMiddle AgePsychology* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 17, 2014 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was the end of his sixth deployment, with barely a month left, the last mission at hand. And nothing was going right.

The best man in his wedding, a man he'd served with since entering the Marines, was hit by an explosive device, burning the man's entire body and claiming three of his limbs.

Then, a helicopter crash killed two American servicemen and several Afghan forces.

Last came the ambush.

Read it all and you can find more about Operation Homefront there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 15, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

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

(KNOCKING)

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Health officials in Sierra Leone have discovered scores of bodies in a remote diamond-mining area, raising fears that the scale of the Ebola outbreak may have been underreported.

The World Health Organization said they uncovered a "grim scene" in the eastern district of Kono.

A WHO response team had been sent to Kono to investigate a sharp rise in Ebola cases.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSierra Leone* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 11, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Antipsychotic drugs have helped many people with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. But for older people with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, they can be deadly. The Food and Drug Administration has given these drugs a black box warning, saying they can increase the risk of heart failure, infections and death. Yet almost 300,000 nursing home residents still get them.

So in 2012, the federal government started a campaign to get nursing homes to reduce their use of these drugs. But an NPR analysis of government data shows that the government rarely penalizes nursing homes when they don't get with the program.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & Medicine* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 9, 2014 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read or watch it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new $10 million addition to the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center will enhance the ongoing clinical research that scientists here are able to conduct for veterans with mental health needs. The hospital in Charleston treats almost 60,000 patients every year.

Nearly a third require mental health services.

The majority of them are Vietnam-era veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, more commonly called PTSD.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 8, 2014 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Doug] Williams remembered telling Donnell: “You’ve got all kinds of ability. That little girl right there, you can find a way to feed her and make sure she goes to college, but there’s a price you’ve got to pay. Even when you don’t want to work, you’ve got to work.”

As Donnell intensified his drills and added muscle to his lanky frame, Davis also monitored his progress. Delana did everything she could to support them, working two part-time jobs and drawing money from a trust fund her deceased mother had left. Their needs were many; job opportunities were few in their hometown, Ruston, La.

“He never gave up,” Delana said of Donnell. “He was like: ‘I’m going to the league. That’s what I’m going to do.’ He kept working out consistently, just as if football was still on.”

Donnell finally agreed to seek part-time employment and applied to be a driver for Pizza Hut. He never delivered a single pie.

At Davis’s urging, the Giants signed Donnell on March 13, 2012. He spent his first season on the practice squad and competed primarily on special teams last year. He has broken out this season with 51 catches for 516 yards and a team-leading six touchdown receptions.

Donnell, 26, smiled broadly after a recent practice as he reflected on the uncommon path he and his young family had taken.

“My whole career, nothing has been golden,” he said. “Nothing has been paved out. I’ve always had to work for it, which is not a bad thing. My mom always told me, ‘What the Lord has for you, nobody can take from you.’ I believed in that.”

Read it all.




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Posted December 7, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs. Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without Church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without contrition. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the Cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows Him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of His son: 'ye were bought at a price,' and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon His Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered Him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.


--Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

1 Comments
Posted December 7, 2014 at 12:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He had not been surprised by the differences he found, which mostly arose from the diversity of very different cultures. He admitted that he disagreed “profoundly” with some of their views. The Church of Nigeria and the Episcopal Church in the United States are polar opposites, and the Archbishop was circumspect in speaking of both. He voiced his respect for the way that the Nigerians were coping with the pressures they were facing, especially the challenges of violence and corruption. They, and also the church in Pakistan, faced issues that would “buckle any other church”.

And although the church in America almost provoked an open schism with the consecration of an openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003, Welby said his visit had been something of a breakthrough. “It was a real gift in terms of communication. At least there was understanding why we disagreed with each other when we disagreed, rather than simply disagreeing and not understanding each other.” But he added: “The situation there is complicated, to put it mildly.”

Learning to disagree without hatred has been a theme of the Archbishop’s ministry. He argues that “good disagreement” is vital (although some churches did not accept that). He did not want to see the same level of bitterness that had characterised some disputes in the past. There had been a danger, he admitted, of parts of the Anglican Communion drifting into that.

Read it all (requires subscription)

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of NigeriaEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 6, 2014 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you think the fight against Ebola is going well, here's a grim new number: 537.

That's how many new infections were reported in Sierra Leone in the past week. It's the highest weekly tally in any country since the West African outbreak began.

International governments and aid groups have scrambled to open Ebola treatment centers in the country. But, because of safety concerns, many of these centers are accepting only a fraction of the number of patients they were built to serve.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAfricaSierra Leone* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 5, 2014 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The bills arrive as regularly as a heartbeat at the Vories’s cozy bi-level brick house just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. It’s the paychecks that are irregular.

These days, Alex Vories, 37, is delivering pizzas for LaRosa’s, though he has to use his parents’ car since he wrecked his own 1997 Nissan van on a rainy day last month. In the spring and autumn, he had managed to snag several weeks of seasonal work with the Internal Revenue Service, sorting tax returns for $14 an hour. But otherwise the family had to make do with the $350 a week his wife, Erica, brought home from her job as a mail clerk for the I.R.S.

“We just kind of wing it every month,” said Mr. Vories, whose unemployment benefits ran out at the end of 2013, 10 months after he lost his job answering phones at Fidelity Investments. Ever since, the family’s income has bounced up and down from one week to the next, like the basketball he and his two sons play with in their driveway, next to the Kentucky Wildcats pennant planted in their front yard.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read (or listen to) it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

he local headmaster - now out of work because the schools are closed - has become a fervent anti-Ebola campaigner and social mobiliser.

But Godfrey Kamara is finding it almost impossible to change the community's behaviour.

"It's not working. When they're quarantined people should stay around and have security. And they still wash the dead," said Mr Kamara, accusing Ms Bangura's family of doing just that.

"They washed her body before calling 117. I know it. They shouldn't do that. I tell everyone they shouldn't wash the body but they still don't believe Ebola kills...."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSierra Leone* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 2, 2014 at 8:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A North Charleston police officer yelled for those at gunpoint inside a mobile home to flee outside to safety as one woman begged the gunman not to shoot a young mother protecting five of her children.

Another woman outside pleaded with police to do something before it was too late. A gunshot rang out, then another, children screamed, and it was over.

Zakiya Lawson, a 34-year-old mother of seven, and her ex-live-in boyfriend Peter Centel Williams, a 27-year-old felon, died inside the Thoroughbred Drive trailer.

Could that murder and suicide have been stopped before it came to that chilling end? Were warning signs present for someone to spot and head-off this ending? Those are the questions a newly formed group of police, prosecutors, counselors, victims advocates and social service workers want to know if they can answer. They have organized the first domestic violence fatality review team in South Carolina to help stem the murderous tide that has left the state one of the nation's most deadly for women at the hands of men.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMarriage & FamilyMenSexualityViolenceWomen* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 2, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The sea is a dangerous way to enter Europe. Nearly 3,000 people have died crossing the Mediterranean this year. Those rescued by the Chios Coast Guard arrive to a bare-bones shelter with no toilet, shower or running water. There, I visit Joud al-Bakri, an 18-year-old aspiring pilot from Aleppo. She sits on the floor of a wooden shack the size of a bedroom.

How many people are in this little house here?

JOUD AL-BAKRI: I guess 20.

KAKISSIS: Twenty.

AL-BAKRI: Maybe, yeah.

KAKISSIS: Is it comfortable?

AL-BAKRI: No, it's not. Actually, when you're sleeping, you just can't move.

KAKISSIS: The shack is crowded. Everyone sleeps on the floor.

AL-BAKRI: It's really hard even to sleep here without anything. And some people are sleeping outside, which is freezing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGreeceMiddle EastSyria* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 1, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sometime in 2010, I became flaccid in my soul. What I mean is that I began to think I had some entitlements before God. I told God, “Hey, I am so tired. Can I take a break? I am not going to do anything very wrong, I just think that I deserve to have the opportunity to back off.” Progressively, I became spiritually lazy. Then I broke into a sudden depression that made me understand what Angie went though before the bullet went through her. I thought that the depression would leave, and I would learn my lesson. You know, so I could relate to others. Well, the depression has never really left. I know better how to deal with it, but it is still there. More and more, I backed out of things. You know . . . the entitlements I had. But these entitlements were slowly turning me into someone else.

I love God. However, He and I have a complicated relationship. My greatest prayer is that He shapes me into someone who glorifies Him and I continue to have hope for this from time to time. But, as I backed out of involvement in church (entitlement), became lazy (entitlement), quit working on my marriage (entitlement), picked up the smoking habit again (entitlement), and stopped investing so much in my kids life (entitlement), these actions only served to hurt my soul more deeply, and placed hope further and further out of reach. It was as if there is/was a part of my mind that needed to rebel and give God the middle finger for putting me through so much. “You are going to do this to me, huh? Well, how about I do this to You?”

Who I am today is someone who needs to hope again. I realized this as I was, of all things, watching the latest X-Men. You know, when Professor Xavier goes back in time and talks to his younger disenchanted self? He says, “We need you to hope again.” It struck me at that moment that this was me. I needed to hope again.

Read it all (also used in today's Sunday school class).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologySuicide* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 30, 2014 at 1:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The number of people killed by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has risen to 6,928, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says.

The toll has increased by over 1,000 since the WHO's last report on Wednesday, but it includes unreported deaths from earlier in the outbreak.

Experts say the infection rate is more significant that the death toll, as it reflects how the virus is spreading.

Infection rates are decreasing in Liberia, but are high in Sierra Leone.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaGuineaLiberiaSierra Leone* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 30, 2014 at 12:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The pastor of a Sacramento megachurch had already raised the money he sought for a program to provide food and shelter to the homeless. But Rick Cole, who began the fundraiser with a stunt where he would live on the streets, couldn't leave after only a few days. So, he spent the next two weeks living life as the homeless do — and the experience opened his eyes.

"I've walked past people that stay in some of the places of homelessness. And really almost not even noticed them, not considered their plight and what's going on in their life. Now I was living among them," Cole told NBC News.

Unrecognized by his new neighbors, the 57-year-old pastor spent his days looking for food and worrying about where he'd sleep at night. He didn't preach he didn't proselytize. He just listened. "I think I began to experience how people ignore others. I became the one ignored. People walked by me like I didn't exist."

Read it all or watch the video.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPovertyUrban/City Life and Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 30, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The pastor’s phone rang in the midnight darkness. A man’s voice rasped: “My wife left me and I’ve got a shotgun in my mouth. Give me one reason why I shouldn’t pull the trigger.”

The Rev. Matt Brogli, a Southern Baptist pastor scarcely six months into his first job, was unnerved. Gamely, he prayed with the anonymous caller, trying out “every platitude I could possibly think of.”

Eventually the stranger assured Mr. Brogli that he would be all right. But the young pastor was shaken.

“I was in over my head,” he recalled. “I thought being a pastor meant giving sermons, loving my congregation, doing marriages and funerals, and some marital counseling.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchPsychologyMental IllnessReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted November 30, 2014 at 4:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...against this backdrop of racial discord and ongoing black despair, in a place where hope can be hard to find for a young black man, Jamal Brown is part of a new story, a small but promising case study of possibility: It is about his black inner-city high school football team and their white Canadian football coach.

“This is the most positive story that is out there,” says Joe Winslow, a black man born and raised on the South Side, and an assistant with the Wendell Phillips Wildcats. “This is what can happen when people come together.

“This is a white head coach in a black neighbourhood — and it ain’t predominantly black — it’s black, where there are still gangs running certain neighbourhoods and running certain blocks, and where there are still kids getting jumped because they are wearing Phillips hoodies.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationRace/Race RelationsSportsTeens / Youth* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 29, 2014 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nightmares of a friend dying beside him in a bunker years ago now waken Donald Vitkus. “There is stuff that you carry from the war,” the 71-year-old Vietnam veteran said.

Mr. Vitkus spends his days in and out of therapy at a residential rehabilitation center filled with mostly older veterans, working on his memory while trying to gain control over disturbing recollections and the emotions they surface.

He is one of hundreds of thousands of aging Vietnam veterans who late in life are now seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder—a mix of flashbacks, depression and sleeplessness springing from a war that ended four decades ago.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineHistoryMarriage & FamilyMilitary / Armed ForcesPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 29, 2014 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In November a third American was beheaded by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has taken control of parts of those two countries. Peter Kassig was captured in Syria, where he was working as a volunteer medical assistant, trying to address what a top United Nations official has called “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era.”

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as many as 13.6 million people have been displaced by the conflict in Iraq and by civil war in Syria. Over 3 million Syrian refugees are now encamped in the neighboring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Nearly 2 million Iraqis have been displaced this year.

The refugees put a huge burden on their host countries. Lebanon, a country of 4 million, has over 1 million registered refugees. With winter approaching, these refugees face bleak prospects. Their plight is exacerbated, the UNHCR claims, by an underfunded relief effort, which faces a shortfall of $58 million. The charity Oxfam charges the United States with negligence in supporting refugee efforts, claiming that it has contributed only 60 percent of its fair share.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 29, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s Sunday afternoon, and Dr. Jayme Locke, director of the Incompatible Kidney Transplant Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center, is preparing for a marathon.

“We are going to be doing 14 operations this week,” she said, checking in on her patients.

Sprinkled among the rooms up on the eighth floor are patients waiting to receive the gift of life -- a new kidney. Also among the patients are the living donors bearing those gifts, people who are willingly giving up one of their two kidneys to help a stranger.

“We are anxious, all of us are, to hear the story of our recipient,” said Pastor Derek Lambert, one of the donors. “I don’t know if this is perhaps a young mother who’s feared leaving her kids, or a young man who is unable to provide for the needs of his family and this would give these types of individuals a new lease on life.”

Read it all or watch the video.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 28, 2014 at 11:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

People in the early twenty-first century seem to struggle to be thankful. One moving story on this topic concerns a seminary student in Evanston, Illinois, who was part of a life-saving squad. On September 8, 1860, a ship called the Lady Elgin went aground on the shore of Lake Michigan near Evanston, and Edward Spencer waded again and again into the frigid waters to rescue 17 passengers. In the process, his health was permanently damaged. Some years later he died in California at the age of 81. In a newspaper notice of his death, it was said that not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.

Today is a day in which we are to be reminded of our creatureliness, our frailty, and our dependence. One of the clearest ways we may express this is to seek to give thanks in all circumstances (Philippians 4:6).

I am sure today you can find much for which to give thanks: the gift of life, the gift of faith, the joy of friends and family, all those serving in the mission field extending the reach of the gospel around the world, and so much else. I also invite you to consider taking a moment at some point today to write a note of thanksgiving to someone who really made a difference in your life: possibly a teacher, a coach, a mentor, a minister or a parent. You might even write to the parish secretary, the sexton, or the music minister in the parish where you worship; they work very hard behind the scenes.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall S. Harmon is the convenor of this blog and takes another opportunity this morning to give thanks for all blog readers and participants and to wish everyone a blessed Thanksgiving

Filed under: * By Kendall* Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet* TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

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Posted November 28, 2014 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

African church leaders, theologians and health professionals have drawn up a road map they hope might help ease stigma and educate faith communities in the fight against Ebola.

The virus has killed more than 5,000 so far and has been declared a global security threat by the U.N.

The road map, drawn at a three-day conference that ended Wednesday (Nov. 26) in Nairobi and was attended by 70 religious and health care leaders, highlights the role faith groups can play as part of the global response, according to church leaders.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfrica* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 26, 2014 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We are witnessing that the state has no business in recreating marriage, but the state does have a responsibility to safeguard children, by holding mothers and fathers to their vows to each other and to the next generation.

In this sense, we are acting much as Jesus did when he was asked about the payment of the temple tax. Jesus believed himself and his disciples to be heirs of the kingdom and thus free from this obligation. Nonetheless, he paid the half-shekel “so as not to give offense to them” (Matt. 17:27).

If the state ever attempts to force us to call marriage that which is not marriage in our churches and ceremonies, let’s obey God, even if that means we sing our wedding hymns in the prison block. But, for now, by registering Gospel-qualified unions as civil marriages and not officiating at unions that are not Gospel-qualified, we call the government to its responsibility even as we call attention to its limits.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 26, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson will further divide our communities and saddens us as leaders of nearly three dozen of our region’s congregations, faith and ethical communities.

Frustrated youth and law enforcement officials worship together within our doors. Our Clergy Caucus is called to consecrate the streets of St. Louis as safe places for all our citizens, and in particular our black and brown children and brothers and sisters. We are called to discern and name all systems, institutions, and processes that dehumanize black and brown people and that distort the purposes of justice, peace, and equality that we believe God intends for this region.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 26, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I implore each of you: Choose peace! Reject any false and empty hope that violence will solve problems. Violence only creates more violence. Let’s work for a better, stronger, more holy community— one founded upon respect for each other, respect for life, and our shared responsibility for the common good.

In 1979, Saint John Paul II visited the war-torn and weary nation of Ireland to decry years of violence. “Violence is evil…” the pope said. “Violence is unacceptable as a solution to problems.” How true this saint’s words are. He didn’t merely condemn violence; he also aptly described the depravity of violent behavior by saying:

“Violence is unworthy of man. Violence is a lie, for it goes against the truth of our faith, the truth of our humanity. Violence destroys what it claims to defend: the dignity, the life, the freedom of human beings. Violence is a crime against humanity, for it destroys the very fabric of society.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 26, 2014 at 5:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Does the call for Christians to separate matrimony from government marriage mean we’re retreating from the public square? Damon Linker thinks so. He calls it an “unprecedented retreat of theologically conservative churches from engagement in American public life.”

That’s exactly wrong.

If the Marriage Pledge is a retreat, it’s a retreat from this: the illusion that the Christian view of marriage can comfortably accommodate a definition of marriage that has strayed so far from revelation and reason that it now allows men to marry men and women to marry women. We all have to live with the reality of the sexual revolution, but Christians cannot make peace with it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 25, 2014 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As St. Louis-area clergy urge a nonviolent response to a grand jury’s decision about whether to charge a white police officer in the killing of an unarmed black teenager, they’re re-evaluating their role in the struggle over race relations.

Religious leaders have become complacent in the decades since the civil-rights movement ended legal segregation, said Carl Smith Sr., 59, pastor at New Beginning Missionary Baptist in Woodson Terrace, Missouri. The August shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson and the weeks of unrest that followed awakened people of the cloth, he said. A decision on charges that could come any day and the prospect of renewed violence have forced religious leaders to the forefront and, for some, into a period of introspection.

“We have stopped doing what we were supposed to do,” Smith said in an interview after an interfaith service Nov. 22 in St. Louis. “We have stayed confined to our four walls, instead of coming outside of these four walls.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 24, 2014 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Europe weary with disorientation. And I don't want to be a pessimist, but let's tell the truth: after food, clothing, and medicine, what are the most important expenditures? Cosmetics, and I don't know how to say this in Italian, but the “mascotas,” the little animals. They don't have children, but their affection goes to the little cat, to the little dog. And this is the second expenditure after the three main ones. The third is the whole industry to promote sexual pleasure. So it’s food, medicine, clothing, cosmetics, little animals, and the life of pleasure. Our young people feel this, they see this, they live this.

I liked very much what His Eminence said, because this is truly the drama of Europe today. But it's not the end. I believe that Europe has many resources for going forward. It's like a sickness that Europe has today. A wound. And the greatest resource is the person of Jesus. Europe, return to Jesus! Return to that Jesus whom you have said was not in your roots! And this is the work of the pastors: to preach Jesus in the midst of these wounds. I have spoken of only a few, but there are tremendous wounds. To preach Jesus. And I ask you this: don't be ashamed to proclaim Jesus Christ risen who has redeemed us all. And for us too that the Lord may not rebuke us, as today in the Gospel of Luke he rebuked these two cities.

The Lord wants to save us. I believe this. This is our mission: to proclaim Jesus Christ, without shame. And he is ready to open the doors of his heart, because he manifests his omnipotence above all in mercy and forgiveness. Let's go forward with preaching. Let's not be ashamed. So many ways of preaching, but to mama Europe - or grandma Europe, or wounded Europe - only Jesus Christ can speak a word of salvation today. Only he can open a door of escape.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriology

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Posted November 24, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Take the time to watch it all (about 16-19 minutes).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recently, I played the role of father of the bride for the first time in my life. It was a life-changing event for me; I barely survived. I suspect it was an important day for my daughter too; she was quite animated and very interested in every detail. Months of planning and purchasing led steadily to the special day. Flower choices were debated, color schemes considered and rejected, songs chosen, an organist identified, a soloist, a photographer, a videographer, a caterer, a baker, greeters, readers, feeders, eaters—Eisenhower spent less time planning his visit to Normandy. It was the usual, once-in-a-lifetime kind of event in the chapel of the small liberal-arts college where I teach and the betrothed couple met, graduated and learned about lifelong commitment—like the legal obligations inherent in student loans.

Of course, there was the Friday-night rehearsal. My part was easy enough: Walk slowly down the aisle with a beautiful woman on my arm. After two walk-throughs, I was confident I could handle it. Although I had major parts, both onstage in a tuxedo and as the signer of numerous bank drafts, I had only one line, “Her mother and I,” in reply to the query, “Who gives this woman?” I delivered my line at the rehearsal in a strong, confident voice, accompanied by the thought, “I can do this tomorrow.”

But at 3 a.m., I awoke with a panic attack. I could not do this.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 22, 2014 at 1:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read them all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 21, 2014 at 4:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A further step in the Organizational Mediation Process by the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center at the General Theological Seminary took place on Thursday, November 20, with the first meeting of the Logistics Committee via conference call facilitated by Bill Blank, the LMPC Associate Director.

The 14 members of the Logistics Committee represent all stakeholders in the GTS community: current students, staff, faculty, Board of Trustees members, spouses and partners, and alumni. Each member of the committee was appointed by their respective group.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Conflicts* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

2 Comments
Posted November 21, 2014 at 3:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the last few decades, there has been much talk about “Six Degrees of Separation,” which is the idea that any person in the world can be introduced to any other person in the world, by being introduced through our networks of friends. Statisticians have demonstrated that anyone in the US can be introduced to almost anyone else in the US by going through only two or three friends. But as often as we hear such things, it is still amazing when it happens “in real life.”

This week I received a private message on Facebook from a woman I never met. And that was the beginning (or possibly the end) of an unusual series of connections through my life and through social media. To understand the connections that led to this message, let me go back in time to high school.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 21, 2014 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It figures.

Just as churches, seminaries and congregational consultants were wrapping their heads around the concept of “the nones” in religious life, yet another term emerges for yet another category of Americans abandoning the church: “the dones.”

The first group denotes the growing number of Americans with no religion affiliation. “Nones,” which may represent as much as 38 percent of the U.S. population, also are known for generally having had no or very little in the way of religious upbringing.

But sociologists, church historians and congregational coaches have realized for a while that another subset of Americans are answering “none” on surveys about religious affiliations: Those who have grown up in the church and remained active in adulthood — at least until getting tired of church life.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 19, 2014 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If all you need is love, as the Beatles say, perhaps it makes sense that a shrinking share of Americans are even bothering with marriage. In 1960 85% of American adults had been wed at least once; last year just 70% could say the same. Young people are proving particularly reluctant to try: 28% of men aged between 25 and 34 in 2010—and 23% of women—will not yet have tied the knot by 2030, according to estimates from the Pew Research Centre, a think-tank.

There are several reasons for this change in marriage trends. More women are working outside the home, and for fairer pay, so a husband is no longer a meal ticket. And attitudes to cohabitation have shifted: almost a quarter of young adults now live with a partner. Given the exorbitant costs of both weddings and divorces in America, living "in sin" seems increasingly sensible, particularly for the many youngsters who are now drowning in college debt.

But while a larger proportion of Americans are shying away from saying “I do”, those that have done it before remain keen to do it again. Last year 40% of new marriages included at least one partner who had made vows before, according to a new Pew study. Divorced or widowed adults are about as likely to remarry today—57% have done so—as they were in the 1960s. The prospect is certainly more appealing than it ever used to be, as rising divorce rates have yielded a larger pool of possibilities. So In total, 42m adults in America have been married more than once, up from 14m in 1960. “It’s fascinating that among those people eligible to remarry, the share that do has been stable for such a long time,” reckons Gretchen Livingston, one author of the new research.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 18, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The archbishop who distributes charity on behalf of Pope Francis has announced that the public restrooms in St. Peter's Square will include showers where the homeless can wash.

The service will require volunteers and donations of soap, towels and clean underwear, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, told Catholic News Service Nov. 13. "We have to be evangelical, but intelligent, too."

Several people living on the streets of Rome or in tents say it is not difficult to find a parish or charity that will give them something to eat, but finding a place to wash is much more difficult.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePovertyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeItaly* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 16, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States has perfected the art of convenience. For instance, if we don’t want to get out of our car to order food, no problem. We invented the drive-thru, the most iconic of American institutions, where we can sit in the comfort of our car and order food from an unintelligible talking box as we inhale carbon monoxide from the car in front of us. Convenience has become so omnipresent in American society that it is no longer an amenity but a necessity, even a right. When we are robbed of our convenience, we react as if we are being robbed of our property or life.

Rather than standing against this cultural phenomenon, the church often conforms to it. In an admirable but terribly misguided attempt to reach all people, we succumb to our culture’s veneration of convenience. We cram a Sunday service, that blessed celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ, into a single hour or even less. We go to great lengths to minimize any possible inconvenience to church attendees, and in so doing, we communicate to our people that convenience possesses great value. And American Christians have internalized this notion so completely that nowadays people are downright miffed when church goes beyond its time limits, and they have to miss kickoff or tee time or brunch as a result. Convenience has become king, but not just in American society—in American churches as well.

Yet by its nature, Christianity is inconvenient. The story of the Good Samaritan reminds us what true ministry looks like: it requires that we selflessly sacrifice our time, our safety, our money, and, yes, even our convenience, to serve those who are in need. And what more perfect illustration of inconvenience is there than the Incarnation, that God would leave the perfection of heaven to become a man and walk with us through the mess of our lives, even submitting to the most terrible “inconvenience” of all: the crucifixion. Convenience is nothing less than a heresy that runs contrary to some of the most fundamental aspects of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)

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Posted November 16, 2014 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Carlos Whittaker, a prominent evangelical writer and musician, was singing worship songs on stage in 2005 when he suddenly felt like he was having a heart attack and that he would soon die. An audience of 2,000 people watched, and the band played on, as Whittaker left the stage, not knowing that he was having a panic attack.

Though some people still tell Whittaker that his anxiety could be improved if he would just make his faith stronger and pray more, evangelical leaders and grassroots activists are orchestrating a shift in the way the community approaches mental health issues.

“This has nothing to with whether I believe in Jesus,” Whittaker told the Guardian. “This does not have anything to do with whether or not I am reading my Bible or how hard I am praying. I can pray 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and I’m still going to have to take that little white pill every single day.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineMusicPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 15, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The remarkable fall from grace of the evangelical preacher Mark Driscoll could provide case-study materials on public ministry for years to come. The Seattle pastor’s resignation from his megachurch on Oct. 14 and the subsequent dissolution of the church he built had nothing to do with the sort of sordid scandals that in the past brought down preachers such as Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. Mr. Driscoll’s downfall had a great deal to do with the online world that he had seemed to master, a world that made him famous but also exposed what he called in his resignation letter his “pride, anger and a domineering spirit.”

Boosted by live streaming, podcasts and social media, Mr. Driscoll harnessed the Internet to propel his nondenominational ministry beyond Mars Hill, his local congregation. He was known for his muscular, in-your-face style of preaching about Jesus, depicting Christ as more superhero than lamb of God, once declaring: “I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” This aggressive posture, visible online and off, paradoxically made the once “cussin’ pastor” famous but also helped bring down his ministry.

“The same rough edges that can land you in hot water are the very same things that attracted, in some cases, tens of thousands of people to you in the first place,” Mark DeMoss, whom Mars Hill hired to do public relations for six months before Mr. Driscoll’s resignation, told me.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 14, 2014 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Prominent author and pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay recently sat down for an honest and heartfelt discussion about how to fight for an awesome marriage in a society that continually pulls against it.

The couple, who have been married for 39 years, use four seasons to describe different stages of marriage and share tips on how to best draw closer to God and to one another during each seasons.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the past decade or so, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints—usually known as the “Mormon” or “LDS” church—has moved toward greater transparency about its earliest era.

Through the publication of “The Joseph Smith Papers” and new historical essays on the official church website, lds.org, interested readers have been able to learn about the fuzzy period of early Mormonism, the roughly fifteen years from its founding to the settlement in Utah.

Now a new essay, “Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo,” makes frank admissions about the early days of polygamous relations (called “plural marriage” in LDS terminology) at Mormon settlements in Ohio and Illinois.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 13, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to a former editor of Marvel Comics, one reason why the graphic novel has nearly universally eschewed marriage is that it “kills a good story.” Whatever could be exciting about Clark Kent if he were to remain married to Lois Lane? Not much, apparently, because DC Comics erased the 1996 marriage from history, returning Superman to bachelorhood, the preferred state of our superheroes.

Exceptions exist, of course. Amour, The Incredibles, and In America, along with many Tyler Perry films, focus on and celebrate marriage. Recent movies, such as Drinking Buddies, also trace the relation between friendship and romance, and even between friendship and marriage, explored, for example, throughout the Harry Potter franchise.

One marvelous exception is the critically acclaimed television series Friday Night Lights (FNL), which aired from 2006 to 2011. It tells the story of ordinary people in a small Texas town and their impassioned love of football. But, as Basinger notes, FNL is not so much a show about football as it is “a show about how marriage works when it actually does work.” For critics and fans alike, there has arguably never been a more honest marriage portrayed on the screen than that of coach Eric and Tami Taylor.

Theirs, unfortunately, remains the exception. More common on the small and large screen is the sense that marriage, particularly traditional marriage, is dull and irrelevant as storytelling material. More usual is the view that, “as in the days of the judges,” each one does with marriage what seems right in his or her eyes, whether in “open,” “free,” or “transgressive” style.

Read it all.

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

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




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