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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary Canada * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
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.
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 - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Pastoral Theology Seminary / Theological Education
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.
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 Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Media Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Africa * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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-Watch Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Psychology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military War in Afghanistan * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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 Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theodicy
On a Sunday morning in September 2011, Eloise Louis stood on a street corner in Harlem, looking for a church. She was just hours off a plane from her native France, jet-lagged and buzzy with anticipation. An aspiring jazz singer with spiritual yearnings and a self-taught knowledge of civil rights history, she had finally set foot on black America’s hallowed ground.
Just across 116th Street, Ms. Louis noticed worshipers lining up to enter First Corinthian Baptist Church, and she joined the procession. An usher, seeing her white skin and hearing her French accent, directed Ms. Louis into the portion of the balcony set aside for spectators.
“I’m not a tourist,” Ms. Louis pleaded. “I’m here for Jesus.” The usher must have sensed something genuine and desperate in her tone, because he moved her to the front rows of the balcony among the regular congregants. From there, she heard the gospel songs and the preaching, and even with her spotty English, as she recalled, “something touched my heart.”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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 Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Eschatology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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 - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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.
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 Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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-Watch Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Sierra Leone * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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 - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Terrorism * Theology Eschatology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
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 Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General State Government * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Today’s counterculture speaks with the voice of tradition, virtue, and religious commitment. There are now more than thirty LFN student groups from colleges across the United States (and Mexico). They uphold the idea that sex comes after marriage, that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that the natural family is the irreducible foundation of all civil societal associations. Like the ’60s radicals, they refuse to keep quiet. Yet unlike the ’60s radicals, they refuse with civility. They carry themselves with decorum and respect. The manner of their actions corresponds to the content of their ideas: unabashedly witnessing to the truth of marriage, sex, and the family.
I know from personal experience that being countercultural means dealing with insults, contempt, exclusion. My peers prod and jeer, and the authorities regard as troublesome. They act on the underlying cultural assumption at public universities, which is, “You’re innocent until proven conservative.”
When I once said something favorable about traditional marriage, one friend said to me, “Get out of your patriarchal circle,” while another terminated the conversation because my “very existence offends” her. I remember attending a university performance of vignettes whose subject had to do with sex (reflecting the level of wit among my peers), with one skit about students at a school known as “Our Lady of Perpetual Repression.” It felt like some quasi-religious ceremony in which a phantom group of social conservatives were displayed like Guy Fawkes puppets to be burned in effigy.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Marriage & Family Philosophy Poetry & Literature Religion & Culture Sexuality Young Adults * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships Young Adults * Economics, Politics Politics in General State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Seminary / Theological Education Theology: Scripture
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.
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 Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Drugs/Drug Addiction Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
[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.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Sports * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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 Life Church History * International News & Commentary Europe Germany * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Soteriology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
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.
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 - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
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-Watch Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary Africa Sierra Leone * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
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.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Presbyterian Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths) * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
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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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.
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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.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths) * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
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...."
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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.
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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.
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.
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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 Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Psychology Suicide * Theology Anthropology Christology Eschatology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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.
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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.
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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.”
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...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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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
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.
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.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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.
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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.”
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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.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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.”
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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.
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Take the time to watch it all (about 16-19 minutes).
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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.
Read them all.
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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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)
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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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In closing, permit me to highlight three areas of Simeon’s ministry which have greatly challenged me in my reflections and which, if we were to follow them, would have the potential to rejuvenate our ministry.
1 Giving priority to an effective devotional lifestyle, with a commitment to spending ‘quality’ time in Bible study and prayer.
2 A commitment to living a holy life, recognizing the need of the renewing and cleansing power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.
3 That, along with Simeon, our understanding of the purpose of our preaching would be: ‘Sir, we would see Jesus’ (John 12:21).
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The agency of Satan in the affairs of man cannot be doubted by any one who really believes the representations given us in this inspired volume. His great employment from the very first has been to seduce men to sin.
----Charles Simeon, Horae Homileticae MCCLXXVI
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He grew downward in humiliation before God, and he grew upward in his adoration of Christ.
Handley Moule captures the essence of Simeon's secret of longevity in this sentence: "'Before honor is humility,' and he had been 'growing downwards' year by year under the stern discipline of difficulty met in the right way, the way of close and adoring communion with God" (Moule, 64). Those two things were the heartbeat of Simeon's inner life: growing downward in humility and growing upward in adoring communion with God.
But the remarkable thing about humiliation and adoration in the heart of Charles Simeon is that they were inseparable. Simeon was utterly unlike most of us today who think that we should get rid once and for all of feelings of vileness and unworthiness as soon as we can. For him, adoration only grew in the freshly plowed soil of humiliation for sin. So he actually labored to know his true sinfulness and his remaining corruption as a Christian.
I have continually had such a sense of my sinfulness as would sink me into utter despair, if I had not an assured view of the sufficiency and willingness of Christ to save me to the uttermost. And at the same time I had such a sense of my acceptance through Christ as would overset my little bark, if I had not ballast at the bottom sufficient to sink a vessel of no ordinary size. (Moule 134f.)He never lost sight of the need for the heavy ballast of his own humiliation. After he had been a Christian forty years he wrote,
With this sweet hope of ultimate acceptance with God, I have always enjoyed much cheerfulness before men; but I have at the same time laboured incessantly to cultivate the deepest humiliation before God. I have never thought that the circumstance of God's having forgiven me was any reason why I should forgive myself; on the contrary, I have always judged it better to loathe myself the more, in proportion as I was assured that God was pacified towards me (Ezekiel 16:63). . . . There are but two objects that I have ever desired for these forty years to behold; the one is my own vileness; and the other is, the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ: and I have always thought that they should be viewed together; just as Aaron confessed all the sins of all Israel whilst he put them on the head of the scapegoat. The disease did not keep him from applying to the remedy, nor did the remedy keep him from feeling the disease. By this I seek to be, not only humbled and thankful, but humbled in thankfulness, before my God and Saviour continually. (Carus, 518f.)Please do read it all.
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Hostilities ceased in the Korean War more than 50 years ago, yet there are still more than 7,800 U.S. service members unaccounted for in that conflict -- out of 83,165 missing since World War II (most of them from WWII, with 1,639 from the Vietnam War and six in Iraq and related conflicts.)
After five decades, it becomes ever more difficult to find family DNA samples for remains that are recovered.
Still, a flurry of Korean War identifications suggests the Pentagon -- which overhauled its POW/MIA search earlier this year after coming under fire for a money-wasting and uncoordinated operation -- may be trying harder to broaden its approach. A number of the identifications are now made using paternal DNA and/or autosomal DNA as well as maternal (mitochondrial) DNA.
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Liberia lies just north of the equator and is home to part of the last great rainforest in West Africa, where the Ebola virus thrives in tropical, humid conditions.
With their hospitals overwhelmed, special centers for the sick, called Ebola treatment units, are being built as fast as possible. One of them is run by an American relief-group, the International Medical Corps -- where Lara Logan, who is currently self-quarantined for 21 days, reported this story.
To get to the Ebola treatment unit, we traveled north from the Liberian capital along pitted roads toward the border with neighboring Guinea where this outbreak began. American virologist Joseph Fair, who's been here for most of the epidemic, came with us.
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If you haven’t thought much about intersexuality, you’re not alone. Even though approximately 1 in 2,000 people are born with intersex (roughly the same amount as are born with cystic fibrosis or Down’s syndrome) it’s rarely discussed. One of the reasons for this is that doctors have employed a concealment-centered model focused on normalizing—through surgery and medication—the body and often even concealing intersexuality from the patient.
There is also striking lack of agreement among doctors about the precise definition of intersex....
While intersex activists have done an excellent job of re-educating the medical profession about the perils of across-the-board involuntary gender assignment, our cultural commitment to the male/female binary is about the reinforcement of majority rule, tradition, culture, and power. And a great deal of that tradition is about Christianity. According to Genesis, when God created humanity he created “humankind in his image” and “male and female he created them.” The idea that human beings are created in the image of God and divided into two complementary pairs has left a deep impression in our understanding of the world.
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As a kid, Tim Scott badly wanted to fit in with the majority white kids at Stall High School, and the black kids, too. And he didn't want any outward signs of his family's poverty.
A pair of Converse high tops were the ticket.
But his mom said no.
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The Right Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham has taken to BBC Radio today (Sunday 2nd November) to discuss the weeks event relating to safeguarding and his work as the chair of the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Board.
The Bishop was interviewed on the Radio 4 Sunday programme and then directly following that for BBC TEES and BBC Newcastle. Those interviews can be heard via the BBC iPlayer at the links provided here.
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Though it has brought advanced care planning to a remarkable number of people, Respecting Choices has encountered some resistance. Britt Welnetz, the organization’s business development consultant, said that she is often asked whether a nonphysician facilitator can effectively discuss medical decisions. She explains that the standardized, patient-centered conversation leads to an overall level of patient satisfaction.
Others ask if the Respecting Choices model can work in a community that’s more diverse than La Crosse. Research indicates that it can. The Respecting Choices program was implemented in a hospital in Milwaukee, and the use of advance directives among racial and ethnic minorities increased substantially from 25.8 percent to 38.4 percent. Research suggests that it’s knowledge of advance directives, regardless of race and ethnicity, that leads to their use.
The advance care planning facilitator model has gained acceptance both nationally and internationally. Respecting Choices has trained more than 10,000 facilitators, as well as nearly 600 instructors and nearly 30 faculty members who can implement system-wide changes. There are facilitators in 47 states in the United States, and Respecting Choices is the national standard of care in Singapore and Australia; the program is also the model for an $8.5 million European Union study of advance-stage cancer patients and end-of-life care.
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The holy grail for helping youth remain religiously active as young adults has been at home all along: Parents.
Mothers and fathers who practice what they preach and preach what they practice are far and away the major influence related to adolescents keeping the faith into their 20s, according to new findings from a landmark study of youth and religion.
Just 1 percent of teens ages 15 to 17 raised by parents who attached little importance to religion were highly religious in their mid- to late 20s.
In contrast, 82 percent of children raised by parents who talked about faith at home, attached great importance to their beliefs and were active in their congregations were themselves religiously active as young adults, according to data from the latest wave of the National Study of Youth and Religion.
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Entire families navigate their smartphones while sharing meals at restaurants. Students text in class. Parents take phone calls at their children’s sporting events and plays.
It’s no surprise that cellphones affect even church.
It has become common for parishes to place blurbs in their bulletins about silencing cellphones and for lectors to make announcements about it before liturgies, reminding parishioners they’re in a place of worship.
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[As in Martin Luther's time]..today the world seems similarly fearful. We have terror attacks that are incredibly visceral and personal: soldiers being gunned down, humanitarians and journalists being beheaded before a watching world, police officers being attacked by a hatchet. Mass shootings occur at schools and other public gathering places. Terror seems to reign around the world as children are kidnapped and women are raped as instruments of war. Ebola has now infected over 10,000 people and killed about half of that number; globalization means that it is a threat not only to one region of the world but to all regions of an interconnected world. The world is changing fast and people of faith are increasingly wondering if they will be irrelevant in a postmodern era. The world is a fearful place–particularly for those who live outside the privileged borders of wealthy Western democracies.
But is the world really a scarier place than it was in Martin Luther’s day? Frightening things are par for the course in a broken world. As we face up to the fear of violence, death, disease, and even irrelevance and as we face our own personal dark nights of the soul, we can turn to the robust hope that sustained the Reformers. A great musical treasure of the Reformation still speaks to us today. The treasure of which I speak is Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress.” This hymn was written sometime between 1527-1529, but most likely in October of 1527, as the plague was approaching Wittenberg. It can give us hope in the fear we face today, whether the nebulous kind or the kind that comes from actual, real-world threats.
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The "absolute confidentiality" afforded to disclosures made under the seal of confession will be a matter for debate in the General Synod this month.
The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, said last week that he had "every sympathy" with the view, expressed by a survivor who reported abuse to the Cahill Inquiry..., that disclosures that gave rise to safeguarding concerns should not be treated as confidential.
Dr Sentamu told The Times: "If somebody tells you a child has been abused, the confession doesn't seem to me a cloak for hiding that business. How can you really hear a confession about somebody abusing a child and the matter must be sealed up and you mustn't talk about it?
"When a child reports abuse, you have an obligation - a duty - to take the matter to the police. If the person who has done it comes and tells you 'I've abused someone, but I'm in a confessional now,' it needs teasing out. I have listened to those who have been abused, and what I've heard leads me to ask a question: 'Are we really serious about what Jesus said about children or not?'"
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A campaign to tackle domestic violence set up by the Anglican mission agency Us (formerly USPG) has touched the hearts of church-goers in Britain and Ireland.
The campaign focuses on the work of the Anglican Church in Zambia to support women who face violence – but is part of a wider concern of Us to address domestic violence worldwide. According to the UN, up to 70 per cent of women worldwide experience violence at some point in their lifetime.
Churches and church-goers were invited by Us to order and wear friendship bracelets as a reminder to pray for women. In addition, Us invited people to write messages of support for women in Zambia – with hundreds responding. The messages will be distributed among women in Zambia.
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A single friend who recently moved posted a note on her Facebook page: “Was trying out a new church on Sunday when the pastor announced that his November sermon series would be about marriage. ‘And what if you’re not married?’ he asked us. ‘Well, Scripture says “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled.”’
Not the most welcoming way of putting it. “Excuse me?” my friend responded. “In other words, singles, suck it up. Won’t be returning there.”
Most of the responses were supportive, as you’d expect from friends, but several dismissed her concerns or told her, in various ways, to suck it up and stop whining. Other single friends, including widows and single mothers who were single because their loutish husbands left them for Miss Suzy Cupcake, have told me they don’t talk about their struggles because the chances of being dismissed or patronized or even condemned are too high.
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The U.S. health care apparatus is so unprepared and short on resources to deal with the deadly Ebola virus that even small clusters of cases could overwhelm parts of the system, according to an Associated Press review of readiness at hospitals and other components of the emergency medical network.
Experts broadly agree that a widespread outbreak across the country is extremely unlikely, but they also concur that it is impossible to predict with certainty, since previous Ebola epidemics have been confined to remote areas of Africa. And Ebola is not the only possible danger that causes concern; experts say other deadly infectious diseases - ranging from airborne viruses such as SARS, to an unforeseen new strain of the flu, to more exotic plagues like Lassa fever - could crash the health care system.
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ATS, with its accrediting standards, is sometimes seen as an ally to stressed faculty. It is, however, unlikely to use its weight to smooth over bumps in the theological road. A life in ministry isn’t easy, why should a life in the preparation of ministry be any different? In the final analysis you have an emotionally overwrought, often exhausted, highly educated faculty in a state of desperation. By the time the Board steps in Daniel has already finished pronouncing upharsin.
The situation at General is deeply troubling, and it should be for anyone concerned about the academic study of religion. Seminaries are a crucial part of the overall academic mix in the field. I am not privy to the details of what happened at General, and I have little data to assess how it came to this unfortunate climax. I do know that a cast-off seminary professor is no hot commodity in today’s market. And watching the market performance, I’m afraid this commodity is one that is set to be on the increase. The second truism has already settled in: did something happen at some seminary in some large city? Why should we care?
In Post-Christian America it is an stupendous irony that those working for the destruction of church institutions are often those on the inside, and not the dreaded secularists from without.
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Whilst recognizing the well-established place of the ministry of absolution in the life of the CofE, the Council also acknowledged the responsibility of the Church to protect children and vulnerable adults from harm, and the force of the argument that the legal framework of the Church should be such as to enable those who present a risk to children and vulnerable adults to be identified.
The Council therefore decided to commission further theological and legal work to enable it to review, in consultation with the House of Bishops, the purpose and effect of the un-repealed proviso to the Canon of 1603, with a view to enabling the Synod to decide whether it wished to legislate to amend it. At its November meeting, the Council will consider the terms of that review and who should conduct it, with a view to putting their proposals in those respects to the House of Bishops when it meets in December.
On the afternoon of 17 November, General Synod is to debate a motion to take note of the draft Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy, (GS 1970). Responsibility for approving any final version will rest with the Convocations following the ‘take note’ Synod debate.
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In a ruling made public Oct. 27, the denomination’s top court upheld a June decision by a regional appeals committee to reinstate Schaefer’s ministerial credentials, modifying the penalty imposed upon the Pennsylvania pastor after he was found guilty last November of violating church law by performing a same-sex wedding for his son in 2007.
“The Judicial Council upon careful review of the decision of the Northeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals in the matter of the Rev. Frank Schaefer and the questions of law presented by the counsel for the church finds there are no errors in the application of the church law and judicial decisions,” said Decision 1270. “The penalty as modified by the Committee on Appeals stands.”
In its decision, Judicial Council also recognized the fact that “some within the church do not support this outcome today.”
The ruling came during the Judicial Council’s Oct. 22-25 fall meeting in Memphis, Tennessee, and followed an oral hearing on the case. The Rev. Christopher Fisher, who served as counsel for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference during Schaefer’s trial, appealed the decision of the committee on appeals to Judicial Council.
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A student in one of my online classes asked a great question:
How do I encourage members to reflect and think theologically?…. I’m having a hard time coming up with an example of what that would even look like in a church setting. I know it’s important, and I use the practice myself at times, but I can’t figure out how to transfer it to a congregation or group setting. Could anyone offer me some insight?Her question hints at a phenomenon I’ve observed. Clergy do many things for their own spiritual growth. Some they learned at seminary and retained (amazingly, given how much students forget!) as spiritual formation practices. Other ways they learn at seminars, retreats, continuing education events, during the course of their ministry if they’ve become lifelong learners.
They take these things they have learned, apply it to their own lives to good benefit, then, fail to teach these very things to their church members! There seems to be a failure of “transference of learning” at work, and perhaps some odd hidden assumption that laypersons grow in faith different than clergy! Church members grow in faith the same as clergy: through practices of discipleship. engaging faithfully in those practices that actually help faith grow, and being open to the Spirit to change them.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Spirituality/Prayer * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)
Doctors rarely talk about death.
Mostly it's because we're in the business of trying to help people prolong their lives, which almost always makes death an unwelcome topic of discussion.
Too often, death is seen as failure, though it shouldn't be. Death is a natural part of the cycle of our lives.
After all the time I've spent working in hospitals I'm less afraid of death than I used to be. It can be scary to see death up close. But the end can seem a blessing after you've watched patients suffer and witnessed medical treatments that were dehumanizing and fruitless.
Even though my medical practice is mostly confined to the office now, I still confront death regularly. As a part of my practice, I decided to be more mindful about it by keeping a list of the patients I've cared for who have died. I call it my necrology.
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[This week]...Canadians are grieving the deaths of two members of the Canadian Armed Forces at the hands of terrorists this week.
Our military has a proud history; hundreds of thousands have given their lives in the defence of freedom – not only for our freedom, but for the freedom of people in distant nations. They serve valiantly to maintain our security. This week they were attacked on home soil.
Please join me in praying for everyone in our armed forces and specifically for the families and friends of the fallen men – Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.
The attack yesterday on our Parliament was an attack on every Canadian, because it was an attack on our democracy, our values and our way of life. Although it was intended to instill fear, I pray God will cause us – and our leaders – to turn instead to Him.
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I did not know the man I was drinking tea with in the parish hall below my office. He had introduced himself as a retired Episcopal priest a few days before, when he'd called for this appointment. He told me then that he was offering something called "coaching," and was asking for referrals from local clergy. At the time of the call I had thought he was running some sort of sports team, but now, over tea, he was telling me what he meant by the word "coaching."
"We ask five power questions to help people change their lives," he told me (I cannot remember even one of those power questions). "This helps individuals grow and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and recognize his working in their lives."
"So far so good," I thought to myself. "At least up until now he has said things I cannot fault." Still, something felt wrong. And then he told me what coaching had done for him.
"It helped me evolve," he said with a wide smile. Since he appeared to be an average homo sapiens, I awaited an explanation. "Why, just last week I drove up to Maryland and did my first ever same-sex wedding."
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The isle of Lewis in the outer Hebrides is said to be the last place in Britain where the fourth commandment - Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy - is still strictly observed. But how has modern life changed attitudes to the Lord's Day on this island of 20,000 people?
They used to talk of the Scottish Sabbath, then it was the Highland Sabbath and now it is just the Lewis Sabbath, as the number of places keeping Sunday free for God has dwindled.
The Reverend Alasdair Smith, who is now in his 80s, and his wife Chrissie remember the days when people would be "horrified" by someone riding a bicycle on the Sabbath - even if they were cycling to church.
Chrissie says: "I went to Sunday school and enjoyed it because you could walk to the school with your friends and if it was a nice day you ambled back. Because that was the only time you got to go for a walk - to church or Sunday school - not for pleasure.
"But Sunday was special," she adds.
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People of faith in countries struggling to combat the world's worst outbreak of Ebola should not meet in large numbers, the UK's Archbishop of York has said.
Dr John Sentamu, a senior Anglican cleric, urged people in countries such as Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia to practice their faith alone or in small groups, to help prevent the spread of the virus.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of York John Sentamu * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine * International News & Commentary Africa Guinea Liberia Mali Sierra Leone * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Sufferers from of the Ebola virus in West Africa believe that "God has forsaken them", a Liberian Roman Catholic bishop, the Rt Revd Anthony Fallah Borwah, has said.
Bishop Borwah was prevented from attending Pope Francis's recent synod on the family because of the travel ban on countries affected by the virus.
He urged his fellow bishops, and the Church, to remember that it was the poor who are their priority, and said that whole families were being "decimated".
Speaking to the US Catholic News Service, he said: "We are losing our humanity in the face of Ebola. . . This disease makes impossible ordinary human kindnesses, such as putting your arm around someone who is crying."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine * International News & Commentary Africa Liberia * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
In 1999, after receiving allegations of sexual abuse by a priest in his province, Lord Hope, then Archbishop of York, wrote a letter of apology, aware that "this whole business will have caused you deep disquiet and distress and a considerable degree of sadness and pain."
The letter was sent not to the survivor, but to the abusive priest. On Wednesday, it was published as part of a strongly critical report on the Church's response to allegations of abuse against the priest, the former Dean of Manchester, the late Robert Waddington. It details how the failure to implement policies meant that victims were denied an opportunity to see their abuser brought to justice.
The report is the result of an inquiry commissioned last year by the present Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, after a joint investigation by The Times in London and The Australian newspaper in Sydney had revealed allegations against Waddington dating back decades.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has apologised to victims of sexual abuse by a former cathedral dean.
Dr Sentamu was responding to a report into how abuse allegations against the Very Rev Robert Waddington, formerly dean of Manchester, were handled.
His predecessor was criticised for not acting on allegations in the report, which found "systemic failures" within the Church of England.
At least two men made claims of abuse in 1999 and at sometime in 2003-04.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Beginning just over a century ago, all this changed. Catholics and Protestants alike have now embraced a new ecclesiology based on the consumer model. Adam Graber tells us that this huge shift was sparked by the invention of the automobile: “How Cars Created the Megachurch and put churchgoers in the driver’s seat.” As recently as the turn of the last century my great-grandparents, who lived in rural southeast Michigan, attended a Friends Church. Not because they were Quakers, but because it was near their farm and thus easily accessible. In their world, a megachurch would have been an impossibility. If you couldn’t walk or ride a horse or horse-drawn vehicle over unpaved country roads, you simply couldn’t get there at all.
Now virtually every family has at least one automobile, and this reality has transformed not only our cities, but also our churches. Here’s Graber:
Cars have made distance less of a factor in our lives. For this reason, church goers can choose from a marketplace of churches. But in order to decide, they have to narrow down the options, and when they do, they (naturally) consider their personal preferences first. They’ll try on different churches and see what “fits.”The most important consequence of this trend is that the gathered church—as distinct from the church as corpus Christi, which is all-encompassing—has been reduced to a mere voluntary association of like-minded individuals who can join and quit, or come and go at their discretion. The church, like any other commodity in the marketplace, exists only to serve the needs of its individual members.
Pastors, in reaction, are today forced to account for these new dynamics of affinity. Because church shoppers are exploring their options, area pastors often respond by targeting “felt needs.” For pastors, attracting and retaining church goers often means preaching on the topics people are looking for.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Travel * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
You may find the audio link here if you wish to listen to it (starts after the reading of the gospel, maybe 3 minutes in).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
It would be foolish to claim that this framework alone will resolve everything. Easy access to pornography, the hook-up culture, and media portrayals of recreational sex as the norm are difficult to counter. The social expectations that are producing ever more exorbitant wedding events do not get the attention they deserve.
The widening practice of cohabitation is vexing in another way. Young people hesitating to vow themselves to one another permanently are perpetuating the culture of contingency even though they have often been its victims—for example, as children of divorce. And even if the contingency of cohabitation makes lasting relationships somewhat less likely, it does approximate and thus honor marriage in some ways.
So the church and its leaders need great pastoral wisdom to do two things simultaneously:
Walk back from the culture of contingency by explaining and insisting in fresh ways that God intends for active sexuality to belong uniquely to marriage.
Work compassionately with those who have embraced the relative fidelity of cohabitation, even if they have not yet moved to embrace a covenant of marriage or a vocation of celibacy.
If we aim for these two goals, Christians will be better able to speak clearly and work energetically because together we’ll affirm that marriage is good—for everyone.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
the Pentagon announced Sunday it is putting together a 30-person rapid-response team that could provide quick medical support to civilian healthcare workers if additional cases of the Ebola virus are diagnosed in the United States.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered U.S. Northern Command Commander Gen. Chuck Jacoby to assemble the team, which was requested by the Department of Health and Human Services, said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby.
The team will consist of 20 critical-care nurses, five doctors trained in infectious disease, and five trainers in infectious-disease protocols.
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The Rev. Don Flowers was at breakfast with a group of minister friends in New York City when he heard news of the U.S. Supreme Court decision not to review a case overturning Virginia's gay marriage ban.
The pastors sat stunned, unsure what it meant, shocked at the speed things could start moving. Talk swiftly turned to ramifications ahead.
Flowers, pastor of Providence Baptist Church on Daniel Island, realized what it could mean back home: Gay marriage could become legal - and soon.
"A grenade has just been thrown down our aisles," Flowers said.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The Anglican Church in Adelaide has backed an earlier move by the church nationally to let its priests break the confidentiality of confessions.
Earlier this year, the national synod met in Adelaide and voted for an historic change to let priests ignore the privacy of the confessional in cases of serious crimes, such as child abuse.
That national meeting said it would be up to individual dioceses to adopt the policy, a vote the Adelaide diocese has taken this weekend.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Asia Bibi’s death sentence was upheld by the Lahore High Court in Pakistan on Thursday. Bibi, a Roman Catholic mother of five also known as Aasiya Noreen, was sentenced to die in 2010 after she was convicted of blasphemy. Bibi’s Muslim coworkers accused her of drinking the same water as them and verbally challenging their faith.
“I met Asia in prison a month ago. She’s fine and was hoping to hear good news, but, alas, our ordeal is not over yet,” Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, told Morning Star News after yesterday’s decision.
World Watch Monitor reports that Bibi’s attorney Naeem Shakir challenged the testimony of the women who feuded with Bibi, arguing to the appellate court that their testimony had been hearsay because the complainant in the case had not heards Bibi’s words himself. The judges ignored Sharkir’s critiques, suggesting he should have raised them the trial level.
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CK: In your evening public lecture at Regent this summer, “Confessions of an Ex-Pastor,” you said, “I wished I’d have lived and ministered more out of a Sabbath heart.” Can you unpack this a bit more?
MB: In my lecture, I made reference to the story in John 12 that during a celebration dinner for Jesus after Lazarus was resurrected, Lazarus had become as interesting, dangerous, and fruitful as Jesus. But the backstory in John 11 begins with Jesus getting some bad news: “The one you love is dying, please come quickly.” Jesus doesn’t come quickly. He delays and, according to Mary and Martha, he delays far too long. “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” I think there’s something compelling about that example of Jesus in the face of what we would consider as one of the greatest ministry crises imaginable for a pastor. The story begins with Jesus resting and ends with Lazarus resting with Jesus.
To draw a larger lesson from that, I think all effective ministry comes out of attentiveness and restfulness. That’s what I mean by a Sabbath heart. What you find in the life of Christ and the life of those who are present with him is an incredible fruitfulness and effectiveness in their ministry that people who are super busy don’t have. They’re not raising people from the dead like Jesus because they themselves are half dead.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
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