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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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Our language about sexuality is dominated by public health, with its talk of risk, “protection,” health, choice, and rights. In so doing we scoff at babies—the crowning glory of human creativity—and where they come from.
For all of their intelligence, sophistication, and cosmopolitan ways, Westerners are increasingly uncomfortable with where babies come from.
I realize it’s a humorous and ironic claim to suggest that moderns—who dwell in an over-sexed, over-sensualized world—might actually be uncomfortable with the subject matter of sex. But I’m serious. They’re growing increasingly uncomfortable with where babies come from.
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Watch the whole episode and then read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
‘There is not going to be a great schism.” The Rev Lorna Hood is sitting on a sofa in the drawing room of an elegant town house in Rothesay Terrace, the official home of the Moderator of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh.
With one sharp sentence she has fired a tranquiliser dart into the pink elephant in the room.
Officially, there is still a moratorium on discussing whether the Church of Scotland should ordain practising gay ministers but next Monday’s debate and vote at the General Assembly is set to be the most divisive the Church has faced since the Disruption of 1843 when a predecessor as moderator, Dr David Welsh, walked out with 450 ministers and founded the Free Church of Scotland. There has been suggestions that, once again, ministers are strapping on their hiking boots.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Presbyterian * Theology Anthropology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
The Bishop and clergy of Rupert’s Land have completed preparation of a protocol for the pastoral practice of blessing same-sex unions. T h e p ro t o c o l s ay s why same-sex unions may be blessed in Rupert’s Land parishes and how this should be done. It acknowledges the differences of view among faithful Anglicans about blessing of same-sex unions. It directs each parish that wishes to explore this practice to follow a careful process of prayer, study and consultation before deciding to bless same-sex unions.
The protocol arises out of a vote at the 2012 Rupert’s Land diocesan synod.
Read it all (page 5).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
A Philadelphia abortion doctor convicted of killing three babies who were born alive in his grimy clinic agreed Tuesday to give up his right to an appeal and faces life in prison but will be spared a death sentence.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, was convicted Monday of first-degree murder in the deaths of the babies who were delivered alive and killed with scissors.
In a case that became a flashpoint in the nation's abortion debate, former clinic employees testified that Gosnell routinely performed illegal abortions past Pennsylvania's 24-week limit, that he delivered babies who were still moving, whimpering or breathing, and that he and his assistants dispatched the newborns by "snipping" their spines, as he referred to it.
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A United Methodist woman in Richmond, Va., said she was acting out of Christian compassion in helping to arrange the burial of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.
“Jesus tells us to love our enemies, not hate them after they’re dead,” said Martha Mullen, in a phone interview. “That’s why I kind of got this ball rolling.”
Ms. Mullen, a 48-year-old counselor in private practice who studied at a United Methodist seminary, was distressed at news accounts about the difficulty of finding a burial place for Tsarnaev, who died in an April 19 shootout with police.
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Today 12% of websites are pornographic, and 40 million Americans are regular visitors—including 70% of 18- to 34-year-olds, who look at porn at least once a month, according to a recent survey by Cosmopolitan magazine (which, let's face it, is the authority here). Fully 94% of therapists in another survey reported seeing an increase in people addicted to porn. It has become a whole generation's sex education and could be the same for the next—they are fumbling around online, not in the back seat. One estimate now puts the average age of first viewing at 11. Imagine seeing "Last Tango in Paris" before your first kiss.
Countless studies connect porn with a new and negative attitude to intimate relationships, and neurological imaging confirms it. Susan Fiske, professor of psychology at Princeton University, used MRI scans in 2010 to analyze men watching porn. Afterward, brain activity revealed, they looked at women more as objects than as people. The new DSM-5 will add the diagnosis "Hypersexual Disorder," which includes compulsive pornography use.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Pornography Psychology Sexuality * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Don't be afraid to talk about death and funerals, advises the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, writing in support of Dying Matters Awareness Week (13-19 May 2013), at http://www.churchofengland.org/our-views/medical-ethics-health-social-care-policy/dying-matters-end-of-life-care.aspx.
Bishop James, the Chair of the Churches Funeral Group, said: "…This week encourages us all to think about how we approach the prospect of our own death and that of those closest to us; it is good and healthy to talk about these things together…"
Dying Matters, a broad-based and inclusive national coalition of 28,000 members, including the Church of England, aims to change public knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards dying, death and bereavement.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Pastoral Theology
The mystery surrounding the burial of the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev has come to an end. The Boston Marathon bombing suspect was buried this week at a small Muslim cemetery in Doswell, Va.
According to his completed death certificate, which was released on Friday, Mr. Tsarnaev was buried on Thursday at Al-Barzakh Cemetery, about half an hour north of Richmond. Officials in Massachusetts had said the body was moved to a burial site out of state. But they had refused to disclose where.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * Theology Anthropology Pastoral Theology
The annual Mass and meeting of the Society of Mary/American Region welcomed Bishop Lindsay Urwin as guest speaker and marked a transition in the society’s leadership. The society met May 3 and 4 at St. Stephen’s Church in Providence, Rhode Island, attracting visitors from across the East Coast and as far away as Wisconsin.
The Rt. Rev. Lindsay Urwin, OGS, administrator of the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in England, spoke on “One Faith, Two Shrines: The Challenges and Joy of Life in Walsingham.” Bishop Urwin described the existence of two separate shrines at Walsingham — one for Anglicans and one for Roman Catholics — as a sign of the scandal of divisions within Christianity.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Anthropology Theology: Scripture
The former Archbishop of York stood accused last night of covering up allegations that a senior Church of England clergyman had abused choirboys and school pupils.
Lord Hope of Thornes was made aware of the accusations against the Very Rev Robert Waddington, a former Dean of Manchester Cathedral and once the cleric in overall charge of Church schools, in 1999 and again in 2003. Waddington was stripped of his right to conduct church services but the archbishop did not report concerns about alleged past abuse or a potential continuing threat to children to police or child protection agencies.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Psychology Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The prominent gay cleric Dr Jeffrey John has been long-listed as a candidate to succeed Archbishop Justin Welby as Bishop of Durham.
If appointed Dr John, the Dean of St Albans, who is in a civil partnership with his partner the Rev Grant Holmes, would become the first openly gay bishop in the Church of England.
He has been long-listed before and blocked for dioceses such as Southwark, but this is the first time his name has been put forward since the Church dropped its ban on clergy in civil partnerships becoming bishops.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
This coming Thursday is the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord, and parishes around the world have a vital decision to make: Do we extinguish the Paschal Candle on Ascension Day or on Pentecost?
This question may sound like a liturgist's version of the game, Trivial Pursuit, but there is an important biblical and theological lesson to be learned....
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Ascension theology turns at this point to the Eucharist, for in celebrating the eucharist the church professes to know how the divine presents itself in our time, and how the question of faithfulness is posed. Eucharistically, the church acknowledges that Jesus has heard and has answered the upward call; that, like Moses, he has ascended into that impenetrable cloud overhanging the mountain. Down below, rumours of glory emanate from the elders, but the master himself is nowhere to be seen. He is no longer with his people in the same way he used to be. Yet he is with them, in the Spirit.--Douglas Farrow, Ascension Theology (New York: T and T Clark, 2011), p. 64
Cemeteries and even some mosques have refused to take his body. His city, Cambridge, has urged family members to bury him elsewhere. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez and local talk radio host Dan Rae want him dumped in the ocean, like Osama bin Laden. Clergy have largely kept mum.
“The only signs of people who are showing some sort of moral conscience are those few who stand with a card near the funeral home saying (burial) is a corporal work of mercy,” said James Keenan, a moral theologian at Boston College. “To say, ‘we won’t bury him’ makes us barbaric. It takes away mercy, the trademark of Christians. … I’m talking about this because somebody should.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam * Theology Anthropology Eschatology
A United Methodist theologian and retired elder is facing formal charges under church law and a potential trial for officiating at the same-sex wedding of his son.
The Rev. Thomas Ogletree, a retired seminary dean noted for his work on Christian ethics, presided over the wedding of his son, Thomas Rimbey Ogletree, to Nicholas Haddad on Oct. 20. The service took place at the Yale Club in New York City.
Ogletree, 79, is a Yale Divinity School professor emeritus, veteran of the civil rights movement and lifelong member of the Methodist tradition. He told United Methodist News Service that as a professor, he rarely has been asked to perform weddings. When his son asked him to officiate, he said he felt “deeply moved.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths) * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
We are becoming a society in which “choice” and self-defined identities trump once-common values and traditional beliefs. But contrary to the rhetoric of its defenders, this shift is not a simple advance for freedom. The privileging of “choice” above all else in fact requires re-engineering the human person and society as a whole, and this will inevitably involve a great deal of coercion.
Wesley J. SmithThis shift, if it didn’t begin with Roe v. Wade, could be said to have been dramatically accelerated by it. Despite continuing opposition by over 50 percent of the American people, abortion is now universally available, in some places through the ninth month. Two states have legalized assisted suicide for the terminally ill—once strictly prohibited by the Hippocratic Oath. Now, some doctors actively collaborate in lethally overdosing their patients.
Advocacy for legalizing “after birth” abortion—e.g., infanticide—as a natural extension of the abortion right is growing more prominent, and not just among acolytes of Princeton’s Peter Singer. A Florida Planned Parenthood representative, opposing a bill that would require medical treatment for an infant who survives abortion, said the choice to care for the child should be a private one made between a mother and her doctor.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Philosophy Psychology Religion & Culture Science & Technology Young Adults * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Secularism * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Research published as part of David Cameron’s plan to measure the nation’s “happiness” indicates that almost seven million members of the baby-boomer generation and above admit feeling lonely.
Among people over 80, the proportion rises to almost half, including a large minority who admit they feel lonely much of the time.
But campaign groups warned that the study suggests that the generation now approaching retirement will prove to be a “loneliness time bomb”.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Middle Age Psychology * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
(Please note that you may find an earlier discussion of the importance of U-6 as a measure of the real labor market situation in this blog post and discussion from Februaryl--KSH).
Voluntary plus involuntary part-time employment rose by a whopping 441,000 jobs. Take away part-time jobs and there is not all that much to brag about. Indeed, full-time employment fell once again, this month by 148,000.
Read it all and there is another article there. For the table of all six employment/unemployment measures, you may go there.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Its surprising how many people still marry. As everyone knows, it’s a risky proposition; the divorce rate, though down from its peak of one in two marriages in the early 1980s, remains substantial. Besides, you can have a perfectly respectable life these days without marrying.
When the Pew Research Center asked a sample of Americans in 2010 what they thought about the “growing variety in the types of family arrangements that people live in,” 34 percent responded that it was a good thing, and 32 percent said it made no difference. Having a child outside of marriage has also become common. According to a report by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, 47 percent of American women who give birth in their 20s are unmarried at the time.
And still, demographers project that at least 80 percent of Americans will marry at some point in their lives.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Middle Age Psychology Sociology Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has urged evangelical congregations within the Church of Scotland not to “walk away” over the ordination of [noncelibate] gay ministers.
Speaking on the eve of a visit to Scotland as the new chairman of Christian Aid, Williams said he understood some congregations might threaten to break away if the Kirk’s General Assembly votes to allow the ordination of gay ministers later this month, but warned against such a divisive move.
“The impulse to walk away, while deeply understandable, is not a very constructive one,” he said. “The things which bind Christians together are almost always more profound and significant for themselves and the world than the things that divide them. When you do walk away from other Christians you are in effect saying well, either I can do without you or I’ve got nothing to learn from you. That can’t be good for us. You may disagree, you may think somebody else is tacitly perverse, but you might want to hang in there with them.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Presbyterian * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
While the fight to preserve life is often centered on abortion and capital punishment, the future Pope Francis also warned against a more subtle form of disregard for human dignity: what he called "covert euthanasia."
"In this consumerist, hedonist and narcissistic society, we are accustomed to the idea that there are people that are disposable," among them, the elderly, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio said in a recently published book.
Citing examples of intentional neglect, the future pope said: "I believe that today there is covert euthanasia: Our social security pays up until a certain amount of treatment and then says 'May God help you.'"
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Books Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Beloved New York Annual Conference:
Many of you may have read the recently published article in The New York Times that centered on same sex marriage and The United Methodist Church. The confidentiality requirements of the complaint process prevent me from discussing the case in detail. However, as is the case on many issues confronting the church today, there are multiple perspectives associated with human sexuality.
There is also a multiplicity of other concerns that we are confronted with as a body of Christian believers. Immigration reform, gun violence, poverty and the challenges within our criminal justice system are but a few of the significant issues on the local and national landscape.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths) * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
I don't mean to suggest that we had romance "right" in the days of chastity belts and arranged marriages. But I feel as though we all sort of know how romance ought to play out. Hookup culture is an unnavigable mush of vague intentions and desires, and that's true even on nights when people don't go home with novel odors and difficulty urinating.
We can try to dress it up as being freeing or equalizing the genders, but I fear it only leaves us equally impoverished.
C.S. Lewis said that "friendship is born at the moment one person says to another: "What? You too? I thought I was the only one." Maybe I'm naive and idealistic, but I prefer the narrative in which emotional and physical love come as a package, one experienced with a very small subset of the population. I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm not the only one.
Read it all.
What Falstaff represents is nothing more or less than life: life itself, life as such, the sheer indomitable fact of being alive. That is why Falstaff is so fat - he is larger than life, more human and more alive than ordinary mortals. When Hal points out that the grave gapes for Falstaff "thrice wider than for other men," it is true symbolically as well as literally. No ordinary grave could hold Jack Falstaff, for he is no ordinary mortal. He is large, he contains multitudes. When old Falstaff condescendingly tells the Lord Chief Justice, "You that are old consider not the capacities of us that are young," we feel the truth of it in our very bones. Falstaff's body might be "blasted with antiquity," as the Chief Justice replies, yet nobody is younger than he. He is young because he is youthfulness itself, the very energy and drive of life.
Nonetheless, in the final scene, a scene that has scandalised generations of playgoers and critics, Hal banishes his friend Jack Falstaff. Our minds recoil from the thought of it - even though, objectively speaking, Falstaff deserves everything he gets. It is not just that we like Falstaff and want things to turn out well for him. It is that this rejection of Falstaff seems like a rejection of life - an incomprehensible, nonsensical act. As Falstaff himself has intimated, to reject him is to reject everything: "Banish plump Jack, and banish all the world."
But perhaps the point of this difficult scene is just to show that Falstaff can be rejected. For all his irresistible charm, it is still possible to turn him away. The significance of the last scene is that it makes comedy more vivid by revealing its limits.
Read it all.
In a white-walled room tucked behind the garage in one of those unremarkable houses, Sonny Vu sits at a folding-leg table, the kind you might see in a church basement. He's convincing a banker he doesn't need any money.
The banker is dressed in northern California business attire—tailored suit, no tie, a nice watch peeking out from beneath his sleeve. Vu is dressed in a black knit T-shirt, jeans, and indoor flip-flops. He opens a MacBook Pro and talks through a presentation about the company he founded, Misfit Wearables.
There's no watch on Vu's wrist. Instead he wears a thin wristband that holds a tapered, dark-gray aluminum disk about the size of a quarter. This is Misfit's first product, Shine. It's a device that attracted 127 online articles about Misfit in the tech press, everywhere from Wired to Mashable to TechCrunch—"without anyone knowing what it did," Vu says, grinning. He pops it out of its holder and sets it on the screen of his iPhone. "This has been tracking my activity for the past week. I just set it here, and it uploads all my data. No cable, no Bluetooth," he explains as tiny lights blink around the circumference of the disk.
Read it all.
Listen here if you wish.
Filed under: * By Kendall * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Easter Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Theology: Scripture
It started out as a deeply personal act, that of a father officiating at the wedding of his son.
But it was soon condemned as a public display of ecclesiastical disobedience, because the father, the Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree, is a minister in the United Methodist Church, which does not allow its clergy to perform same-sex weddings.
Dr. Ogletree, 79, is now facing a possible canonical trial for his action, accused by several New York United Methodist ministers of violating church rules. While he would not be the first United Methodist minister to face discipline for performing a same-sex wedding, he could well be the one with the highest profile. He is a retired dean of Yale Divinity School, a veteran of the nation’s civil rights struggles and a scholar of the very type of ethical issues he is now confronting.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths) * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Same-sex marriage will never be widely accepted in America for a simple reason: It’s based on a lie. But don’t take my word on this; leading LGBT scholars and activists say as much.
Take Masha Gessen, acclaimed author and former Russian director of Radio Liberty. “Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there — because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change,” Gessen said last year.
Last month, I was part of a debate at the NYU School of Law at which Judith Stacey, a sociology professor at the university, declared: “Children certainly do not need both a mother and a father.”
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Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Anthropology Christology Theology: Scripture
First, like many others, I am profoundly disappointed that Rhode Island has approved legislation that seeks to legitimize “same-sex marriage.” The Catholic Church has fought very hard to oppose this immoral and unnecessary proposition, and we are most grateful to all those who have courageously joined us in this effort. When all is said and done, however, we know that God will be the final judge of our actions.
As I have emphasized consistently in the past, the Catholic Church has respect, love and pastoral concern for our brothers and sisters who have same-sex attraction. I sincerely pray for God’s blessings upon them, that they will enjoy much health, happiness and peace. We also offer our prayerful support to families, especially parents, who often struggle with this issue when it occurs in their own homes.
Our respect and pastoral care, however, does not mean that we are free to endorse or ignore immoral or destructive behavior, whenever or however it occurs. Indeed, as St. Paul urges us, we are required to “speak the truth in love.” (Eph 4:15)
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General State Government * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
The Ven. Leslie Stevenson, who was to have been consecrated this week as Bishop of Meath & Kildare, in the Irish Republic, withdrew on Sunday after a press campaign against him.
His decision to step aside followed two newspaper articles. One in the Dublin-based Sunday Business Post noted that he would be the first divorced bishop in the history of the Church of Ireland, and that he had had a relationship after his first marriage failed.
The second appeared last Friday in the Belfast-based Nationalist daily Irish News, which suggested that Archdeacon Stevenson's consecration was in doubt. It named the woman with whom he had had a relationship, who is now a serving priest in the diocese of Connor.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Ireland * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Media Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
You recently decided to take the issue of gay marriage on, head-on, at the National Cathedral. What led you to that decision?
There’s my own track record on the issue and then there’s the cathedral’s process. I’ve been a proponent of same-sex marriage at least 20 years. I worked in the ’90s on this stuff at All-Saints Church in Pasadena, California, a progressive church in that part of Los Angeles. Los Angeles has a very large gay and lesbian population, it had an AIDS service center. I got to know a lot of gay and lesbian people well, personally, which I hadn’t before. And during my time there, that parish decided to do same-sex blessings. We aren’t talking about marriage yet. So, I’ve been involved in same-sex blessing and a couple of same sex marriages, really, over the last 20 years. But I had a book of essays about it.
On the public side, it’s that in 2012, thanks to all this activity that I and others did, the Episcopal Church authorized a liturgy, a ritual for same-sex blessings. And in the areas where marriage was legal, nine states plus the District, it could be locally adapted for marriage. The cathedral is an Episcopal cathedral, it’s part of the Episcopal diocese of Washington. So same-sex marriage has been legal in Washington for a while. Maryland just passed a referendum in November saying same-sex marriage is legal now. So all parts of our diocese were where same-sex marriage was legal.
The bishop and I met and said we’re going to start allowing same-sex marriage everywhere, in that diocese in January, and the cathedral would also do it. It was part of a long process in the Episcopal Church. We’ve had controversies over openly gay bishops and all that kind of stuff. We worked through those. Our denomination has come to a place that’s made it possible. And at our general convention in 2015, we’ll probably take up the marriage question.
Read it all (my emphasis).
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Almost three thousand years ago the Prophet Amos asked ‘can two walk together except they be agreed?’ How can the Church of England, pragmatic and volunteer-led but with complex legal and cultural structures, stay meshed with its culturally incompatible overseas churches? What is its future?
Theo Hobson argues in this week’s Spectator that the C of E needs to find a third way in order to survive, affirming gay partnerships whilst simultaneously rejecting equal marriage.
Can this be done? If the deadlock Hobson describes arose from a frail incoherent compromise, Some Issues in Human Sexuality, how can more hand-wringing duplicity solve it?
The world has moved radically on since 1991....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
It is a wearyingly obvious observation, but the Church of England remains crippled by the gay crisis. It is locked in disastrous self-opposition, alienated from its largely liberal nature. Maybe the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has a secret plan that will break the deadlock: there is no sign of it yet. The advent of gay marriage has made the situation look even more hopeless. It entrenches the church in its official conservatism, and it further radicalises the liberals. A few weeks ago the church issued a report clarifying its opposition to gay marriage, in which it ruled out the blessing of gay partnerships. This was not a hopeful move: it ought to be keeping these issues separate.
The ending of the turbulent Williams era is an opportunity to take stock, rethink, take a step back. What we see is that, for more than 20 years, the church has tried and failed to reform its line on homosexuality; and this failure has been amazingly costly. The church used to be good at gradual reform. Why did it fail so dismally this time?
I blame the liberals....
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Small wonder, given the harrowing times recently, that news about a long-running property fight over a picturesque church in northern Virginia escaped most people’s notice. But the story of the struggle over the historic Falls Church is nonetheless worth a closer look. It’s one more telling example of a little-acknowledged truth: though religious traditionalism may be losing today’s political and legal battles, it remains poised to win the wider war over what Christianity will look like tomorrow.
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Guidelines have been established for same-gender blessing ceremonies to be performed in Oklahoma Episcopal churches, a state leader with the denomination said.
The Rt. Rev. Ed Konieczny, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, said three parishes already have expressed interest in starting the process so they can conduct such ceremonies, although he does not believe “there are large numbers of people out there waiting for this.” He declined to name the interested parishes, as they have yet to request formal approval.
“I don't expect that this is going to be a floodgate of things. We will make it available and people will take advantage of it according to who they are,” he said.
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In the real world, we have relationships with individuals, not statistical gender profiles (or, thank God, Woody Allen characters). An individual’s sex drive can’t be predicted to fall at any particular point on the gender spectrum—and those drives also fluctuate based on the cultures we live in, the relationships we form, the age we’re at, and the circumstances of the evening. And, as Dan Savage has repeatedly advised frustrated partners, the Mowers' model isn't the only one—other people might find success opening their relationship to other people, or going their separate ways. It’s as much of a mistake to assume that a man needs sex constantly as it is to assume that a woman doesn’t. Better to talk about (and test-run) each partner's respective sexual and emotional needs before getting hitched—or publishing a trend piece purporting to apply to all people.Read it all.
A little while back I was in an online chat and was asked this question--do you have a recent sermon you have preached on (the doctirne of) justification? The person with whom I was chatting was in a theological argument with his brother on the topic. I had to think for a while, and found the following one that fits the bill. You can obtain the sermon here (it even comes with an outline)--KSH.
Filed under: * By Kendall Sermons & Teachings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Anthropology Christology Theology: Scripture
Is the Church in the UK as confident in the gospel as it should be?
It appears that while mission is clearly at the heart of what many churches are doing, talking about our faith as Christians is proving increasingly difficult.
Our desire is to see churches throughout the UK have a renewed confidence in the gospel and engaged in creative evangelism which is producing lasting results. This timely campaign is not about providing busy churches with more programmes; rather it is about looking at how we can make small changes that will nurture a gospel-confident culture within our churches.
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In 2003, after the Episcopal Church consecrated the first openly gay bishop within the Anglican Communion, the Province of the Southern Cone severed its relationship with the Episcopal Church. It also broke communion with the Anglican Church of Canada after one of its dioceses in 2002 authorized a rite for blessing same-sex unions. Are you still in broken communion with these two provinces?
Yes. In 2010 when an earthquake struck in Chile, I received many, many phone calls from [the Episcopal Church Center in] New York offering us money. But I said no; not out of arrogance but because we had broken communion with TEC and it would not be right to accept their money.
Did you ask permission of the local Anglican Church of Canada bishop to visit here?
No, because I am coming to another, different Anglican church.
n 2003, the Province of the Southern Cone offered Episcopal oversight to conservative Anglicans who had left the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada but who wanted to realign with another province. Does this make you a primate of the Anglican Church in North America along with its elected primate, Bob Duncan?
No. That is over. We provided temporary supervision. When ACNA was founded in Texas in 2008 the very next day I had breakfast with Bishop John Guernsey and said, “My churches in the States will now be under your supervision. Let me know what I should do to pass them to you.” Others like [Bishops] Frank Lyons of Bolivia and Greg Venables may have taken a bit more time but the Southern Cone decided to pass the [North American] churches to the new ACNA primate.
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For decades Kathy and I have profited immensely from the pastoral wisdom of the converted slave trader John Newton. As an 18th century Anglican minister, Newton was a good preacher, but it was as a pastor, counselor, and advisor that he excelled. His pastoral letters are a treasure chest. In one of his letters (entitled “Some Blemishes on Christian Character”) Newton points out that while most Christians succeed in avoiding more gross sins, many do not actually experience much in the way of actual spiritual growth.
Newton lays out a very convicting and specific example of the kinds of Christian people who coast on their strengths but do nothing about their weaknesses and so rob themselves and others of joy and God of his glory. These blemishes are often seen by their bearers as mere “foibles.” Newton says they “may not seem to violate any express command of Scripture” and yet, they are “properly sinful” because they are the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit that believers are supposed to exhibit.
These “small faults” mean that large swaths of the Christian population have little influence on others for Christ....
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• Love, by itself, is not enough to sustain even the most loving couples—at least the kind of love Hollywood pumps into our culture is not enough. Marriage requires new skills in communication, conflict resolution and so on. Love cannot protect a marriage from harm. But love combined with effective skills can overcome all. (Drs. Les and Leslie Parrot)
• Marriage relationships, like all living things, need constant nourishment in order to flourish and grow. Simply put, marriage relationships need attention. It’s no good saying that you talked about a particular subject a year ago or that you said, “I love you” to each other a week ago. What has happened today?(Art Hunt)
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To retirees, the offers can sound like the answer to every money worry: convert tomorrow’s pension checks into today’s hard cash.
But these offers, known as pension advances, are having devastating financial consequences for a growing number of older Americans, threatening their retirement savings and plunging them further into debt. The advances, federal and state authorities say, are not advances at all, but carefully disguised loans that require borrowers to sign over all or part of their monthly pension checks. They carry interest rates that are often many times higher than those on credit cards.
In lean economic times, people with public pensions — military veterans, teachers, firefighters, police officers and others — are being courted particularly aggressively by pension-advance companies, which operate largely outside of state and federal banking regulations, but are now drawing scrutiny from Congress and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
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The Anglican bishops of the West Indies have urged their governments to hold fast and resist pressure from Britain and the United States to legalize gay rights and gay marriage.
In a statement released on 25 April 2013 following the House of Bishops meeting in Barbados, bishops of the Church the Province of the West Indies (CPWI) reiterated their belief in marriage “defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman.”
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This gospel is one of the most notable that a man can find in the New Testament, and worthy to be commended with all kinds of commendation. But as it is not possible that a man should sufficiently express this sermon of Christ by words ; first let us call unto God, that he will expound these words more plainly in our hearts, than we can by our words and interpretation, and that he will enkindle them, and make them so plain, that our conscience may receive comfort and peace thereby. Amen.
The pith of this excellent sermon is, that God so greatly loved the world, that he delivered his only begotten Son for it, that we men should not die, but have everlasting life. And first let us see who is the giver. He is the Giver, in respect of whom all princes and kings, with all their gifts, are nothing in comparison. And our hearts might worthily be lifted up and exalted with a godly pride, since we have such a giver, so that all who should come unto us by any other liberality, might be counted of no price in comparison of this. For what can be set before us that is more magnificent and excellent than God almighty. Here God, who is infinite and unspeakable, gives after such a manner as passes also all things. For that which he gives, he gives not as wages of desert, or for a recompense, but, as the words sound, of mere love. Wherefore this gift wholly proceeds of God's exceeding and divine benevolence and goodness, as he saith, God loved the world. There is no greater virtue than love, as it may hereby be well understood, that when we love anything, we will not hesitate to put our life in danger for it. Verily, great virtues are patience, chastity, sobriety, &c., but yet they are nothing to be compared with this virtue, which comprises and includes within itself all other virtues. A good man does no man wrong, he gives every man his own ; but by love, men give their own selves to others, and are ready with all their heart to do all that they can for them. So Christ saith here also, that God gives to us, not by right or merit, but by this great virtue, that is by love.
This ought to encourage our hearts, and to abolish all sorrow, when this exceeding love of God comes in mind, that we might trust thereto and believe steadfastly, that God is that bountiful and great Giver, and that this gift of his, proceeds of that great virtue of love. This sort of giving, which has its spring of love, makes this gift more excellent and precious. And the words of Christ are plain, that God loveth us. Wherefore for this love's sake ought we greatly to esteem all things that he gives us.
--Writings of the Rev. Thomas Becon (London, J. Nisbet), pp. 494-495
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A Church of England diocese has made building bridges with the gay community part of its new bishop’s job description.
The Diocese of Manchester has instructed the official panel appointing its new bishop to select someone who can establish “positive relationships” with gay Anglicans and non-worshippers.
The panel, which met on Friday, was told that the successor to the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, who retired earlier this year, should build on “significant engagement” with “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities” in Manchester.
The move comes amid growing tensions within the Church over its attitude to gay worshippers and clergy.
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The City of London has been affected by a "culture of entitlement" at variance with what others think reasonable, the new Archbishop of Canterbury has said.
But the Most Reverend Justin Welby told the BBC business morality was in many ways much better than in the past.
He also defended his description of the UK's economic situation as a depression rather than a recession.
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On Tuesday, “Pope Francis: His Life in His Own Words,” a book of conversations with the man who was then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, will be published in English (Putnam; $24.95). These interviews from 2010 with two journalists in Argentina yield cute facts about the new boss of the church — a favorite movie? “Babette’s Feast” — but not much interesting theology.
But one passage in the book, at first glance rather slight, ends up insinuating a radical note into the proceedings. On a close read, it seems that Pope Francis believes that we must — indeed, that God is calling us to — relax.
Responding to the question, “Do we need to rediscover the meaning of leisure?” Pope Francis replies: “Together with a culture of work, there must be a culture of leisure as gratification. To put it another way: people who work must take the time to relax, to be with their families, to enjoy themselves, read, listen to music, play a sport. But this is being destroyed, in large part, by the elimination of the Sabbath rest day. More and more people work on Sundays as a consequence of the competitiveness imposed by a consumer society.” In such cases, he concludes, “work ends up dehumanizing people.”
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In recent years, I often recall the first time I saw my dad pray. It was unsettling. I came upon him in church, where he was kneeling, his hands shading his eyes. He had a type of intensity that, at three or four years old, I had never seen before. Nor had I had ever seen him kneel before his God—or anyone else, for that matter.
My mind drifts back, because what I witness today in times of worship is such a contrast. My father was spiritual, as we might say today, but he was not very religious. It is not the memory of his posture that remains vividly with me; it was the demonstration of an aspect of his heart—a spiritual point of view—that captured my budding spiritual imagination. Today, we may kneel, but so many of us, I fear, have strayed far from the reverence of heart that our elders knew, not so long ago.
Our worship has been deeply influenced by a culture that is immersed in the consumption of media. We bring that point of view to our worship. What will it give me? What will I learn? Is it helpful? The focus has shifted from deity to the consumer.
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Yale University is organizing a conference on “Personhood Beyond the Human” for December 6-8, 2013. It will feature, among other proponents of personhood rights for animals, notorious infanticide and bestiality-promoting ethicist Peter Singer.
The conference is co-sponsored by the animal rights group Nonhuman Rights Project and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, in collaboration with the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics and the Yale Animal Ethics Group.
"The event will focus on personhood for nonhuman animals, including great apes, cetaceans, and elephants, and will explore the evolving notions of personhood by analyzing them through the frameworks of neuroscience, behavioral science, philosophy, ethics, and law,” reads a description of the conference on its website.
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There are few better places in the world where Tim Keller could write a book about career and calling. "New York City is a place where people live in order to work," says the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and author most recently of Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work (Dutton). "They basically live more in their work than in their neighborhoods. That . . . means that if you start talking about work, you get right at their hearts."
In a recent sit-down conversation with This Is Our City executive producer Andy Crouch, Keller explained why he wanted to write a more comprehensive book about faith and work, how he learned to answer congregants' questions about their work, and what Redeemer has done to equip laypeople to live into their vocations outside the church.
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Listen here if you wish.
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Pastor Rick Warren will join Ed Stetzer on his webshow, "The Exchange," Tuesday afternoon to talk about his 27-year-old son's suicide earlier this month.
Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, will host The Exchange live from the Exponential church planting conference in Orlando, Fla., where Warren had been scheduled to lead two Bible studies.
Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, Calif., agreed to an interview with Stetzer about what pastors need to know about grief in their congregations, how his son's death has changed him and what church leaders can do to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental illness.
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These and other appalling details of the Gosnell trial elicit reactions that might be called revulsion or disgust or horror. The word that eminent bioethicist and physician Leon Kass prefers is “repugnance.” This intense human reaction reflects a sort of deep moral intuition, he says, and it is one that deserves much more serious consideration than our too-sophisticated culture allows.
“As pain is to the body so repugnance is to the soul,” Dr. Kass says as we sit down for an interview in his book-lined office at the American Enterprise Institute, where he is the Madden-Jewett Scholar. “So too with anger and compassion. Repugnance is some kind of wake-up call that there is something untoward going on and attention must be paid. These passions are not simply irrational. They contain within them the germ of insight. You cannot give proper verbal account of the horror of evil, yet a culture that couldn’t be absolutely horrified by such things is dead.”
The observation may not sound controversial, yet Dr. Kass, who was the chairman of President George W. Bush's Council on Bioethics from 2001 to 2005, has often found himself in a minority among bioethicists when it comes to abortion, euthanasia, embryonic research, cloning and other right-to-life questions. Dr. Kass's emphasis on what he calls "the wisdom of repugnance," for example, has been assailed by liberal thinkers.
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This is a very sobering time for ecclesiastically minded Americans. At a steadily growing rate, more and more Americans — especially the young — claim no religious affiliation. The figure has climbed from 15% to 20% of all Americans in the past five years. Pew researchers call the trend “nones on the rise.”
In reaction, Protestants and Roman Catholics are proving that the author of the Bible’s Book of Ecclesiastes had it right when he wrote that there is nothing new under the sun. In a classic attempt to turn adversity to advantage, Christian leaders who once assumed a cultural dominance (in the beginning of the baby-boom era, Christian identification among Americans was at least 91%; today it’s down to 77%) are now arguing for a double-down strategy. Rather than softening the Gospel message to make it more marketable to an America skeptical of institutions — a frequent reform point of view — what draws the real energy among the faithful is a renewed commitment to what Christians call the Great Commission, the words the resurrected Jesus spoke to his apostles at the end of Matthew: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
At the center of this strategy of unapologetic apologetics stands George Weigel, the papal biographer and prominent Catholic writer who has just published Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church, a handbook for Catholics seeking to keep the church out of the catacombs. “It’s a recovery of the basic dynamic of New Testament Christianity, but that passionate impulse to live the Great Commission and convert the world cooled during centuries when the ambient public culture helped do the church’s job,” says Weigel.
Read it all from a recent issue.
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One of the most striking scientific discoveries about religion in recent years is that going to church weekly is good for you. Religious attendance — at least, religiosity — boosts the immune system and decreases blood pressure. It may add as much as two to three years to your life. The reason for this is not entirely clear.
Social support is no doubt part of the story. At the evangelical churches I’ve studied as an anthropologist, people really did seem to look out for one another. They showed up with dinner when friends were sick and sat to talk with them when they were unhappy. The help was sometimes surprisingly concrete. Perhaps a third of the church members belonged to small groups that met weekly to talk about the Bible and their lives. One evening, a young woman in a group I joined began to cry. Her dentist had told her that she needed a $1,500 procedure, and she didn’t have the money. To my amazement, our small group — most of them students — simply covered the cost, by anonymous donation. A study conducted in North Carolina found that frequent churchgoers had larger social networks, with more contact with, more affection for, and more kinds of social support from those people than their unchurched counterparts. And we know that social support is directly tied to better health.
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Editor's Note: The gay marriage debate has reached an apex nationally as the U.S. Supreme Court considers two cases that could expand the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples and extend a large set of rights, benefits and privileges to such couples. The court's decisions are expected this summer. In the meantime, The Post and Courier has invited two local clergy to share their views on the matter.
Read them both.
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Legend has it that G. K. Chesterton, asked by a newspaper reporter what was wrong with the world, skipped over all the expected answers. He said nothing about corrupt politicians or ancient rivalries between warring nations, or the greed of the rich and the covetousness of the poor. He left aside street crime and unjust laws and inadequate education. Environmental degradation and population growth overwhelming the earth's carrying capacity were not on his radar. Neither were the structural evils that burgeoned as wickedness became engrained in society and its institutions in ever more complex ways.
What's wrong with the world? As the story goes, Chesterton responded with just two words: "I am."
His answer is unlikely to be popular with a generation schooled to cultivate self-esteem, to pursue its passions and chase self-fulfillment first and foremost. After all, we say, there are reasons for our failures and foibles. It's not our fault that we didn't win the genetic lottery, or that our parents fell short in their parenting, or that our third-grade teacher made us so ashamed of our arithmetic errors that we gave up pursuing a career in science. Besides, we weren't any worse than our friends, and going along with the gang made life a lot more comfortable. We have lots of excuses for why things go wrong, and—as with any lie worth its salt—most of them contain some truth.
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Whatever struck you, provoked you, moved you; whatever part of it which you believe is most significant or worthy of further consideration. Remember the more specific you are, the more other blog reads can participate in what you say--KSH.
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The Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed suspected marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011 at the request of the Russian government, but didn't find evidence of suspicious activity and closed the case, an FBI official said Friday.
The fact that the FBI spoke with Mr. Tsarnaev, who was killed Friday morning in a firefight with authorities, is likely to become a focal point of the post mortem into how the attack was able to be carried out at the Boston Marathon. It also speaks to the challenge faced by authorities as terrorism morphs to some extent from the complex international plots of a decade ago to small-scale attacks carried out by individuals located within U.S.
U.S. counterterrorism policy has since 2001 focused largely on killing terrorists overseas or preventing them from getting into the U.S. But the Boston bombings show how the diffusion of terrorist tactics easily transcends borders. Countering small groups of individuals inside the U.S. can be a bedeviling assignment.
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In the beginning, there was widespread concern that [Robert] Edwards's in vitro technique would result in more children born with birth defects. When Louise Brown, the first "test tube" baby, was born healthy in 1978, these concerns evaporated, though questions of the long-term health of IVF children continue to be raised. As the original cohort ages, we should get clear answers one way or another.
The eminent bioethicist Leon Kass of the University of Chicago raised other concerns. IVF would, he feared, "lead to cloning, genetic manipulation of embryos, surrogate pregnancies, and the exploitation of nascent human life as a research tool." For those like me who share Dr. Kass's view of these practices as incompatible with respect for the dignity of human beings, these fears have proven to be well-grounded....
...the real question of "who is in charge" cannot be resolved by proving that something is technically possible. Rather it is whether it is right to or wrong—consistent with or contrary to the dignity of the human being—to do what it may well be technically possible to do. Edwards's technical achievement has brought joy to millions of parents. And each life created, no matter how it was created, is inestimably precious and intrinsically good.
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The article by the Revd Dr Charlotte Methuen, a lecturer in church history at the University of Glasgow, entitled "Marriage: one man and one woman?", was published on the Open Democracy website last Friday.
After a survey of the biblical and historical understanding of marriage, including observations about polygamy, the submission of women, and inequality, Dr Methuen writes: "I recognise that the Faith and Order Commission's document offers one theological justification for the Church of England's current position on marriage, but I cannot see marriage simply and uncritically as part of the 'goods' of creation. . .
"One of the flaws of our current conception of marriage may be precisely the emphasis on 'one man and one woman', which seems consistently to imply expectations about the role of women and men which tend to be biologically determinist, and which reach beyond the question of who is biologically capable of bearing children."
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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has signalled that he will back moves to change the law to allow straight couples to have civil partnerships.
He offered his support for a parliamentary amendment to the gay marriage bill during a landmark meeting with the veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell at Lambeth Palace.
It is thought to be the first time the head of a major world church has invited a prominent gay rights leader to a meeting. The Archbishop, who is from the evangelical wing of the Church which supports a traditional interpretation of the Bible on issues such as homosexuality, said he wanted to open a “dialogue” with gay and lesbian groups.
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Read it all from the Independent. There are two pieces, one for and one against.
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...one of the most striking and certainly the most moving images coming out of Boston was of people rushing forward toward the sites of the explosions to help the injured.
The Archbishop of Boston, Sean O’Malley, spoke for many of us when he said that “the citizens of the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are blessed by the bravery and heroism of many, particularly the men and women of the police and fire departments and emergency services who responded within moments of these tragic events.”
But it wasn’t only those in uniform. Carlos Arredondo, a peace activist whose son was killed in Iraq, became a national hero when he jumped over the security fence and started helping the injured. And he wasn’t the only civilian who ran towards the chaos when common sense dictated running away from it.
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For many Christians, Brennan Manning and grace are synonymous. Therein lies the scandal, and the triumph.
Let’s start with the scandal. Richard Francis Xavier “Brennan” Manning was an alcoholic and an addict. He hurt those close to him by compulsive lying, mainly due to hide his drinking, or if not, as he put it, to “stay in practice.” He was a former Franciscan priest, who broke his vows to marry. He later divorced.
But then there’s the triumph. Manning was a powerful writer and speaker, beloved and respected for his passionate witness to the expansiveness of God’s mercy and forgiveness, the availability of intimacy and communion with “Abba, Father,” and the inexhaustible grace of Jesus Christ. And he would know.
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In those few paragraphs, John Calvin succinctly sums up election and holiness for the Christian. While there are several themes that come out of this quote and this passage, the one theme that I think springs from this text is holiness. Holiness is the consequence and evidence of our election. We are not holy to be accepted by God, but because Jesus is holy we are holy. God says, “you shall be holy, for I am holy”.
The idea of holiness is almost a peculiar doctrine for the new Reformed movement. I know many young and old in this tradition who feel no obligation to actively and passionately with their entire being, to pursue a life of holiness. They wouldn’t explicitly say this, but their lives wouldn’t reflect otherwise.
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Each suicide leaves behind on average six to ten survivors – husbands, wives, parents, children, siblings, other close friends or family members. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people, including many of our church members, will grieve the loss of a loved one to suicide.
I am one of those people. Some years ago, my father had a stroke that left him partially debilitated. Though he began rehabilitation, one of the side effects of the stroke was clinical depression. He lost all hope and eventually sank into despair. He couldn't see any reason to go on. Three months after the stroke, at age 58, he killed himself.
Though all deaths are tragic, suicide affects us differently than when someone dies in car accident or from a terminal illness. Counselors call death by suicide a "complicated grief" or "complicated bereavement," like death by murder or terrorist attack. Not only do family members grieve the loss of the loved one, they must also face the trauma of the suicide.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Suicide * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Pastoral Theology
The US Supreme Court is scheduled on Monday to take up a case with widespread implications for scientific innovation and health care in the US. The question: Are human genes patentable?
The issue arises in a challenge to patents held by Myriad Genetics, a Utah-based diagnostic testing and research firm that developed a way to detect genetic mutations (called BRCA1 and BRCA2) that scientists associate with a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
The process is described by the company’s lawyers as akin to locating a particular grain of sand in a space the size of the Empire State Building. The tests have helped over a million patients identify risks and develop treatment strategies....
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Army Pvt. John Jeffery stumbled into Kyle Boswell's barracks room at Ft. Bliss before dawn one day in February, his eyes glassy.
"I've done something," Jeffery mumbled to his buddy. "I can't tell anyone. It's going to happen."
He had just learned his girlfriend was cheating on him. The Army had decided to kick him out for using heroin. Now the 21-year-old veteran of Afghanistan had downed more than two bottles of Vicodin and Oxycodone, powerful prescription painkillers. Boswell rushed him to the emergency room, and he remains in the hospital psychiatric ward.
The case is a success of sorts — a soldier treated, a suicide prevented — and it reflects an encouraging shift at Ft. Bliss....
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology Stress Suicide * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
One of the country's most senior Anglican bishops came a step closer to endorsing gay marriage after he called for the ban on same-sex partnership blessings to be lifted.
The outgoing Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Rev James Jones, said it was time for the church to consider the blessing of civil partnerships. "We've come to a time now that if we believe that civil partnerships are just then we can't withhold the blessing of God from that which we believe to be just," he said.
Although the remarks fell short of endorsing gay marriage they will nonetheless embolden campaigners. The Church of England has previously ruled out offering blessings to same-sex couples.
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An uncompromising document released this week reinforces the ban on public forms of blessing for those in same-sex relationships. It states that, although the introduction of same-sex marriage will not make heterosexual marriage "disappear", it may make "the path to fulfilment, in marriage and in other relationships, more difficult to find".
The report, Men and Women in Marriage, was published on Wednesday by the C of E's Faith and Order Commission, with the agreement of the House of Bishops. It includes a foreword from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York which commends it "for study". It was shown to journalists at Church House on Tuesday morning, where the Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, who chairs the Commission and who wrote the report, answered questions about its contents.
The report seeks to set the disagreements between the Government and the Church of England over same-sex marriage, which it mentions only twice, "against a more positive background of how Christians have understood and valued marriage". It quotes the Common Worship marriage service: "Marriage is a gift from God in creation."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Why do so many guys with good doctrine have bad attitudes?
Can you be biblically orthodox and firm in your faith without being brittle or hard-hearted?
Can we be humble and orthodox?
My friend, Josh Harris, thinks so. His book Humble Orthodoxy: Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Down (Multnomah, 2013) is short and to the point, and it’s a point we need to be reminded of. I asked Josh to join me on the blog for a conversation about the importance of holding to the right beliefs the right way.
Read it all.
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Someone once asked me if I thought the resurrection was necessary. He meant it in the most sincere way, as a person of both faith and doubt who wondered if we needed to be bound by so unreasonable a proposition that Jesus’ tomb was, in fact, empty on that first Easter morning.
I hesitated in answering, because there seemed to be layers of argument behind the question. My answer was yes, resurrection is the foundation of Christian faith, but probably not in the way he meant it.
To say that resurrection is essential doesn’t mean that if someone were to discover a tomb with Jesus’ remains in it that the entire enterprise would come crashing down. The truth is that we don’t know what happened to Jesus after his death, anymore than we can know what will happen to us. What we do know from the stories handed down is how Jesus’ followers experienced his resurrection. What we know is how we experience resurrection ourselves.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Easter * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Theology: Scripture
Take the time to listen to it all (and note there is a live excerpt of the Kenyon Commencement address).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Poetry & Literature Psychology Mental Illness Suicide * Theology Anthropology
Lin, the first Chinese-American to be play in NBA, and NBA commissioner David Stern said that Lin’s failure to get a major college basketball scholarship or a roster spot through the NBA draft had to do with his Asian ethnicity.
CBS’s 60 Minutes will do a report on Lin’s story Sunday, April 7 at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT, where the Houston Rocket’s point guard sits down and discusses his rags to riches story and his stellar performance that caused the “Linsanity” phenomenon, and the racial obstacles he’s had to overcome.
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Opponents of same-sex marriage resist it because it amounts to redefining marriage, but also because it will invite future redefinitions. If we embrace same-sex marriage, they argue, society will have surrendered any reasonable grounds on which to continue forbidding polygamy, for example.
In truth, proponents of same-sex marriage have never offered a very good response to this concern. This problem was highlighted at the Supreme Court last week in oral argument over California’s Proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman.
Surprisingly, the polygamy problem that same-sex marriage presents was raised by an Obama appointee, the liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Sotomayor interrupted the presentation of anti-Prop 8 litigator Theodore Olson to pose the following question: If marriage is a fundamental right in the way proponents of same-sex marriage contend, “what state restrictions could ever exist,” for example, “with respect to the number of people . . . that could get married?”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Politics in General State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
An Episcopal pastor and former hospital chaplain has released a book titled Revealing Heaven: The Christian Case for Near-Death Experiences, which chronicles over 200 near-death experiences that people have shared with him. The accounts describe both heavenly and hellish experiences, some of which challenge conservative Christian beliefs.
The Rev. John W. Price, 74, who continues to serve at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, shared in an exclusive phone interview with The Christian Post that he has spoken to more than 237 people who have had near-death experiences, despite his initial reservations.
Ordained as a priest in 1965, Price admits that at the start of his career, he did not believe in near-death experiences at all, and even turned away the first couple of people who tried to share with him visions of what they went through. As he explains in Revealing Heaven, when he became a chaplain at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston and more people starting coming up to him with their stories, he started paying closer attention – and his views began changing....
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Felix and Oscar quarrel all the time, but they cannot imagine life without one another. Each has the other’s power of attorney. There is as much chance of their moving to separate apartments, now, after all these years, as there is that the Empire State Building will spontaneously collapse into dust. They wouldn’t know how to get through a single day. So they wish to celebrate this lifelong friendship. They wish to throw a party, and to gain the Social Security benefits that accrue to the survivor in a marriage.
So Felix and Oscar are going to tie the knot.
In a saner day than ours, someone would object, “There’s no knot to tie! They can’t marry! You’re confusing friendship with marriage.” That would be quite right. Nothing prevents Felix or Oscar from naming the other as sole legatee in his will. But nothing that Felix and Oscar do with one another is specifically marital. The thing that a married man and woman do, that no one else can do, is to consummate the marriage, bringing it to its fullest realization. The marital act unites across the chasm of the sexes and across the generations, from the past into the future. In it alone do human beings bring together precious strands of human history, from the beginning of our race. In it alone dwells the possibility of new life. The act is biologically, essentially, summative of the past and oriented toward the future.
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Less than a month after sponsoring an event for Virginia Episcopal clergy featuring a speaker who denies both the afterlife and unique divinity of Christ, Bishop Shannon Johnston of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has presided over a service featuring a similarly controversial figure.
In a Good Friday service at historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, retired Bishop John Shelby Spong decried the Nicene Creed as “a radical distortion of the Gospel of John,” asserted that several of the apostles were “mythological” and declared that Jesus Christ did not die to redeem humanity from its sins.
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The story of the salvation of the dying thief is a standing instance of the power of Christ to save, and of his abundant willingness to receive all that come to him, in whatever plight they may be. I cannot regard this act of grace as a solitary instance, any more than the salvation of Zacchaeus, the restoration of Peter, or the call of Saul, the persecutor. Every conversion is, in a sense, singular: no two are exactly alike, and yet any one conversion is a type of others. The case of the dying thief is much more similar to our conversion than it is dissimilar; in point of fact, his case may be regarded as typical, rather than as an extraordinary incident. So I shall use it at this time. May the Holy Spirit speak through it to the encouragement of those who are ready to despair!
Remember, beloved friends, that our Lord Jesus, at the time he saved this malefactor, was at his lowest. His glory had been ebbing out in Gethsemane, and before Caiaphas, and Herod, and Pilate; but it had now reached the utmost low-water mark.
Stripped of his garments, and nailed to the cross, our Lord was mocked by a ribald crowd, and was dying in agony: then was he “numbered with the transgressors,” and made as the offscouring of all things. Yet, while in that condition, he achieved this marvellous deed of grace. Behold the wonder wrought by the Saviour when emptied of all his glory, and hanged up a spectacle of shame upon the brink of death! How certain is it it that he can do great wonders of mercy now, seeing that he has returned unto his glory, and sitteth upon the throne of light! “He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” If a dying Saviour saved the thief, my argument is, that he can do even more now that he liveth and reigneth. All power is given unto him in heaven and in earth; can anything at this present time surpass the power of his grace?
It is not only the weakness of our Lord which makes the salvation of the penitent thief memorable; it is the fact that the dying malefactor saw it before his very eyes. Can you put yourself into his place, and suppose yourself to be looking upon one who hangs in agony upon a cross? Could you readily believe him to be the Lord of glory, who would soon come to his kingdom? That was no mean faith which, at such a moment, could believe in Jesus as Lord and King. If the apostle Paul were here, and wanted to add a New Testament chapter to the eleventh of Hebrews, he might certainly commence his instances of remarkable faith with this thief, who believed in a crucified, derided, and dying Christ, and cried to him as to one whose kingdom would surely come. The thief’s faith was the more remarkable because he was himself in great pain, and bound to die. It is not easy to exercise confidence when you are tortured with deadly anguish. Our own rest of mind has at times been greatly hindered by pain of body. When we are the subjects of acute suffering it is not easy to exhibit that faith which we fancy we possess at other times. This man, suffering as he did, and seeing the Saviour in so sad a state, nevertheless believed unto life eternal. Herein was such faith as is seldom seen.
Recollect, also, that he was surrounded by scoffers. It is easy to swim with the current, and hard to go against the stream. This man heard the priests, in their pride, ridicule the Lord, and the great multitude of the common people, with one consent, joined in the scorning; his comrade caught the spirit of the hour, and mocked also, and perhaps he did the same for a while; but through the grace of God he was changed, and believed in the Lord Jesus in the teeth of all the scorn. His faith was not affected by his surroundings; but he, dying thief as he was, made sure his confidence. Like a jutting rock, standing out in the midst of a torrent, he declared the innocence of the Christ whom others blasphemed. His faith is worthy of our imitation in its fruits. He had no member that was free except his tongue, and he used that member wisely to rebuke his brother malefactor, and defend his Lord. His faith brought forth a brave testimony and a bold confession. I am not going to praise the thief, or his faith, but to extol the glory of that grace divine which gave the thief such faith, and then freely saved him by its means. I am anxious to show how glorious is the Saviour—that Saviour to the uttermost, who, at such a time, could save such a man, and give him so great a faith, and so perfectly and speedily prepare him for eternal bliss. Behold the power of that divine Spirit who could produce such faith on soil so unlikely, and in a climate so unpropitious.
–From a sermon of C.H. Spurgeon preached on April 7, 1889
In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopp'd my wild career:
I saw One hanging on a Tree
In agonies and blood,
Who fix'd His languid eyes on me.
As near His Cross I stood.
Sure never till my latest breath,
Can I forget that look:
It seem'd to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke:
My conscience felt and own'd the guilt,
And plunged me in despair:
I saw my sins His Blood had spilt,
And help'd to nail Him there.
Alas! I knew not what I did!
But now my tears are vain:
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain!
A second look He gave, which said,
"I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid;
I die that thou may'st live."
Thus, while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too.
With pleasing grief, and mournful joy,
My spirit now if fill'd,
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by Him I kill'd!
--John Newton (1725-1807)
In recent years Luther's teaching on the atonement has been a subject of strong dispute. Some (mostly the Swedish interpreters) have stressed the ideas of "conflict" and "victory" in Luther's discussions of atonement, arguing for a discontinuity between the Reformer's own thinking and the "substitutionary" theory of later Protestant orthodoxy. Others have insisted that at this point Luther's teaching differs in no essentials from that of his successors. One is well advised to tread carefully on entering the field of controversy; nevertheless, I make bold to submit that the interpretation of atonement in both Luther and Calvin can be understood as turning on the central and pivotal conception of a "happy exchange," in which the believer's sins are laid upon Christ and Christ's own innocence is communicated to the believer. From this center, we may say, the Reformers' thinking moves outwards to the various other soteriological concepts, including the two about which modern opinion is chiefly divided, namely, "victory" and "substitution." First and foremost, the Christian is one who has been united with Christ so intimately that an exchange of qualities has somehow taken place.
Of course, this understanding of Luther's thought would not settle present-day controversies, for it is not incompatible with either of the two main rival theories, nor even with a combination of both. Neither is it incompatible with Calvin's threefold scheme of "Prophet, Priest, and King" (a scheme of which, in any case, he makes very little use), since Christ does not exercise these offices in any "private capacity," but rather communicates their benefits to believers. Perhaps we may say that the notion of "exchange" belongs to the presuppositions of atonement, as the Reformers understood it, whilst the detailed outworking of the doctrine demands the use of further categories.
That the notion is indeed fundamental to the Reformers' thinking could be demonstrated by many passages from the works of both.
Luther speaks explicitly of this "happy exchange" (fröhlich Wechsel) in the German version of the Treatise on Christian Liberty. The soul and Christ are united like bride and bridegroom. They become one flesh, and everything they possess is shared in common. "What Christ has is the property of the believing soul, what the soul has becomes the property of Christ." A similar passage occurs in the Larger Commentary on Galatians (though worded differently in Rörer's MS.): "So, making a happy exchange with us (feliciter commutans nobiscum) he [Christ] took upon him our sinful person, and gave us his own innocent and victorious person." These passages can readily be matched in Calvin's Institutes: "Who could do this [i.e., win salvation for men], unless the Son of God should become also the Son of Man, and so receive what is ours as to transfer to us what is his?" And again: "He was not unwilling to take upon him what was properly ours, that he might in turn (vicissim) extend to us what was properly his." The same pattern of thought recurs in both the Reformers when they speak of the Lord's Supper; as, for instance, in Luther's Treatise on the Blessed Sacrament, and the fourth book of Calvin's Institutes. What exactly it is that is "exchanged" is made perfectly clear in each of these passages: namely, Christ's righteousness is exchanged for the believer's sin.
--Brian A. Gerrish
Subject to foreign motion, lose their own,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a year their natural form obey ;
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit
For their first mover, and are whirl’d by it.
Hence is’t, that I am carried towards the west,
This day, when my soul’s form bends to the East.
There I should see a Sun by rising set,
And by that setting endless day beget.
But that Christ on His cross did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for me.
Who sees Gods face, that is self-life, must die ;
What a death were it then to see God die ?
It made His own lieutenant, Nature, shrink,
It made His footstool crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands, which span the poles
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes ?
Could I behold that endless height, which is
Zenith to us and our antipodes,
Humbled below us ? or that blood, which is
The seat of all our soul’s, if not of His,
Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn
By God for His apparel, ragg’d and torn ?
If on these things I durst not look, durst I
On His distressed Mother cast mine eye,
Who was God’s partner here, and furnish’d thus
Half of that sacrifice which ransom’d us ?
Though these things as I ride be from mine eye,
They’re present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them ; and Thou look’st towards me,
O Saviour, as Thou hang’st upon the tree.
I turn my back to thee but to receive
Corrections till Thy mercies bid Thee leave.
O think me worth Thine anger, punish me,
Burn off my rust, and my deformity ;
Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace,
That Thou mayst know me, and I’ll turn my face.
–John Donne (1572-1631)
In the end, repentance, not love, has come to symbolise Cranmer himself, his life's work being interpreted by his last days. In the eyes of his critics, Cranmer's recantations prove that at best he was weak and vacillating. In the hearts of his admirers, however, Cranmer's last-minute renunciation of his recantations proved his true commitment to the Protestant faith. But what of Cranmer himself, how did he interpret his last days and the meaning they gave to his life? According to a contemporary account, having previously been distraught, Cranmer came to the stake with a cheerful countenance and willing mind.
Fire being now put to him, he stretched out his right Hand, and thrust it into the Flame, and held it there a good space, before the Fire came to any other Part of his Body; where his Hand was seen of every Man sensibly burning, crying with a loud Voice, This Hand hath offended. As soon as the Fire got up, he was very soon Dead, never stirring or crying all the while.His Catholic executioners surely thought Cranmer was making satisfaction to his Protestant God. Yet his doctrine of repentance would have taught him otherwise, for the God he served saved the unworthy.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Theology Anthropology Pastoral Theology Soteriology
[SCOTT] SIMON: Did you grow up thinking you'd be a writer?. Read or, better, listen to the whole piece.
[RON] RASH: I didn't, but I think I showed all the symptoms. I was very comfortable being by myself. I spent a lot of time alone and particularly out in the natural world. I think I had a particular moment when I was 15 years old. I read "Crime and Punishment," and that book just, I think, more than any other book made me want to be a writer, 'cause it was the first time that I hadn't just entered a book, but a book had entered me. I can remember exactly where I was. I was in a biology class. I was supposed to be listening to the teacher but I was on the back row. And I can just remember so vividly just never having that kind of feeling, that kind of intensity from a book. And, obviously, at 15 I didn't understand exactly what was going on with Raskolnikov. But there was a particular scene early in that book where the pawnbroker was murdered that I will never forget. It's one of the most vivid memories in my life - not just my reading life (my emphasis)
Are human beings born good or born with a volcanic anti-God allergy in their hearts? Answering this theological question is one of THE great challenges for Christians as we stand on the brink of a new millennium.
On one side of the divide stands Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). Men and women “are born free,” he famously said in his Social Contract, yet “everywhere” they are “in chains.” Rousseau believed that we are born good. His explanation for the deep problems in the world? They came to us from outside us. Error and prejudice, murder and treason, were the products of corrupt environments: educational, familial, societal, political, and, yes, ecclesiastical.
Note carefully that the FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM is located outside men and women, and the MEANS of evil developing comes from the outside in. The NATURE of the problem is one of environment and knowledge.
Augustine (354-430) saw things very differently. Describing the decision by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Augustine writes in The City of God: “Our parents fell into open disobedience because they were secretly corrupted; for the evil act had never been done had not an evil will preceded it.” The motive for this evil will was pride. “This is undue exaltation, when the soul abandons Him to whom it ought to cleave as its end, and becomes a kind of end to itself … By craving to be more” we “became less;” and “by aspiring to be self-sufficing,” we “fell away from him who truly suffices” us.
For Augustine, men and women as we find them today are creatures curved in on themselves. We are rebels who, rather than curving up and out in worship to God, instead curved in and down into what Malcolm Muggeridge once termed “the dark little dungeon of our own” egos.
In this view the FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM is located inside men and women, and the means of evil developing comes from the inside out (note Jesus’ reasoning in Mark 7:18-23). The NATURE of the problem is one of the will.
The difference between Augustine and Rousseau could not be more stark. In a Western world permeated by Rousseau, we need the courage to return to the challenge and depth of Augustine’s insight.
To do so makes the good news of the gospel even better. Think of Easter. What is the image which Paul uses to describe what occurs when a man or woman turns to Christ? New Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)! Jesus rose to transform the entire created order from the inside out, beginning with our evil wills which he replaces with “a new heart…and a new spirit” (Ezekiel 36:26).
--Kendall S. Harmon from a piece in 2007
"Confess your faults one to another" (Jas. 5:16). He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. This pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. so we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!
But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says: You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you. He wants you as you are; He does not want anything from you, a sacrifice, a work; He wants you alone. "My son, give me thine heart" (Prov. 23:26). God has come to you to save the sinner. Be glad! This message is liberation through truth. You can hide nothing from God. The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him. He wants to see you as you are, He wants to be gracious to you. You do not have to on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin; you can dare to be a sinner. Thank God for that; He loves the sinner but He hates sin.
--Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
The idea of national repentance seems at first sight to provide such an edifying contrast to that national self-righteousness of which England is so often accused and with which she entered (or is said to have entered) the last war, that a Christian naturally turns to it with hope. Young Christians especially-last-year undergraduates and first-year curates- are turning to it in large numbers. They are ready to believe that England bears part of the guilt for the present war, and ready to admit their own share in the guilt of England. What that share is, I do not find it easy to determine. Most of these young men were children, and none of them had a vote or the experience which would enable them to use a vote wisely, when England made many of those decisions to which the present disorders could plausibly be traced. Are they, perhaps, repenting what they have in no sense done?
If they are, it might be supposed that their error is very harmless: men fail so often to repent their real sins that the occasional repentance of an imaginary sin might appear almost desirable. But what actually happens (I have watched it happening) to the youthful national penitent is a little more complicated than that. England is not a natural agent, but a civil society. When we speak of England's actions we mean the actions of the British government. The young man who is called upon to repent of England's foreign policy is really being called upon to repent the acts of his neighbor; for a foreign secretary or a cabinet minister is certainly a neighbor. And repentance presupposes condemnation. The first and fatal charm of national repentance is, therefore, the encouragement it gives us to turn from the bitter task of repenting our own sins to the congenial one of bewailing-but, first, of denouncing-the conduct of others. I
--C.S. Lewis, "Dangers of national repentance"
Our first parents fell into open disobedience because already they were secretly corrupted; for the evil act had never been done had not an evil will preceded it. And what is the origin of our evil will but pride? For "pride is the beginning of sin." And what is pride but the craving for undue exaltation? And this is undue exaltation, when the soul abandons Him to whom it ought to cleave as its end, and becomes a kind of end to itself. This happens when it becomes its own satisfaction....The devil, then, would not have ensnared man in the open and manifest sin of doing what God had forbidden, had man not already begun to live for himself....By craving to be more, man became less; and by aspiring to be self-sufficing, he fell away from him who truly suffices him.
--Augustine, The City of God 14.13
One month after the Coalition’s ‘mid-term review’ sidestepped a pledge to cap social care funding, it appears the Government are finally willing to show their hand.
Today's announcement will impose a limit of £75,000 on the amount that individuals will have to pay towards their own care – after which point, the state will cover further costs.
Demos analysis shows a cap set at that level is miserly, helping only 16% of older people.
However, there remains another significant problem - one that risks further alienating the kind of middle class families already reeling from having their child benefit cut and marriage tax break postponed. The scheme contains a hidden penalty for couples, and for their children.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
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A church in Aberdeen wants to break away from the Church of Scotland because of the institution's decision to lift its ban on appointing gay ministers.
Reverend Dominic Smart said elders at Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen, pictured, disagreed with the General Assembly's resolution, feeling it had "marginalised" the Bible.
He insisted the assembly's May decision on same-sex partnerships represented a "clear and deliberate move away from the authority of scripture".
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Presbyterian Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths) * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Nearly 70 years later, Chaney is among the dwindling number of South Carolinians who fought in World War II. And at 87, he may be among the oldest to receive post-traumatic stress disorder benefits for it.
After decades of nightmares and sessions with doctors, Chaney last year was approved based on his World War II experiences that, according to some of the paperwork involved, included much more than spanning Europe’s rivers and streams.
“My unit was involved in the release of prisoners of war at the Buchenwald concentration camp,” he said in one account his family provided to the Department of Veterans Affairs. “The prisoners looked like walking skeletons and some died while I was there. We used big earth moving machines to dig massive graves.”
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(Note that last season Dickey played with the New York Mets and he will be with Toronto this season--KSH).
This is Kamathipura, the red light district of Mumbai, among the most notorious sex-trafficking locations in the world. I am here as a guest of Bombay Teen Challenge (BTC), a charity that has been fighting human trafficking for more than 20 years, one I joined forces with last year, when two friends and I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and raised $130,000 , much of it from generous and kind-hearted Mets fans. I have come with my two daughters, Gabriel, 11, and Lila, 9, to witness the fruits of our climb – the conversion of a former brothel to a health clinic. I want my daughters to share the experience not so much as a gratitude check, but to learn that each of us has a capacity to make a difference in this world, and to see that God’s grace makes that possible.
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In America, all men are believed to be created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. But Nigerians are brought up to believe that our society consists of higher and lesser beings. Some are born to own and enjoy, while others are born to toil and endure.
The earliest indoctrination many of us have to this mind-set happens at home. Throughout my childhood, “househelps” — usually teenagers from poor families — came to live with my family, sometimes up to three or four of them at a time. In exchange for scrubbing, laundering, cooking, baby-sitting and everything else that brawn could accomplish, either they were sent to school, or their parents were sent regular cash.
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Take interstate highways between South Carolina's largest metropolitan areas and the scene remains similar — thick forests, meandering rivers and lush farms punctuated with thriving suburbs and vibrant downtowns.
Get off those interstates and something else emerges — towns where poverty rules, illiteracy passes to children like an inherited disease, and diabetes strikes 9-year-olds because of bad diets and obesity.
This is the other South Carolina. It runs along the “Interstate-95 Corridor” through the mostly majority black counties made infamous by the “Corridor of Shame” documentary about inequities in public schools. It also includes the “Mill Crescent,” the swath of rural, largely white, old textile mill counties between the I-85 economic powerhouse and greater Columbia.
If you took this other South Carolina away, the state would no longer rank at the bottom of nearly every list you want it to be at the top of. Instead, it would basically mirror the nation as a whole in income, education and health.
Many crippling disparities linger in these metropolitan counties, but the areas have been pushed into the national mainstream by four decades of economic growth, desegregation and an influx of people from other states and countries with new ideas and high expectations.
The other South Carolina remains shrouded in despair by the legacies of slavery, dependence on a marginally educated workforce, and political and economic domination by an elite few.
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