Posted by Kendall Harmon

Remember the more specific you are, the more the rest of us can enjoy it--why you chose this book, what specifically you like/liked about it, etc.--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetBooks

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Posted July 23, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop William White of Pennsylvania, who first expressed the idea of a national association of state churches that later became TEC, outlined a plan "for organizing these Church of England congregations." White was "very sympathetic to the notion that the individual state organizations and dioceses should have the full and open control of their own property and of their own government" (p.27)

Take the time to read through it all (74 page pdf).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC ConflictsTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted July 6, 2015 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We Americans live in a society awash in historical celebrations. The last few years have witnessed commemorations of the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase (2003) and the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II (2005). But one significant milestone has gone strangely unnoticed: the 200th anniversary of Jan. 1, 1808, when the importation of slaves into the United States was prohibited.

This neglect stands in striking contrast to the many scholarly and public events in Britain that marked the 2007 bicentennial of that country's banning of the slave trade. There were historical conferences, museum exhibits, even a high-budget film, "Amazing Grace," about William Wilberforce, the leader of the parliamentary crusade that resulted in abolition.

What explains this divergence? Throughout the 1780s, the horrors of the Middle Passage were widely publicized on both sides of the Atlantic, and by 1792 the British Parliament stood on the verge of banning the trade. But when war broke out with revolutionary France, the idea was shelved. Final prohibition came in 1807, and it proved a major step toward the abolition of slavery in the empire.

What explains this divergence? Throughout the 1780s, the horrors of the Middle Passage were widely publicized on both sides of the Atlantic, and by 1792 the British Parliament stood on the verge of banning the trade. But when war broke out with revolutionary France, the idea was shelved. Final prohibition came in 1807, and it proved a major step toward the abolition of slavery in the empire.

The British campaign against the African slave trade not only launched the modern concern for human rights as an international principle, but today offers a usable past for a society increasingly aware of its multiracial character. It remains a historic chapter of which Britons of all origins can be proud.

In the United States, however, slavery not only survived the end of the African trade but embarked on an era of unprecedented expansion.

Read the whole article.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 30, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves



Filed under: * Culture-WatchMusic

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Posted July 29, 2015 at 9:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves



Filed under: * Culture-WatchMusic

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Posted July 28, 2015 at 4:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

By the Most Rev. Anthony Fisher, O.P., Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney
The campaign to redefine marriage has recently gained such momentum - with now three and soon four bills before the Commonwealth Parliament - that many think it is inevitable. This can leave those with misgivings feeling that they are already losers in a done deal.

Some think it is the inexorable progress of liberty and equality - which leaves the doubters on "the wrong side of history."

In this context supporters of classical marriage are presumed to have no real arguments to offer. So here I want to offer some reasons - not decrees from on high or from the past, not expressions of hatred or prejudice - but reasons I hope anyone can understand. I also hope these reasons prove persuasive and helpful in proclaiming and witnessing to true marriage among families, friends and colleagues.

Regardless, I hope this will help explain why Australian law has always held, and many people still hold, that marriage is for people of opposite sex.

I will examine five common slogans in this debate - that it is all about justice, that sexual differences do not matter, that it is all about love, that it is all about the numbers and that it does not affect me. Along the way, I will be offering some reasons for preserving the classical understanding of marriage rather than redefining it to include same-sex "marriage" (SSM).

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family

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Posted July 28, 2015 at 8:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves



Filed under: * Culture-WatchMusic

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Posted July 27, 2015 at 8:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It isn’t clear what effect the Benedict Option would have on American political life. Even if one envisions the Benedict Option as “strategic attentiveness” to the cultivation of virtue, rather than “strategic retreat,” as Alan Jacobs, another prominent Christian writer has advocated, the Benedict Option implies a reduced engagement in the messy business of politics. At a time when religious freedom is viewed by many as expendable, and appears in scare quotes or their equivalent in major U.S. newspapers for the first time in American history, the practical consequences of reduced engagement could be considerable.

Yet even those of us who are skeptical of the Benedict Option can acknowledge the benefits of cultivating virtue, engaging more fully in our local communities and perhaps turning off the TV more often. Given the sometimes judgmental tendencies of theologically conservative Christians during the culture wars of the recent past, traditional Christians also might do well to focus a little more on showing what Christian morality looks like, and less on how others conduct their lives.

There may even be grounds for optimism for Christians who feel increasingly estranged from American culture. Being out of touch can be clarifying. After all, many of the greatest advances for Christianity have come during periods when Christians seemed most beleaguered. From the early Roman Empire to the Great Awakenings in 18th- and 19th-century America, and to China today, Christianity has tended to flourish anew when the distinctions are clearest between Christian faith and other conceptions of what it means to be human.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 27, 2015 at 7:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dissatisfaction is the one word that best expresses the state of mind in which Christendom finds itself today. There is a wide-spread misgiving that we are on the eve of momentous changes. Unrest is everywhere. We hear about Roman Councils, and Anglican Conferences, and Evangelical Alliances, about the question of the Temporal Power, the dissolution of Church and State, and many other such like things. They all have one meaning. The party of the Papacy and the party of the Reformation, the party of orthodoxy and the party of liberalism, are all alike agitated by the consciousness that a spirit of change is in the air.

No wonder that many imagine themselves listening to the rumbling of the chariot- wheels of the Son of Man. He Himself predicted that " perplexity" should be one of the signs of His coining, and it is certain that the threads of the social order have seldom been more seriously entangled than they now are.

A calmer and perhaps truer inference is that we are about entering upon a new reach of Church history, and that the dissatisfaction and perplexity are only transient. There is always a tumult of waves at the meeting of the waters; but when the streams have mingled, the flow is smooth and still again. The plash and gurgle that we hear may mean something like this.

At all events the time is opportune for a discussion of the Church-Idea ; for it is with this, hidden under a hundred disguises, that the world's thoughts are busy. Men have become possessed with an unwonted longing for unity, and yet they are aware that they do not grapple successfully with the practical problem. Somehow they are grown persuaded that union is God's work, and separation devil's work ; but the persuasion only breeds the greater discontent. That is what lies at the root of our unquietness. There is a felt want and a felt inability to meet the want; and where these two things coexist there must be heat of friction.

Catholicity is what we are reaching after....

--William Reed Huntington The Church Idea (1870)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooks* TheologyEcclesiology

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Posted July 27, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

A large majority of adults in several Saharan and sub-Saharan countries polled say homosexuality should not be accepted.

In many countries around the world where a majority opposes homosexuality, young adults are far more likely than older ones to support acceptance. But that isn’t the case generally in African nations that have been polled, suggesting that generational replacement won’t change public opinion as it might elsewhere and has already in the U.S.

In 2013, just before Obama’s trip, the Pew Research Center polled nearly 38,000 people in 39 countries and territories, asking them, “Should society accept homosexuality?” Three in five Americans said “yes.” At least 80 percent of Spaniards, Germans, Czechs and Canadians agreed. Pew found very different results in the eight African countries where it polled: In seven of them — including Kenya and two Saharan countries, Egypt and Tunisia — 90 percent or more of respondents answered “no.” (Three of the 31 other places registered “no” support that high: Indonesia, Jordan and the Palestinian territories.)

South Africa was the lone African exception, but 61 percent of respondents there still answered “no.” (It is the only African country that recognizes same-sex marriage.) On average, “no” outpolled “yes” by 84 percentage points in African nations polled, compared to a near-tie (an edge of 2 percentage points) for “yes” to acceptance elsewhere.

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family

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Posted July 25, 2015 at 11:43 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The delicate issue of gay and lesbian rights popped up Saturday during a press briefing at State House as US President Barack Obama differed sharply with his host, President Uhuru Kenyatta, over the handling of those involved.

Responding to a question from journalists after holding bilateral talks in the afternoon, Obama pleaded the case of those “with a different sexual orientation”, asking the Kenyatta administration not to discriminate against such individuals.

But Kenyatta flatly rejected the idea of promoting gay and lesbian rights.

“We need to speak frankly about some of these issues. Kenyans and Americans share ideals such as democracy, entrepreneurship and family values but some things are not part of our religion or culture – and we cannot impose something on people that they don’t like,” said Kenyatta.

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family

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Posted July 25, 2015 at 11:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I wrote about this fear on my blog, and while the response was mostly positive, some liberals called me paranoid, or expressed doubt about why any teacher would nix the particular texts I listed. I guarantee you that these people do not work in higher education, or if they do they are at least two decades removed from the job search. The academic job market is brutal. Teachers who are not tenured or tenure-track faculty members have no right to due process before being dismissed, and there's a mile-long line of applicants eager to take their place. And as writer and academic Freddie DeBoer writes, they don't even have to be formally fired — they can just not get rehired. In this type of environment, boat-rocking isn't just dangerous, it's suicidal, and so teachers limit their lessons to things they know won't upset anybody.

This shift in student-teacher dynamic placed many of the traditional goals of higher education — such as having students challenge their beliefs — off limits. While I used to pride myself on getting students to question themselves and engage with difficult concepts and texts, I now hesitate. What if this hurts my evaluations and I don't get tenure? How many complaints will it take before chairs and administrators begin to worry that I'm not giving our customers — er, students, pardon me — the positive experience they're paying for? Ten? Half a dozen? Two or three?

This phenomenon has been widely discussed as of late, mostly as a means of deriding political, economic, or cultural forces writers don't much care for. Commentators on the left and right have recently criticized the sensitivity and paranoia of today's college students. They worry about the stifling of free speech, the implementation of unenforceable conduct codes, and a general hostility against opinions and viewpoints that could cause students so much as a hint of discomfort.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryPsychologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 25, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Abortion critics have long warned that the problem is not only the obvious — what abortion does to the fetus — but also what it does to us. It’s the same kind of desensitization that has occurred in the Netherlands with another mass exercise in life termination: assisted suicide. It began as a way to prevent the suffering of the terminally ill. It has now become so widespread and wanton that one-fifth of all Dutch assisted-suicide patients are euthanized without their explicit consent.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 24, 2015 at 7:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* General Interest

3 Comments
Posted July 24, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

In Nairobi on Monday, members of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya called upon Obama to refrain from discussing the gay agenda, reports CNSNews.com.

“It is important for us as Kenyans to know that the U.S. is not God,” evangelical Bishop Mark Kariuki was quoted by local media as saying.

Kariuki added that Obama should not use the visit to “talk about the gay issue.”

Irungu Kangata, a lawmaker in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s The National Alliance (TNA) party, said, “We are telling Mr. Obama when he comes to Kenya this month and he tries to bring the abortion agenda, the gay agenda, we shall tell him to shut up and go home.”
....
Kenyan religious leaders have been warning the United States for several years about the harmful influence of the militant LGBT agenda on culture and society. In 2013, Kenyan Cardinal John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi and president of the Kenyan Episcopal Conference, joined other African leaders in open dismissal of Obama’s calls for acceptance of same-sex marriage when the American president visited Africa at that time.

“Those people who have already ruined their society…let them not become our teachers to tell us where to go,” said Njue in response to Obama’s statements promoting same-sex marriage. “I think we need to act according to our own traditions and our faiths.”

Similarly, Ruto rebuked Obama for promoting same-sex marriage in Africa during his visit. Speaking at a Catholic Church, Ruto said, “Those who believe in other things, that is their business…We believe in God.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Monday that Obama would not avoid the topic of the gay agenda during his visit.

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family

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Posted July 23, 2015 at 11:37 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMedia* South Carolina

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Posted July 23, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMedia

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Posted July 23, 2015 at 5:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.CaribbeanJamaica

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Posted July 22, 2015 at 7:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

PTSD is considered an anxiety disorder. People may feel afraid when they're no longer in danger, or continue to relive traumatic events. They have a damaged "fight-or-flight response," says the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

Several ways exist to measure and diagnose PTSD. This study used measures ranging from full PTSD to major symptoms falling just short of a diagnosis, an important aspect of the study, said Rachel Yehuda, director of the Mental Health Patient Care Center at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New York City.

"The idea of 'subthreshold' PTSD is extremely important. We tend to think of combat veterans as having or not having PTSD," Yehuda said. "This study reminds us that the effects of combat trauma really do last a long time and justifies the long-term treatment that combat veterans receive."

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed Forces

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Posted July 22, 2015 at 4:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenPsychologyWomen* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 22, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

by Dr Thomas D. Williams

According to a recent AP-GFK poll, support for gay marriage among U.S. citizens has dropped six percentage points since their last poll in April, with more Americans disapproving of the Supreme Court ruling making gay marriage the law of the land than those approving it.
Rather than galvanizing Americans into a unified body, the Obergefell decision has left U.S. citizens more divided than ever on the question of gay marriage, after the court itself showed a deep divide on the issue. In an unprecedented move, the four opposing justices each published an independent dissent, leaving a mine of legal reasoning contrary to the majority opinion.

The AP poll reveals that 42% of Americans favor legal gay marriage, while a similar poll carried out last April showed 48% in favor. Moreover, in conflicts between the interests of same-sex couples and those of religious liberty, a majority of Americans (56%) believe that government should rule in favor of religious freedom.

Specifically, more Americans believe that local officials with religious objections should be exempted from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, with 49% siding with the exemption and 47% saying they should be obliged to comply with the law. Moreover, an increasing number of U.S. citizens believe that wedding-related businesses with religious objections should be allowed to refuse service to gay and lesbian couples. Whereas in April 52% thought they should be accorded this option, the number was up to 59% in the recent poll.

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family

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Posted July 21, 2015 at 12:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The vicar who is the star of a reality television show in which couples are married as soon as they meet has been criticised for allowing his clerical collar to give respectability to a “seedy” experiment.

The Rev Nick Devenish is one of five experts who selected six strangers to tie the knot in the Channel 4 show Married at First Sight.

The team vicar at the Church of St Mary & St Michael in Cartmel, Cumbria, analysed the participants’ understanding of marriage, what they wanted from their union and how well they understood the seriousness and commitment required. He was part of a panel of experts alongside a sex therapist, a psychologist and two anthropologists.

The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev David Walker, accused the show of “inappropriate and rather seedy behaviour” and has said that a Church of England vicar should not have been involved.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted July 21, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I know you understand. Posts will be catch as catch can but there will be updates so do check back. I am seriously considering an occasional open thread on an edifying subject so if you have suggestions for such threads please post in the comments below. Many thanks--KSH.

Filed under: * By Kendall* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet

4 Comments
Posted July 21, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can check here and there. This is what stood out to me:
1160 Peterus Lombardus, Italian theologian, bishop of Paris, died.

1669 John Locke's Constitution of English colony Carolina was approved.

1831 Belgium became independent as Leopold I was proclaimed King of the Belgians.

1861 In the first major battle of the Civil War, Confederate forces repelled an attempt by the Union Army to turn their flank in Virginia. The battle became known by the Confederates as Manassas, while the Union called it Bull Run.

1969: Man takes first steps on the Moon
What stood out to you--KSH?

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory

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Posted July 21, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Toronto’s Cathedral Church of St. James has mounted a historical overview of the Anglican church’s often painful relationship with Indigenous peoples, as part of an effort to keep alive the momentum generated by the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in May.

Truth and Reconciliation: A Special Exhibit on the Legacy of the Residential Schools is showing daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the cathedral’s east aisle during July and August. The cathedral is located on the northeast corner of Church and King streets.

The idea of an exhibit was supported by Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. “The primate was keenly interested, and we thought this was something we could put together fairly quickly,” said Nancy Mallet, cathedral archivist and exhibits committee chair.
- See more at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/-cathedral-exhibit-extends-spirit-of-the-trc#sthash.Huf4i7CB.dpuf

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

British Muslims who hold “intolerant ideas” and create a climate for extremism will become the target of a new clampdown to be announced by David Cameron today.

In a landmark speech the prime minister will say that a failure of integration has meant that there are people born and raised in this country who do not identify with Britain. Outlining a five-year strategy to combat extremism, he will attack those who hold ideas “hostile to basic liberal values” and who promote “discrimination, sectarianism and segregation”.

Mr Cameron will single out Muslim conspiracy theorists who believe that “Jews exercise malevolent power”, that 9/11 was inspired by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, and that Britain allowed 7/7 because it wanted an anti-Muslim backlash.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Polygamy may well make for a coalition of strange bedfellows drawn from across the religious and non-religious spectrum in the United States. If the so-called “mainline” churches repeat their same-sex marriage trajectory, they could well provide polygamy some hefty cultural and political ballast (though the impact of that support may not be quite as big as it was for same-sex marriage in light of the continued demographic decline of these denominations).

These Christians would, of course, also need to square their religious heritage around polygamy with the kinds of feminist critiques that informed the overhaul of monogamy during the past 50 or so years. The Reformation proponents of polygamy, after all, only had polygyny in mind, and a very male-dominated version at that. Protestants today would almost certainly need to consider polyandry and, to use a clunky term, polygynandry.

I agree with Douthat and Silk that Americans are going to need to think seriously about polygamy. Douthat is probably right in arguing that many of the arguments liberals put forth on behalf of same-sex marriage will be deployed on behalf of polygamy, but Silk is probably also correct that religious freedom claims will play a role as well. In any case, rather than let fear guide the conversation, perhaps we should embrace an honest, thorough, and thoughtful debate that will likely generate a new set of pro- and con- alliances from a diverse range of people and groups in the United States. It wouldn’t be a reformation of marriage without one.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria felt slighted when President Obama overlooked the vast nation on his first African trip as head of state in 2009, instead visiting its shrimp-sized neighbor, Ghana, where he lauded the smaller country's democratic achievements.

Obama left Nigeria out again in his 2013 visit to Africa. Now, as he prepares for his third and likely final trip to the continent as president, Nigeria is once more being bypassed in favor of Kenya and Ethiopia.

If democratic achievements play a role in the president's itinerary, Nigerians may be wondering: Why?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted July 20, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 1:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Dodgson’s writing bears subtle witness to the wonders of both creation and its creator in ways that deserve more attention. He was a committed, lifelong member of the Church of England. Although he balked at taking Holy Orders, he was ordained as a deacon in the church in 1861.

While his doctrinal views parted ways with those of his high church ancestors (his great-grandfather had been a bishop and his father a clergyman), Dodgson shied from the religious controversies plaguing the church at the time, remaining essentially what would have been considered orthodox.

“Most assuredly I accept to the full the doctrines you refer to — that Christ died to save us, that we have no other way of salvation open to us but through His death, and that it is by faith in Him, and through no merit of ours, that we are reconciled to God,” Dodgson wrote in a letter to a friend in 1897, “and most assuredly I can cordially say, ‘I owe all to Him who loved me, and died on the Cross of Calvary.'”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksChildrenHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 20, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I say the distinctions are questionable: The New Testament makes no such distinction between false teaching and heresy. When the Apostle Paul tells his disciple Timothy and the various churches to which he wrote not to tolerate false teachers, he did not make a distinction as to whether their false teaching concerned a matter that would someday be included in the Nicene Creed. In fact, the admonition was often to separate from false teachers who promoted immorality (1 Corinthians 5:11, 1 Corinthians 10:8, 2 Corinthians 6:17, Ephesians 5:3). The same is true for other apostles (2 Peter 2:1-10, Jude 3-7).

Heresy has also been defined as any departure from the faith of the Catholic Church, which Vincent of Lerins identified as that which has been believed by the whole church throughout the world, from the beginning, and by all (universality, antiquity, and the consensus of the faithful). Who can disagree that the Episcopal Church has seriously departed from the received faith of the universal and ancient church--and on a matter of ultimate importance: God's stated will for humankind in the matter of sexual relations and God's ordained sacrament of Holy Matrimony?

And as to remaining in communion, the New Testament makes no such stipulation. The Apostle Paul does not say, if the body with which you are associated continues in false teaching for a generation, then you (or, more likely, your children) are obliged to separate from it. No, the admonition is that those who are serious about following the way of Christ are either to expel or to separate from false teachers immediately.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted July 20, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The religious historian Owen Chadwick, who has died aged 99, was one of the most remarkable men of letters of the 20th century. He held two Cambridge University chairs over a period of 25 years, was its vice-chancellor during the student unrest of the late 1960s, chaired a commission that transformed the structures of the Church of England, and declined major bishoprics.

His range of publication was exceptional: he was a master of the large canvas – The Secularisation of the European Mind in the Nineteenth Century (1976) or The Popes and European Revolution (1981); of the full-scale biography such as those of Hensley Henson (1983), the stormy petrel of church politics, and of Michael Ramsey (1990); and of the cameo, as in Victorian Miniature (1960), his study of the fraught relationship between a 19th-century squire and parson, drawing on the papers of each, or as in Mackenzie’s Grave (1959), his wonderful story of the bishop sent to lead a mission up the Zambesi and whose disappearance brought out the best and the worst in Victorian Christianity and public life.

In addition to his one textbook – The Pelican History of the Church: The Reformation (1964), the first book on many reading lists for a quarter of a century – he produced several books for a wider readership, including A History of Christianity (1995) and a short biography of John Henry Newman (1983), but few articles or reviews.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksEducationYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 20, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A church which put out an urgent appeal for financial help has been saved.

Grade II listed St John's church in Bemerton, near Salisbury, closed in 2010 when the heating broke and there was no money to fix it.

The building was declared redundant by the Church of England but supporters have raised more than £500,000 to turn it into a community centre.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureRural/Town Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

2 Comments
Posted July 20, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the popular imagination, the view of the natural world represented by modern science and developed by such towering figures as Isaac Newton conflicts with the view of the created world in the Bible. From debates about evolution and intelligent design to questions about human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and even climate change, science and religion are often seen as fundamentally opposed to one another. Certainly, individual scientists might be religious — one thinks for instance of John Polkinghorne in physics or Francis Collins in biology — but most people would say that the work of these scientists is to be taken seriously because it is separate from, and thus unhampered by, their religious faith and practice. What happens in the pews on Sunday has no influence on what happens in the lab on Monday. So when contemporary readers learn that Isaac Newton was a deeply religious man, their way of incorporating this fact within their conception of him as one of the greatest scientists of the past four centuries likely involves imagining that his religious faith was intellectually separate from his work in mathematics, optics, astronomy, and physics. Never the twain shall meet.

That this image of Newton is profoundly inaccurate — that in fact separating God and science in this way would have been entirely foreign to him — has become apparent in recent decades of Newton scholarship. The reason this is significant is not just that it challenges the facile notion that science and religion are fundamentally at odds with one another. The case of Newton is even more interesting than that. The usual conception of how a scientist can also be religious is that he cannot take the Scriptures as “literally” true in every instance, especially in matters pertaining to the natural world. But Newton was committed to precisely such a reading of the text, which raises the question of how he reconciled potential conflicts between the claims of science and the Bible’s claims about nature.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureScience & Technology

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Church earlier this month took a leap forward in its evolving approach to gay rights, voting to allow priests to marry same-sex couples. But that won’t mean a rush to the altar at Louisiana churches.

No churches in the state have permission to marry gay couples until Nov. 29, the first Sunday of the Advent season. That’s when two new marriage rites using gender-neutral language become available for church services.

Meanwhile, priests who are opposed to same-sex marriage can, as a matter of conscience, refuse to officiate at such ceremonies. In Louisiana, that’s the norm.

Only a handful of the 97 Episcopal churches in the state have indicated they are planning to start holding same-sex weddings when the new rites take effect. These also are the only Louisiana churches that have presided over same-sex unions through a special “blessing” the Episcopal Church approved in 2012.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...were you to tell a clerk you were interested in reading some morally serious contemporary writing, you might be introduced to the books of New York Times bestselling author David Shields.

Sophisticated, ambitious, and widely praised as an exemplar of our age’s ethical-literary sensibility, Shields offers a polemically narcissistic, aggressively atheistic vision of how and why literature should ­matter to us, premised upon the willfully inward, selfish turn that follows from rejecting God and religion. If ­Augustine counseled us to read literature as a means of increasing our love of our neighbors and ultimately our love of God, Shields counsels us to read literature to increase our love of ourselves, because there’s no one else that matters.

As he declares in his most influential work, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, “So: no more masters, no more masterpieces. What I want (instead of God the novelist) is self-portrait in a convex mirror.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What do you mean by the title of the book?

Jonathan Dodson: Well, The Unbelievable Gospel is a kind of double entendre.Click to buy your copy of The Unbelievable Gospel in the Bible Gateway Store In one sense, the gospel is unbelievably good because it’s honest to affirm the human predicament—sinfully broken—but hopeful enough to offer a divine solution—personal and cosmic saving renewal. The gospel is the good and true story that Jesus has defeated sin, death, and evil through his own death and resurrection and is making all things new; even us. It’s as big as the cosmos and as small as you and me.

The problem is that many people don’t find the gospel to be true. This gets at the other sense of its un-believability. J.I. Packer says, “Evangelism is man’s work but the giving of faith is God’s.” God is the granter of faith; we’re responsible for witness; and it’s here, in our evangelism, that the gospel often becomes unbelievable to many.

People find the gospel unbelievable because of what we say and how we say it. Often evangelistic efforts come off as preachy, impersonal, intolerant, and uninformed. The gospel is the opposite of each of these. Instead of self-righteous preachy, we preach Christ’s righteousness; instead of coldly intolerant, we preach the warmth of union with Christ and dignify others. You get the idea.

If we’re honest, evangelicals are often more intent in getting Jesus off their chests than getting the gospel into people’s hearts. We operate on checklist instead of investigating why people don’t believe the gospel, respecting their alternate beliefs, and sympathizing with their human struggles, where the gospel actually intersects human need; that is, hope of new creation for the addiction, perfect acceptance for the rejected or overworking professional.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchBooks* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted July 19, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this December, many publics around the world name global climate change as a top threat, according to a new Pew Research Center survey measuring perceptions of international challenges. This is particularly true in Latin America and Africa, where majorities in most countries say they are very concerned about this issue. But as the Islamic militant group ISIS maintains its hold in Iraq and Syria and intensifies its grisly public executions, Europeans and Middle Easterners most frequently cite ISIS as their main concern among international issues.

Global economic instability also figures prominently as the top concern in a number of countries, and it is the second biggest concern in half of the countries surveyed. In contrast, concerns about Iran’s nuclear program as well as cyberattacks on governments, banks or corporations are limited to a few nations. Israelis and Americans are among the most concerned about Iran’s nuclear program, while South Koreans and Americans have the greatest concern about cyberattacks relative to other publics. And apprehension about tensions between Russia and its neighbors, or territorial disputes between China and surrounding countries, largely remain regional concerns.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchClimate Change, WeatherGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySociology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 19, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to a recent Pew Research Center report, an estimated 77 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where religious freedom is “highly” or “very highly” restricted.

“This, I think, entitles one to use the word ‘crisis,’” said Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs.

The RFP hosted an all-day conference on religious freedom at Georgetown University on Thursday (July 16).

Titled “Religious Freedom: Rising Threats to a Fundamental Human Right,” the conference featured a discussion between U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim member of Congress, and Katrina Lantos Swett, of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Baylor University President Ken Starr served as moderator.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General

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Posted July 19, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Brian Baker, dean of Trinity Cathedral in Sacramento, California, and a member of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, said that other than “the ick factor,” there was nothing to prevent Episcopalians from participating in the Urban Death Project. Given the importance of environmentalism to his congregation, he wouldn’t be surprised to see it gain traction.

“This is much better stewardship of the Earth and human resources and land than putting up a cement crypt and a coffin that obligates people to care for it,” he said. “We’re not a doctrinal church. It’s not like a church body would say yes or no, it’s more like Episcopalians do it and so it becomes church practice.”

Muslims wanting to participate in the Urban Death Project may hit some theological obstacles. In Islam, while burial in a shroud and natural decomposition are consistent with the Urban Death Project’s model, its compost harvesting might be seen as disinterment, considered a forbidden mutilation of the body. Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that scholars may be able to argue around the issue.

Read it all from Slate.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted July 19, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

French President Francois Hollande said that the 19 countries using the euro need their own government complete with a budget and parliament to cooperate better and overcome the Greek crisis.

“Circumstances are leading us to accelerate,” Hollande said in an opinion piece published by the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday. “What threatens us is not too much Europe, but a lack of it.”

While the euro zone has a common currency, fiscal and economic policies remain mostly in the hands of each member state. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi made a plea this week for deeper cooperation between the euro members after political squabbles over Greece almost led to a rupture in the single currency.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 19, 2015 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A hungry stomach doesn’t call you demanding money, but a debt collector going after your unpaid medical, utility and loan bills will. So maybe you choose to pay the bills instead of buying groceries — that’s the kind of dilemma facing millions of baby boomers, according to a survey from Feeding America and the AARP Foundation.

More than 8 million Americans ages 50 through 64 rely on food assistance to make ends meet — that group is at greater risk of food insecurity because of their limited access to federal benefits while also dealing with high unemployment rates, according to the report. More than half (58%) of them have unpaid medical bills, in addition to their trouble affording food. Of the older population served by Feeding America (13 million Americans older than 50), 63% find themselves having to choose between buying food or paying for medical care. Sixty percent report having to choose between paying utilities and buying food, and 49% weigh paying for housing versus paying for food.

That’s where the debt cycle can really kick in, making it even more difficult for boomers to dig their way out. Being forced to miss payments because it’s either pay for food or pay the bills can lead to dealing with debt collectors or even a lawsuit over the unpaid balance. Many older Americans likely use credit cards to buy food or purchase other necessities, which only sets up that population for more financial problems.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyDieting/Food/NutritionHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 19, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Among other recent fake stories was this shocker, allegedly from NBC News: “Christian Pastor in Vermont Sentenced to One Year in Prison After Refusing to Marry Gay Couple.”

Only the story wasn’t from NBC. It was from NBC.com.co—a fake website, filled with ads, and hosted on an overseas website.

“We are all too gullible,” warned my friend, Ed Stetzer, this week.

Hoax stories like these are likely to become more common as hoaxers become more sophisticated, warned Dan Gillmor, a journalism professor at Arizona State who specializes in digital media.

Read it all from Bob Smietana at CT.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 19, 2015 at 11:42 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Clint Dempsey scored on a fourth-minute header, added a pair of second-half goals for his first international hat trick, and the United States routed Cuba 6-0 on Saturday to reach its eighth straight CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal.

Dempsey converted a penalty kick early in the second half and added a late goal to raise his tournament-leading total to six. Dempsey's 57 international goals are 10 behind Landon Donovan's American record.

Gyasi Zardes, Aron Johannsson and Omar Gonzalez also scored as the Americans built a 4-0 halftime lead against a Cuban team depleted by five absent players who may have defected.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.CaribbeanCuba

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Posted July 18, 2015 at 6:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

3) The overly simplistic false dichotomy

At least one a week. Social media is for provocation and retweets, not nuance or thoughtfulness....!

8) Never let on how hard Mondays are

Your people need not know that by 9:00 AM every Monday you are a hairs breadth away from sending in your resignation letter. Nope. Just post a Bible bomb instead (but leave off the first part of the verse about God’s anger).

Read them all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & Culture* General InterestHumor / Trivia

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2015 at 2:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In recent years, traditional Islamic seminaries, or madrasas, have come under scrutiny and criticism as incubators of terrorism and extremist interpretations of Islam. Correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro has a report on one school, the Jamia Islamia Clifton madrasa founded 40 years ago in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, that is trying to change that image and broaden the scope of what students are taught.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted July 18, 2015 at 1:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Major Problem I See with American Culture Today

We (America) claim to be a pluralistic society; we celebrate “otherness.” Of course there are individuals and subcultures that strongly oppose pluralism and want to impose their worldview, form of life, on everyone. In fact, that is exactly the problem I see and here decry.

We pretend to be pluralistic when, in fact, we are not. Sure, in the grassroots, pluralism abounds. In public spaces, however, the two values that are expected of everyone are consumerism and tolerance of every point of view and lifestyle—even to the point that people who wish no harm to anyone but who have strongly held personal opinions about right and wrong are looked at as intolerant, as enemies of “freedom.”

We have by-and-large confused tolerance with relativism. If a person or group holds and expresses strong beliefs about right and wrong, especially about behaviors that are assumed not to hurt anyone, he or they are widely criticized as intolerant.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When a veterinarian told owner Neil Rodriguez that his 15-year-old dog was terminally ill, he took his companion Poh on the road for one last adventure.

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchTravel* General InterestAnimals

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Posted July 18, 2015 at 12:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Compromising the truth is a serious blunder" but we must always live out our beliefs with love and grace, Ravi Zacharias has said in a detailed blog post addressing same-sex relationships.

The author and speaker who chairs the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA), says he is against gay marriage, and points to the biblical description of one man and one woman in sacred commitment. "So profound is this union that the relationship of God to the Church bears that comparison. He is the bridegroom; the Church is the bride," Zacharias writes.

Responding to the US Supreme Court's recent decision to legalise same-sex marriage, which Zacharias says "sent tremors around the globe," the author warns that we are at "breaking point".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralSupreme Court* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 18, 2015 at 12:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Haley knew early on that she’d attend every funeral, even speaking at them when asked. She wanted each family to feel the state’s embrace of support.

“And I felt the need to go for me,” she says during a rare moment of quiet in a sitting room at the Governor’s Mansion.

Haley wanted to know the nine beyond a list of names.

“I had a need to meet them. I had a need to know, because I knew the forensic story. I knew the investigative part of the story. I needed to know the people.”

Through each funeral, she met them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsHinduism* Theology

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Posted July 18, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After I’d given a talk to mark the 70th anniversary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s execution, I got a letter complaining that Bonhoeffer had been drained dry of meaning and was of no more use to the church. Here’s what I replied.

Bonhoeffer was theological. We don’t all have to write two doctoral theses by the age of 24. But we do have to approach every challenge as fundamentally a question about God. The German Christians were seduced into treating the führer as God. Bonhoeffer and the Confessing Church saw that the problem with the Nazis was first a theological problem.

Bonhoeffer was about Jesus. The Bonhoeffer of popular theology is the one who talks from prison about the “world come of age” and “religionless Christianity.” But what put him in prison was Jesus. The church fears that when it says the word Jesus it’s assuming an imperialistic oppressive voice that dominates, excludes, or devalues other voices. The church has too often assumed such a voice. But Jesus doesn’t assume such a voice. Bonhoeffer knew that when the church stops talking about Jesus, it has nothing to say. And when it assumes dominance, it’s not talking about Jesus.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Theology

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Posted July 18, 2015 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just beyond a massive strip mall, with its Best Buy and Hobby Lobby, Abdul Baasit, the imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga, found himself preaching on Friday about a nightmare.

It was Eid al-Fitr, at the end of Ramadan, normally a time of gift-giving and carnival celebration. But the party that had been planned was canceled: A man who had attended prayer services at the center’s mosque killed four Marines on Thursday. And Mr. Baasit, 48, was trying to help Chattanooga’s Muslim faithful cope with their grief over the deaths, and their fear of reprisal.

“You do not want what is not right to be associated with Islam,” Mr. Baasit, a native of Ghana, said in lilting, heavily accented English. “And yet it is happening.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted July 18, 2015 at 8:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A picture emerged Friday of Abdulazeez as a likable, outgoing young man who enjoyed a laugh, made the wrestling team and seemed "as Americanized as anyone else," yet was clearly aware of what set him apart at his Chattanooga high school.

What's not clear — to counterterrorism investigators and to neighbors and former classmates — is what set him on the path to violence that ended with him being gunned down by police.

Abdulazeez did not appear to have been on federal authorities' radar before the bloodshed Thursday, officials said. But now counterterrorism investigators are taking a deep look at his online activities and foreign travel, searching for clues to his political contacts or influences.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

1 Comments
Posted July 18, 2015 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Thursday, 24-year-old Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez opened fire at an armed forces recruiting center and a Navy Reserve center in Chattanooga. The apparent anti-military rampage left four Marines and one Navy petty officer dead. We will be updating the page with more information as we learn more. Here are their stories.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted July 18, 2015 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The narratives that help illustrate the lack of professional ethics at American universities occur with greater and greater frequency, though most often we fail to note them as such.

If we put our minds to it, we can remember quite a number of unethical stories at American universities in recent years: the sex abuse case that prompted the firing of the president and football coach at Penn State; the pepper-spraying of students at the University of California at Davis; the tragic hazing death of marching band member Robert Champion at Florida A and M University.

These are stories that happened at universities, and their settings, I believe, are not incidental to the narratives. As an author of University Ethics: How Colleges Can Build and Benefit from a Culture of Ethics, I believe our universities are breeding these scandals and ethical compromise. But rarely, even when the press exposes something shameful about a university, do we identify the issue as a lack of ethics.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryPsychologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 17, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Imagine that an American politician, competing with a dozen other candidates for media attention, launched his presidential campaign by describing the nation’s evangelical Christians as a problem: “They’re charlatans who raise money from poor people to spend on private jets,” he says. “They have multiple affairs and sexually abuse children. And, some, I assume, are good people.”

Millions of evangelical Christians would be fighting mad, and rightly so. While there have been a few, highly publicized cases of professing evangelicals committing these sins and crimes, the overwhelming majority have not. This charge against believers would be what the Bible calls bearing false witness, and what the world calls slander.

No presidential candidate would make such a claim, as no candidate would want to alienate millions of evangelicals. And yet this blanket slander is precisely what Donald Trump did in recent days by describing Mexican immigrants as “bringing crime” to the U.S. and as “rapists.” Mr. Trump then “clarified” his views by suggesting that the problem is “not just Mexico,” but immigrants from other parts of the world as well.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigrationPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 17, 2015 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like 1.6 billion Muslims around the world fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, Jeff Cook has been rising before dawn each morning to have breakfast. He doesn’t eat again until breaking his fast with dinner.

But Mr. Cook isn’t Muslim, doesn’t have close Muslims friends, and has never been inside a mosque. The Christian pastor from Greeley, Colo., is fasting for the 30 days of Ramadan, which ends Friday, as part of a nascent effort among American Christians to better understand and support Muslims.

Mr. Cook posted a photo of himself on Twitter holding a sign that read: “I’m Jeff—A Christian in America. I’ll be fasting in solidarity #Christians4Ramadan.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

10 Comments
Posted July 17, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Physicists at the Large Hadron Collider have been smashing protons together, on and off, since 2009. On Tuesday they announced that they’d encountered a new particle as a result of all those subatomic crack-ups called the pentaquark—and it could help explain what holds together other subatomic particles like protons and neutrons.

Close followers of the saga responded to the news like hungry Star Wars fans to a new trailer, immediately formulating potential plotlines for the particle. Within 30 hours of the announcement, physicists began to submit their theories about the pentaquark to the online, pre-peer review science article repository arXiv. But assembling those papers is hard—and these scientists didn’t come up with their new theories overnight. How did they get it done so fast? As is wont to happen with any big reveal, somebody in the research team leaked the inside scoop.

“Despite everyone’s good intentions, rumors do spread,” says Guy Wilkinson, the spokesperson for the LHCb (that stands for Large Hadron Collider Beauty experiment), the research team that found the particle in several years worth of data. The leak isn’t surprising, considering the team consists of over 1,100 members from 16 different countries.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology

0 Comments
Posted July 17, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

...if you don’t read international and Christian news sources, you probably didn’t know that last week the UN Human Rights Council passed The Protection of the Family resolution. Not surprisingly, the mainstream U. S. media ignored the story.

The resolution, approved by a vote of 27 to 14, urges member states to adopt laws and policies that support the family—yes, the family—definite article. It calls the family, “the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children.”
It goes on to insist that while governments have a place in protecting the human rights of all, “the family has primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children.”
.........
But sad to say it was the 14 dissenting nations—including most of Western Europe and the United States—that really pulled out the stops to defeat this resolution.

“[T]he United States lobbied [against it] with great energy,” says Slater, noting that pushing the LGBT agenda abroad has become a “primary objective of our nation's foreign policy.” She even reports that our delegation threatened to withhold foreign aid to developing nations if they affirmed the natural family.
..........
Writing at “Touchstone,” Allan Carlson notes how under the Obama Administration, “threats, bribes, and extortion” aimed at “vulnerable lands in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe” have become regular strategies in our quest to export the sexual revolution.

Were it not for the enthusiastic support of China and Russia—major powers that spent the latter half of the last century trying to eradicate the natural family—this resolution may have failed. China and Russia learned the hard way how destructive anti-family policies are. And maybe it’s just a coincidence, but both countries have seen a rapid growth of Christianity in recent years.

Folks, if there's a wrong side of history, the United States of America is on it right now—at least when it comes to this issue. Thank God that despite bribery, bullying, and blackmail from the West, 27 nations voted to protect the family.

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family

3 Comments
Posted July 17, 2015 at 6:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The percentage of Americans naming race relations or racism as the most important problem facing the country increased to 9% this month, up from 3% in June. Mentions of race relations as a top problem have risen and fallen multiple times over the past seven months as racially charged events have dominated and then faded from the news cycle.

Americans' mentions of racism and race relations as the most important problem facing the country spiked in December 2014 to 13% amid protests over high-profile incidents of police brutality toward blacks in Staten Island, New York, Ferguson, Missouri, and other places across the U.S. This was the highest figure since May 1992 when 15% of Americans said racism was the top problem after the verdict in the Rodney King case sparked riots in many parts of the U.S.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsSociology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 17, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of London commented:
“The Studd brothers were great servants of two of this country’s most historic institutions: the Church; and the game of cricket. May their memory inspire England as they take on Australia this week at Lord’s.

“The proud tradition of the Church and cricket together continues to this day. Once again, I’m delighted that the Diocese of London’s team continues to fly the flag and has reached the final of the Church Times Cricket Cup.”
The Studd Brothers were from a large cricketing and evangelical family. All three captained Cambridge University, played for Middlesex and one, CT, played for England in the test match giving rise to the Ashes. CT was in the losing Engish side in the 1882 Oval match which prompted the Sporting Times mock obituary, ‘The body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia’. CT and GB were both members of the touring side which recovered the Ashes in the winter of 1882-1883 during which the England captain was presented with the famous urn.

CT went out to China on missionary work and remained there between 1885 and 1895. Invalided home, he did missionary work in England and America. He then went as a missionary to the Belgian Congo. Wisden records that ‘despite numerous illnesses and many hardships, devoted the remainder of his life to missionary work there.’ In the Congo, he built a church whose aisle measured 22 yards from end to end.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissions* Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted July 17, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least 49 people were killed and dozens injured when twin blasts struck a market in the northeast Nigerian city of Gombe on Thursday, rescue workers said.

The first explosion took place outside a packed footwear shop around 1620 GMT, followed by a second explosion just minutes later, said Badamasi Amin, a local trader who counted at least three bodies.

He said the area at the time was crowded with customers doing some last-minute shopping on the eve of the Eid festival marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 17, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now that the Supreme Court has taken the decision about same-sex marriage out of the hands of the American people, those of us who believe in marriage have to think about the long-term effort to restore a true understanding of marriage in our nation.

The first step is to clarify what marriage is so that we can explain it to others in a coherent way. Although there is no one way to do this, there are fundamental elements that are a necessary part of any definition.

In this essay, I merely provide one definition of marriage. My goal here is not to “prove” that this is marriage (though I offer some thoughts on each condition), nor is it to engage in a refined academic analysis of the question. I simply want to offer a relatively succinct statement of what marriage is, so that ordinary people who want to defend marriage have a clear baseline from which to understand and respond to developments in our society.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 17, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The FBI is investigating two attacks on military centers in Chattanooga in which four members of the military were killed, leading to lockdowns at local hospitals as well as the Army Recruiting Center on Lee highway as well as the Naval and Marine Reserve Center at the Chattanooga Riverpark, where the shots were fired.

A single shooter, identified as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, drove a silver Ford Mustang convertible to a Lee Highway recruiting center and began firing shots at 10:45 a.m., then led police on a chase to the Amnicola Highway location, where further shots were fired.

Abdulazeez was believed to have been born in Kuwait, and it was unclear whether he was a U.S. or Kuwaiti citizen. It was not immediately clear whether the gunman's first name was spelled Muhammad or Mohammad.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 6:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Matt (again, not his real name) was referred for pain control. He was clear-minded and determined to travel to Switzerland for assisted suicide. He'd been given three months to live, he said, and he wanted to get it over with. When I tentatively asked: "Is there anything you've always wanted to do before you die?" he wistfully outlined his dream holiday. He then let me help plan his travel on this holiday, and enjoyed it in a way he never thought possible. He never went to Switzerland, but had some surprisingly wonderful times before dying peacefully at home of his cancer.

Matt certainly had what Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill calls a "settled intent" to die. It would have been all too easy for a willing doctor to sign off his assisted suicide. But only a small minority of doctors (just under a fifth, according to a recent poll) say they would be willing to process such requests. Most want to work to help patients live well and die well despite illness, not to be a gatekeeper for assisted suicide.

Laws are more than just regulatory instruments. They send social messages. As a society we are clear that suicide is not something to be encouraged or assisted. Legalising assisted suicide flies in the face of that. It sends the message that, if you are terminally ill, ending your life is something that society endorses and that you might want to consider. Is that really the kind of society we want?

Read it all from the Huffington Post.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churchgoers are being encouraged to contact their MPs to highlight the risks involved in proposed legislation to legalise assisted suicide.

James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, has asked that parishioners either make an appointment to see their MP or write them a letter expressing their concerns about a Private Member's Bill to be debated in the House of Commons on Friday September 11.

The Bill is expected to seek to grant physician assisted suicide for mentally competent, terminally ill adults, who have six months or less to live.

Bishop James, the Church of England's lead bishop on health care, said the proposed legislation, if passed into law, would have a detrimental effect both on individuals and on the nature of society.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Laity* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Reading people’s comments online is an interesting and sometimes troubling study in human nature. And reading comments by professing Christians on Christian sites (as well as other sites) can be a discouraging study in applied theology.

The immediate, shoot-from-the-hip nature of comments on websites and social media is what can often make them minimally helpful or even destructive. Comments can easily be careless. That’s why we must heed Jesus’s warning: “on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:36). This caution makes commenting serious business to God.

How [then] Should We Comment...?

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 16, 2015 at 3:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Beyond July’s historic Vanity Fair cover spotlighting Olympic decathlete-turned-reality-television star Caitlyn Jenner, the past year has seen unprecedented representation for the transgender community. From actress Laverne Cox and her Orange Is the New Black co-star, gender-fluid model Ruby Rose, to Kristin Beck, a trans woman and former Navy Seal now running for Congress, to President Barack Obama condemning the persecution of transgender people in his State of the Union address – it’s been a banner year for trans visibility.

But for trans youth, a generation growing up in an era of unrivalled cultural recognition and political appeals, how does it all shake down? We wanted to hear firsthand from transgender teenagers from coast to coast about the issues they live with every day. Struggling with profound body image issues as they strategize their medical transitioning, battling bureaucracy to secure proper legal identification documents or fearing simply going to the washroom – it all makes teen angst look like child’s play.

All this on top of the most difficult challenge: gaining acceptance, understanding and support from family and friends....

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Soon, we had settled into a pattern of giving 5 percent to our local church and 5 percent to charity. But one year, when it was time to renew our annual pledge to the church, I was convicted that a radical increase was necessary. God says, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse” (Mal. 3:10, ESV). For our family, that means the local church. So the full 10 percent should go to our church, while charitable gifts (alms) were to be an additional offering.

When I began sharing this with my husband, we were in for a surprise. He had separately come to the same conviction. The problem was that we had just promised 5 percent of our income to a missionary. Overnight, we went from giving 10 percent of our income to giving 15 percent.

Yet we never suffered. We saw God meet our needs in ways that bordered on the miraculous. People were always giving us things we needed but couldn’t afford: a sewing machine, a lawn mower, a new refrigerator. More than once, we found an inexplicable extra $50 in our savings account.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Bishop Ed] Konieczky said he voted against a related measure that calls for a change in the the denomination’s canonical definition of marriage as a “union of a man and a woman.”

He said the resolution, which was eventually approved, calls for altering the current canon language to “gender-neutral language,” replacing “a man and a woman” with “both parties.”

In his letter to the Oklahoma diocese on the Sunday after the denomination’s vote on gay marriage, Konieczky said he voted against this language alteration because it places the denomination’s canon in conflict with language used in their Book of Common Prayer and the denomination’s constitution....

Konieczky said he did not think the denomination had done the necessary theological work to make the switch to gender-neutral language.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC BishopsTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...following the Supreme Court ruling, many Christians have already been feeling a keen sense of tribulation.

“I think that’s the next frontier: Are people who have deeply held opinions [about marriage] going to be called bigots and treated like the man who wouldn’t give up his seat for Rosa Parks?” says John, an Episcopalian who lives in a liberal Atlanta neighborhood.

To an extent, he answers his own question by asking that his last name not be used: He's concerned that his beliefs could now get him fired from his public-sector job.

“My hope, going forward, is, you all can do what you want, the libertarian part of me says that’s fine,” John says. “But on the other hand, I want my opinion to be protected and respected by the government. What happens if my child is in school and is taught that her parents are bigoted or somehow wrong?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Episcopalians formerly associated with a Newport Beach church have filed a formal complaint against a bishop whose actions have paved the way for the church's waterfront property to potentially become luxury condos.

The complaint, known as a presentment, filed with the national Episcopal church in New York City alleges that Bishop J. Jon Bruno violated church doctrine in May after he put the St. James the Great Episcopal Church's Lido Village property and two nearby parking lots up for sale to a developer, Legacy Partners Residential, which plans to construct 22 homes there.

Among the 147 canon violations levied in the presentment, dated July 6, are "instances of reckless or intentional misrepresentation, conduct unbecoming a bishop of the church, possible failure to get required diocesan approval for the sale and creating or promoting conflict," according to a news release from St. James issued Wednesday.

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted July 16, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is an all too little known tale--take the time to watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistorySportsUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted July 16, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first breakthrough into the mainstream media came around 4pm at the Washington Post, which did a relatively good job of providing in-depth perspective on the issue. (The Weekly Standard points out some weaknesses in the article though.) The Post (and many other outlets) interviewed Arthur Caplan, director of New York University’s Division of Medical Ethics: “If you’re starting to play with how it’s done, and when it’s done, other things than women’s health are coming into play. You’re making a huge mountain of conflict of interest.”

Most liberal websites defended Planned Parenthood and attack the undercover video. The debate is nothing new, says Vox, though they do pay some attention to objections. Mother Jones says the video is a “nothingburger,” and New York Magazine stridently refers to pro-lifers as “wacky relatives” whom you have to “deal with.” Ashley Feinberg, for Gawker, writes “In reality, the donation of fetal tissue is no different than any other situation in which a patient might donate tissue to scientific research.” Right.

Amanda Marcotte, for Slate, writes “Abortion is gross, no doubt about it. It becomes grosser the later in a pregnancy it gets. But so is heart surgery. So is childbirth, for that matter.” But the problem is not that it’s “gross,” it’s the double evil of killing innocent life and commodifying her body parts. As an article at The Federalist reveals, the human fetal parts trade has a commercial and profitable nature. Incidentally, the group StemExpress—which was implicated in the story—is undergoing website maintenance and has deleted their Facebook account.

The sad thing is, the body of a child in the womb can be killed and used for research, but outside the womb, it would result in first-degree murder charges, as seen in the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell.

Read it all.

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0 Comments
Posted July 16, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Revd Dr Andrew Atherstone, Welby’s biographer, says Church growth is the ‘golden thread’ that ties all the reforms together. Welby, he says, wants people to see that decline is ‘not inevitable’. In Africa and China churches are booming. ‘Globally, church growth is normal,’ he says. Welby, he suggests, is ‘very optimistic about turning the Church of England around’.

Yet Atherstone admits that Welby’s tendency to focus on numbers ‘makes some in the C of E nervous’. One Church observer says the reason clergy are panicky about the reforms is that they seem ‘very bottom line — if you can’t get more punters in then you’ve failed’.

Atherstone suggests Welby wants the Church to be more entrepreneurial. The change to dioceses’ funding is intended to encourage that. Instead of the old model of one vicar looking after his medieval parish, the idea is to fund projects that no one has yet tried. Welby, says Atherstone, thinks the Church is too ‘safety-conscious’, smothering start-ups in paperwork.

Critics, on the other hand, say the reforms are merely depressing the workforce. Talented young clergy are ‘in despair’, they say — head office doesn’t seem to grasp what their ministry is really about.

Read it all from the Spectator.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted July 16, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has been a deadly July in Nigeria. More than 200 people have been killed since June 30 in attacks that have come almost daily in the country's northern and northeastern regions, stronghold of the militant Islamic sect Boko Haram.

Obscured by Boko Haram's headlines, violence also has raged farther south, where a lesser reported, years-long campaign has claimed thousands of Christian lives. Militants among the ethnic Fulani, a predominantly Muslim and nomadic population of cattle herders, are suspected of killing dozens of Christians in the states of Plateau and Taraba in recent months. The two states form the eastern end of Nigeria's "Middle Belt" -- the handful of states straddling the pre-colonial line dividing Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north from its Christian south.

The Middle Belt's most recent violence traces back to March, to a case of cattle rustling....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 16, 2015 at 4:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sacks is well placed to muse on this theme as the former Chief Rabbi of Britain and a prolific author on religious conflict. In fact, he has carved out a niche for himself as the man who gave theological coherence to the Samuel Huntingdon “clash of civilisations” thesis while also critiquing it. Sacks’ 2004 book, The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilisations, remains one of the wisest texts for negotiating religious pluralism in the modern world.

Sacks has no time for the politician’s mantra that violence committed by religious extremists like ISIL has nothing to do with Islam. Yes, the vast majority of the conflicts in the world today are nothing to do with religion, but “when terrorist or military groups invoke holy war, define their battle as a struggle against Satan, condemn unbelievers to death and commit murder while declaring ‘God is great,’ to deny that they are acting on religious motives is absurd” (p.11). Harder work needs to be done to glimpse the twisted logic and primitive psychology of these groups, he says, otherwise the proffered solutions will never create a compelling enough counter-narrative that weans believers from hate to love, and to value weakness rather than power.

Religious violence is rooted in the same source as all violence – identity wars, and Sacks worries that the West, which secularized so merrily, has created societies and institutions that cannot provide enough identity because it has forgotten humans are meaning -seeking creatures; “The result is that the twenty-first century has left us with a maximum of choice and a minimum of meaning” (p.13). Having thought religion was finished, now the West has seen it roar back - partly because of the vacuum secularisation created and, tragically, the religion that has returned is not gentle or ecumenical, but adversarial and aggressive. Make no mistake he warns “the greatest threat to freedom in the post-modern world is radical, politicised religion” (14). So if you don’t realise you are dealing with religion – however twisted – you are not going to find any meaningful responses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2015 at 5:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The question at hand, then, is whether and how modern antidiscrimination laws limit the constitutional and statutory right to the free exercise of religion. Even after Obergefell, there are clear cases—on statutory, to say nothing of constitutional grounds—in which religious liberty will trump antidiscrimination claims. Clergy opposed to same-sex marriage surely will not be forced to perform or open their facilities to such ceremonies, although some in the LGBT movement are already pressing for churches to lose their tax-exempt status if they do not.

The public-accommodation cases are closer calls. Because they represent their businesses as open to the public, the Kleins and Giffords shouldn’t be able to deny entrance and normal service to gay customers—and neither has done so. If a same-sex couple had walked into that bakery hand-in-hand and ordered bagels, they would have been served without objection. But it is a step further—and an important one—to force religious business owners to participate in a same-sex wedding, to force them to engage in the creative act of planning the event, baking a special-order cake for it, photographing it, and so on.

No one enjoys the sting of discrimination or rejection. But neither does anyone like to be forced into uncomfortable situations, especially those that offend deeply held religious beliefs. In the end, who here is forcing whom? A society that cannot tolerate differing views—and respect the live-and-let-live principle—will not long be free.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The video reveals Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services for Planned Parenthood, discussing the intentional harvesting of organs and other tissues from babies aborted in Planned Parenthood clinics. While reaching with her fork for salad, Dr. Nucatola openly tells a group she believes to be medical researchers that there is a great demand for fetal livers, but “a lot of people want intact hearts these days.”

Dr. Nucatola went on to explain in chilling detail that abortionists often plan in advance how to harvest desired organs, even telling the group that a “huddle” is sometimes held with clinic staff early in the day, so that targeted organs can be harvested from unborn babies.

Her language is beyond chilling as she described how abortions are conducted specifically to harvest intact organs: “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part. I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.” She also described using an abortion technique that appears to be partial-birth abortion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2015 at 3:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Most British Muslims are Sunni, only about 5 per cent are Shia, but both communities are represented by the MC, which believes the government’s “Prevent” anti-terrorism strategy is discriminatory, demonising a law-abiding community. Relations have thawed; Shafi is pleased that Theresa May, the home secretary, is beginning to close what he calls the “trust deficit” by ordering police authorities to record every reported Islamophobic incident for the first time, even if charges are not pressed.

The MC is working with the government and the police to find out why young Muslims feel “alienated” and hence vulnerable to be being lured by the promise of a foreign adventure by people who are “misinterpreting Islam”.

“The Muslim Council has condemned those who claim to act in our name and we have mobilised mosque leaders, civil society leaders and families to speak out and redouble their efforts. However, we’ve no magic wand and what is important is sustained work within communities,” says Shafi, a retired doctor who arrived in Britain from India 46 years ago. “Extremism is mainly hidden on the internet and on social media and our concern is that the age group it attracts is getting younger and younger.”

Read it all (requires subscription).


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2015 at 11:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the mid-20th century many Anglican Church of Canada parishes joined their mainline and evangelical neighbours in creating tightly-focused programs for even the tiniest demographics. Now, many parishes are tearing down those walls between ages and stages, hoping to bind up scattered, sometimes shattering church communities.

The 20th century craze to split the church into demographic segments was a profound departure from Judeo-Christian tradition. Jesus grew up in a Jewish community where the generations nurtured each other’s faith — in fact, young Jesus was so caught up learning from his elders at the temple in Jerusalem that he let Mary and Joseph start for home without him. The Apostle Paul mentored his spiritual son, Timothy, in ministry; he also instructed older men and women to be good examples and to mentor younger people in faith.

Sadly, segmentation – intended to keep kids, youth, young adults, or even seniors in church – may cut off them off from each other and the worshiping life of the church. This leaves youth with “no sense of what it means to be a mature adult Christian living out a life of faith in the Church,’’ writes the Rev. Valerie Michaelson, pastoral associate and Queen’s Chaplain at St. James’ Anglican Church, Kingston, Ont., in “How to Nurture Intergenerational Community in Your Church,” posted on the Wycliffe College Institute of Evangelism website. It also deprives adults and seniors the opportunity to understand and mentor younger members of the church, say advocates of intergenerational ministry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the OrdainedYouth Ministry* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenMarriage & Family* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Symon Hill, Christian writer and a coordinator of Christians for Economic Justice, said: "Jesus said that where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.

"By hosting events sponsored by arms dealers, Church House Conference Centre is sending a clear message that they are happy to profit from those selling weapons to the dodgiest regimes."

Campaigners are calling on Welby, as President of the Corporation of Church House, for his "assurance that the conference center will never again host events which support and legitimise the arms industry."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2015 at 7:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When President Buhari was sworn-in, Nigerians must have expected to hear broadcasts like "every past political office holder should report to the nearest Police Station". Yet instead, it has been a quiet, slow, and seemingly irresponsive Buhari that has been impossible to predict as the nation is gripped by anxiety.

Nigerians expecting a quick and decisive fix were already deriding the President for being "slow and indecisive", and refusing to understand that much more important in finding solutions to the problems of the country is the difficult and often slow task of articulating a plan, based on an ideological framework. Even if you had plans to hit the ground running, it matters where you hit ground.

The fact that the activity of the group gained momentum after Buhari's inaugural pronouncement and slow moves to start off, shows the fundamental need to address the challenge from the root cause. The radicalisation of adherents, and their commitment to their faith-based mission, gives it ability to mutate, splinter, break up into cells and continue with the objective to spread terror. One can assume that momentum gained earlier has been lost due to the delay in determining the new order. One can understand the import of anxieties of the erstwhile service chiefs who Nigerians expected would have been rested long ago. President Buhari it is believed has, by now, received a proper briefing of why the Government did so poorly against the insurgents. Who would tell this better than the men in the situation room, the sacked Service Chiefs? Albeit, it was natural for insurgents to exploit such impasse to revive their deadly attacks that we are witnessing. There seemed to be a letting down of the guard.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While the video describes what is happening as the “sale” of body parts and claims that this violates federal law, Planned Parenthood’s vice president of communications, Eric Ferrero, claims that no such sale actually occurs: “There is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood. In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, which is standard across the medical field.”

Whether or not these practices violate federal laws regulating the sale of human tissue or prohibiting partial-birth abortion—and whether one is pro-life or pro-choice—what is described by Dr. Nucatola is indefensible. The issue is not only that fetal tissue is being procured from abortions, but that some of the medical details of the abortions themselves are being arranged in order to serve the purpose of supplying particular body parts of unborn children. Even if all the money changing hands is only reimbursing actual costs, as Planned Parenthood claims, these abortions are no longer purely about reproductive choice, but have become means to a larger and grislier end.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It may be possible to "soften-up" cancers before hitting them with chemotherapy drugs, researchers suggest.

A study, published in the Cancer Cell, uncovered how tumours can become resistant to commonly used drugs.

The University of Manchester team suggest drugs already in development may be able to counter this resistance to make chemotherapy more effective.

The approach has not yet been tested in people.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on the Italian embassy in Cairo. The BBC reported that ISIL had called western embassies “legitimate targets”.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently said it was important not to underestimate or be complacent about the national security threat from ISIL. He also said it was equally important not to overestimate that threat. He called ISIL twisted and wicked but said it wasn’t Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia, with their power to conquer or challenge the West.

Australian journalist Martin Chulov has been on the ground in Iraq and Syria for a decade. He is Middle East correspondent for The Guardian and recently won the prestigious Orwell Award for his reporting. In Australia for a series of Guardian lectures, he assesses the current strength of ISIL.

Listen to it all from the Religion and Ethics Report.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pluto's Heart and Charon's Chasm Visible in New Images | Video from Jungle Joel Videos on Vimeo.

Just amazing!

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* General InterestPhotos/Photography

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Criticism: Thousands of Iranian centrifuges will keep spinning.

The deal doesn't dismantle or close Iran's two uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow. It does require Iran to reduce its centrifuge inventory by two-thirds and eliminate 98% of its stockpile of enriched uranium. Iran will be allowed to keep about 6,100 centrifuges for the next 10 years and continue some enrichment work.

White House response: Iran's inventory of centrifuges will be cut drastically from nearly 20,000, which is enough to create fuel for as many as 10 bombs. It will be left with only its oldest and least efficient models. No enrichment will be allowed at Fordow, and other activities will be restricted to producing uranium enriched to a level of 3.67%, far below the nearly 90% usually required to make a bomb.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Polity & CanonsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From all this, the Religion Guy draws three conclusions for journalists.

*Religious groups and their beliefs are far more complex than the news media typically indicate.

* Strong internal disagreements afflict several denominations – the biggest right out in the open being the United Methodist Church – and will continue to make news.

* Finally, and most obvious, a sizable and variegated lineup of religious believers feels bound to strongly resist America’s new redefinition of marriage for the indefinite future.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMediaReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 4:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The new charges will add to his recent woes. After the news came out that Bishop Bruno purportedly had arranged a "sweetheart" private deal with a developer -- no bids or listing of the property, but just terms worked out with a single buyer who wants to erect a suite of expensive townhomes on the property -- he received a letter from the original developer of Lido Isle (the area of Newport Beach where St. James is located), the Griffith Corporation. That letter informed him something he ought to have known already: that the property on which the church stands was gifted to the Diocese for use only for church purposes. Griffith stated that if he went through with the proposed sale, the property would automatically revert back to it.

The letter caused Bishop Bruno to instruct his attorneys immediately to sue the Griffith Corporation for "slander of title" -- a rather heavy-handed response to the donor of one's most valuable property. You can read the complaint and see the original deed of gift at this link -- the deed restriction is for real, and the courts enforce them as written.

It will be interesting to watch this scenario play out -- whether the Bishop can remain on top of the situation will require that he first rein in his attack dogs, and begin treating donors and parishioners for the valued assets they are. Meanwhile, some useful information is emerging. According to this letter to the Diocesan Standing Committee, Bishop Bruno told the parish that he was trying to recoup the Diocese's litigation expenses (incurred in suing four former parishes, including the previous congregation of St. James) of Nine Million Dollars. That is five million dollars greater than I had estimated in tallying up all the costs of Church litigation, as reported in this post.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Departing ParishesTEC ParishesTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 3:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some social conservatives are so despondent that they speak about retreating from the public space and into their homes and churches, rediscovering “the monastic temperament” prevalent during the Dark Ages.

This response would be a tragedy for society. For all its limitations, the fundamental values cherished by the religious – notably, family – have never been more important, and more in need of moral assistance. The current progressive cultural wave may itself begin to “overreach” as it moves from the certainty of liberal sentiment to ever more repressive attempts to limit alternative views of the world, including those of the religious.

In the next few years, social conservatives need to engage, but in ways that transcend doctrinal concerns about homosexuality, or even abortion. It has to be made clear that, on its current pace, Western civilization and, increasingly, much of East Asia are headed toward a demographic meltdown as people eschew family formation for the pleasures of singleness or childlessness.

Although sensible for many individuals, the decision to detach from familialism augurs poorly for societies, which will be forced to place enormous burdens on a smaller young generation to support an ever-expanding cadre of retirees. It also frames a spiritual crisis in which people no longer look out for their relatives, but only for themselves, inevitably becoming dependent on government to provide the succor that used to come from families.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the basis of the well-known fact that those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it, we should ask first what has been going on in the English church in the last half century which has – shall we say – coincided with its collapse. Let me mention a few of what seem to me to be the most significant features.

The last fifty years have seen the rise of theological reductionism. Bluntly, this means that ancient doctrines, always previously proclaimed as true and the foundational beliefs of the church have been, in the jargon, demythologised. So Jesus was not born of a virgin and he didn’t rise from the dead. His miracles were really “acted parables” – that is more jargon for the claim that they didn’t actually happen.

Concurrent with theological reductionism has run a fifty years programme of liturgical “reform” which has seen the discarding of The King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer. This means that there is no longer observance of the rule that all the realm shall have one use. In fact, these changes mean that you have no idea what you’re going to find in a church service until the service begins. It’s a sort of churchy babel in which no two churches do the same thing and many priests and ministers seem to do as they like.

In addition to these changes, the bishops, the clergy and the synod have endorsed the secular mores of the age.

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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Episcopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Theology

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hawaii Gov. David Ige has signed a bill that will allow transgender men and women to more easily change the gender on their birth certificate.

The new law eliminates the requirement that someone must undergo gender reassignment surgery before officially making the switch. Ige signed the bill Monday.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 9:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My own cherished topic is this: Liberalism's decline from a political philosophy of pluralism into a rigidly intolerant dogma.

The decline is especially pronounced on a range of issues wrapped up with religion and sex. For a time, electoral self-interest kept these intolerant tendencies in check, since the strongly liberal position on social issues was clearly a minority view. But the cultural shift during the Obama years that has led a majority of Americans to support gay marriage seems to have opened the floodgates to an ugly triumphalism on the left.

The result is a dogmatic form of liberalism that threatens to poison American civic life for the foreseeable future. Conservative Reihan Salam describes it, only somewhat hyperbolically, as a form of "weaponized secularism."

The rise of dogmatic liberalism is the American left-wing expression of the broader trend that Mark Lilla identified in a recent blockbuster essay for The New Republic. The reigning dogma of our time, according to Lilla, is libertarianism....

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Early on the morning of Easter 387, just after dawn, the man whom history would come to know as "Augustine of Hippo" was baptized, along with a small group of fellow catechumens, in the large, octagonal baptistery behind Milan's imposing Basilica Nova. The baptism itself, as well as the extensive instruction preceding and following it, was performed by another memorable historical figure: the tenacious and formidable bishop "Ambrose of Milan." The relationship between these two towering figures of church history is the subject of Garry Wills' Font of Life. Curiously, the relationship he describes was not based on personal affinity or compatibility of belief. Rather, according to Wills, the story of Ambrose and Augustine was "a tangled one, full of surprises," a strange admixture of mystagogical initiation and retrospective invocation, deeply rooted in the nuances of early Christian liturgical practice and the conflicts of ecclesiastical politics. In this truly foreign context, Wills masterfully steers his historical reconstruction, artfully avoiding the twin shoals of reductive simplicity and overwhelming complexity by anchoring his narrative in the "sacred drama" of 4th-century baptism. In this, Wills does his readers a great service, bringing to life much of the ritual and symbolism surrounding the practice of late antique Christian initiation.

James J. O'Donnell has noted—at the outset of his three-volume commentary on Augustine's Confessions—the lamentable tendency of most modern readers to anachronistically undervalue the "visceral reverence for cult that all late antique men and women felt."[1] We undervalue cult, liturgy, and ritual, O'Donnell argues, both because of the prejudice of our time, which tends to purge these foreign elements from the beliefs of our spiritual forebears, and because of the paucity of remaining evidence for the specifics of these highly guarded practices. In the late 4th century, it was customary for the central liturgical act of Christian worship (the Eucharist) as well as for key pieces of Christian teaching (the Apostle's Creed, the Lord's Prayer) to be withheld from both non-Christians and catechumens, through a practice known as the disciplina arcani, the "discipline of the secret." Even Augustine, recounting his own baptismal experience in the 9th book of his Confessions, avoids describing the rite itself, preferring instead to comment on how he was moved by the singing of hymns. As there is clear attestation that much of late antique Christian teaching and practice relied heavily upon these "oral" and "performative" traditions of liturgy and sacrament, all too often veiled in silence, the church historian is faced with the dilemma of trying to reconstruct the Christianity of this period while missing key pieces of the puzzle.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptism

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The video in my 24 June entry, + Richard outlines his survival strategy, gave some clues to the dismemberment of the Church in Wales as the bishops implement Abp Barry Morgan's strategy for their survival, ie, retain all the bishops with their expensive diocesan structures, get rid of paid parish clergy and fool the laity into running the ministry areas nobody wants apart from Barry and his bench sitters.

Despite all Dr Morgan's political posturing the secularised Church in Wales (CinW) is barely significant in Anglicanism representing less than 0.04% of the Communion. If he were to be represented in the above chart in proportion to the average number of people attending CinW services the Archbishop of Wales would be invisible. According to CinW published figures the average adult Sunday attendance in Wales is 31,048 (Table 1 here) out of a population of 3,063,456 (1%). With seven bishops supported that works out at a mere 4,435 attendees per bishop.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Wales* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Wales* Theology

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians have come lately and weakly to the causes of environmental healing and restoration. When environmental activists in the 1960s noted that Christianity bore a major responsibility for our environmental crises, the vast majority of Christians remained unmoved. In the curricula of leading institutions of theological education in the 1980s, ecological concerns barely made an appearance. Now, roughly 30 years later, it’s still not uncommon to find Christians who are either in denial or fail to see how the environmental problems of our day are distinctly theological concerns.

How can this be? How can one affirm God the Creator and at the same time degrade the health and vitality of God’s creation? We can offer many reasons to explain this contradictory state of affairs, but I believe that our problem goes to the manners and methods of theological practice itself, so that even when theologians turn their attention to ecological concerns, they often have considerable difficulty finding anything helpful to say other than “Come on, people. It’s time to take care of creation!” In other words, the problem is theology’s inadequate form and function. The destruction of the earth is, among other things, a theological catastrophe, and Christian apathy is a sign that theological reflection has lost its way.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchClimate Change, WeatherHistoryReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a more ethereal sense, singing is an influence for a lifetime. Sometimes it has been derided as not cool but the real truth is that it is something beyond and altogether different; a gift from nowhere.

Well rehearsed, like all the best things in life, it becomes time to appreciate something deep and far more than oneself. It is an ultimate in sustained concentration, a skill too often denied at times by multitasking emptiness, in a rushed existence of stressed over-communication.

The last generation has witnessed the switch to an existence where pace of life is often overwhelming.

Music, whatever genre, is timeless in what it means. Recent reflections on British values are seldom encapsulated in the great Anglican tradition of making time in the present.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryMusicPsychology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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