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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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The Archbishop of Canterbury today wrote to all 37 Primates inviting them to attend a special Primates’ gathering in Canterbury to reflect and pray together concerning the future of the Communion.
The meeting, to be held in January 2016, would be an opportunity for Primates to discuss key issues face to face, including a review of the structures of the Anglican Communion and to decide together their approach to the next Lambeth Conference.
The agenda will be set by common agreement with all Primates encouraged to send in contributions. It is likely to include the issues of religiously-motivated violence, the protection of children and vulnerable adults, the environment and human sexuality.
Read it all.
Other posts on this subject - newest first:
+ (Get Religion) The Atlantic goes halfway in reporting on Anglican primates meeting (September 21, 2015)
+ Gavin Ashenden responds to the London Times Editorial on the Anglican Primates Meeting (September 21, 2015)
+ GAFCON Chairman’s September Pastoral Letter on Saint Matthew’s Day (September 21, 2015)
+ (Daily Nation) Kenyan Anglican Primate Downplays Split Call Ahead of Proposed 2016 Primates Meeting (September 20, 2015)
+ Archbishop Mouneer at All Souls Church in London (September 19, 2015)
+ Canon Phil Ashey: What Brings Us Together (September 18, 2015)
+ Note to Blog Readers, the L. Times Editorial on the Primates Meeting is available on Anglican Ink (September 18, 2015 )
+ (The Tablet) Mgr Mark Langham—Too early to call time on the Anglican Communion (September 18, 2015)
+ Philip Johanson—Does C of E require radical emergency surgery or should it bea slow death? (September 18, 2015)
+ (Irish Times) Anglicanism in crisis: Canterbury’s risky move (September 18, 2015)
+ A BBC Today Programme Segment on the proposed Anglican Primates meeting (September 18, 2015)
+ (NYT) Meeting of Anglican Leaders Could Lead to a Looser Federation (September 18, 2015)
+ (Church Times) Crunch time for the Communion as Welby summons Primates to Canterbury summit (September 18, 2015)
+ GAFCON calls for ‘truth on the table’ in the Anglican Communion in called Primates Meeting (September 18, 2015)
+ Archbp Josiah Fearon on the call for a special Primates’ Meeting in January 2016 (September 17, 2015)
+ A Statement from ACNA leader Foley Beach on the Proposed Primates Gathering (September 17, 2015)
+ A S Haley—A Surprise Meeting for an Anglican Family no longer functioning as a Communion (September 17, 2015)
+ (L. Times Leader) The Archbishop of Canterbury is offering the Anglican communion a reality check (September 17, 2015)
+ ([London Times) Archbp Welby holds crisis talks to prevent a church split (September 17, 2015)
+ (Guardian) Archbishop of Canterbury plans to loosen ties of divided Anglican communion (September 16, 2015)
Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told Congress on Tuesday that the deadly U.S. airstrike on a civilian hospital in Kunduz was a mistake, but he declined to endorse calls for an outside investigation.
Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Campbell said the hospital was "mistakenly struck" and that the decision to carry out the attack was made through the U.S. military chain of command.
Campbell thus offered a further refinement of previous Pentagon claims. On Monday, he told reporters that Afghan forces had called in the airstrike. The Pentagon initially had said the attack by an AC-130 gunship was ordered to protect U.S. forces on the ground.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Charities/Non-Profit Organizations Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General War in Afghanistan * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia Afghanistan * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Coates’s Between the World and Me appeals to readers’ desperation to see more clearly, feel more definitely, in a time of terrible racial violence. It resonates, too, with our doubts that justice is near, or possible, or even something much of the country wants. Ferrante’s novels — particularly her Neapolitan series, the final volume of which was just published — touch a nearer and quieter desperation. As Joanna Biggs wrote in a brilliant review essay, everyone she knows seems to have tumbled from Ferrante’s pages to some intense recollection of their own formative friendships and losses, their own most private and defining confusion and pain.
Yet in these books, both authors, seemingly knowing what readers have come asking of them, refuse to give it. They refuse on grounds that are formal, political, and, in a fashion, ethical. What joins these very different works is their refusal to be our books, to offer an easy connection, a place to rest that feels like clarity.
This is what makes the books documents of the moment. Their resistance to making connection and meaning co-exists with hunger for these. These authors argue, in their language as well as their stories and assertions, that you do not really know others, or yourself. They argue that all experience is violated and corrupted even before it happens. They claim that this condition is intolerable but also inescapable. The work of trying to escape it nonetheless and the desperate, inevitable frustration of that work are the books’ theme and also, simply, what these books are.
Read it all.
The lingering crisis rocking the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) Diocese of Yewa, Ilaro, Ogun State has taken a dangerous dimension as the members of the congregation demand the removal of their Diocesan Bishop, Rt. Revd Michael Adebayo Oluwarohunbi from office.
The festering crisis took a turn for the worse last Sunday following a fresh directive from Bishop Oluwarohunbi banning all priests under the Yewa Diocese from officiating and ministering at the church’s officially designated prayer ground, popularly called the “Prayer City.”
According to a copy of the memo dated September 28, 2015 signed by Bishop Oluwarohunbi and obtained by our correspondent in Abeokuta,the cleric barred the members of the congregation under the diocese from attending spiritual programmes organised as groups or individuals in the “prayer city.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Sorting out the specifics of the shooter’s background and motivation will take investigators some time. Those who have studied mass killings say it’s not uncommon for the perpetrators to harbor anger against society and express hatred toward various groups. Yet harboring such views doesn’t necessarily mean they were the prime motivation for the crime, they say.
Usually it’s “a toxic cocktail of factors,” says Christopher Kilmartin, a professor of psychological science at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va.
But there’s one topic that’s not getting enough discussion, he and some others say: masculinity. “The elephant in the room with ... mass shootings is that almost all of them are being done by men,” Professor Kilmartin says. Male shooters often “project their difficulties onto other people.... In this case, it sounds like he was blaming Christians for his problems, but the masculinity piece is what is really missing in the discussions about the equation.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Men Psychology Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
At the Harvest Hope Food Bank, each volunteer has a reason to serve, including Kassy Alia. Tuesday afternoon, Alia was dubbed the "Fun Food Lady" as she sorted cart-loads of cakes, pies, and pizzas.
"Something that's brought me a lot of peace over the past few days is I know I told my husband everyday how much I loved him, and he did the same for me. I'm confident, and I know that he would be so proud of me,” she said.
Kassy's late husband, Forest Acres police officer Greg Alia, was shot and killed in the line of duty last week while responding to a suspicious vehicle call at Richland Mall. He was a new father, just 32 years old, and a star at the small department. Alia was laid to rest on Saturday as the rain rolled in.
Read it all and watch the whole video.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Charities/Non-Profit Organizations Children Dieting/Food/Nutrition Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Marriage & Family * General Interest Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc. Weather * South Carolina
Sex abuse victims of former Sussex bishop Peter Ball are suing the Church of England for hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Ball, 83, who admitted offences against 18 teenagers and young men in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, is being sentenced at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.
Lawyer David Greenwood who represents four victims said legal action had been lodged against the Chichester diocese
The Church of England has not yet commented.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Sexuality Violence * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
As an ecologist - I studied Ecological Science at university - I take an interest in the evidence about climate change. Overwhelmingly it shows that we are seeing major climatic effects from increased carbon in the atmosphere and these effects will increase unless something major is done. Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si wrote, ‘A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system’. I hope that his important contribution to the current debate will make more people wake up.
Many have already. They see daily the devastating effects of climate change in terms of increased sea levels, major weather events, flooding and drought. A defence strategist told me recently about the impact that climate change is having, and he predicted will increasingly have, in fostering future wars and world tensions. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, picked this up as a theme in his speech during the debate about the environment at the General Synod in July, saying, ‘Climate change is both a driver of conflict and a victim of conflict’. No wonder the military are taking it seriously.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources * International News & Commentary Europe France * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Bible. We tweet it, believe it, preach it, argue about it. But the stats suggest we’re not reading it, or at least, reading it less often. Evangelical Alliance’s survey in 2011 found only 38 per cent of those 16-44 read their Bible every day compared to 69 per cent of those over 65. Perhaps yes, those over 65 will often be retired and may also have more time on their hands, but the results for those aged between 44 and 65 were much higher, suggesting there is a generational decline, which supports other studies both in the UK and across the western world.
It would be easy to assume we don’t hold the Bible in such great authority as previous generations, but the evidence doesn’t suggest this. Most show young millennial Christians still believe the Bible to be the word of God. So why aren’t we reading it?
Problem 1: The rise of technology
Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, but there are some potential drawbacks.
Read it all.
Our Father, Our King
Our father our king, hear our voice
Our father our king, we have sinned before you
Our father our king, Have compassion upon us
and upon our children
Our father our king
Bring an end to pestilence,
war, and famine around us
Our father our king,
Bring an end to all trouble
and oppression around us
Our father our king,
Our father our king,
Inscribe us in the book of (good) life
Our father our king, renew upon us
Renew upon us a good year
Hear our voice
Hear our voice
Hear our voice
Our father our king,
Our father our king,
Renew upon us a good year
Our father our king,
Hear our voice
Hear our voice
Hear our voice
Hear our voice
Since he was a teenager, Kim Min-hwan knew he would have to make a choice: abandon his religious convictions or go to prison.
Mr. Kim is a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who for decades have faced jail terms as conscientious objectors under South Korea’s Military Service Act. Since his release from prison in 2013, Mr. Kim has found the stigma too great to find a meaningful job, though he was a chemical engineering major. He spends his days volunteering at the Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters south of Seoul.
“I was predestined to become a convict because I believed in the creator,” Mr. Kim, 31, said in an interview. “I want South Korea to recognize that there are other, nonmilitary ways for us to serve the community.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Politics in General * International News & Commentary Asia Korea * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A few months before 9/11, when I first moved to downtown Los Angeles, the city’s high rises teemed with lawyers and bankers. The lights stayed on late — a beacon of industriousness. But as I quickly discovered, they rolled up the sidewalks by sundown. No matter how productive and wealthy its workers, downtown was a ghost town. LA’s urban core was no place to raise a family or own a home. With its patchwork of one-way streets and expensive lots, it was hardly even a place to own a car. The boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s that had erected LA’s skyline had not fueled residential growth. Angelenos who wanted to chase the dream of property ownership were effectively chased out of downtown.
But things change. Last month, I moved back to “DTLA,” as it’s now affectionately known. Today, once-forlorn corners boast shiny new bars, restaurants, and high-end stores. The streets are full of foot traffic, fueled by new generations of artisans, artists, and knowledge workers. They work from cafés or rented apartments, attend parties on hotel rooftops, and Uber religiously through town. Yes, there are plenty of dogs. But there are babies and children too. In a little over a decade, downtown’s generational turnover has replaced a faltering economy with a dynamic one.
What happened? Partly, it’s a tale of the magnetic power possessed by entrepreneurs and developers, who often alone enjoy enough social capital to draw friends and associates into risky areas that aren’t yet trendy. Even more, it is a story that is playing out across the country. In an age when ownership meant everything, downtown Los Angeles languished. Today, current tastes and modern technology have made access, not ownership, culturally all-important, and LA’s “historic core” is the hottest neighborhood around. Likewise, from flashy metros like San Francisco to beleaguered cities like Pittsburgh, rising generations are driving economic growth by paying to access experiences instead of buying to own.
Read it all (emphasis mine).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Psychology Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Pastor Jesse’s mud-plastered Mitsubishi SUV jolted wildly along the newly dug dirt road that zigzagged up the mountainside toward the construction site of the new church. We stopped to let a pedestrian squeeze by, a middle-aged Lisu woman with a pink, checkered headscarf and a giant bamboo back basket which was strapped to her forehead. The Lisu are one of the 55 ethnic minorities of China and the predominant tribespeople in Gongshan, which nestles on the slope of the Gaoligongshan mountain range. Only 30 miles to the north, these mountain peaks reach more than 16,000 feet. Beyond that is Tibet.
It was a sun-drenched Saturday morning in December 2014. I had arrived the night before on my first visit to the area after reading Chinese media reports of the explosive growth of Christianity among the Lisu people in the “Gospel Valley,” as the Upper Salween River Valley is known. The church under construction is called Zion. It replaces a smaller one built in 1998 with members’ shovels, picks, baskets, and bare hands.
“Brothers and sisters brought their own bedrolls and woks and camped over there during construction of the first church,” Pastor Jesse said, gesturing toward the terraced fields up the slope. “Almost all the construction material was carried up here in bamboo baskets.”
Read it all.
In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg on Monday declared the Safe Harbor data-sharing deal as invalid.
The agreement, signed in 2000 between Brussels and Washington, enables companies and international networks to easily transfer personal data to the United States without having to seek prior approval, a potentially lengthy and costly process.
"The Court of Justice declares that the (European) Commission's US Safe Harbour Decision is invalid," it said in a decision on a case brought against Facebook by Austrian law student Max Schrems.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Law & Legal Issues Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Another day, another bishop trying to tell us that the church has had it wrong for 2,000 years.
The latest is the Anglican bishop of Wangaratta, the Most Rev. John Parkes, who has gotten himself into the newspapers and on the radio to tell us that not only is same-sex marriage inevitable in Australia, but that it might actually be compatible with Christian doctrine.
He is, of course, not the first to make the argument in one form or another, and none of his arguments are new so they serve as good example of this tendency of the theologically liberal wing of the church - and, not least, the Anglican Church of Australia - to keep pushing contrived arguments that are less likely to make the grade than that famous strained gnat of which Jesus spoke.
Read it all from ABC religion and Ethics in Australia.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Benefit cheats should be allowed to get away with fraud to stop innocent people being punished with sanctions and late payments, a leading bishop has said.
The Rt Rev David Walker criticised the "Kafkaesque" workings of the welfare system which he said produced too many wrongly imposed sanctions and delays.
The Bishop of Manchester made the remarks at a Conservative Party conference fringe event in the city.
He claimed innocent people are trapped in the drive to catch fraudsters.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Why are you now taking up the issue of guns?
Our perceived need for self-defense discounts the life of the person on the other side of the gun. I’m really limiting my message to my fellow Christians, especially evangelicals. And we have a massive presence of lethal weapons in our Christian communities. I’m aware of some pastors who now go into the pulpit armed and ready to use their weapons to defend their congregants. That sets up, in my mind, a disaster.
What do you say to people who say they need a gun to protect themselves and their families?
I like to ask people the last time they faced a mortal threat in their life. Most people can’t think of one. Within our conservative ranks, there seems to be an almost rampant fearmongering that’s used as a device to build audiences and readership. And I think it’s contrary to the optimism of the Gospel.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
Q: What do critics say?
Many doctors continue to object to it, as do many religious leaders and activists for the disabled who fear that the disabled could be put under duress to end their lives prematurely.
The California Catholic Conference, the Medical Oncology Assn. of Southern California and the California Disability Alliance note that similar bills have failed recently in Connecticut, Delaware and Colorado.
"This bill is simply about protecting doctors and HMOs from liability," Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst for the Berkeley-based Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund told The Times earlier this year, "and tells people with disabilities who face a terminal diagnosis that may well prove inaccurate that there is no dignity in our lives."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Politics in General State Government * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Deadly flooding has engulfed parts of South Carolina, forcing people from their homes. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has activated the National Guard to help with flood rescues, and charitable organizations are responding.
Impact Your World has gathered ways for people to help in these efforts.
• The Salvation Army is assisting communities along the East Coast by providing food, water and shelter to flood victims.
Read it all.
South Sudan is the kind of place where a sermon anecdote about gunfire draws hearty laughter. The sound of a firearm is such an everyday occurrence that South Sudanese only question whether it came from a pistol, an AK-47, or an M-16. “Many people right now are praying, ‘Thank you God for not making me South Sudanese,’ ” says the pastor.
Listening near the back of the sanctuary in Juba is Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision. He is visiting the world’s newest and most fragile state in his quest to revive the compassion American Christians had for Sudan years ago. The South gained independence from the Muslim-dominated North in 2011 with the solid backing of evangelicals. But two years later, a political power struggle engulfed the Christian-majority nation in bloody conflict.
“It’s a hard sales pitch,” he told Christianity Today as he stood among 50 mothers with malnourished children at a clinic. He said South Sudan is a perfect example of how enormously difficult it is to fulfill both the Great Commission and Great Commandment amid chronic conflict and violence.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary Africa Sudan --South Sudan * Theology
Here is one from Carol Greider (Co-Recipient, 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine):
I don’t usually do the laundry so early in the morning, but I was already up, and there was all this laundry staring at me. I was supposed to later meet two women friends to take our morning spin class. People had speculated that sometime in the next five years, something like this might happen. And last year people said, “Maybe, it will be,” and it wasn’t. Reuters had made this prediction that we might get it this time. But I really didn’t have any idea. Maybe it would never happen. There are important fundamental discoveries that never get prizes.Read them all.
After I got the call, I sent my friend an e-mail: “I’m sorry I can’t spin right now. I’ve won the Nobel Prize.”
Pope Francis on Monday told a contentious gathering of the world's bishops on family issues to put aside their personal prejudices and have the courage and humility to be guided by God.
Francis told 270 cardinals, bishops and priests that the three-week synod isn't a parliament where negotiations, plea bargains or compromises take place. Rather, he said, it's a sacred, protected space where God shows the way for the good of the church.
The bishops are debating how the church can better care for Catholic families at a time when marriage rates are falling, divorce is common and civil unions are on the rise. The main sticking points include how the church should welcome gays and divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Maajid Nawaz...and his favourite interlocutor Sam Harris are at first sight an unlikely pair, but they are doing their best to find common ground and get their act together. Mr Nawaz is a British-born Muslim who went through a radical fundamentalist phase and was imprisoned in Egypt; two years after his release in 2006 he co-founded Quilliam, a London-based research institution which describes itself as an anti-extremism think-tank. Mr Harris is a well-known atheist public intellectual in the United States.
A short but intensive dialogue between them is being published this week as a slim volume by Harvard University Press, and we can expect to hear a lot more from them, on talk-shows and in the more cerebral parts of the print media, over the coming months. Their conversation sprang out of an initially abrasive encounter after a debate in 2010, when Mr Harris put it to Mr Nawaz that liberal-minded Muslims were engaged in a near-impossible task: proving that their faith was really a religion of peace when the tenets and scriptures of the faith suggested otherwise.
That is still, broadly speaking, what Mr Harris thinks. He sees the elaboration of a peaceful and tolerant understanding of Islam as a praiseworthy enterprise, and one that only Muslims can undertake, but he is politely sceptical of their chances of succeeding. Mr Nawaz's reply is a measured one. He says that Islam is neither a religion of peace nor a religion of war. It is simply a religion, and one that has been subject to many different interpretations over the centuries, and is still refracted in lots of different ways.
Read it all.
It is now public knowledge that prominent figures, notably the television personality Jimmy Savile and the Liberal MP Cyril Smith, took advantage of their celebrity to abuse children. It was also public knowledge at the time that they were committing these appalling acts; yet those who knew chose to protect the information, and those who merely suspected were given no official encouragement to investigate.
An independent inquiry into historical sex abuse is being led by Justice Lowell Goddard, who has already said that it may last till 2020. That is not her fault, given the scale of the task, but it is scant consolation for the victims whose lives have been ruined and psyches scarred. Archbishop Welby is right to take the initiative in the Ball case and in doing so has signalled a huge change in the way that the clerical establishment approaches these matters.
The Church of England remains the established church and an integral part of the life of the nation, even in an age of secularism and pluralism. The notion that it provided cover for crimes against the vulnerable by the sexually rapacious and that the perpetrators gained the protection of their posts is abhorrent. It must be aired and investigated.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Men Sexuality Violence * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The Church of England said the review, which will be published next year, will examine its co-operation with the police and other statutory agencies and the extent to which it shared information.
It will also consider whether it properly assessed the possible risk that Ball posed to others and whether it responded adequately to the concerns of survivors.
The Archbishop of Canterbury in 1993, George Carey, now Lord Carey, was aware of the case at the time and has denied interfering in it.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Men Religion & Culture Sexuality Violence * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
How do we live together in love and charity? Honesty and open debate must be part of that. I hope these further thoughts will be accepted in a spirit of the deepest possible love for my brothers and sisters who cannot yet receive the ordination of women. I will do everything I can to ensure that we can disagree well and live together in our church with our differences.
I am not an academic theologian, it is over 20 years since I studied academic theology. I have never studied academic theology beyond undergraduate level.
My apologies for talking of women as ‘them’ in this piece, I can’t see a better or more straightforward way of using language. This piece is about, I hope, getting everything on the table, including that type of language.
The recent statement by the bishops of The Society of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda makes several (31) references to the idea of validity and sacramental assurance.
With all humility, as a Catholic Christian, I think the logic of the Society bishops’ argument is flawed.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
The eight-hour workday hasn't changed much since Henry Ford first experimented with it for factory workers. Now, Americans work slightly longer—an average 8.7 hours—though more time goes into email, meetings, and Facebook than whatever our official job duties actually are. Is it time to rethink how many hours we spend at the office?
In Sweden, the six-hour workday is becoming common.
"I think the eight-hour workday is not as effective as one would think," says Linus Feldt, CEO of Stockholm-based app developer Filimundus. "To stay focused on a specific work task for eight hours is a huge challenge. . . . In order to cope, we mix in things and pauses to make the workday more endurable. At the same time, we are having it hard to manage our private life outside of work. We want to spend more time with our families, we want to learn new things or exercise more. I wanted to see if there could be a way to mix these things."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine History Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary Europe Sweden * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The World Bank has said that for the first time less than 10% of the world's population will be living in extreme poverty by the end of 2015.
The bank said it was using a new income figure of $1.90 per day to define extreme poverty, up from $1.25.
It forecasts the proportion of the world's population in this category to fall from 12.8% in 2012 to 9.6%.
However, it said the "growing concentration of global poverty in sub-Saharan Africa is of great concern".
Read it all.
Both Kunduz and Russia’s bombing are symptoms of the same phenomenon: the vacuum created by Barack Obama’s attempt to stand back from the wars of the Muslim world. America’s president told the UN General Assembly this week that his country had learned it “cannot by itself impose stability on a foreign land”; others, Iran and Russia included, should help in Syria. Mr Obama is not entirely wrong. But his proposition hides many dangers: that America throws up its hands; that regional powers, sensing American disengagement, will be sucked into a free-for-all; and that Russia’s intervention will make a bloody war bloodier still. Unless Mr Obama changes course, expect more deaths, refugees and extremism.
Having seen the mess that George W. Bush made of his “war on terror”, especially in Iraq, Mr Obama is understandably wary. American intervention can indeed make a bad situation worse, as odious leaders are replaced by chaos and endless war saps America’s strength and standing. But America’s absence can make things even more grim. At some point, extremism will fester and force the superpower to intervene anyway.
That is the story in the Middle East. In Iraq Mr Obama withdrew troops in 2011. In Syria he did not act to stop Mr Assad from wholesale killing, even after he used poison gas. But when IS jihadists emerged from the chaos, declared a caliphate in swathes of Iraq and Syria, and began to cut off the heads of their Western prisoners, Mr Obama felt obliged to step back in—desultorily.
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Let's debate less and dialogue more. Most Americans, whatever their stance on gun control, want less violence, fewer family accidents, less gun-related crime. However, minds often are clamped shut against the other side's proposals and statistics. Instead of using research to club opponents, let's take seriously the whole range of inquiry. Some of the research is surprising, much of it is sobering, and some is even heartening. The wisest strategies will come only from a willingness to evaluate complexity.
Let's learn from what works. The much-publicized (and much-imitated) Project Exile in Richmond, Virginia, has won endorsement from both the NRA and gun-control advocates. There the authorities have strictly enforced existing gun laws, including the mandatory five-year federal prison term for using an illegal gun. They have confronted the public with these policies through an attention-getting ad campaign. The result has been a dramatic decrease in gun-related crime. Focusing on enforcement is both good policy and good theology because it reflects the high value we place on human life, our respect for the rule of law, and a realistic view of guns.
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In the mid-20th century, Seventh-day Adventists stood on the far fringe of the North American religious spectrum. Some evangelicals even challenged their Christian credentials, worried by what was seen as their excessive veneration for Ellen White and her writings. By the late 1950s, the church celebrated the fact that it had surpassed the milestone of a million adherents, the vast majority of whom were in the United States. No scholar of religion picked the church as destined for any major growth spurt.
How shortsighted such secular prophets were. Sixty years later, Adventists constitute a global church that plausibly claims 18 million members, only 7 percent of whom live in the United States. The transformation is in fact even greater than these rough figures suggest, as so many Adventists within the United States have ethnic roots in Africa or the Caribbean. Most of this change has occurred since about 1980.
The SDA Church includes some 75,000 churches spread over 200 countries. Latin America and the Caribbean account for almost 6 million believers, almost a third of the church’s strength. Brazil is the country with the largest number of SDA members. Growth in Africa has also been spectacular. The church’s East-Central Africa division reports 2.5 million members worshiping in 11,000 churches.
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Compassion, taken alone and severed from deeper, richer understandings of our nature and destiny, kills morality. Taken as the sole moral principle it undercuts our ability to articulate an ideal for human life. That is surely true of Tribe’s angle of vision on cloning. In order to assure that we do not risk making any person feel marginalized, we are suddenly forbidden to condemn what seems wrong to us. We are unable any longer to raise and discuss questions about what the nature of a cloned person would in fact be, what it means to be human, whether the bond between the generations created by ordinary human reproduction is integral to our humanity.
Tribe is not wrong to fear that cloning threatens human equality. As one made by us rather than one who comes from us, the clone would be a product rather than a gift. And when we make products, we determine their point and purpose. True compassion should draw us away from such circumstances, away from actions that might create cases metaphysically too baffling for our morality to address. But Tribe, as with the instance of removing the stigma from illegitimacy, purchases equality by means of a compassion that is the only moral law, and that makes for too shriveled and truncated a morality.
We ought, of course, to care as best we can for those who are victimized or marginalized in our society. But when we hesitate to pass judgment it should not be because we fear that moral ideals will, by their very existence, make those who fall short feel condemned. That is a dead end, if there ever was one. Bereft of any larger sense of the human good, unable to articulate (lest we hurt feelings) what is best in human life and what the family at its best might be, we will—if we follow Tribe’s prescription—lurch from one affirmation to the next until even the language of compassion finally loses its point. That is the possibility about which we ought to have second thoughts and which might remind us, in Chesterton’s words, of “the importance of an ideal.”
Read it all from First Things (emphasis mine).
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(Warning--very disturbing content-KSH).
He was our man in Africa.
Hissene Habre, who ruled Chad in the 1980s, was a U.S. ally in good standing even as his government killed tens of thousands of people and filled prisons with enemies who were starved, beaten and tortured.
Last week he finally had to face victims of those times in court. There was frozen silence as former prisoners testified for the first time against the man who was feted at the White House in 1987 by President Reagan and was armed and supported in a covert CIA operation to fight Libya's Col. Moammar Kadafi.
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Their church, Turning Point Adventist, was located in an old Moose Lodge a few miles from Umpqua Community College, where a gunman had allegedly asked victims about their religion and then targeted Christians during a massacre Thursday that left nine dead. Now the sidewalk on the road between the church and the college had become one long memorial, chalked with Bible verses and visited by prayer groups who sang hymns into the night.
It seemed to Wibberding and many others here that the target of America’s latest mass shooting had been not just a classroom or a college or a town, but also a religion. Now, in a church near the shooting, it was left to Christians to ask hard questions about their faith and decide how to respond.
“If he had been pointing that gun at you, asking if you were Christian, what would you have said?” Wibberding asked. “How much does this mean to you? Imagine you were there.”
Read it all from the Washington Post.
As a Western European I have seen the dramatic drop in the influence of organized religion in society. Having spent part of my childhood in Spain, churches on Sunday were packed and priests and nuns in habits prominent features of the social landscape. Even though to a lesser extent, this was also the case in secular France. Today churches across Western Europe are empty, the average age in many congregations is well over 60, while priests need to be recruited from Latin America, Africa and Asia as their numbers among Western Europeans have dwindled dramatically – a sort-of “reverse missionary” phenomenon. Thus, even though many Western Europeans like Pope Francis, there seems very little chance that they will return in droves to church. Western Europe would seem to have entered a post-religion era.
From a Western European prism it could be assumed that this would be a global trend. The assumption however could not have been more wrong. Religion is clearly a case where Western Europe is definitely the abnorm and not the norm. In the post-Cold War era, with the collapse of Marxist-Leninist ideologies, it is (to me, anyway) quite astonishing the degree to which religion has “returned” as a major driving force and prominent feature of the 21st century.
In speaking of Europe, I have stressed Western Europe, as this would not be true in Eastern Europe where the Orthodox Churches have seen a considerable revival. In post-Soviet Russia an estimated 47% of the population (67 million) are practicing. Similarly one could not claim, by any means, that “the West” has entered a post-religion era given the overwhelming importance and prominence of religion in the US.
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A Former Archbishop of Canterbury has urged Prime Minister David Cameron to do more to help Christians in the Middle East saying "time is running out".
Lord Carey said more had to be done to support followers of Christ who face persecution or death at the hands of Islamic terrorism.
"Time is running out for Christians in the region," he said.
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Doctors Without Borders is calling for an independent investigation of the deadly bombing of its hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz, which it says is no longer operational.
Aerial bombardments blew apart the medical facility about the time of a U.S. airstrike early Saturday, killing at least 19 people, officials said.
The blasts left part of the hospital in flames and rubble, killing 12 staffers and seven patients -- including three children -- and injuring 37 other people, the charity said.
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Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Budweiser, three of the largest World Cup sponsors, are demanding that Sepp Blatter step down immediately from his presidency of Fifa, a week after he personally became the subject of a criminal investigation into a corruption scandal that has engulfed the organisation.
Visa, another important sponsor, also joined the call for Mr Blatter to fall on his sword. But the defiant head of Fifa pushed back in a statement through his lawyer, refusing to heed the companies whose deals with Fifa contributed to more than $1.6bn in sponsorship revenue for the body between 2011-14, according to consultancy IEG.
The demands from Coke, McDonald’s and Budweiser’s owner Anheuser-Busch InBev are the strongest yet. All three have urged Fifa to make swift progress in cleaning itself up but to date they had not called outright for Mr Blatter’s resignation.
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“As of now, the GAFCON primates have said that if the Anglican Church of Canada and the U.S. is at the table for the January meeting, they will not attend,” said the Rev. Paul Stephens, rector at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Tupelo, “And that’s unfortunate.”
Stephens said that worldwide, the Anglican Communion is connected, but not obligated. The Anglican church was spread through British colonization. Wherever there was a British colony, there is now an Anglican church. Globally, 38 Anglican provinces make up the Anglican Communion, the centerpiece of which is the Church of England.
“In terms of authority, the Archbishop of Canterbury isn’t like the Pope. He doesn’t have the jurisdiction to ‘make’ me do anything, though if he did I would almost certainly acquiesce,” Stephens said. “Anglican provinces have autonomy, and make their own rulings within themselves that don’t have bearing on the others. However, there’s a saying that goes something like, ‘If someone sneezes at an Episcopal church in Corinth, someone at an Episcopal church in Bay St. Louis will say “Bless you.”’”
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THE tendency to ignore bisexuals seems particularly prevalent in Christian circles. The Pilling report made almost no reference to bisexuality...It repeatedly used the phrase “gay and lesbian”. At certain points, it seems that this is meant to mean “people who are not straight” or “people in same-sex relationships”. At other points, it seems to involve the more usual meaning of “people attracted only to others of the same sex”.
Church discussions on sexuality are confusing and controversial enough without using sloppy language and ignoring a sizeable number of people. The Pilling report is far from being the only culprit.
Campaigners on both sides of the argument say “gay marriage” when they mean same-sex marriage. As a bisexual Christian, I know that marrying a man would not make me gay, nor would marrying a woman make me straight.
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It's time to stop marching, having discourses and debates, writing and repeatedly speaking about being anti-corruption. Why?
Because it's not about being anti-corruption...
It's about being pro-courage. Pro-courage.
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History was made this summer at Canadian Forces Base Borden, Ont., with a unique interfaith wedding, the officiating clerics say.
On August 29, Capt. Georgette Mink, a physiotherapist in the Canadian military, was married to Ahmad Osman, a soldier in the Lebanese army. Although technically a Christian marriage, it was attended by representatives from both the Christian and Muslim religions, and was followed by a Muslim blessing of the couple.
Capt. the Rev. Dwayne Bos, the Anglican padre who officiated, said he believes other weddings may have been done in the Canadian military involving Christians and non-Christians—he has heard of some involving one Wiccan partner, for example. But the fact that clerics from both faith traditions co-performed the liturgy made this one unique, he said.
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The pope has returned to Rome after his historic trip to the United States, but the message and meaning of his words and actions are still being debated. We are joined by John Carr, director of Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought, and Pat Zapor, who covered the pope’s trip for Catholic News Service, about how the pope was received, what he said and did, and what the impact of his message may be on the Catholic Church and beyond.
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In 1975, as desperate Vietnamese sought to escape Communist rule, the U.S. embarked on what remains one of the greatest humanitarian rescue missions in history. Over the span of several weeks, Operation Frequent Wind, Operation Babylift and other missions by air or on sea saved and resettled tens of thousands of Vietnamese in the U.S., where they would become thriving American citizens.
Now another desperate population needs rescuing: persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Could there be an Operation Frequent Wind for them?
Mark Arabo thinks so. He is a Chaldean-American and the founder of the Minority Humanitarian Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to get Iraqi Christians out before it’s too late. “There is historical precedent for this,” he says from his base in San Diego. “President Ford airlifted thousands during the Vietnam War and we need to do the same.”
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It’s getting cold everywhere but on the mound, where Arrieta has dominated team after team every five days, especially in the second half. In five more days, he’ll be on center stage pitching for the Cubs in the NL wild-card game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. But after Friday’s six shutout innings, it was time reflect on a historic season that produced the lowest second-half ERA (0.75) in history.
“I have not seen this,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I don’t think a lot of people have.
“To have the honor of managing that is pretty incredible.”
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A hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in Kunduz was badly damaged early Saturday after being hit by what appears to have been an American airstrike. At least 19 people were killed, including 12 hospital staff members, and dozens wounded.
The United States military, in a statement, confirmed an airstrike at 2:15 a.m., saying that it had been targeting individuals “who were threatening the force” and that “there may have been collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.”
The airstrike set off fires that were still burning hours later, and a nurse who managed to climb out of the debris described seeing colleagues so badly burned that they had died.
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A series of explosions on the outskirts of the Nigerian capital Abuja have killed at least 18 people, officials say.
The first two struck Kuje township: one by a suicide bomber near a police station, the other a bomb at a market.
Another bomb exploded at a bus stop in Nyanya.
No group has said it carried out the attacks yet but suspicion has fallen on Boko Haram Islamists, who targeted Nyanya last year.
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Under the sponsorship of the YMCA, Wilder spent the following academic year touring college campuses. He told the story of the "Mount Hermon One Hundred" and urged students to pledge themselves to become missionaries. Some 2,000 did so. To avoid allowing the bright light of this new movement to flicker out, in 1888 YMCA leaders organized the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions (known simply as the SVM). They placed the recent Cornell graduate, John R. Mott, at its head. The SVM formed organizations on college, university and seminary campuses across the nation. Students signed pledge cards stating their intention to become missionaries and joined weekly meetings to study missions. The watchword of the movement illustrates the boldness and optimism of the Christian youth of that era: "The Evangelization of the World in this Generation."
The SVM became one of the most successful missionary-recruiting organizations of all time. Prior to its formation, American Protestants supported less than a thousand missionaries throughout the world. Between 1886 and 1920, the SVM recruited 8,742 missionaries in the U.S. Around twice that number were actually sent out as missionaries in this period, many of them influenced by the SVM though never members. SVM leaders also formed college groups around the world in countries where missionaries had established mission colleges during the previous century. Their goal was to create a missionary force large enough to evangelize every nation. They thought in military terms. Missionaries were soldiers in God's army. The SVM sought to recruit, to support, and to place these soldiers strategically around the world. If done shrewdly, they thought they would surely conquer the world.
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To celebrate its 150th anniversary this year, the Army is rolling out a major social initiative aiming to lift 100,000 families out of poverty over the next 15 years. Called Pathway of Hope, this innovative program will target qualified families that show the necessary “strengths and aptitudes” to benefit from in-depth support from Army caseworkers. The Army began to pilot programs in three Midwestern communities in late 2011. Early results show that 50 percent of the families who stayed in the program “demonstrated increased stability and sufficiency.”
The US wing of the Army has the necessary reach to attempt a project of that scale. “Across the country, we have about 3,500 active officers, 60,000 employees, and 3.5 million volunteers,” National Commander David Jeffrey told me. “We’re in over 7,000 communities.” In addition, the Army is collaborating with social work departments at colleges like Asbury, Trevecca Nazarene, and Olivet Nazarene.
But to identify and serve these families on the path to self-sufficiency, Jeffrey estimates, the Army will need to hire up to 700 more caseworkers. It will require an additional $200 million to ensure that the program can retain its faith-based nature and stay free of government restrictions.
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Give pastors vacations.
Open the books for periodic financial reviews.
Be sensitive to how sounds — and traffic — can affect church neighbors.
The National Association of Evangelicals this week released a code of ethics for congregations that it hopes will help leaders make practical decisions for the health of their churches and community.
The document calls for churches to strive for unity by embracing different worship styles and reconciling “dissident factions.” It urges them to affirm the various cultural heritages of their members and neighbors, minimize barriers for disabled people and use natural resources wisely.
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Forget the 26-year-old zero who murdered 10 innocents at Umpqua Community College on Thursday morning.
The one to remember is 30-year-old Chris Mintz, the student and Army vet who was shot at least five times while charging straight at the gunman in an effort to save others.
Mintz did so on the sixth birthday of his son, Tyrik.
“It’s my son’s birthday, it’s my son’s birthday,” he was heard saying as he lay wounded.
When word of Mintz’s heroism reached his kin in his native North Carolina, his cousin Derek Bourgeois was hardly surprised.
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Growing numbers of Church of England schools are failing to appoint heads of the same faith, according to a study.
A new Church of England report into the training needs of its schools reveals “a significant shortage of leaders [nationally] which is felt even more acutely” by church schools.
“There was clear consensus across school leaders and diocesan officials that recruitment of school leaders with the necessary understanding and commitment is proving increasingly difficult and sometimes impossible,” says the report.
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The proclamation, which provides extensive scriptural citation, asserts, “God has given all animals the breath of life, that He sustains them… they belong ultimately to Him, and… He has declared them ‘good,’ indicating they have value to Him independent of human use.”
Many conservative evangelicals bristle at the mention of the animal rights movement because they believe it puts humans and animals on equal footing. But the evangelical statement is unequivocal that humans hold a unique status in creation. In fact, it’s this special status that demands humans practice extra care with all of God’s creation. The signatories affirmed the belief that, “all animals ultimately belong to God, are sustained by Him, and exist to bring Him praise and reveal His character.”
Also being announced today is the launch of the “Every Living Thing” initiative, which will begin a year-long effort to engage Christians in dialogue around the biblical mandate to care for animals.
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I did know that the whole student body had been summoned to the auditorium—and I was one of a few people who knew why. All morning long I’d known what was coming, much as I would have liked to stay in the dark. I got a tip the day before that Sweet Briar’s board had determined the college’s financial challenges to be insurmountable. I knew the board had voted to close the school, effective at the end of the semester. I knew that the students and staff whose names I was just learning were on the brink of having their world torn apart. And I knew that I was the chaplain, and that I was going to have to watch it happen.
During lunchtime, while the president delivered the fatal news to the faculty and staff, I attended the regular meeting of students working for the Office of Spiritual Life. My secret charge was to gather as many as possible into the auditorium for the chance to hear the news directly from the president, before it hit Twitter with explosive force. But as we walked up the hill to the auditorium, my phone was already lighting up. A friend at a nearby college forwarded her own faculty announcement: “Is this for real? What’s going on out there?” I responded with brevity bordering on hostility, typing as I walked: “Students don’t know yet. We need ten minutes. Stay off Facebook.”
The assembly was brutal. I sat with a few friendly students but could hardly engage, knowing what I knew and they didn’t. I stared at my phone, waiting for social media to beat the president to his own job. The sound system wasn’t working, and we waited for an eternity of troubleshooting. And then there was no more time, and the president came out and spoke without a mic, projecting his voice. He said he wanted to get right to the point. He said it broke his heart to be there. Then he said Sweet Briar would close its doors. The class of 2015 would be the last graduating class.
And then the whole auditorium burst into tears.
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“We call on Nigerians to support the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and be patient with him as we urge him to fulfill his campaign promises to Nigerians. “President Buhari should see himself as president of the whole nation and not a sectional or religious president”, he admonished.
He cautioned that despite the myriad of challenges confronting the nation, dismemberment of the country remains a ridiculous thinking, adding that it is an unthinkable idea after shedding innocent blood through the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War to keep Nigeria one.
The religious leader commiserated with the families of those that have lost their lives in the North through the activities of Boko Haram insurgency, and called on the governments at all levels, religious organizations and philanthropists to come to the aid of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) who have been dehumanized by the activities of insurgents.
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The roads that wind north from Lagos, Nigeria, toward the headquarters of the Winners’ Chapel mega-church are lined with unusual testaments to Nigerians’ religious fervor.
There’s the Amazing Grace Hair Salon and the No King But God Driving School, My God Is Able Furniture Makers and God’s Grace Multipurpose Hall. And wedged between these omnipotently styled businesses are the churches themselves, hundreds of them, carrying on tenaciously in a sweltering tin shack or a room balanced atop a gas station, in the parking lot of a half-finished shopping mall or perched on stilts above Lagos’s thick, viscous lagoon.
But even in a country so devout, Canaanland stands out. The headquarters of one of the most powerful churches in Africa rambles out across 10,500 acres and includes not only a massive church – the 50,000 seat Faith Tabernacle – but a fully stocked company town complete with schools and a university, a bottled water processing plant, restaurants, shops, and residential neighborhoods. Every weekend, hundreds of bus loads of Nigerians, regally coiffed in vividly patterned, tailor-made suits and dresses, pour through its gates for Sunday service.
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The next point I want to make I think is one that is of increasing importance in a time when there is a certain set tendency to say that religion should be privatised. To use an old expression, many think religion should be only between consenting adults in private.
Far from it, the faith communities are those who provide the glue in society in so many ways, from their social action through to the eternal values which they reflect and support, and which eternal values are themselves the foundation for British values of which we’ve heard a lot over the last few months. Because of what the Scriptures teach us, especially from the prophet Jeremiah, we are committed to seeking the welfare of the place where we live, the common good.
Christians and Muslims are not called to a ghetto-like existence, although both our faiths have from time to time acted in that way, through fear or defensiveness. We are called by contrast to be actively involved in our society not for our own good but for the common good. We are called to seek the flourishing of the society, as Jeremiah said to the Jewish exiles: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” [
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Islamic State combatants have shown themselves to be resilient, and the group is adept at attracting adherents through social media.
At least eight Islamic State branches in the Middle East and Afghanistan have cropped up in recent years or have redefined themselves as allies, such as the Boko Haram insurgency group in Nigeria.
At the same time, international efforts to combat the Islamic State’s online propaganda messaging has been an abysmal failure, according to a recent State Department assessment.
So far, the Islamic State’s violent narrative — promulgated through thousands of messages each day — has effectively “trumped” the efforts of some of the world’s richest and most technologically advanced nations, the State Department assessment said.
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The gunman who opened fire at Oregon's Umpqua Community College singled out Christians, according to the father of a wounded student.
Before going into spinal surgery, Anastasia Boylan told her father the gunman entered her classroom firing.
"I've been waiting to do this for years," the gunman told the professor teaching the class. He shot him point blank, Boylan recounted.
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The crisis in Lebanon, where 1.2 million Syrian refugees are competing for limited resources with host communities, is a “ticking time bomb”, two aid workers gave warning this week.
The country, which is the size of Yorkshire, has the highest number of refugees per capita: a quarter of the population. Of these, 70 per cent live below the poverty line. Since the UN’s Syria regional-response plan is less than half-funded, and the influx costs the country a third of its GDP, communities are in crisis.
“It’s more than just tension: I think it is a ticking bomb,” the communications manager for World Vision in Lebanon, Patricia Mouamar, said on Tuesday. “It’s like the whole country of Greece moving into UK. . . If no funding is made available to us, it will explode at a certain time.”
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A shooter described as a 20-year-old man opened fire on a rural community college campus in Oregon on Thursday morning, killing multiple people and injuring even more.
Ellen F. Rosenblum, the Oregon attorney general, said her office believed that 13 people were killed in the shooting and another 20 people were injured.
“We are just heartbroken here in Oregon that an act of this magnitude has occurred in our state,” Rosenblum said in an interview on MSNBC. She said the figures were from the Oregon Department of Justice’s Criminal Justice division. She cautioned that the situation was still developing, and other officials confirmed few details.
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You have to give Vladimir Putin credit—he has a special talent for changing facts on the ground and daring others to do something about it. Russian bombs are now falling on Syria, though Putin’s intentions remain a subject of debate. But here’s the bottom line: Russia’s strongman has restored his country’s status as a major international player. These 5 facts explain Putin’s calculations for joining the fight for Syria.
1. Putin’s Popularity
Putin has used tough foreign policy words and deeds to boost his popularity at home from the very start.
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A parish is in uproar after a crematorium's cross was taken down and stuffed in a cupboard to avoid offending non-religious visitors.
Around 40 per cent of funeral services held the crematorium are non-Christian so it was decided that the cross should be kept in a storage cupboard rather than behind the alter.
It will be brought out of the cupboard and put up on the wall for services at Accrington Crematorium in Burnley, Lancashire, only when requested.
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It was an emotional and heartfelt reunion 38 years in the making inspired by a photo of a severely burned baby being cradled by her nurse.
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Doctors have been granted approval to carry out the UK's first 10 womb transplants, following the success of the procedure in Sweden.
The go-ahead has been given by the Health Research Authority - as part of a clinical trial - which launches in the spring.
Around one in 7,000 women are born without a womb, while others lose their womb to cancer.
If the trial is successful, the first UK baby could arrive in early 2018.
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Those of you who are shortly going to be commissioned as Church Credit Champions have heard God’s call, as the whole church has in recent years, to be a church of the poor for the poor; to seek justice and the common good for all in our society.
You have set up credit union access points in your churches, brought new people onto the boards of local credit unions, supported people struggling with debt through signposting them to debt advice resources.
You have seen the need, and you have met it with love, grace and hope.
We all know that the Christian relationship with money is, at best, slightly ambivalent. We recognise when it’s got the wrong place, but we find it quite hard to find the right place.
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The church has heard a fresh call to be “a church of the poor for the poor” in recent years, the Archbishop of Canterbury said last night as he commissioned volunteers to help churches engage with issues of credit and debt in their communities.
Speaking during a special service at St George-in-the-East in Shadwell, London, the Archbishop told more than 50 volunteers – who have taken part in a pilot scheme in London, Southwark and Liverpool dioceses – that they had “seen the need, and met it with love, grace and hope.”
The first phase of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Church Credit Champions Network is on course to secure benefits worth over £2million for local communities.
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One 15-year-old I interviewed at a summer camp talked about her reaction when she went out to dinner with her father and he took out his phone to add “facts” to their conversation. “Daddy,” she said, “stop Googling. I want to talk to you.” A 15-year-old boy told me that someday he wanted to raise a family, not the way his parents are raising him (with phones out during meals and in the park and during his school sports events) but the way his parents think they are raising him — with no phones at meals and plentiful family conversation. One college junior tried to capture what is wrong about life in his generation. “Our texts are fine,” he said. “It’s what texting does to our conversations when we are together that’s the problem.”
It’s a powerful insight. Studies of conversation both in the laboratory and in natural settings show that when two people are talking, the mere presence of a phone on a table between them or in the periphery of their vision changes both what they talk about and the degree of connection they feel. People keep the conversation on topics where they won’t mind being interrupted. They don’t feel as invested in each other. Even a silent phone disconnects us.
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One such place was Holy Trinity Brompton whose leaders had experienced a measure of frustration in their dealings with the Kensington Area hierarchy. Alpha was beginning to develop into the global movement that it is today, and there were voices within HTB urging that a base outside the Church of England would be more conducive to growth. The local hierarchy was unwilling to see HTB as much more than a conventional parish in the Area, and in particular was keen to restrict the numbers of curates that the Church could employ, even though there was finance available to enlarge the staff. The restrictions were fuelled by a liberal distaste for charismatic evangelicalism and a conviction that the supply of curates should be evenly spread throughout the Diocese, irrespective of the capacity to pay.
There was an important principle here, also expressed in the Common Fund system. The Diocesan budget was calculated on the basis of the establishment figure for clergy numbers, together with elements for administration and national church obligations. The total sum was then divided between parishes by reference to a complex formula which relied heavily on electoral roll numbers, with the consequence that a church in decline would be more and more heavily subsidised by any that were growing. There was in effect a tax on growth and an incentive to be less than candid in declaring parochial resources. This may have been tolerable when the Diocese still enjoyed a substantial benefit from the distributions of the Church Commissioners but, as these declined in significance and pension obligations in particular mounted, the contributors to the system were increasingly restive as they saw that they were being asked to subsidize less active neighbours. It was clear that a crisis of consent could not be long delayed.
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When large, multisite Grace Church in Florida needed a pastor for its new downtown Fort Myers campus, the Rev. Arlene Jackson got the call.
She began with about 30 in worship. Over five years, her flock at Grace — a United Methodist church — has grown to more than 400. Many were previously “unchurched” and recovering from addictions, as she did.
“It’s the most diverse bunch of mixed nuts you’ve ever met,” Jackson said. “They’re growing in Christ and bringing people and having a lot of joy in their walk with the Lord.”
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....there’s no way to view the encounter other than as a broad gesture of support by the pope for conscientious objection from gay marriage laws, especially taken in tandem with his statement aboard the papal plane that following one’s conscience in such a situation is a “human right” – one, he insisted, that also belongs to government officials.
So what does it mean?
First, it means that Francis has significantly strengthened the hand of the US bishops and other voices in American debates defending religious freedom.
In the wake of a massively successful trip in which Francis was lauded for his stands on issues ranging from climate change to immigration to fighting poverty, it will be more difficult for anyone to wrap themselves in the papal mantle without at least acknowledging his concerns vis-à-vis religious freedom.
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New research is helping medical experts devise formulas for how long a typical office worker should spend sitting and standing.
Studies have found that sedentary behavior, including sitting for extended periods, increases the risk for developing dozens of chronic conditions, from cancer and diabetes to cardiovascular disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Some ergonomics experts warn that too much standing also can have negative effects on health, including a greater risk for varicose veins, back and foot problems, and carotid artery disease.
“The key is breaking up your activity throughout the day,” said Alan Hedge, a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University. “Sitting all day and standing all day are both bad for you,” he said.
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I would put it this way: corruption involves, not restriction of voice in general, but its illegitimate restriction, defined in terms of the rules of a given game. When those rules are established and accepted, then the issue of “voice” becomes less problematic: bowling clubs are not acting illegitimately when they restrict their membership to bowlers, rather than opening it up to ping-pong players. Similarly, churches are not acting illegitimately, and therefore are not restricting voice, when they limit ordination to baptized and believing Christians. Thus, the inevitable question of whether “orthodoxy” should restrict the voices of the “unorthodox” must be answered as both “yes” and “no.” “Yes,” if this restriction is built into the canonical structures of the church in question; “no”, if these restrictions derive from structures that are extra-canonically constrained by manipulations of influence. For when there is canonical space for diverse embodiments of, e.g. theological positions in a church, as in both “evangelical” and “catholic” views within the older Anglican ecclesial structures, engaging the Influence Market in a way that restricts those voices becomes a matter of corruption.
This can arguably be shown with the Episcopal Church (TEC): what was once a relatively theologically diverse church, within the limits of its formularies, has become one of the most theologically monochromatic churches in America. This has happened through the ever more deeply engaged Influence Market. On the one hand, there has been nothing “illegal” about the outworking of that market: bishops can ordain whom they wish and appointments can be made according to personal preferences of those in power. But the end result of caving into, let alone deliberately manipulating, these dynamics is corruption, and on two scores.
First, through the suppression of legitimate voices in the Church, it is inevitable that the truth — in this case, the truth of the Gospel — suffers, simply for lack of adequately trained hearts and minds to engage that truth. More corruption follows, through the perversion of critical Christian inquiry. Second, when Influence Markets such as TEC’s are moving ahead at full steam, it is inevitable that more concrete and classical acts of corruption take place: misuse of funds and misuse of canons (the church’s legal process). In an institution where everybody is “on the same side” (because there are few left on any other side), no one wishes to hurt their “friends” by raising questions. This has happened on a number of fronts in TEC in matters involving the national budget (e.g. misusing trust funds to balance the bottom line), discipline (manipulating canons to silence dissenting voices), and the legislative process (not following canonical procedures at General Convention). It represents a matter of corruption, at least in Johnston’s paradigm, where the “legal” Influence Market has finally given way to quite “illegal” activities.
Read it all from the Living Church's Covenant blog (emphasis his).
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The synod of the Anglican Church's Sydney diocese will next month consider a report from a senior bishop which argues that wedding service providers should have the "religious freedom" to refuse to cater for gay couples.
While some believe that such laws would set a dangerous precedent, Australia's Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson argues the rights of both groups can be protected.
The Anglican Bishop of South Sydney Robert Forsyth heads up the Religious Freedom Reference Group within the church's conservative Sydney diocese.
He is personally opposed to gay marriage and wants any new laws to offer an opt-out for those opposed to [same-sex marriage].
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“Anti-access/area denial, or A2/AD, is a growing problem,” Gen. Philip Breedlove, supreme allied commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, told an audience in Washington on Monday. Kaliningrad has given Moscow the ability to better defend the Baltic, while the annexation of Crimea has done the same on the Black Sea, he said.
“The geography of Europe has changed” since the end of the Cold War, Benitez said. “The geography of NATO has changed. In the Cold War NATO’s borders were in the center of the continent, but now the front lines are the Baltics, and you’re drawn to that small land bridge [near Suwalki].”
“The Russians have chosen to make this the new zone of friction, that’s where you’re seeing the air provocations,” such as Russian warplanes flying with transponders off, said Benitez.
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It is this fantasy of living in an endlessly adjustable world, in which every physical boundary can be renegotiated, that shapes the opening reflections of the encyclical and pervades a great deal of its argument. The paradox, noted by a good many other commentators, is that our supposed “materialism” is actually a deeply anti-material thing. The plain thereness of the physical world we inhabit tells us from our first emergence into consciousness that our will is not the foundation of everything—and so its proper working is essentially about creative adjustment to an agenda set not by our fantasy but by the qualities and complexities of what we encounter. The material world tells us that to be human is to be in dialogue with what is other: what is physically other, what is humanly other in the solid three-dimensionality of other persons, ultimately what is divinely other. And in a world created by the God Christians believe in, this otherness is always communicating: meaning arises in this encounter, it is not devised by our ingenuity. Hence the pope’s significant and powerful appeal to be aware of the incalculable impact of the loss of biodiversity: it is not only a loss of resource but a diminution of meaning. “Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us” (33).
The argument of these opening sections of Laudato si’ repeatedly points us back to a fundamental lesson: We as human beings are not the source of meaning or value; if we believe we are, we exchange the real world for a virtual one, a world in which—to echo Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty—the only question is who is to be master. A culture in which managing limits is an embarrassing and unwelcome imperative is a culture that has lost touch with the very idea of a world, let alone a created world (i.e., one in which a creative intelligence communicates with us and leads us into meanings and visions we could not have generated ourselves). The discussion in Chapter III of the obsessive pursuit of novelty in our lives draws out very effectively how the multiplication of pure consumer choice produces not greater diversity or liberty but a sense of endless repetition of the same and a lack of hope in the future. Once again, the underlying issue is the loss of meaning. It is fully in keeping with this general perspective that what Pope Francis has to say about the rights and dignities of the unborn (120) is seamlessly connected with the dangers of a culture of “disposability” in which the solid presence of those others who do not instantly appear to contribute to our narrowly conceived well-being can so readily be forgotten.
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A poll by Populus for ACS, undertaken online among 1,864 adults in England and Wales on 2-3 September 2015, revealed that a majority (58%) of the public still thinks that Sunday is different from the rest of the week, 61% because it is a shared time with family and friends, and 58% because it is a day of relaxation. Two-thirds (67%) supported the current legislation permitting large stores to open up to six hours on Sundays while 23% opposed it, presumably because they thought it was either too strict or too liberal. Three-fifths agreed that the existing laws provide sufficient opportunities to shop on Sundays (with just 12% dissenting) and a similar proportion felt that, if the laws were relaxed, shop staff would be forced to work longer and their family life would suffer. At the same time, 25% agreed that the present legislation is not convenient for people like themselves and a plurality of 42% that it constrains customers’ choice when they can go shopping. Sunday trading is one of those topics where the outcome of surveys can be radically different dependent upon the question-wording and context.
An online survey by Research Insight for ACS of 70 local authority chief executives in England and Wales between 6 August and 4 September 2015 found that 64% were likely to support deregulation in some form in their own local authority, typically in an out-of-town location. However, 64% were concerned that having different Sunday trading regulations within their local authority would cause confusion for consumers and 69% that it would displace trade from some zones to others.
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The US State Department is seeking a counter-narrative to the propaganda being spread by ISIL, and it is reportedly turning to some of America’s preeminent storytellers for help. According to The Daily Beast, executives from both HBO and Snapchat are part of a team of filmmakers and social media specialists that’s brainstorming how to hamper the effectiveness of ISIL’s messaging.
Citing unnamed industry and government sources, The Daily Beast reports that HBO and Snapchat representatives were invited to Sunnylands, a California retreat known for hosting important government figures, in June to meet with State Department officials on how best to counter the ISIL narrative, which has lured young men from the Middle East, Europe, and even the United States, to join its violent ranks. Mark Boal, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Zero Dark Thirty, is reportedly part of the team assisting the State Department.
Neither HBO nor Snapchat have responded to requests for comment. The State Department, in a statement to Quartz, neither confirmed nor denied the Daily Beast report but noted that film “is an especially powerful medium for building cross-cultural understanding” of world issues.
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Of all the European countries, Greece bears the heaviest refugee burdens. Malcolm Bradshaw, our Athens chaplain, relates that between 1 and 14 September 54,000 migrants arrived in Greece from Turkey. These were people whose hopes of a better life had been cruelly raised.
For the last eight years, we have helped run a soup kitchen that delivers 800 meals a day to poor people in central Athens. In Greece, refugees are at the bottom of the pecking order. Earlier this year, I visited a large detention centre north of Athens where refugees were being held in the kinds of cages where we might more usually house animals. I was distressed to see two cages where unaccompanied minors were being held. They had broken shoes and torn trousers, and appeared dazed and confused.
We have provided clothes, toiletries, sleeping bags and phone cards to the residents of the detention centres. We are working with UN and Orthodox Church representatives to provide food and shelter to new arrivals. Of course the fundamental problems that lead people to leave their countries need to be dealt with at a political level. But Christians are enjoined to help those who are casualties of forces far beyond their control.
Yet, strangely, we ourselves are being blessed....
Read it all from the C of E blog.
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Virgin mothers having IVF, three-parent babies, transgender gold medallists . . . the new sexual politics is changing so rapidly that few can keep up. Facebook now has more than 71 terms for gender identity including gender fluid, hermaphrodite, polygender, asexual and two-spirit person. Google has increased its coverage of transgender healthcare for employees to include genital surgery, facial feminisation and pectoral implants.
In America they are increasingly clued up about these new sexual identities. Caitlyn Jenner — formerly known as Bruce — the Olympic decathlete and reality TV star, came out in July as transgender and said she was tired at 65 of telling lies. The arguments have now moved on to whether you have to be biologically female for the ladies’ loos. Campaigns have been launched, #weneedtopee and #occupotty, as states such as Florida and Kentucky struggle to work out what is appropriate in schools, hospitals and prisons.
The acronym LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) doesn’t trip off the tongue so easily here, but slowly the discussions are reaching Britain. The comedian Eddie Izzard, whom I interviewed, explained that he now sees being a transvestite as a gift, “because women talk to me in a different way”. Grayson Perry’s art transcends what he wears. Gender is increasingly no longer about men v women, Mars v Venus, but where you are on the spectrum.
The young are much more likely to challenge their sexuality. The number of children under ten being seen for transgender treatment on the NHS has quadrupled in the past five years.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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The new Global Goals have emerged from an international three year process of listening. The UK government, led by the Prime Minister, played a really key role.
There is huge ambition here. According to the UN document: “Never before have world leaders pledged common action and endeavour across such a broad and universal policy agenda”. And again, “We can be the first generation to succeed in ending poverty just as we may be the last to have a chance of saving the planet”.
The goals are more comprehensive this time. There are 17 goals and 169 targets. They are therefore less catchy but much more realistic. They recognize that all kinds of things are interconnected in tackling poverty. They are also goals for every country not simply for the developing world. The British government has promised to implement them alongside governments in Africa and Asia. There is a much stronger emphasis on building strong, honest, robust governments and institutions as well as on aid and generosity. There is a strong slogan which focuses on helping the weakest so that no-one is left behind.
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The gulf is widening among the world’s 80 million Anglicans and now the Archbishop of Canterbury has called a summit of church leaders to work out a new way of running the divided church.
Archbishop Justin Welby has asked Anglican primates from each major region to meet in London in January 2016.
He will discuss religiously motivated violence and the protection of children. But it’s the issue of sexuality and same-sex relationships that’s most divisive.
Is Archbishop Welby trying to achieve the impossible—satisfying the demands of liberal and conservative Anglicans for a church that’s totally inclusive or Biblically conservative? The Rev Dr Stephen Burns, associate dean of Trinity College Theological School in Melbourne and an expert in the worldwide Anglican communion, discusses the dilemma.
Listen to it all.
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From the magisterial Rembrandt, worth a look.
With civil war in Syria, the emergence of ISIS, and the growing power of Iran, a new Middle East seems to be in the making. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become in some ways a sideline to these other developments. What do you see emerging out of these developments with regard to Israel/Palestine?
For the first time since the collapse of the Oslo process in 2000, I feel a small stirring of optimism and can see a way out. The defining conflict in the Middle East is no longer between Arabs and Israelis but between Sunnis and Shi‘ites. Much of the West hasn’t yet internalized this historic shift. The Saudis are now meeting regularly with Israelis and even allowing those meetings to become public knowledge. This is unprecedented.
During the Gaza War last year, even as anti-Israel demonstrations were happening in the West, Israel was receiving urgent messages from Sunni leaders demanding that it destroy the Hamas regime. Hamas is especially detested by many Sunnis for making common cause with Shi‘ite Iran—it’s the only Sunni Muslim Brotherhood organization to break ranks in the Sunni-Shi‘ite war.
All of which is to say that the Middle East looks very different from the Middle East than it does from the West. When Israelis looks around the region, what we see is that the most intact society left is Israel. I say that with more anxiety than pride, because this is the region in which I live, in which I’m raising a family. My prayer is for a Middle East in which all its peoples will find their safe place. Ultimately, the success of the Jewish homecoming depends on our finding our place in the Middle East.
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A former Anglican church in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's that was the source of deep division in the community is being demolished.
A demolition crew arrived at the property Monday and made short work of the steeple, which had become a symbol of a bitter feud that has raged since 2009 when the diocese approved a plan to remove the 120-year-old former sanctuary.
Someone took a saw to the steeple in March 2010 and used a vehicle to pull it down to the ground. That's where it rested until it was hauled away and later reduced to splinters by a backhoe.
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Richard Dawkins and the other prophets of atheism love to tell us that in the fabricated battle between religious belief and rationalism, there can be only one winner, and that their side is finally gaining the upper hand; the days of superstitious belief in sky pixies and the like are numbered – at least in the enlightened West. The tide is turning, and it is their hope that, in time, all religious belief, including Christianity, will be seen as little more than a dwindling remnant of the age of ignorance. This is the dawning of the Age of the Nones, where science and technology are the new gods to be worshipped and revered.
Certainly Christianity, though still the dominant faith in the United Kingdom, is in a bad way. Those who never progressed beyond the linear graphs of GCSE Maths will look at the decline in the number of professing Christians and calculate that, based on Census numbers going down from 72 per cent of the population in 2001 to 59 per cent in 2011, Christians will be about as common as chicken teeth by about 2060. If you happen to be a Methodist, things are even worse: your obituary is being readied for 2035.
But once you start digging deeper, the picture tells a set of more intricate stories. Even within the United Kingdom there are significant regional differences. A recent poll for the Theos think-tank found that Scotland is far more irreligious than the rest of the country, with 50 per cent of respondents having no religious faith compared to 35 per cent nationally. A quarter of the Welsh still attend a weekly service, almost double that of England and Scotland, and only 27 per cent of 18-24-year-olds actually describe themselves as Christian, compared to 79 per cent of the over 65s.
Read it all from the Archbishop Cranmer Blog.
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Private equity and hedge fund firms have bought more than 100,000 troubled mortgages at a discount from banks and federal housing agencies, emerging as aggressive liquidators for the remains of the mortgage crisis that erupted nearly a decade ago.
As the housing market nationwide recovers, this is a dark corner from which banks, stung by hefty penalties for bungling mortgage modifications and foreclosures, have retreated. Federal housing officials, for the most part, have welcomed the new financial players as being more nimble and creative than banks with terms for delinquent borrowers.
But the firms are now drawing fire. Housing advocates and lawyers for borrowers contend that the private equity firms and hedge funds are too quick to push homes into foreclosure and are even less helpful than the banks had been in negotiating loan modifications with borrowers. Federal and state lawmakers are taking up the issue, questioning why federal agencies are selling loans at a discount of as much as 30 percent to such firms.
Read it all from the front page of today's New York Times.
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The report was provided on 5 August 2015, in time for Te Runanganui and every Diocesan Synod.
In the report the Working Group outlines its intention to propose a two-step process which would allow consultation at Diocesan Synod and Hui Amorangi level between sessions of the General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui in 2016 and 2018.
This process will give more time for consultation than would have been possible for a proposal capable of adoption at a single General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui. It is the procedure provided for by the Church of England Empowering Act 1928.
Read it all and the link to the report itself.
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Bill Nye is supposed to be “the science guy.” Recently he published a video on YouTube purporting to inform viewers of what science tells us about abortion. Nye claims that laws against abortion reflect “a deep scientific lack of understanding.” But it turns out that it is Nye himself who doesn’t understand the science. “I really encourage you to look at the facts,” he says. But then he misrepresents the facts from top to bottom in an embarrassingly transparent effort to hijack science in the cause of pro-abortion ideology.
Nye’s video is so breathtakingly arrogant and incompetently argued that it is hard to know where to begin. He opens by saying: “Many, many, many, many more hundreds of eggs are fertilized than become humans. Eggs get fertilized, and by that I mean sperm get accepted by ova — a lot.” The fact he is pointing to here — the high rate of pre-implantation spontaneous abortions (estimates range from 45 percent to as high as 70 percent) — is the only bit of science Nye ever mentions in the video. But he thinks one can infer from it that a human being does not come to be until the embryo implants on the uterine wall: “[The sperm’s joining the ovum] is not all you need. You have to attach to the uterine wall, the inside of a womb, a woman’s womb.”
But that is easily exposed as a non sequitur — a logical fallacy, the conclusion does not follow from the premise. The fact that many human embryos die at an early stage of development (pre-implantation) provides no evidence whatsoever for the proposition that they are not embryonic human beings — no more than comparable high rates of infant mortality in most places before the 20th century showed that infants were not human beings.
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Dammer, the University of Scranton professor, said people are often skeptical of religious people in prisons, and particularly those who convert behind bars. “The common thought by correctional officers or people who run prisons or even the general public is that people who are involved in religion in prison because …[they] think they’ll get parole easy or earlier,” he said. This isn’t really the case, he said; especially as states have moved away from indeterminate sentencing, or prison terms that involve a range of possible lengths, this kind of pious performance hasmattered less for helping people get parole.
“Do some inmates use religion in prison in a manipulative way? Absolutely. They do it to meet women at services, they do it to get goods and services,” he said. “Most of them, though, don’t do it for this myth—just to get out of prison. They do it to help them live in prison in a way that helps them survive.”
Religious figures play various roles in prisons. Institutions will usually have hired chaplains on staff, sometimes euphemistically called “faith representatives.” These chaplains often oversee groups of volunteers who come into prisons to run bible studies and other programs. In one prison that Dammer studied, “the only contact [inmates] had with anybody was with the chaplains, who would walk up and down the hallways and read the bible. [Otherwise], it was 23 hours a day of total solitary confinement.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Prison/Prison Ministry Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
...research suggests that while it’s true that lawmakers passed a lot of measures calling for long prison sentences, if you look at how much time inmates actually served, not much has changed over the past few decades. Roughly half of all prisoners have prison terms in the range of two to three years, and only 10 percent serve more than seven years. The laws look punitive, but the time served hasn’t increased, and so harsh laws are not the main driver behind mass incarceration, either.
So what does explain it? Pfaff’s theory is that it’s the prosecutors. District attorneys and their assistants have gotten a lot more aggressive in bringing felony charges. Twenty years ago they brought felony charges against about one in three arrestees. Now it’s something like two in three. That produces a lot more plea bargains and a lot more prison terms.
I asked Pfaff why prosecutors are more aggressive. He’s heard theories. Maybe they are more political and they want to show toughness to raise their profile to impress voters if they run for future office. Maybe the police are bringing stronger cases. Additionally, prosecutors are usually paid by the county but prisons by the state, so prosecutors tend not to have to worry about the financial costs of what they do.
Read it all from the New York Times Op-ed page.
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Sir Hector Sants is calling upon the wealthy to lend to credit unions and help run co-operatives in an attempt to raise their profile and fill the vast gap left by the shrinking payday lending sector.
The former chief executive of the City watchdog was appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury last year to lead the Church of England’s task force on credit unions, but said they need greater support to help borrowers seeking short-term loans.
In an interview with FT Money, Sir Hector said: “Join a credit union — it doesn’t have to be your sole bank — and deposit money, which can then be lent out. There are often good terms if you need a loan.”
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Facebook is down. There's water on Mars. And a red moon. End of days.— Paul B (@paulbestfit) September 28, 2015
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking History Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * General Interest Humor / Trivia * Theology Eschatology
The possibility of life on Mars just became a little more realistic: Mars has a summer season when salty streams of water flow across the surface, before freezing again in winter, NASA announced on Monday, indicating the red planet could currently have life on its surface.
“Our quest on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water -- albeit briny -- is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”
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Women are having children after undergoing IVF - despite never having had sex, according to doctors.
25 young women in the UK who are hetereosexual and in their twenties have opted for IVF in the past five years because they feel ready to be a parent, doctors told the Mail on Sunday.
Some who have had the "virgin borths" said they are still waiting for the right partner - and a few may be afraid of sex owing to psychosexual complications, experts have said.
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American families are under assault from an Islamic extremist group that is quietly turning young minds against their parents, against their religious faith, and against their country.
The group, the self-proclaimed Islamic State in occupied sections of Syria and Iraq, is using social media and the worldwide reach of the Internet in a sophisticated recruitment campaign that is making families feel helpless to stop a slow-motion kidnapping of their children.
So far this year, 58 Americans – more than half under 25 – have been arrested for attempting to travel to Syria or for plotting violence in the US. That is more than twice the number of similar arrests for the entire year in 2014, and more than twice the number for all of 2013, as well.
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There has always been a fierce debate about the relationship between cohabitation and divorce risks. Some argue that cohabitation lessens people’s commitment to partnership and thus increases their risk of divorce, while others believe that a cohabitation phase before marriage (as a trial marriage) would strengthen marital stability. In the United States, data suggest that the effect of cohabitation on marriage is at best neutral; however, in European countries, the effect of cohabitation on marital stability varies markedly, according to a study covering the last decade of the twentieth century (Liefbroer and Dourleijn, 2006).
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A few initial suggestions:
1. Maintain regular reading projects. I strategize my reading in six main categories: Theology, Biblical Studies, Church Life, History, Cultural Studies, and Literature. I have some project from each of these categories going at all times. I collect and gather books for each project and read them over a determined period of time. This helps to discipline my reading, and it also keeps me working across several disciplines.
2. Work through major sections of Scripture. I am just completing an expository series, preaching verse by verse through the book of Romans. I have preached and taught several books of the Bible in recent years, and I plan my reading to stay ahead. I am turning next to Matthew, so I am gathering and reading ahead—not yet planning specific messages, but reading to gain as much as possible from worthy works on the first gospel. I am constantly reading works in biblical theology as well as exegetical studies....
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I’ve been screening churches in my new city of Vancouver, and I guess you could say they’ve been “screening” me. Almost every church I’ve visited uses a screen in its sanctuary during worship. In the 1980s or ’90s this might have been a signal that a congregation had taken a side in the worship wars. Now it’s just a sign that a church is open and functioning.
One congregation showed a funny video of Canadians singing an ode to Canada Day (replete with a poke at American politics). Another screen featured a long clip from the movie Frozen. What all this had to do with Jesus was not clear. The video clips were pleasant distractions, brief entertainment in the context of worship.
But other uses of screens struck me as more theologically intentional. One congregation featured background images of the city of Vancouver. These appeared before and after worship and during announcements. The images were not just beautiful. They announced that this was a church not only in but for a city. God’s kingdom always comes in particular settings, and the church is called to love its neighborhood, as God does in Christ’s incarnation. This same church asked its preachers to say, “You can follow along as I read in your pew Bibles, or the words will be on the screen . . .” I noticed nary a Bible opening. All heads were up.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Theology Anthropology Pastoral Theology
A woman bishop has become the first in the Church of England to lead an ordination service.
Four clergy will be ordained by Rev Dame Sarah Mullally in Devon this weekend.
They have spent a year as deacons but once ordained they will be able to perform weddings and lead Holy Communion services.
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