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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)
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.
Read it all.
“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.”’”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Primates Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Church of England (CoE) Episcopal Church (TEC) Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) * Culture-Watch Globalization Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
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.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine History Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Southern Africa * Culture-Watch History Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam
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.
Read it all.
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.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia Vietnam Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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.”
Read it all.
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.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Missions * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia Afghanistan * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology
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.
Read it all.
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.
Read it all.
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.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Violence Young Adults * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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.
Read it all.
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.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources * General Interest Animals * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
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.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Education Psychology Religion & Culture Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
“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.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Pentecostal * Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
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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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Church of Wales * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK --Wales * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations
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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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Media * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology
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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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Education Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Violence Young Adults * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Immigration Politics in General * International News & Commentary Middle East Lebanon Syria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Violence Young Adults * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Psychology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK Europe Russia Ukraine * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Psychology Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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.
Watch it all.
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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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Science & Technology Women * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance The Banking System/Sector * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Personal Finance The Banking System/Sector * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Health & Medicine History Psychology Science & Technology * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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.”
Read it all (my emphasis).
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...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.”
Read it all from the FT.
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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
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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.”
Read it all.
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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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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Vladimir Putin certainly knows how to steal a show. The Russian president will speak today at the UN General Assembly for the first time in a decade. The rapid build-up of Russian military force in Syria in recent weeks has turned Mr Putin into the centre of attention in New York, as rivals and allies both speculate about his intentions.
To his delight, he has managed to put the US on the back-foot. After a year of trying to freeze out Mr Putin over his military intervention in Ukraine, US President Barack Obama has decided he has little choice but to meet the Russian leader to discuss Syria.
The Russian intervention in Syria — in support of the isolated regime of President Bashar al-Assad — has come at a time when Washington’s own strategy for resolving the conflict is in tatters. The US-trained force of Syrian fighters numbers in the dozens, not the planned thousands, while air strikes have had only a limited impact on the Syrian operations of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis.
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"Church schools continue to be oversubscribed and popular with parents and pupils, opting for a Christian based education whatever their own faith. Both community and church schools increasingly testify to difficulties in recruiting headteachers and our recent consultation has shown a strong desire for more support in training new leaders. Heads and teachers have told us that they want more help and better training to enable them to promote the Church of England's vision for education. To this end we are consulting about plans to better equip and support leaders and teachers across the country in a fast-moving educational environment."
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A panel of six different faiths found commonality during a religious conference that tasked its speakers to discuss God as myth or reality.
"I don't think it's possible to prove or disprove the existence of God in any rational way," said Anglican priest Peter Zimmer, who presented before an audience of about 80 people Sunday evening at the University of Northern B.C.'s Canfor Theatre for the World Religions Conference.
The question, to him, is the difference faith can make in a person's life.
Zimmer suggested all major religions attempt to answer three questions: where do we come from, where are we going, and what must we do on our way.
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What spurred him on his journey to the priesthood was a growing realization of how poorly Canadian students are taught about the aboriginal experience. His mother went to a residential school, as did most of his relatives. Talking to elders to learn more about Cree history, he was drawn into “the story of the land.” Meanwhile, his Christian faith was nurtured by his mother and grandfather, both “hard-core Anglican.”
“That’s the work I’ve been doing, trying to reconcile those two things: the work of Jesus Christ, the history of Canada, the impact of both of those questions on Cree people. How can we as Cree people be fully engaged in our identity and be connected to the land, and still be connected to Jesus Christ?”
After graduating from university, he briefly worked for Revenue Canada until, wanting more human contact, he turned to hairdressing, eventually buying his own shop. It proved to be an inspiration for the next step in his life: seminary.
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First we need to welcome and help refugees.
In order to do this we need to put more and more pressure on governments in developed countries to accept more refugees. Lebanon, such a small country, with a population of 5 million people and a weak economy is hosting 1.5 million Syrian refugees. The rest of the neighbouring countries did the same. In Egypt we accepted a quarter of a million Syrian refugees in addition to 2.5 African refugees. After welcoming refugees in the country the churches can then cooperate with the government and UNHCR to provide for the needs of the refugees in a more holistic way. I was so encouraged by the appeal of Pope Francis when he asked every parish to host refugee family. It is so important that these refugees may encounter the love of Jesus in us.
In our refugee program in Egypt and Ethiopia we deal with thousands of refugees. We help them to find accommodation and shelters. In fact some of our churches in Ethiopia became shelters for the thousands who walked in from South Sudan. We also have programs to build their capacities so that they can find jobs. And we provide education for their children as well as health care through our clinics. I am sure you [others] do better than us in these areas. Let us see Jesus in each one of them and let us hear Him saying, “I was a stranger and you invited me in” when we meet them.
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Nearly 30,000 foreign recruits have now poured into Syria, many to join the Islamic State, a doubling of volunteers in just the past 12 months and stark evidence that an international effort to tighten borders, share intelligence and enforce antiterrorism laws is not diminishing the ranks of new militant fighters.
Among those who have entered or tried to enter the conflict in Iraq or Syria are more than 250 Americans, up from about 100 a year ago, according to intelligence and law enforcement officials.
President Obama will take stock of the international campaign to counter the Islamic State at the United Nations on Tuesday, a public accounting that comes as American intelligence analysts have been preparing a confidential assessment that concludes that nearly 30,000 foreign fighters have traveled to Iraq and Syria from more than 100 countries since 2011. A year ago, the same officials estimated that flow to be about 15,000 combatants from 80 countries, mostly to join the Islamic State.
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Pro-independence parties in Spain's Catalonia region have won an absolute majority in regional elections, near complete results show.
With more than 90% of the votes counted, the main separatist alliance and a smaller party won 72 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament.
They said earlier a majority would allow them to declare independence from Spain unilaterally within 18 months.
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As Christians we have a responsibility, not only to give generously to address immediate social need, but to work with political leaders and the wider community to change the structures that are trapping people in cycles of poverty.
‘Local communities are ready to be active partners in tackling the root causes of social exclusion and are best placed to inform and shape this work. In community and faith–based organisations, volunteers are working quietly and effectively to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable and marginalised, including the basic necessities of food, shelter and much–needed emotional and psychological support. As demands continue to rise, charities are stretched beyond capacity and facing difficult decisions about the future.
‘The unacceptable level of child poverty, affecting over 100,000 children, roughly 6% of Northern Ireland’s population, constitutes a real crisis. Supports that have proved to be effective in recent years in addressing inequality and closing the gap in crucial areas such as educational disadvantage are now being withdrawn through lack of funding. The failure to invest adequately in the future leaders of our society is a cause of deep frustration among young people, leaving many feeling disconnected from political processes.
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Most people like the Christians they know while the vast majority of the population still identify with the Christian faith.
Fifty-seven percent of people in England call themselves Christians (though a fraction of those would be described as "practicing"), and one in five of those who don't is open to finding out more about Jesus after hearing Christians talk to them about their faith.
These are some of the findings of a new study looking at perceptions of Jesus, Christianity and evangelism.
A coalition of church groups, supported by the majority of the mainstream denominations in the United Kingdom (including the Baptist Union of Great Britain) commissioned the first-of-its-kind survey in the hope it will be a major catalyst for effective and focused evangelism in the years to come. It intends to track the data over the next 30 years.
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He is certainly not a Marxist, and he’s not a “liberal” as American politics understands the terms. But he has been a gift to liberals who are also Christians, to religious believers whose politics lean left.
It’s a gift the religious left sorely needed, because the last few decades have made a marriage of Christian faith and liberal politics seem doomed to eventual divorce. Since the 1970s, the mainline Protestant denominations associated with progressive politics have experienced a steep decline in membership and influence, while American liberalism has become more secular and anti-clerical, culminating in the Obama White House’s battles with Francis’ own church. In the intellectual arena, religiously-inclined liberals have pined for a Reinhold Niebuhr without producing one, and the conservative fear that liberal theology inevitably empties religion of real power has found all-too-frequent vindication.
Pope Francis has not solved any of these problems. But his pontificate has nonetheless given the religious left a new lease on life. He has offered encouragement to Catholic progressives by modestly soft-pedaling the issues dividing his church from today’s liberalism — abortion and same-sex marriage — while elevating other causes and concerns.
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America is a Christian country. This is true in a number of senses. Most people, if asked, will identify themselves as Christian, which may mean only that they aren’t something else. Non-Christians will say America is Christian, meaning that they feel somewhat apart from the majority culture. There are a large number of demographic Christians in North America because of our history of immigration from countries that are or were also Christian. We are identified in the world at large with this religion because some of us espouse it not only publicly but also vociferously. As a consequence, we carry a considerable responsibility for its good name in the world, though we seem not much inclined to consider the implications of this fact. If we did, some of us might think a little longer about associating the precious Lord with ignorance, intolerance, and belligerent nationalism. These few simple precautions would also make it more attractive to the growing numbers among our people who have begun to reject it as ignorant, intolerant, and belligerently nationalistic, as they might reasonably conclude that it is, if they hear only the loudest voices.
There is something I have felt the need to say, that I have spoken about in various settings, extemporaneously, because my thoughts on the subject have not been entirely formed, and because it is painful to me to have to express them. However, my thesis is always the same, and it is very simply stated, though it has two parts: first, contemporary America is full of fear. And second, fear is not a Christian habit of mind. As children we learn to say, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” We learn that, after his resurrection, Jesus told his disciples, “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Christ is a gracious, abiding presence in all reality, and in him history will finally be resolved.
These are larger, more embracing terms than contemporary Christianity is in the habit of using. But we are taught that Christ “was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made….The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” The present tense here is to be noted. John’s First Letter proclaims “the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us.” We as Christians cannot think of Christ as isolated in space or time if we really do accept the authority of our own texts. Nor can we imagine that this life on earth is our only life, our primary life. As Christians we are to believe that we are to fear not the death of our bodies but the loss of our souls....
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The spiritual part of it showed up after the Emanuel 9 were massacred. Queen Chapel, which feels forever linked to Emanuel, hosted a community service as people tried to cope with killings authorities say were racially motivated.
Then family members of the victims said in a courtroom that they forgave the accused killer.
Alston said that is what the church has always preached.
“We are inclusive – very inclusive,” Alston said. “The doors of the church will not be closed, no matter what.”
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After the Obergefell decision, Time magazine writer Mark Oppenheimer was quick to declare that the state should “abolish, or greatly diminish” property tax exemptions for churches that “dissent from settled public policy on matters of race or sexuality.”
Punishing “dissent” seems a strange new role for the American government. In the mid-twentieth century, the Catholic church was a leading advocate against anti-miscegenation laws. The church was able to take a stand contrary to the state on marriage and not be penalized for it, a position now almost unquestionably supported by Americans. And despite the confidence of those like Oppenheimer, the dissenters aren’t even a minority in the more recent marriage controversy. Most Americans favor religious liberty, and a plurality oppose Obergefell.
Allowing conscientious objection is an acknowledgment that the state does not have all the answers. The state has an obligation to make laws, but the state has no obligation to be correct. The independent voices that critique the state make the state better, and should not be silenced. Lose churches, lose the independent voices that prevent the state from having an absolute say in complicated moral matters.
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Complain about your job on Facebook? Your children? What about your marriage?
Hannah Seligson, author and New York Times contributor, contends that unhappy marriages are Facebook’s last taboo. Seligson argues that complaining about one’s spouse in public violates the marital code of silence. So, as people attempt to manage and influence how others perceive their relationships, social networks also affect couples’ views of their own relationships. Approval from friends and family can positively affect the stability and quality of romantic relationships, while social disapproval may be a negative, sometimes relationship-ending force.
In a 2010 article, Richard Slatcher found that friendships with other couples, particularly meaningful connections, increased feelings of closeness in one’s own relationship. It also turns out that perceptions of others’ opinions are more predictive of relationship stability than the actual views of network members. Thus social network approval has a positive influence on the partnership, including increased feelings of love and commitment.
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The effort to demolish the church has been a source of controversy in the community for the past five years.
Townspeople and historians fought to save and restore the structure, even while the head of the Anglican church for eastern Newfoundland endorsed tearing it down.
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...the biggest argument against the “perpetual peace” hypothesis is ideological. Since the Iranian revolution of 1979, we have been witnessing the revival of an old ideology — political Islam — that may ultimately prove to be as violent and menacing to western values as fascism and communism once were. Already that ideology has been in large measure responsible for a marked upturn in war, political violence and especially terrorism since around 2010.
War is back, and much of it is holy war. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, total fatalities resulting from armed conflict have increased by a factor of four since 2010. In 2000, according to my calculations, 35 per cent of the fatalities in armed conflicts were in wars involving Muslims. In 2014 it was 79 per cent.
This is not the clash of civilisations Samuel Huntington prophesied. Much of today’s conflict is between Muslims. Religion is certainly not the sole cause for increasing conflict, but it is more than a coincidence that global warfare is so concentrated in the Islamic world.
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After two days of denials, the Pentagon disclosed late Friday that a U.S.-trained and equipped proxy force in Syria had turned over some of its supplied weapons to an Al Qaeda affiliate.
U.S. officials said rebels told them a commander of a group of trained fighters gave six pickup trucks with mounted machine guns and a portion of their ammunition, or about 25% of their issued equipment, to Al Nusra Front in exchange for safe passage within their operating area in northern Syria.
The information "is very concerning and a violation of Syria train and equip program guidelines,” said Col. Patrick Ryder, spokesman of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the military effort in the Middle East.
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Over 180 bishops, laity and Clergy of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) converged on Akure, the Ondo State capital from Monday to Thursday last week to seek the face of God over the challenges of insurgency and kidnapping in the country.
Primate of the church, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh said the only way out of the current spate of terrorism is “to look up to Jesus in simple faith and obedience.”
Speaking at the Cathedral Church of Saint David, Diocese of Akure, the venue of meeting of the church standing committee titled; “Look and live”, Okoh expressed worries over “the poisonous serpent of insurgency and kidnapping ravaging the country”, lamenting that “these people kill, maim and destroy without the slightest qualms and most times in very crude and dastardly manner...."
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It was 60 years ago this week that an all-white jury acquitted two white men in the murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy visiting Mississippi from Chicago.
The case shocked the nation — drawing attention to the brutal treatment of African-Americans in the Deep South, and the failure of the justice system. The men later confessed to killing Till for whistling at a white woman.
Today, about 400 people live in Sumner, Miss., where the trial was held. The town sprouts up amid vast expanses of cotton land in the Mississippi Delta — the fertile northwest corner of the state.
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DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
Well, I thought it’s so clear how countercultural he is. We have ideological fights. He’s anti-ideological. He’s personalist. Somebody once said, souls are not saved in bundles, and he’s with each individual human being.
I loved the moment, little girl on the street, she came up to his caravan, and he embraced her. That was a moment, the pope and the individual. And so he represents community an ethos of community and uplift, which is just different than our horizontal politics.
It’s a vertical axis he’s on. And so, whether you’re Republican or Democrat, I think everybody felt uplifted, and both uplifted by his example and his humility, but also humbled by — he believes that the church is a hospital for the souls, and so he offered that as well.
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The problems that trouble Graham are violence, the fraying of the family, poverty and the lack of safety for children. Raising children differently, too early, he says. He sees it everywhere, in the community and the school.
“It makes it hard sometimes to have high expectations,” he says.
Yet, in each of his professions he weaves the mantra of his church, from Proverbs 4:7: “With all your getting get understanding,” which means to learn something, to take away something that betters you, he says.
And the spiritual essence that girds his teachings crystallizes in a few firm principles: Integrity, work ethic and good character.
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Since the financial crisis of 2007-08, which Western leader could boast of spreading ownership in any important way? In the U.S. and Britain, the percentage of citizens owning stocks or houses is well down from the late 1980s. In Britain, the average age for buying a first home is now 31 (and many more people than before depend on “the bank of Mom and Dad” to help them do so). In the mid-’80s, it was 27. My own children, who started work in London in the last two years, earn a little less, in real terms, than I did when I began in 1979, yet house prices are 15 times higher. We have become a society of “have lesses,” if not yet of “have nots.”
In a few lines of work, earnings have shot forward. In 1982, only seven U.K. financial executives were receiving six-figure salaries. Today, tens of thousands are (an enormous increase, even allowing for inflation). The situation is very different for the middle-ranking civil servant, attorney, doctor, teacher or small-business owner. Many middle-class families now depend absolutely on the income of both parents in a way that was unusual even as late as the 1980s.
In Britain and the U.S., we are learning all over again that it is not the natural condition of the human race for children to be better off than their parents. Such a regression, in societies that assume constant progress, is striking. Imagine the panic if the same thing happened to life expectancy.
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When he was 8 years old, my son, Noah, a true-blue New York Yankees fan, visited his pediatrician for a physical exam before starting day camp. His doctor found a lump in his neck.
The evaluation began with a chest X-ray, which showed a mass; the CT scan confirmed a large lesion in his chest. As a physician, I prayed to God that it would be tuberculosis. Perhaps I was the only doctor ever to ask God to give his son tuberculosis. The biopsy revealed Hodgkin’s disease, a form of lymphoma, and I quickly began to pray for my son’s life. A deep, gut-penetrating fear seared through my body.
Tefillah is the Hebrew word for prayer. The Torah, also referred to as the Old Testament, begins with: “When God began to create.” And how did God create? With words. Genesis 1:3 “God said ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” Genesis 1:26 “God said: ‘Let us make man in our image.’ ” Thus, we see that God used words to bring all that we know into existence.
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First, it must be stated that a true “right of the environment” does exist, for two reasons. First, because we human beings are part of the environment. We live in communion with it, since the environment itself entails ethical limits which human activity must acknowledge and respect. Man, for all his remarkable gifts, which “are signs of a uniqueness which transcends the spheres of physics and biology” (Laudato Si’, 81), is at the same time a part of these spheres. He possesses a body shaped by physical, chemical and biological elements, and can only survive and develop if the ecological environment is favorable. Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity.
Second, because every creature, particularly a living creature, has an intrinsic value, in its existence, its life, its beauty and its interdependence with other creatures. We Christians, together with the other monotheistic religions, believe that the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow men and for the glory of the Creator; he is not authorized to abuse it, much less to destroy it. In all religions, the environment is a fundamental good (cf. ibid.).
The misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion. In effect, a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged, either because they are differently abled (handicapped), or because they lack adequate information and technical expertise, or are incapable of decisive political action.
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On a few topics, Riley was brief and to the point.
Invest in early childhood education, he urged, and increase the amount of money available for public infrastructure, perhaps through an increase in the state’s gas tax.
It is imperative that communities have well-functioning roads, bridges and public transportation, Riley said. “We have to have thriving, livable metropolitan areas that are creating jobs, and transportation is a very important part of that.”
Riley also mentioned the importance of attracting high-tech jobs, naming a handful of technology companies headquartered in Charleston, including Blackbaud, maker of fund-raising and nonprofit software; BoomTown!, purveyor of real estate software; and Benefitfocus, which specializes in human resources software.
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It might not be well-publicised by the church, but every diocese in Britain has its own deliverance minister. Each is appointed, personally, by the Bishop. Many, like Stephen, become interested in taking on the role after having their own experience of some apparently supernatural phenomena . “I used to live in a house that seemed to have some sort of presence,” says Stephen. His haunting, though, was mild: more pest than pestilence. “Even though it was a relatively modern house it was always very cold, particularly in my children’s bedroom,” he says. “We bled the radiators, we looked for a draft and there was none. The place just had an atmosphere. I went away for a couple of nights and my wife, who’s fairly level headed, was freaked out just by being left in the house with my child.” At a loss, he called in a deliverance minister who told him, ‘Don’t worry, I can deal with this,’ and blessed the house. As he said his prayers everyone gathered felt the temperature rise around them, right where they stood. “It went from cool to being very warm, and it wasn’t just me that felt it,” he says. “This is something I’ve experienced a few times. The house is actually quite a pleasant place to live now.”
Becoming a deliverance minister not only requires selection by the bishop, but the attendance of a compulsory training course. “It lasts three or four days,” he says. “It gives you a huge amount of input along the lines of, ‘these are things you may not have experienced before and how you go about dealing with them.’ There’s also a very heavy emphasis on the difference between people who are psychotic and people who might be manifesting evil influences.” As part of his general training, Stephen says he completed an extended placement working at a mental health facility. “I have quite an extensive knowledge and experience of people who’ve got various psychiatric problems.”
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Religious Education is not a soft option, it is a vital subject for promoting understanding. But there will be no option to choose the subject of Religious Studies as one of the humanities in the proposed compulsory English Baccalaureate (EBacc). Having worked so positively with government for the reform of RS GCSE and A-levels to ensure the new qualifications are rigorous and have much greater theological depth, this is hugely disappointing.
In fact today, the head of Osted, Sir Michael Wilshaw has also challenged the Government over the Ebacc.
The numbers of students opting to take RS as a GCSE has been steadily rising, because they recognise the important role the subject plays in equipping them for life in today’s world. But by not including RS in the EBacc options, the government is limiting choice. Schools will obviously be swayed by which measures are used to hold them accountable. For example, the fact that the RS GCSE short course is no longer included in those measures has resulted in a 67% fall in the numbers of students taking the qualification. Many have switched to the full course RS GCSE, which is obviously a good thing, but the move to make the EBacc compulsory (for those taking GCSEs in 2020) will then have a dramatic impact on the courses students are able to choose.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
The leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Britain, Bishop Angaelos, has called on the Government to multiply its efforts to resettle Middle Eastern refugees in the UK.
Bishop Angaelos visited a transit camp for refugees on the border of Greece and Macedonia earlier this month, and said that the people he met were desperate to find a safer life.
He spoke on Tuesday about a conversation with a young Syrian. “He said: ‘In Syria we are used to quick deaths through bombs and bullets, but we are embarking on a slow death.’ He was referring to the trip by sea.”
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The U.S. Catholic Church is expanding quickly in the South and West, largely driven by immigrants from Latin America filling pews in Atlanta, Houston and in Southern California.
Meanwhile, the church is contracting in the East and upper Midwest, where historic Catholic strongholds like Boston, Detroit and New York City are closing parishes as population or attendance declines.
The result: Old-line dioceses are battling to keep their doors open, even as fast-growing ones are scrambling to meet the needs of the growing faithful.
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These feelings and convictions—that study is as sweet as honey, that reading is as intimate and mysterious as prayer, that we long for a glimpse of God’s presence and will wake up early to seek it—are not easy to communicate, even in church. It’s hard to find the right words to express them. But these early fall days, when our communities feel the most porous, are an opportunity to try. What matters most is our willingness to speak with each other about the things that matter most to us.
The Christian calendar gives us a saint for this work: St. Jerome, the fourth-century scholar whose translations of the Old and New Testaments formed the basis of the Latin Vulgate. September 30 is the feast day of this patron saint of translators who stands at the threshold of our rich religious inheritance and beckons us to enter. Jerome devoted his life to making scriptures first written in Hebrew and Greek available in a different language. His work of translation is our work too.
As Jerome knew, our attempts to cross the boundaries of language draw us into relationship with others—in Jerome’s case, with the rabbis who taught him to read the Hebrew text and with the women who supported his work and shared his devotion to prayer and study. His translations opened the Bible to the people of his time and place and far beyond it. And his work of translation opened him to others’ lives. This fall we have an opportunity to translate and to be translated, to find words for what matters most to us, and to be changed by the encounter with what matters to others.
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Could the next Billy Graham be a married lesbian? In the year 2045, will Focus on the Family be “Focus on the Families,” broadcasting counsel to Evangelicals about how to manage jealousy in their polyamorous relationships? That’s the assumption among many—on the celebratory left as well as the nervous right. Now that the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case has nationalized same-sex marriage, America’s last hold-outs, conservative Evangelical Protestants, will eventually, we’re told, stop worrying and learn to love, or at least accept, the sexual revolution. As Americans grow more accustomed to redefined concepts of marriage and family, Evangelicals will convert to the new understanding and update their theologies to suit. This is not going to happen. The revolution will not be televangelized.
In any given week, I’m asked by multiple reporters about the “sea change” among Evangelicals in support of same-sex marriage. I reply by asking for evidence of this shift. The first piece of evidence is always polling data about Millennial support for such. I respond with data on Millennial Evangelicals who actually attend church, which show no such shift away from orthodoxy. The journalist then typically points to “all the Evangelical megachurches that are shifting their positions on marriage.” I request the names of these megachurches.
The first one mentioned is almost always a church in Franklin, Tennessee—a congregation with considerably less than a thousand attendees on any given Sunday. That may be a “megachurch” by Episcopalian standards, but it is not by Evangelical standards, and certainly not by Nashville Evangelical standards. The church is the fifth-largest, not in the country, not in the region, not even in the city; it is the fifth-largest congregation on its street within a mile radius. I’ll usually grant that church, though, and ask for others. So far, no journalist has named more churches shifting on marriage than there are points of Calvinism. They just take the Evangelical shift as a given fact.
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Any global timeline would have to include 1998, when the worldwide Lambeth Conference passed a resolution affirming scripture and traditional teachings on marriage and human sexuality. Then 65 Episcopal bishops sign another statement of dissent. That was also the year when [Bishop John] Spong released his famous 12 theses, beginning with "Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead." In his 10th thesis, he added: "Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way."
Looking for issues other than sex? Spong was raising some big ones, rejecting most of the basic elements of creedal Christianity.
On a related issue, I have always thought it was crucial that, in 1992, Bishop C. FitzSimons Allison of South Carolina stopped receiving Holy Communion in meetings of the U.S. House of Bishops after several of his colleagues refused to condemn a liberal theologian's statement that she served a god that is "older and greater" than the deity revealed in the Bible.
How much of that needs to be mentioned in a news story? That is a matter for editors and reporters to determine. But the simple fact is that the actual battles over homosexuality began in the late 1970s and efforts to build alternative conservative structures in the United States began in the 1990s. To say that Robinson's election "precipitated" this division is inaccurate. Why settle for flawed or, at best, simplistic language? Why pretend that the battle is about homosexuality, alone?
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Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.
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That left Chief Justice Toal, who despite all the tortuous arguments stuck to basic legal principles and analysis: a trust needs a settlor to be created, and the beneficiary of a trust is perfectly within his rights to quitclaim back to the settlor all of his supposed interest in the trust. (There was thus no "breach of the Dennnis Canon" when Bishop Lawrence signed individual quitclaim deeds to his parishes, on behalf of the Diocese as beneficiary of any trust interest that arguably may still have existed following the All Saints Waccamaw decision.) And South Carolina religious corporations are free to amend their governing documents -- including a complete change in their charitable purpose -- as long as they comply with the formalities required by South Carolina law.
To this observer, it seemed as though the Justices had not discussed the case with each other beforehand. And it also looked as though the Chief Justice had taken on the responsibility of writing an opinion in the case -- since she was the one most weighed down with case files and briefs. But whether her opinion will be the majority one remains to be seen. I believe she has the confidence of Justice Beatty, who followed her before. And she may have Judge Kittredge in her camp, as well.
But both he and Justice Costa Pleicones seemed to have difficulty following the ins and outs of the arguments -- thanks to the constant interjections by Justice Hearn on behalf of the Church of which she is an active member. She practically monopolized the argument with long speeches (not questions) that would have sounded more appropriate had they come from ECUSA's attorneys. The resulting final impression of Mark Lawrence and his Diocese having had a rough time in the Court is almost entirely, in my estimation, due to the attempts by Justice Hearn to derail the case by returning South Carolina to the days of deference, as ECUSA argued in its briefs.
Whether her unprofessional and entirely partial tactics will succeed is a question that will have to await the Court's opinion, which could be months away. I shall have much more to say about those tactics in my following post.
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