Posted by Kendall Harmon

A student group in South Africa this month called on all Jews to leave the Durban University of Technology, an act of anti-Semitism that Americans could not imagine on their own college campuses.

But a comprehensive survey of anti-Semitism at American colleges released this week shows that significant hostility is directed at Jews on U.S. campuses, too.

The National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students, produced by a Trinity College team well-known for its research on religious groups, found that 54 percent of Jewish students experienced anti-Semitism on campus in the first six months of the 2013-2014 academic year.

Professors Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar asked 1,157 students in an online questionnaire about the types, context and location of anti-Semitism they had encountered, and found that anti-Jewish bias is a problem for Jews of all levels of religious observance.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For months he taunted, knife in hand, his voice slightly muffled behind the mask that became the grim symbol of Islamic State barbarism.

But when the identity of the killer known as “Jihadi John” was revealed Thursday, the profile that emerged was disturbingly familiar: a young man whose parents’ decision to immigrate to the West afforded him a comfortable life and an education, but who ultimately found identity and succor in extremist ideology.

His name is Mohammed Emwazi. And despite friends’ descriptions of a polite and quiet man not capable of violence, Emwazi’s links to extremist groups appear to have been long-standing, and he was well known to counterterrorism officials in London before he went to Syria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 27, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A vision to create "one of the most significant interfaith centres in the world" in the City of London was unveiled on Wednesday night at the launch of a £20-million fund-raising appeal.

The planned centre, Coexist House, is the idea of Dr David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge; and is supported by the Inner Temple, the Corporation of the City of London, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Coexist Foundation.

"Coexist House is designed as much for a secular audience as a religious audience and will not promote any one particular faith," the trustees say in a summary of their feasibility study. "It is a civic endeavour which would improve the way people understand religions and beliefs in all their variety. Nevertheless, it will offer a spiritual space, hospitable to all, in the heart of London."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* Theology

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Posted February 27, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Austria’s Parliament passed a law Wednesday (Feb. 25) that seeks to regulate how Islam is administered, singling out its large Muslim minority for treatment not applied to any other religious group.

The “Law on Islam” bans foreign funding for Islamic organizations and requires any group claiming to represent Austrian Muslims to submit and use a standardized German translation of the Quran.

The law met with little opposition from the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic population, was backed by Austria’s Catholic bishops, and was grudgingly accepted by the main Muslim organization. But it upset Turkey’s state religious establishment.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeAustria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 26, 2015 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The head of a Wiltshire-based Christian charity has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a female member of staff.

Patrick Sookhdeo, from the Pewsey-based Barnabas Fund, was also found to have intimidated two employees who were due to give evidence against him.

The jury at Swindon Crown Court found the 67-year-old guilty on all counts.

Read it all and there is a report from the Western Daily Press

Filed under: * Religion News & Commentary

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Posted February 26, 2015 at 8:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An interim government would be “alien to the constitution” says Mohammed Bello Adoke, the attorney-general. Mr Jonathan told the FT such a government could only emerge from a military coup. However, he could theoretically push back the polls and extend his tenure on a rolling six month basis by declaring the nation at war with Boko Haram insurgents. This would require the — unlikely — endorsement of two-thirds of the National Assembly. Alternatively if for whatever reason no winner emerges by May 29, the senate president, former army colonel David Mark, would stand in with 60 days to organise elections.

The fear is that without popular legitimacy, any government — military or civilian — will struggle to repair the fissures that will appear should Gen Buhari’s followers in the north believe him to have been cheated of victory. The same applies to a lesser degree to Mr Jonathan’s supporters, with former warlords in the oil-producing Niger delta threatening to take up arms again should he be bullied out of office. In such a febrile environment, there is a risk of ethnic killing especially in the north — as happened in 1965 in the run up to the Biafran civil war.

Nigeria has withdrawn from the brink on a number of occasions since. This time the army, potentially divided and already pinned down by Boko Haram, might have difficulty containing violence across many fronts, and the country’s future as one nation would be at stake. “These next five weeks are among the most dangerous in Nigeria’s history,” says Nasir el-Rufai, a former government minister contesting the Kaduna state governorship.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

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Posted February 26, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Given that the connection of Islam to Muslim-majority cultures is particularly strong, does there not need to be, nevertheless, a proper distinction between religion and culture? Should not this be so, even if many cultural practices and values are derived from a particular religious tradition? The problem with identifying culture entirely with religion is that contextualization can begin to look very much like capitulation. The issue becomes sharply focused in the debate about “insiders,” or followers of Jesus within Muslim communities who maintain their Muslim identity. To what extent has there been conversion if people continue to participate in the salat (ritual prayer), make the shahada (the Muslim profession of faith), derive their knowledge of Jesus and devotion to him mainly from the Qur’an and the Hadith, and so on? Other questions concern the relation of communities of such followers (if they are in communities) to other local churches and the worldwide church. Also, how are persons and cultures to be transformed by the Gospel if the status quo ante is largely maintained? There remain serious questions about whether such communities or persons will be allowed to survive within the Dar al-Islam (House of Islam).

We must remember that evangelists and missionaries stand within the apostolic tradition and are not semidetached from it or outside it altogether. This means, for instance, not making up elements of contextualization but using the rich and varied sources of Christian tradition—for example, in patterns of worship, liturgy, the public reading of the Scriptures, and forms of private devotion. In Islamic contexts, we are particularly fortunate that so much has been taken from Eastern Christian traditions and can be reappropriated without violence to the integrity of the Gospel. The problem sometimes is that Western Christian missionaries, and even Westernized indigenous Christians, are unaware of this rich heritage waiting on their doorstep or are suspicious of it. In some places, Islam is an import into an existing Christian culture; elsewhere, both Christianity and Islam have come from outside. Whatever the case, rich resources for inculturation are available because of the historic interaction between Muslims and Christians. Let us use them!

The book represents a brave attempt at assessing the many opportunities and problems for Christian witness in Muslim contexts. I hope it is only the beginning and that some of the issues raised in this review essay will be tackled at the next conference and in any publications that result from it.

Read it all (requires free registration).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted February 26, 2015 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Narrating the details of my seventy-plus year pilgrimage would bore me almost as much as it would bore others. I do, however, remember a few events that might be interesting enough for public airing. One of them is the time that I turned down an invitation to appear in Penthouse magazine.

The phone call—it was the late 1970s, I think—came to our home in Grand Rapids late one afternoon. A pleasant woman asked me if I was willing to fly to New York City to serve on a panel of religious ethicists discussing “evangelicals and sexuality.” When I asked about the sponsorship of the panel, she immediately told me she would get to that topic after some other details, and then she reeled off the proposed date and the amount of a generous honorarium. I persisted: Who was sponsoring the panel? She answered: “I am calling on behalf of Bob Guccione of Penthouse magazine.”

“Oh, for crying out loud!” I exclaimed into the phone, and began to say that I would not do it. But she shot back, mentioning that a well-known professor from a university religion department had assured her that I was the right kind of person to appear in this published discussion. I got angry, urging her to tell the professor and Mr. Guccione what they were “full of.” And I hung up.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPornographyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted February 25, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The World Council of Churches condemns the latest attacks and atrocities by the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) most recently against Christian villages in the region of Khabour in the governorate of Hassake, Syria. According to reports received, in the early morning of 23 February large numbers of IS fighters attacked these villages, killing a number of civilians, taking approximately 100 people captive, and provoking a mass exodus from these communities. These attacks seem to be attempts at opening a new corridor towards the Turkish border that could facilitate the procurement of both weapons and mercenaries.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 25, 2015 at 5:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In other words the Muslim states have often denounced “terrorism,” but only by defining that term to exclude any and all attacks against Israel and miscellaneous other depredations, such as against Americans in Iraq, undertaken in the name of “national resistance.” To countenance terror in some cases is to countenance terror, period. Who, after all, would support terror on behalf of causes that he opposes? Just as the only meaningful test of support for free speech is support for speech with which one does not agree, so the only meaningful measure of opposition to terrorism is to condemn it even if carried out in the service of a cause of which one approves.

This the Muslim world remains reluctant to do. Palestine is its signature cause. Although the Palestinians did not invent terror, it was Fatah and kindred Palestinian groups that in the 1970s, with their attacks on airplanes, ships, trains, embassies, and even the Olympic Games, made terrorism the scourge of international life that it is today and inspired others to emulate their deeds. Yet how many Muslim voices can be heard anywhere decrying Palestinian terror? Even the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas, which has repeatedly renounced terrorism, continues to honor child-murderers and pay stipends to imprisoned terrorists and the families of deceased terrorists. Its official news agency described last summer’s killers of three Israeli teens as “martyrs.” This past November, when four rabbis were hacked to death in prayer in Jerusalem, Abbas condemned the deed, but that same day, as Palestinian Media Watch has documented, Fatah’s Facebook page signaled to the Palestinians that he did not really mean it. It posted a clip from a television interview with one of Arafat’s bodyguards describing how Arafat sometimes bowed to foreign pressure to condemn terror attacks but would do so insincerely because, the guard explained, Islam allows lying under such circumstances. Any viewer would grasp the implication that Abbas was acting in the same manner as his predecessor.

Aside from playing semantic games with the word terrorism, there is another reason that helps to explain why the world’s Muslim governments maintain a strong front in defense of terrorism even while surveys, like Pew’s, suggest that most Muslims reject violence against civilians. The political dynamics of any community are shaped only in part by the proportion of people who believe one thing or another. They are also shaped by the intensity with which views are held. A huge advantage accrues to those who, in Yeats’s line, “are full of passionate intensity.” Today, in the Muslim world, the passionate ones are the Islamists.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureSociologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted February 25, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq are living at the edge of extinction.

They are marginalized and under threat from the genocidal actions of the Islamic State in Iraq, resulting in the purging of religious and ethnic minorities from their historic homes.

If immediate action is not taken, the existence of religious and ethnic minority communities, such as Christians, Yazidis, Shabak and Turkmen, will continue on a trajectory of precipitous decline into virtual non-existence.

In the last decade, the Christian community has plummeted from approximately 1.5 million to 300,000.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

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Posted February 25, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Undaunted by the slaughter of 21 Christians in Libya, the director of the Bible Society of Egypt saw a golden gospel opportunity.

“We must have a Scripture tract ready to distribute to the nation as soon as possible,” Ramez Atallah told his staff the evening an ISIS-linked group released its gruesome propaganda video. Less than 36 hours later, Two Rows by the Sea was sent to the printer.

One week later, 1.65 million copies have been distributed in the Bible Society’s largest campaign ever. It eclipses even the 1 million tracts distributed after the 2012 death of Shenouda, the Coptic "Pope of the Bible."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic Church* Theology

2 Comments
Posted February 24, 2015 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[ISIS] ...militants have kidnapped dozens of people from Christian villages in Syria, a human rights watchdog has said.

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the militants stormed at least two villages, inhabited by the ancient Assyrian Christian minority, shortly after dawn, taking some 90 civilians captive.

Nuri Kino, the head of the activist group A Demand For Action, quoted villagers who fled the attacks as saying between 70 and 100 people are being held.

A number of children are understood to be among them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nadia Bulkin, 27, the daughter of a Muslim father and a Christian mother, spends “zero time” thinking about God.

And she finds that among her friends — both guys and gals — many are just as spiritually disconnected.

Surveys have long shown women lead more active lives of faith than men, and that millennials are less interested than earlier generations. One in three now claim no religious identity.

What may be new is that more women, generation by generation, are moving in the direction of men — away from faith, religious commitment, even away from vaguely spiritual views like “a deep sense of wonder about the universe,” according to some surveys.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismSecularism* Theology

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Posted February 23, 2015 at 11:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Irish Church today is still marked by relatively high levels of religious adherence and participation compared to most of its fellow European countries. Two of the book’s contributors, Elizabeth Oldmixon and Brian Calfano, find most Irish Catholic priests do not feel “burned-out” and report reasonably high levels of job satisfaction, in line with ministers in other religious traditions.

Another contributor, Bernadette Flanagan, finds a lively spirituality still at work within the Church, one that can now be informed by practices from other cultures as well as from the country’s own past.

Throughout the essays, the writers agree the potential is great for an Irish Catholicism that otherwise stands liberated from long relationships to political power and social privilege.

Read it all from the Irish Times.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted February 23, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To state the obvious, Europe does not have state-sponsored pogroms or discriminatory Nuremberg laws. In western Europe Jews are more integrated than ever; often their real worry is of decline through assimilation. In much of the east, there has been a flowering of Jewish life since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Berlin itself boasts Europe’s fastest-growing Jewish community. The far right in Hungary really is anti-Semitic, but in France and the Netherlands these days populists now abjure anti-Semitism, even as they denounce Muslim migrants.

Moving to Israel may fulfil a religious, cultural or political longing for some Jews—but it is hardly safer. As the Danish chief rabbi rightly put it, emigrating to Israel should be out of love, not fear. European democracies must ensure that this remains so. Given their dire history of Jew-hatred—from the Norwich blood libel in 1144 to the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492 to the Nazi Holocaust—Europeans must be ever-vigilant against any sign of anti-Semitism, whether of the old endemic Christian sort or the newer Islamist variety.

Like all Europeans, Jews must be able to live free from the fear of violence. This means greater protection for Jewish institutions. Security forces must try to protect innumerable soft targets, and these days these almost always include Jews.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 22, 2015 at 2:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My modest purpose is briefly to lay out six factors that illegitimately inhibit apologetic engagement today. If these barriers are removed, our apologetic witness may grow into what it should be in Christ.
1. Indifference

Too many Christians don’t seem to care that Christianity is routinely ridiculed as outdated, irrational, and narrow-minded in our culture. They may complain that this "offends" them (just as everyone else is complaining that one thing or another "offends" them), but they do little to counteract the charges by offering a defense of the Christian world view in a variety of settings. Yet Scripture commands all Christians to have a reason for the hope that is within them and to present this with gentleness and respect to unbelievers (1 Peter 3:15). Our attitude should be that of the Apostle Paul who was "greatly distressed" when he beheld the idolatry of sophisticated Athens. This zeal for the truth of God led him into a fruitful apologetic encounter with the thinkers gathered to debate new ideas (see Acts 17). It should for us as well. Just as God "so loved the world" that he sent Jesus to set us right with God (John 3:16), Jesus’ disciples should so love the world that they endeavor to reach the lost by presenting the Gospel and answering objections to the Christian faith (John 17:18)....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyApologeticsSeminary / Theological Education

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Posted February 22, 2015 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The brother of two of the 21 Coptic Christians murdered in Libya last week has thanked their killers for including the men's declaration of faith in the video they made of their beheadings.

Speaking on a live prayer and worship programme on Christian channel SAT-7 ARABIC yesterday, Beshir Kamel said that he was proud of his brothers Bishoy Estafanos Kamel (25) and Samuel Estafanos Kamel (23) because they were "a badge of honour to Christianity".

Harrowing scenes of the murders have been seen around the world. The last words of some of those killed were "Lord Jesus Christ".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslam

4 Comments
Posted February 21, 2015 at 4:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...privately, the Saudi view is that the air campaign against ISIS, now more than six months old, is not working.

"Having simply these pinprick attacks on certain areas is not going to resolve the issue," says Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief who also served as the ambassador to the U.S. from 2005-7.

An outspoken member of the royal family, Faisal, 70, no longer holds a senior post. But his views are considered to reflect the general thinking of the Saudi leadership.

He says the air strikes against ISIS are too limited and not well coordinated. In addition, he insists the coalition effort is undermined by politics in Europe and mistrust in the Middle East.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As New York lawmakers began to consider a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide, the New York State Catholic Conference launched a new website "to offer Catholics moral clarity and guidance on the church's teachings regarding end-of-life decision-making."

"Talking about death and dying can be difficult and uncomfortable, yet perhaps no conversations are more profound or necessary for all of us," says the "About" section of the site. "The fact is that most of us will face challenging decisions regarding treatment and care at the end of life, either for ourselves or our family members."

Developed with a grant from Our Sunday Visitor, the site provides links to resources, church teaching, advance directives and a variety of Catholic sources all across the country.

The Catholic church teaches that physician-assisted suicide is immoral and unethical.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ithin the narrow bounds of its theology, the Islamic State hums with energy, even creativity. Outside those bounds, it could hardly be more arid and silent: a vision of life as obedience, order, and destiny. Musa Cerantonio and Anjem Choudary could mentally shift from contemplating mass death and eternal torture to discussing the virtues of Vietnamese coffee or treacly pastry, with apparent delight in each, yet to me it seemed that to embrace their views would be to see all the flavors of this world grow insipid compared with the vivid grotesqueries of the hereafter.

I could enjoy their company, as a guilty intellectual exercise, up to a point. In reviewing Mein Kampf in March 1940, George Orwell confessed that he had “never been able to dislike Hitler”; something about the man projected an underdog quality, even when his goals were cowardly or loathsome. “If he were killing a mouse he would know how to make it seem like a dragon.” The Islamic State’s partisans have much the same allure. They believe that they are personally involved in struggles beyond their own lives, and that merely to be swept up in the drama, on the side of righteousness, is a privilege and a pleasure—especially when it is also a burden.

Fascism, Orwell continued, is
psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life … Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them, “I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet … We ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.
Read it all.

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

3 Comments
Posted February 20, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis is himself conservative enough to see that those problems, baffling as they may be to outsiders, run too deep to be solved overnight. But he is throwing out a challenge. People who cannot come together for a ritual of sacrifice in a church are being cast by circumstances into a single, dire community of fate. In one sense, that very fact renders their differences irrelevant. It also challenges people living in safer circumstances to work harder on tearing barriers down.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchRoman CatholicPope Francis

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Posted February 20, 2015 at 4:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two deacons, one Episcopal, one Catholic, were standing on a street in Beverly Hills, in front of Tiffany's, across from Louis Vuitton.

It could have been the set-up for a joke — and some passersby thought it might be. Or maybe somebody was filming something? They stood and stared at the men dressed in purple stoles, white surplices and long black cassocks.

"Are you real? For real?" one woman in oversized Chanel sunglasses asked Scott Taylor of All Saints Episcopal Church and Eric Stoltz of the Church of the Good Shepherd.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsLentParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

arriage is in crisis throughout the Western world. The data from the United States alone tell an unmistakable—and unmistakably sad—story. Fifty years ago, some 70 percent of American adults were married; today the figure is just over 50 percent. Then, close to 90 percent of children lived with their natural parents; today fewer than two-thirds do. The birth rate has declined, and the abortion rate has climbed from less than 1 percent of live births to over 20 percent.

Everyone suffers from the current crisis in marriage, but some suffer more than others. A growing class divide is becoming alarmingly clear. College-educated men and women marry and are unlikely to get divorced. The less educated are less likely to ­marry, and those who do so are three times more likely to get divorced. Rates of illegitimacy are even more striking. A very small percentage of college-educated women have children out of wedlock (6 percent). Nearly half of women without a college education now have children out of wedlock.

In considering the demise of marriage culture and the decline of the institution of marriage, we are profoundly aware of the challenge posed by the Lord, that “whatever you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:40). The effects of the decline of marriage on children are dramatic, unequal, and deeply disturbing. Among the well-educated and economically well-off, the traditional family remains the norm. This is no longer true for children born to less educated and less affluent women. By age fourteen, nearly half of these children no longer live with both parents, posing dire consequences for their futures. Young men raised in broken families are more likely to go to prison. Young women in these circumstances are more likely to become pregnant as unwed teenagers. The dramatic decline of marriage is a major factor in the misery of many in our society.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted February 19, 2015 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Slightly more than half of Utah residents say they attend religious services every week, more than any other state in the union. Residents in the four Southern states of Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas are the next most likely to be frequent church attendees, with 45% to 47% reporting weekly attendance. At the other end of the spectrum is Vermont, where 17% of residents say they attend religious services every week.

These results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews throughout 2014 with 177,030 U.S. adults, and reflect those who say "at least once a week" when asked, "How often do you attend church, synagogue or mosque -- at least once a week, almost every week, about once a month, seldom or never?" Church attendance self-reports are estimates, and may not reflect precise week in and week out attendance, but provide an important measure of the way in which Americans view their personal, underlying religiosity. In particular, the focus on the top category of "weekly" attendance yields a good indicator of the percentage of each state's population that is highly religious, and for whom religion is likely to be a significant factor in their daily lives.

Ten of the 12 states with the highest self-reported religious service attendance are in the South, along with Utah and Oklahoma. The strong religious culture in the South reflects a variety of factors, including history, cultural norms and the fact that these states have high Protestant and black populations -- both of which are above average in their self-reported religious service attendance. Utah's No. 1 position on the list is a direct result of that state's 59% Mormon population, as Mormons have the highest religious service attendance of any major religious group in the U.S.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons

2 Comments
Posted February 19, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Ash Wednesday liturgy offers us, first of all, the passage from the prophet Joel, sent by God to call the people to repentance and conversion, due to a calamity (an invasion of locusts) that devastates Judea. Only the Lord can save from the scourge, and so there is need of supplication, with prayer and fasting, each confessing his sin.

The prophet insists on inner conversion: “Return to me with all your heart” (2:12). To return to the Lord “with all [one’s] heart,” means taking the path of a conversion that is neither superficial nor transient, but is a spiritual journey that reaches the deepest place of our self. The heart, in fact, is the seat of our sentiments, the center in which our decisions and our attitudes mature.

That, “Return to me with all your heart,” does not involve only individuals, but extends to the community, is a summons addressed to all: “Gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. (2:16)”

The prophet dwells particularly on the prayers of priests, noting that their prayer should be accompanied by tears. We will do well to ask, at the beginning of this Lent, for the gift of tears, so as to make our prayer and our journey of conversion ever more authentic and without hypocrisy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsLentParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis

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Posted February 18, 2015 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India said on Tuesday that his government would not “accept violence against any religion, on any pretext” and that it would take forceful steps to prevent and prosecute such crimes, in a speech widely interpreted as a response to a series of attacks on Roman Catholic churches in and around New Delhi.

“My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the minority or the majority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly,” Mr. Modi said at a New Delhi ceremony to honor the recent canonization of two Indians by the Vatican. “I strongly condemn such violence. My government will act strongly in this regard.”

For weeks, church officials and rights campaigners have urged Mr. Modi to address a growing sense of insecurity among the country’s religious minorities, which include large populations of Muslims and Christians.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsHinduismIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 17, 2015 at 6:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Authorities in the landlocked African nation of Niger have arrested 160 suspected Boko Haram militants allegedly involved in deadly attacks near that country's border with Nigeria, a national police spokesman said Tuesday.

The arrests happened over the last two days in Niger's Diffa region, which borders Nigeria. Those taken into custody include Kaka Bunu, who police spokesman Adil Doro said was "involved in the recruitment of (Boko Haram) members."

Some of the suspects fled south, only to be arrested while on the run or in "their hiding places," said Yakubu Sumana Gawo, the governor of Niger's Diffa region.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryImmigrationPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigerNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 17, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Egyptian army launched airstrikes against ISIS targets in Libya hours after the release of a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts kidnapped by Libyan Islamists in December 2014 and January 2015. One may be tempted to say that President Sisi’s response to these murders is comparable to King Abdullah’s after a Jordanian pilot, Moaz al-Kasasbeh, was burned to death by ISIS. However, a closer examination of both leaders’ reactions shows a number of significant differences.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has called for a United Nations resolution allowing international forces to intervene in Libya.

There was no other choice, he told French radio. "We will not allow them to cut off the heads of our children."

Egyptian jets bombed IS targets on Monday in response to a militant video of the apparent beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians.

Rival militias have been battling for control in Libya since 2011.

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

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Posted February 17, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch it all and you can also read his statement there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaLibyaEngland / UKMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox Church

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Posted February 16, 2015 at 6:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is with great sadness I write you today about the heinous murder of 21 Egyptian Christians at the hand of the so-called lslamic State branch in Libya. These men from the Upper Egyptian city of Samalout are no different from thousands of other Muslim and Christian Egyptians in Libya, seeking employment to support their families back home.

Except that these 21 were specifically chosen for their Christian faith. The video of their beheading expressed the lslamic State's intention to increasingly target the Copts of Egypt. This morning the Egyptian government launched airstrikes on lslamic State positions. lt has declared a week of mourning, banned further travel to Libya, and will work to facilitate the return of all Egyptian citizens. The foreign minister has been dispatched to the United Nations to discuss the necessary international response.

The Anglican Church in Egypt and the world expresses its deep condolences to the families of these men, and also to his Holiness Pope Tawadros ll, patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Please join me in praying for peace in Libya, Egypt, and the entire Middle East. Please pray the international community will act in wisdom, correctly and efficiently, and support Egypt in its war on terror. Please pray the churches of Egypt will comfort their sons and daughters, encouraging them to resist fear and hatred. And please pray for the perpetrators of this terrible crime, that God would be merciful to them and change their hearts.

Jesus tells us in John 16:33, "ln the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

Such cheer may seem impossible, but it is God's promise. Please pray for us, that we may live lives worthy of his name, and hold to the testimony exhibited by the brave Egyptians in Libya.

--The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis is Archbishop of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaLibyaMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

6 Comments
Posted February 16, 2015 at 2:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The terrible cruelty of the murders in Denmark, Libya and Nigeria call for deep compassion for the bereaved and killed. The killers seem to rejoice in ever more extreme acts carried out to inflict ever greater terror. We must all weep with those affected, and know that in the love of Christ all evil will be overcome.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 16, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis on Monday denounced the murder of 21 Coptic Christians by ISIL militants in Libya. The Islamist terrorist organization released a video of the killings on Sunday.

Speaking in Spanish to an ecumenical delegation from the Church of Scotland, the Holy Father noted those killed only said “Jesus help me.”

“They were murdered just for the fact they were Christians,” Pope Francis said.

“The blood of our Christian brothers is a witness that cries out,” said the Pope. “If they are Catholic, Orthodox, Copts, Lutherans, it is not important: They are Christians. The blood is the same: It is the blood which confesses Christ.''

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 16, 2015 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Egypt's Copts are the largest Christian community in the Middle East and are estimated to account for around 15% of the country's population.

"Coptic" is used to describe the native Christians living in the country, where Christianity is a large minority religion.

The Coptic Orthodox Church was founded in the first century by Saint Mark the apostle, who wrote the second Gospel of the New Testament.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 16, 2015 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State released a video on Sunday purporting to show the beheading of a group of Egyptian Christians kidnapped in Libya, violence likely to deepen Cairo's concerns over security threats from militants thriving in the neighbouring country's chaos.

Egypt's state news agency MENA quoted the spokesman for the Coptic Church as confirming that 21 Egyptian Christians believed to be held by Islamic State were dead.

In the video, militants in black marched the captives, dressed in orange jump suits, to a beach the group said was near Tripoli. They were forced down onto their knees, then beheaded.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic Church* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 15, 2015 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




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Posted February 15, 2015 at 2:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A video has emerged showing the beheadings purportedly of 21 Egyptian Christians who had been kidnapped by Islamic State (IS) militants in Libya.

The footage shows a group wearing orange overalls, being forced to the ground and then decapitated.

Egypt's National Defence Council is to meet in emergency session to discuss its response to the killings.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 15, 2015 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to Christian understanding, in human existence, the personal is also capable of bearing the tragic, ground that is foreign to Modernity, its eradication being the goal of every Modern project. Boundaries are tragic for the ego – they say “no” to its unfettered demands. The “tragic” is viewed as any undesirable event or result in Modernity. It is viewed as suffering and is to be avoided, controlled and minimized.

Classical Christianity understands that the Cross is the way of life and that its paradox turns the tragic inside-out. For the Cross is not an unfortunate requirement, something God is forced to do in order to rescue sinful man. The tragedy of the Cross is also the pattern of healing, wholeness, well-being and eternal life. It is the revelation of true personhood.

All of the arguments regarding new definitions of marriage, aggressive reproductive technologies, gender re-definitions, etc., are made within a model that views any and all suffering as both tragic, needless and unacceptable if at all possible of alleviation. Such a line of reasoning was inevitably on a collision course with an ethic originally rooted in the Cross. The Christian view of personhood is an invitation to voluntary suffering and self-sacrifice. Nothing could be less modern.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigerian militants attacked villagers and paramilitary forces in neighboring Chad on Friday, killing at least six people in a clash that appeared to be revenge for Chad sending combat troops to fight the Islamic insurgency.

The Boko Haram insurgents were said to have arrived in the early hours of Friday as part of a group of thousands of Nigerian refugees flocking to Ngouboua, a village located north of the capital, Ndjamena, according to military officials and civilians who spoke to The Wall Street Journal.

The gunmen killed six people—five civilians and a paramilitary officer. They also wounded three other officers while four members of Boko Haram were killed, according to these people.

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

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Posted February 13, 2015 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United Methodist Church could have openly gay clergy and clergy could officiate at same-sex marriages if a proposal affirmed by a denomination-wide leadership body prevails.

The Connectional Table plans to draft legislation that members hope can be “a third way” in church’s long debate over homosexuality.

The body on Feb. 10 overwhelmingly affirmed a proposal to remove prohibitive language that makes it a chargeable offense under church law for clergy to be “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” or to officiate at same-sex weddings.

The action was not a formal vote, but the reported results of two hours of small-group discussions. The Connectional Table will take up proposed legislative language for an actual vote when it meets in May in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

4 Comments
Posted February 13, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an attempt to find a peaceful alternative for those in the Islamic world who advocate violence for political and religious goals, Christians in the West shouldn’t distort the history of Christianity, or stand idly by while others do so. Letting this version of events shape perceptions of Christian history invariably means a portrait of religion as a force of darkness, while science and technology will always be beacons of sanity and light.

The narrative portraying religious conviction as antithetical to reasoned comity among people and nations is easy enough to fall into. At the national prayer breakfast last week, for instance, President Obama compared the excesses of the Crusades and the Inquisition to the terrorism of today’s radical Islam. The president went on to condemn (rightly) those who advance their religious convictions with violence.

But what he and many others miss is the conviction that Western core values come from a faith in which God enters into human history precisely to save the world from the erring reason that fails, among other things, to recognize that terrorism is an affront to God and humanity.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relationsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 13, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The story started at home, with the multiple ways Graham helped shape the movement’s internal culture. For one thing, he prompted evangelicals to shift their focus from the venial sins of cussing, smoking, drinking, dancing, and premarital sex to the mortal sins of greed, lust, racism, and, above all, faithlessness. Which is to say, he prompted evangelicals to shift their focus from moral misdemeanors to moral felonies. That did not mean that he started out that way. Nor did it mean that he ever winked at the misdemeanors, or got entirely beyond preaching about them himself. But it did mean that he helped evangelicals establish a sense of scale. In a closely related move, Graham also alerted evangelicals to the difference between core and peripheral doctrines. Not every doctrinal difference was worth going to the mat for. He brought many of them to appreciate, in other words, the philosopher William James’s dictum: “The art of wisdom is the art of knowing what to overlook.” Or at least, gaining a mature sense of which doctrines should— and should not— qualify as a test of fellowship.

Then, too, Graham helped evangelicals see that justice for everyone, regardless of social location, was not peripheral but central to evangelicals’ affirmations and obligations. He did not always lead the way as boldly as he might have done, even by his own lights, but he was rarely very far behind the movement’s shock troops, and far ahead of the great majority of his constituents. To be sure, Graham never retreated one inch from his conviction that enduring social change started with changed hearts. But if changed hands did not follow, hearts needed to go back into the shop for more work.

The preacher helped his co-workers both deploy and regulate their entrepreneurial impulses....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted February 13, 2015 at 4:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost one in five Britons is now an atheist as a generational shift away from religion gathers force, a poll for The Times has found.

Experts said that the country was becoming more comfortable with atheism than with faith after the data revealed that public figures win approval for questioning the existence of God, while Christians are more than twice as likely as atheists to say that they struggle to speak openly about their beliefs.

A marked divide has opened up between young and old. Almost one in three under-24s declare themselves to be atheists, compared with one in ten over-60s.

The YouGov survey of 1,550 adults is one of the first studies to give a clear impression of the extent of atheism in modern Britain.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismSecularism* Theology

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Posted February 12, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At its heart this book, Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith, is an extended effort to assure gay and lesbian people that entering the church will not mean the suppression of their longings and loves. It will, Tushnet promises, mean that those loves will be changed, reshaped, or reconfigured. But it won’t mean that they’ll simply be erased. Borrowing the historic language of vocations, she speaks of “figuring out how God is calling me to love and then pouring myself out into that love.” If gay people fear that becoming a Christian equals a one-way ticket to lifelong loneliness, Tushnet’s book is one long argument to the contrary.

The book has an uncluttered structure. Following several chapters that narrate her upbringing, including her coming out at age 13, her days as a student activist, and her eventual conversion to Catholicism while an undergraduate at Yale, Tushnet simply examines several possible ways that gay Catholics may give and receive love while remaining faithful to traditional Christian sexual ethics. There’s a chapter on friendship—not the anemic variety we now associate with Facebook verbs (“friending” and “unfriending”), but the vowed, lifelong kind associated with the church fathers and saints like Francis of Assisi and Clare, his spiritual sister. There are chapters on intentional community and parish life. There are explorations of service (Tushnet herself volunteers at a crisis pregnancy center, where she speaks of how her “connection to other women does have an adoring and erotic component, and [how she] wanted to find a way to express that connection through works of mercy”). And there are discussions of possible roadblocks gay Catholics may encounter in their search for loving community.

This book articulates, better than anything I’ve been able to find, the real yearnings, fears, and questions of gay Catholics (and other traditionalist Christians). But more than that, it also portrays, in vivid and personal terms, the hope of the church—the hope of the gospel that speaks to those desires and fears and beckons us on, to a brighter future in the household of God. I recommend it wholeheartedly, without reservation, as the best book of its kind.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman CatholicSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 12, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury said he was “often deeply embarrassed” by some failings of the Church of England in tackling anti-Semitism,

Justin Welby said people should be shocked by the rise in anti-Semitism and described it as “blasphemy”, as he hosted the launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism at Lambeth Palace.

The Archbishop said the spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK and the Paris terror attack on a Jewish supermarket had made the report more timely. “The need for increased police patrolling of Jewish neighbourhoods in response to security concerns was a “peculiar and remarkable obscenity when we are in the midst of commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz”, he said.
The problem of anti-Semitism was “deeply embedded in our history and the culture of Western Europe”, the Archbishop acknowledged as he praised the all-party group for highlighting “the stark reality of rising anti-Semitism in this country and the key responses necessary to counter it”.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism* Theology

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Posted February 11, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Islamic extremists snatched more than 270 girls from the Chibok boarding school in Nigeria in the dead of night, protests broke out worldwide. The U.S. pledged to help find them, and the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag was born.

Some 10 months later, most are still missing. The Boko Haram extremist group sees the mass kidnapping as a shining symbol of success, and has abducted hundreds of other girls, boys and women. The militants brag to their new captives about the surrender of the Chibok girls, their conversion to Islam and their marriage to fighters.

"They told me the Chibok girls have a new life where they learn to fight," says Abigail John, 15, who was held by Boko Haram for more than four weeks before escaping. "They said we should be like them and accept Islam."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 11, 2015 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What do the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East, many of them threatened with extinction in lands where they have survived since the dawn of their faith's existence, most need from their co-religionists in the West? Some want more military support, but others take a different view. That difference emerged during a visit to London by Archbishop Bashar Warda, the top Catholic cleric in Erbil, the only Iraqi city where Christians live in significant numbers.

At a meeting yesterday in the House of Lords, co-organised by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, the archbishop reminded people of the hard realities facing his flock. As of a result of last year's onslaught by Islamic State, perhaps 400,000 people fled their homes in Mosul and the neighbouring Nineveh Plain and many sought refuge in the adjacent area controlled by the Kurdish regional government. The displaced include Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities. Of the 300,000 or so Christians who remain in Iraq (down from 1.4m a couple of decades ago), the great majority now live in Kurdistan, of which Erbil is the capital.

Iraqi Christians are practical, energetic sorts, the archbishop told his British hosts, and they are not sitting around bemoaning their fate. Huge efforts are being made to get the displaced families, who are now holed up in tents, portakabins and half-built shopping centres, into better accommodation where they can become economically active and their children can pursue studies. The archbishop is working hard to start, by next autumn, a new university which will be Catholic in inspiration but open to all faiths.

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Posted February 11, 2015 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As we ponder this momentous ruling of our nation’s highest court, let us pray that the gifts of the Holy Spirit will guide all of us in our response: Above all, that the gifts of wisdom, right judgment and courage will flourish among us.

Moreover, we cannot fail to proclaim the gospel of life with both vigor and joy: that every life has an inherent God-given dignity from the moment of conception until life’s natural end. And let the words of St. Paul we heard in today’s second reading ring out in our minds and hearts: “If I proclaim the Gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

The mission ahead of us is not committed only to a few. Rather, it is mine; it is yours; it is ours.

With God’s help, which he offers in this Eucharist, may we fulfill this obligation to proclaim the Gospel for the welfare of all our brothers and sisters.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted February 11, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram continues to strengthen its hold over Nigeria’s Muslim-majority north-eastern states, and the Nigerian government seems to be permanently on the back foot.

This week, the government announced it has decided to postpone the Presidential election that was due to be held on February 14th, saying that it needs more time to wrest control from Boko Haram, and ensure a safe and secure poll.

Boko Haram’s stated aim is to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the north of Nigeria, and ultimately to impose sharia law across the whole country. But the religious agenda doesn’t tell the whole story.

Listen to it all.

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

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Posted February 11, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

European Bishops have deplored the “unacceptable loss of life” of at least 29 migrants by hypothermia in the Mediterranean Seaand and are calling for “greater clarity and greater political will among all of the EU member states on an acceptable resolution of the refugee crisis”.

Just over two months have gone by since Pope Francis appealed to European policy-makers not to allow the Mediterranean to become a vast graveyard. But migrants continue to die during the dangerous crossing as they seek to flee poverty and conflict.

In the latest tragedy of the sea 29 migrants have died of hypothermia and others are in serious condition after they were picked up from inflatable boats by Italian coastguard vessels.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in Iraq "do not have much time left" without direct military action on the ground, the Archbishop of Irbil has told UK peers and MPs.

Archbishop Bashar Warda said air strikes were "not enough" to defeat Islamic State militants and "begged" for Western troops to be deployed.

He said Iraq's Christian population was declining and that he would speak to the UK government about further action.

The government has said efforts to defeat IS were "comprehensive".

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 10, 2015 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




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Posted February 10, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram insurgents from Nigeria bombed a Niger border town, killing five people, and carried out attacks in neighbouring Cameroon, kidnapping a bus full of passengers, military and local sources said on Monday.

The jihadist sect has killed thousands of people and kidnapped hundreds in a bid to impose its rule in northeastern Nigeria, and stepped up cross-border incursions into Cameroon.

An intensification of attacks near Lake Chad, a crossroads between Nigeria, Chad, and Niger, has sent tens of thousands of Nigerians fleeing across the borders. The escalating crisis prompted Nigeria to postpone its 14 February presidential election.

With the Nigerian army struggling to contain the militants, bordering countries have launched a regional offensive against them, spurring a series of revenge attacks inside Niger and Cameroon.

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

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Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jonathan has been sharply criticized for his management of the Boko Haram crisis and some Western leaders suggested the postponement was a last-ditch effort to shore up his vote.

But church leaders in the war-hit regions welcomed the move.

“Many Christians here had not collected their voter cards and this may afford them time to do so,” said the Rev. John Bakeni, the secretary of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri.

Bakeni said the Maiduguri region does not favor Jonathan but most people have accepted the electoral commission’s explanation of wanting to tackle insecurity in the northeast.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 10, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ambiguity is the devil’s volleyball, said former President of Yale, Kingman Brewster, Jr. Robin A. Parry and Christopher H. Partridge’s book, Universal Salvation? The Current Debate (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003...) gives us a well matched game of back and forth with the theological hot potato that is at the heart of the book’s “debate.” While the writers in this volume are articulate and responsible in handling this (again) current hot topic among evangelicals, if there is one null theme the critical reader may pick up is that the debate is fueled, in part, by the inherent ambiguity of the concept in the biblical text that all sides claim for their points of view. Biblical ambiguity is the one reality few seem ready to confess when conceding an opponent’s point on the issue.

The volume’s “debate” opens with three chapters (Part I) by Thomas Talbott, a professor of philosophy at Willamette University and an advocate of the universalist position (in effect, Talbott argues that Scripture teaches the ultimate salvation of all people, including those in Hell). His treatment and defense for this position is thorough, reasoned, and responsible. Though Talbott’s case for universalism includes arguments from theology and a Pauline interpretation of relevant texts, the strength of his argument is philosophical. His logical treatment of theological thoughts on the subject is exemplary and rigorous. Neither Talbott nor the writers who respond adversarial to his views shy away from claiming the authority of the Bible, or the primacy of Scripture to inform theology, tradition, and reason to put forth their arguments.

The remaining part of the book (parts II to V) consists of rebuttals to Talbott’s arguments by other evangelical scholars.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEschatology

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Posted February 9, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The Diocese of Guildford has taken extremely seriously the reports and complaints regarding Stephen Sizer over the past two weeks. Concerns surrounding Stephen were raised both in response to allegedly offensive materials linked from his Facebook account, and to comments he made to the Jewish News and the Daily Telegraph thereafter.

"Commenting on this matter, the Council of Christians and Jews has helpfully highlighted that:

‘It is perfectly possible to criticize Israeli policies without such criticism being anti-Semitic, and Christians and others should feel free to do so. However, such legitimate criticism must not be used as a cloak for anti-Semitism, nor can anti-Semitism itself ever be disguised as mere political comment’.

"Having now met Stephen, in my brand new role as Bishop of Guildford, I do not believe that his motives are anti-Semitic; but I have concluded that, at the very least, he has demonstrated appallingly poor judgment in the material he has chosen to disseminate, particularly via social media, some of which is clearly anti-Semitic.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 9, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This country’s opposition joined the U.S. and local business leaders on Sunday in criticizing the government for postponing a tight presidential election, as the political mood shifted sharply in Africa’s largest democracy.

Many voters here learned Sunday morning that the Feb. 14 election would be delayed six weeks. The decision came the night before from Nigeria’s electoral commission after the military said its campaign against Boko Haram, the Islamist group it has been battling for nearly six years, couldn’t spare the soldiers needed to ensure a safe election.

But the move—taken a week before what polls indicate would be the closest election in Nigerian history—touched a nerve in this country, whose military spent decades overturning or postponing elections until it allowed civilian rule in 1999.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 9, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration has touted the modest successes in recent months of Iraqi forces and paramilitary fighters, backed by U.S. air power, as they have fought to wrest towns, villages and parts of Iraq’s rugged countryside from the Islamic State.

Now, the renewed U.S. campaign in Iraq faces a greater challenge as American advisers scramble to prepare Iraqi forces for an offensive to reclaim some of Iraq’s most important cities, which remain under the militant group’s control.

Attempting to take back the city of Mosul, the country’s ­second-largest, as well as Tikrit and Fallujah, will test not only the fighting power of Iraqi forces and the country’s fragile sectarian compact but also President Obama’s indirect strategy for containing the Islamic State.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 9, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Nigerian government’s military campaign against the Islamist militants of Boko Haram began in 2009, but it was the abduction of the schoolgirls last year that thrust Nigeria into the spotlight and alerted the world to the growing threat of a force that now controls large swaths of Africa’s most populous country. As the continent’s top petroleum producer and the home to rapidly growing telecommunications and entertainment industries, a secure, efficient Nigeria could be a beacon of stability in tumultuous West Africa. But should the country crumble under economic mismanagement and an insurgency that already has free rein over territory roughly the size of Costa Rica in northeastern Nigeria, it risks pulling much of the unstable region down with it.

Whoever wins this month’s election won’t have an easy job. The next President will be tasked with addressing the corruption, military weakness and economic inequities that have enabled Boko Haram to thrive. He will also have to cope with the plunging price of crude, which has seen the oil-dependent government’s revenue tumble. Recent opinion polls conducted by research group Afrobarometer show that the election is too close to call.

Many Nigerians and outside observers fear that a long-standing rivalry between Buhari’s largely Muslim base in the north and Jonathan’s southern Christian supporters could erupt into bloodshed over election results that would benefit no one but Boko Haram. “You can be sure Boko Haram are watching what is happening with the elections,” says Jacob Zenn, an Africa analyst for the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington-based research institute. “They are likely to take advantage of any instability to carry out attacks.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Inclusive, integrated, peaceful and prosperous, the elegant city of Saint-Mandé — hard against Paris’s eastern fringe — has been a haven for Jews like Sebag whose parents and grandparents were driven from their native North Africa decades ago by anti-Semitism.

“I’ve always told everyone that here, we are very protected. It’s like a small village,” Sebag said.

But in an instant on the afternoon of Jan. 9, Sebag’s refuge became a target. A gunman who would later say he was acting on behalf of the Islamic State walked into her neighborhood’s kosher market and opened fire, launching a siege that would leave four hostages dead — all of them Jewish.

A month later, the Jews of Saint-Mandé are planning for a possible exodus from what had once appeared to be the promised land.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted February 8, 2015 at 1:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Prince of Wales has described the extent to which young people are becoming radicalised as "alarming" and one of the "greatest worries".

In an interview with Radio 2's The Sunday Hour, Prince Charles spoke of his hopes to "build bridges" between different faiths.

He also spoke of his "deep concern" for the suffering of Christian churches in the Middle East.

He is currently in Jordan on a six-day tour of the region.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 8, 2015 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Officials from the United Methodist Church and Episcopal Church have joined together at the Washington National Cathedral to mark an agreement bringing the two oldline Protestant denominations closer together.

“Today as Episcopalians and United Methodists, we remember who we are kin too. We celebrate our family tree and our common roots in the Lord Jesus Christ,” proclaimed the Rev. Dr. Kim Cape, General Secretary of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church.

Cape gave the January 25 sermon at the Episcopal cathedral, declaring the day “historic” and that the two communities were acting “to mend a long division.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesMethodist

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Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The horrific murder of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh has generated shock and outrage around the globe. And if recent history is a guide, this brutal act will only deepen opposition to ISIS, and to violent extremism more generally, in Jordan and other predominantly Muslim nations.

At the Pew Research Center, we’ve been asking questions related to extremism on our international surveys for over a decade, and what we’ve generally found among Muslim publics is that support for extremism is low, while concerns about it are high.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted February 7, 2015 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Catholics are called by their faith to assist all those in need, particularly the poor, the suffering and the dying. Comforting the dying and accompanying them in love and solidarity has been considered by the Church since its beginning a principal expression of Christian mercy.

Helping someone commit suicide, however, is neither an act of justice or mercy, nor is it part of palliative care. The decision of the Supreme Court of Canada today does not change Catholic teaching. "[A]n act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, our Creator." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2277).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted February 7, 2015 at 10:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If religious liberty doesn’t apply to small or unpopular minorities, then it isn’t liberty at all but becomes another government handout to a special-interest group. We want a candidate who will argue consistently for soul freedom for everyone, even those we would argue with about everything else.

This isn’t only a Republican issue. Democrats and Republicans stood together for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act—signed by President Clinton. Perhaps it is time for Hillary Clinton to stand up for Jefferson’s vision of freedom of conscience against the sexual-revolution industrial complex in her party, which too often dismisses basic protections of free exercise as a “war on women” or a “right to discriminate.”

Likewise, a Republican who seems embarrassed about religious freedom, or who takes weeks to muster up an opinion on basic questions of whether consciences ought to be respected, will find that evangelicals will pay no mind when that candidate starts spouting “God and country” talk borrowed from a 1980s-era television evangelist.

Religious liberty is too important to see it become one more culture-war wedge issue.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They came in the dead of night, their faces covered, riding on motorcycles and in pickup trucks, shouting “Allahu akbar” and firing their weapons.

“They started with the shootings; then came the beheadings,” said Hussaini M. Bukar, 25, who fled after Boko Haram fighters stormed his town in northern Nigeria. “They said, ‘Where are the unbelievers among you?’ ”

Women and girls were systematically imprisoned in houses, held until Boko Haram extracted the ones it had chosen for “marriage” or other purposes.

“They were parking” — imprisoning — “young girls and small, small children, parking them in the big houses,” said Bawa Safiya Umar, 45, whose 17-year-old son was killed when her town fell under Boko Haram’s control. “They parked 450 girls in four houses.”

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram fighters have killed about 90 civilians and wounded 500 in ongoing skirmishes in a Cameroonian border town near Nigeria, the latest sign of the Islamic extremist group’s extended threat across the region.

An estimated 800 Boko Haram militants have waged gruesome attacks, including burning to death civilians, on the town of Fotokol since Wednesday. Cameroon’s information minister, Issa Tchiroma, told The Associated Press that they’ve also burned churches and mosques in addition to looting livestock and food.

Security experts believe the fighters crossed into Cameroon from nearby Gamboru, a Nigerian border town that had been a Boko Haram stronghold since November. Gamboru was retaken earlier this week when Chadian and Nigerian air strikes, supported by Chadian ground troops, drove them out.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaCameroonChadNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 5, 2015 at 4:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Declarations of outrage swept the Middle East on Wednesday as a region already steeled to the brutality of the Islamic State expressed horror at the group’s killing of a Jordanian pilot by setting him on fire.

The region’s leaders have denounced the militant group on many occasions in the past, but the spectacle of an Arab pilot being burned alive in a cage triggered some of the harshest reactions yet.

Images of the grisly killing of Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh were broadcast on TV channels around the region, and the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat headlined its coverage with a single word: “Barbarity.”

“This killing really strikes at home for audiences across the region. Most of the people executed by [the Islamic State] have been foreigners, but this time it was an Arab-Muslim man,” said Labib Kamhawi, a political analyst based in the Jordanian capital, Amman. “That has had a bigger impact on people.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 4, 2015 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureSociology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox ChurchRoman Catholic

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Posted February 4, 2015 at 12:43 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Icelanders will soon be able to publicly worship at a shrine to Thor, Odin and Frigg with construction starting this month on the island’s first major temple to the Norse gods since the Viking age.

Worship of the gods in Scandinavia gave way to Christianity around 1,000 years ago but a modern version of Norse paganism has been gaining popularity in Iceland.

“I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet,” said Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, high priest of Ásatrúarfélagið, an association that promotes faith in the Norse gods.

We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeIceland* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsWicca / paganism

3 Comments
Posted February 3, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The selflessness of four Army chaplains who saved others aboard a sinking ship during World War II continues to serve as an example to pursue "greater service," speakers said at a ceremony Sunday.

On Feb. 3, 1943, the U.S. Army Transport ship Dorchester, bound for Greenland, began sinking after an attack from the German submarine U-223. Four Army chaplains helped usher passengers to safety and ultimately gave up their own life jackets - and lives - to save others. In all, 230 out of 904 people aboard the Dorchester survived.

On Sunday afternoon, about 40 people honored the chaplains at the Peter Gallan American Legion Post 104. American Legion member Dennis A. Baptiste served as the master of ceremonies during the event that featured the parade of colors, the national anthem and speeches.

The event focused on the legacy of the four chaplains: Lt. George Fox, a Methodist minister; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, a rabbi; Lt. John P. Washington, a Roman Catholic priest; and Lt. Clark V. Poling, a Dutch Reformed Church minister.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesMethodistReformedRoman CatholicOther FaithsJudaism* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He came from Algeria seeking a better life, anticipating an escape from poverty, oppression, and hopelessness. In Paris, he found a low-skill job and had children and grandchildren. As French citizens, they had the right to an education and health care. But they grew up in the ghettos that ring France’s major cities, surrounded by families like theirs, literally on the margins of society. Unable to integrate fully, they had few opportunities for economic advancement. Paradise was never gained.

This story has been repeated millions of times in the countries of Western Europe, with immigrants and their families ending up poor and excluded. In the worst-case scenario, they are recruited by extremist groups that seem to offer what they are missing: a sense of belonging, identity, and purpose. After a lifetime of marginalization, participation in a larger cause can seem worth the lies, self-destruction, and even death that inclusion demands.

In the wake of the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the thwarting of another attack in Belgium, Europe needs to take a good look at itself.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaAlgeriaEuropeFranceSpain* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 2, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Then, in the 1950s, they trusted their instincts again and returned to Germany. Botsch-Fitterling has never left.

But today, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks in Paris, she’s been thinking about that first decision to leave – thinking about it quite a bit, in fact.

The Charlie Hebdo attacks ended in a bloodbath inside a Jewish market in Paris with four Jewish men slaughtered. And there’d been other attacks: In 2012, a so-called “lone wolf” killed three students and a teacher at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France; last May, an attacker with links to the Islamic State killed four people at the entrance to the Jewish Museum in Brussels.

Botsch-Fitterling finds the pattern deeply distressing.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Superstitions abound regarding certain days, numbers, or objects. People fear that somehow Friday the 13th, black cats, broken mirrors, or ladders may have a hand in shaping the future. Most of these superstitions have murky, ancient origins and have been passed down from generation to generation.

Recent surveys show that superstition is alive and well in the Western world. One survey reported that 20 percent of Americans think it’s unlucky to walk under a ladder and 13 percent think a black cat crossing their path will bring bad luck. A survey in Britain found that 77 percent of those in the UK admit to being “at least a little superstitious” and 42 percent say that they are very or somewhat superstitious. How should Christians respond to these superstitions?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyApologetics

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Posted February 2, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Brother QUENON: He loved being in the midst of nature, you know. The birds were his friends.

VALENTE: What do you think he did out here?

Brother QUENON: Well, read a lot and wrote. For him, praying was just to abide in the presence—the presence of the Lord.

(touring cottage): There’s the kitchen and then a bedroom. And then, a chapel was added later on.

VALENTE: Merton wrote this in his journal:

Mr. ATKINSON (reading from Merton’s journal): For myself I have only one desire and that is the desire for solitude: to disappear into God; to be submerged in His peace; to be lost in the secret of His space. I have gone to the hermitage not because I hate the world. I go to the hermitage to deepen my consciousness, to be more in communion with the world.

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

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Posted February 1, 2015 at 1:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram, the terrorist organization that controls vast swaths of territory in northeastern Nigeria and has expressed support for the Islamic State, has grabbed headlines around the world for recent outrages, including what may have been one of the worst terror attacks of the modern era and attacks using bombs strapped to girls, one perhaps as young as 10.

Little attention, however, is being paid to another humanitarian crisis spawned by Boko Haram that, if left unattended, has the potential to destabilize the region and bolster the group for years to come.

As Boko Haram has advanced, tens of thousands of people have fled into fragile neighboring countries that are ill equipped to provide shelter. This influx of refugees is sowing the seeds of a prolonged humanitarian and security crisis. The United States should lead an urgent international response to address the emergency and prevent greater damage.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 1, 2015 at 12:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leaders in nation’s largest Protestant denomination are preaching that integrated churches can be a key driver of racial justice in society. But that could be a hard sell to those sitting in Southern Baptist Convention congregations.

The Rev. Russell Moore, who leads the Southern Baptist’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, is one of several white leaders calling for multiethnic congregations in the wake of the unrest spurred by the killings of black men by white police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City.

“In the church, a black Christian and a white Christian are brothers and sisters,” Moore wrote recently. “We care what happens to the other, because when one part of the Body hurts, the whole Body hurts. ... When we know one another as brothers and sisters, we will start to stand up and speak up for one another.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchRace/Race Relations* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last Tuesday, a group of Holocaust survivors, by now gaunt and frail, made their way back to Auschwitz, the West’s symbol of evil—back to the slave-labor side of the vast complex, with its mocking inscription Arbeit Macht Frei (“Work makes you free”), and back to the death camp, where a million and a quarter human beings, most of them Jews, were gassed, burned and turned to ash. They were there to commemorate the day, 70 years ago, when Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz and saw, for the first time, the true dimensions of the greatest crime since human beings first set foot on Earth.

The moment would have been emotional at the best of times, but this year brought an especially disturbing undercurrent. The Book of Genesis says that, when God told Abraham what would happen to his descendants, a “fear of great darkness” fell over him. Something of that fear haunted the survivors this week, who have witnessed the return of anti-Semitism to Europe after 70 years of political leaders constant avowals of “Never again.” As they finished saying Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for mourners, one man cried out, “I don’t want to come here again.” Everyone knew what he meant. For once, the fear was not only about the past but also about the future.

The murder of Jewish shoppers at a Parisian kosher supermarket three weeks ago, after the killing of 12 people at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, sent shivers down the spines of many Jews, not because it was the first such event but because it has become part of a pattern. In 2014, four were killed at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. In 2012, a rabbi and three young children were murdered at a Jewish school in Toulouse. In 2008 in Mumbai, four terrorists separated themselves from a larger group killing people in the city’s cafes and hotels and made their way to a small Orthodox Jewish center, where they murdered its young rabbi and his pregnant wife after torturing and mutilating them. As the Sunday Times of London reported about the attack, “the terrorists would be told by their handlers in Pakistan that the lives of Jews were worth 50 times those of non-Jews.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 1, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[joshua] Harris is the oldest of seven children of Gregg Harris, one of the early national leaders of the Christian home-schooling movement and a strong advocate of independent learning. Joshua was 21 when he wrote “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” a memoir that became a cult classic to young evangelicals by urging them not only to hold off on sex but even dating — saying it was a form of promiscuity to spread around one’s emotional intimacy.

In the years since, nondenominational Christianity became more popular and loose. Informal networks of churches, groups and individuals have formed, such as the Vineyard, Willow Creek and the Gospel Coalition — the last of which Mahaney and Harris were leaders. But these are akin to social groups and not meant to hold one another accountable as denominational organizations often do....

Harris said he expects that studying at Regent College, a graduate school of theology, will broaden his perspective, including on accountability.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted January 31, 2015 at 7:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As my last posting noted, the first edgy thing which the new Greek government did was to downgrade, albeit very politely, its relations with the church. The second thing was to upgrade a relationship whose historic roots are at least partly religious, with Russia. On his first day in office, prime minister Alexis Tsipras met the Russian ambassador, and then distanced Greece from an EU statement which protested over Russian actions in Ukraine and threatened further sanctions. He then named a foreign minister, Nikos Kotzias, who enjoys cordial relations with the religious-nationalist segment of the Russian elite.

Lots of questions arise. Is this a great historical paradox - the consolidation of a sentimental tie based on common Orthodox Christianity, under a secular Greek government and a stridently pious Russian one? That would be an interesting reversal of the cold war. Or is the relationship more cultural and historical, based on common memories of shimmering mosaics and swirling incense, rather than actively religious? If that is true, then it is not particularly dependent on what people on either side now believe.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanyGreeceRussia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

1 Comments
Posted January 31, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Female-only mosques may exist in China, Chile and India, but Muslim leaders say this could be the first in the U.S.

The inaugural prayer Friday marked the launch of the Women's Mosque of America, a nonprofit that hopes to create a space where Muslim women can "bring their whole self," learn more about their faith and foster bonds of sisterhood.

"Muslim women haven't had a forum," Yasmeen Ruhge, a cardiologist from Pasadena, said as she waited for the service to begin. "When we go to the mosque we have to sit on one side. Not that we aren't equal, but this gives us a freedom to talk as all women and create an independent role."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted January 31, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Until last July, St. Bernard School in Mt. Lebanon hadn’t had a religious sister as a principal since 1991, leading some students to worry when they found out that Sister Daniela Bronka would be filling the position.

“We thought she’d be really strict and not fun at all,” said eighth-grader Chloe Morycz.

“I thought she’d be really old and have a big veil covering her whole face, but then she turned out to be really young. Like 20,” said fourth-grader Damien Szuch.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted January 31, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is not much information on life in territories Boko Haram controls. Unlike ISIS, Boko Haram does not overtly intend to establish governance structures or provide public services. The administration of a heavily populated metropole like Maiduguri might be beyond Boko Haram’s capacity. Rather than occupying Maiduguri, Boko Haram might conduct a series of bloody raids targeting the federal facilities, military, and police. It would not be surprising if Boko Haram tries to take control of the airport and airbase.

Borno and the northeast generally support the political opposition instead of the governing power. A credible presumption is that most Nigerians in the northeast would support Mohammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) against incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). However given Boko Haram’s presence, it is unclear whether many in Borno will actually be able to cast ballots. Indeed, a large scale Boko Haram attack on Maiduguri, with the loss or destruction of the airport and the airbase, would be a major blow to the Nigerian government and could have consequences for the February 14 elections. It would also reinforce the widespread view among Nigerians outside the northeast that the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan is failing to provide for the security of its citizens, a view that increases support for Buhari in parts of Nigeria that have previously not supported him.

In this pre-election period, Boko Haram has been a political football between the PDP and the APC. Boko Haram’s perspective appears to be ‘a plague on both your houses.’ It may have tried to assassinate Buhari and the Shehu of Borno, and it has also threatened death to Jonathan many times.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 30, 2015 at 4:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Christianity has taken many twists and turns in its history, so has Islam, and so might it again, only this time moving toward the more open posture of most contemporary Western Christians. The Christian experience should caution us against assuming there is something intrinsic to Islam that mandates that Islamic societies be anti-modern. In fact, in the 16th through 20th centuries, liberal ideas were imported into Muslim societies with remarkable success, and harmonized with Islam, especially in the Ottoman Empire. Less happily, at critical moments in Islamic history, reactionary interpretations—or misinterpretations—of the Quran and Shariah triumphed over others.

Fortunately, some Muslims have begun to reinterpret ancient traditions in light of modernity and begun their own, albeit often-quiet reformations, distressed by the authoritarian elements smuggled into their tradition. They are intent on synthesizing—as have so many branches of Judaism and Christianity—features of their religious traditions with democratic ideas. Such reformations have been institutionalized successfully in several countries with significant Muslim populations, such as Turkey and Tunisia.

We can only hope that, with the quickening pace of historical change in modernity, Islam can adjust more rapidly than Christendom, so that a broad-minded form of the religion will prevail. Muslims will have to recognize what the West, through many centuries of hard experience and reflection, has learned: that religious texts arose in a particular context and must be reinterpreted in the new context of modernity; that pluralism within one’s own tradition and the tolerance of other faiths must be appreciated anew; and, finally, that the coercive imposition of faith will generate only nominal or hypocritical, not authentic, conversions.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 30, 2015 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“It’s true, Jesus has saved us all, but not in a general fashion. All of us, each one with their name and surname. And this is our personal salvation. I am truly saved, the Lord looked at me, gave his life for me, opened this door, this new life for me and each of us can say ‘For me.’ But there’s a danger of forgetting that He saved us individually but at the same time as part of his people or community. His people. The Lord always saves his people. From the moment he calls Abraham and promises to make them his people. And the Lord saves us as part of this community. That’s why the writer of this Letter (to the Hebrews) tells us: ‘Let us be concerned for each other.’ There is no salvation solely for me. If that’s the way I understand salvation, I’m mistaken and going along the wrong path. The privatization of salvation is the wrong path.”

Pope Francis explained that there are three criteria for not privatizing salvation: ‘faith in Jesus who purifies us,’ hope that ‘stirs us to look at his promises and go forward’ and charity: namely taking care of each other, to encourage us all to practice charity and good works.’

“And when I’m in a parish, in a community -- or whatever it is – I am there, I can privatize salvation and be there only on a small social level. But in order not to privatize salvation, I need to ask myself if I speak and communicate the faith, speak and communicate hope, speak, practice and communicate charity. If within a particular community there is no communication between people and no encouragement is given to everybody to practice these three virtues, the members of that community have privatized their faith. Each of them is looking for his or her personal salvation, not the salvation of everybody, the salvation of their people. And Jesus saved all of us but as part of his people, within a Church.”

Read it all (Vatican Radio).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 29, 2015 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The contradiction in Mr. Sisi’s aim of keeping the heterosexual, conservative Muslim man at the top of Egypt’s moral hierarchy is glaring. You can’t trump the Islamists in their piety and lead a campaign against minorities like atheists and gay men even as you condemn extremist violence and show solidarity for free speech and free thinking.

This week we mark the fourth anniversary of the 2011 revolution. Although it has not delivered the political freedoms it called for, it did begin an unraveling of authority that has left Egypt’s self-appointed moral guardians disconcerted and scrambling. Armed with social media, more people are insisting on asking and telling — about personal belief and sexual identity. A reckoning is long overdue in a country where religion and morality have so often been bent to suit the political expedients of its rulers.

Despite the clampdown, atheists are openly challenging such hypocrisy. Social media has allowed those who “deviate” from the authoritarian template to find one another and express themselves in ways that the regime, its men of religion and its media otherwise deny them. A religious revolution has begun, but not on Mr. Sisi’s or the clerics’ terms. We all stand to gain if fathers no longer testify against sons, and families no longer feel the need to prove their loved ones are “real men.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 29, 2015 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Catholic archbishop of Birmingham says he wishes the Church of England’s first female bishop well in her ministry and will be remembering her in his prayers. Archbishop Bernard Longley is the Catholic co-chair of ARCIC, the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. He told Vatican Radio that the consecration of Bishop Libby Lane on Monday was a “historic moment in the life of the Church of England” but noted that there has long been “the presence, the witness and the work of women” as bishops within the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Reverend Libby Lane was ordained in York Minister as the new Bishop of Stockport, after the Church of England voted to adopt legislation last November to allow women bishops. Archbishop Longley said that while the ordination of women presents challenges to the Anglican-Catholic dialogue, this latest development “shouldn’t affect the way in which the dialogue is continued”.

Read and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

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Posted January 29, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a recent study, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue estimated that of the 3,000 Western Europeans thought to have travelled to Syria and Iraq, about 500 were women. It is difficult to know for sure how many of these are British, but accounts on social media suggest they make up a significant proportion.

The report, entitled Becoming Mulan, found that the sentiment of building a new home for Muslims was the main draw for women, although some did express a willingness to fight. The title of the report quotes one girl who tweeted that she wanted to "pull a Mulan" by heading to Syria, a reference to the Chinese legend about a woman who took her father's place in the army, which inspired an animated film.

The report's co-author Ross Frenett explains why this was interesting. "We found this particularly striking because the first cultural reference she can come up with is actually a Disney movie, which is fascinating because these people are Western, but also simultaneously loathe Western society," he says.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 29, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Holy God, we bless thee for the gift of thy monk and icon writer Andrei Rublev, who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, provided a window into heaven for generations to come, revealing the majesty and mystery of the holy and blessed Trinity; who livest and reignest through ages of ages. Amen.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchArt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

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Posted January 29, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria's army failed to protect Baga's civilians despite warnings that militants were going to attack, rights group Amnesty International has said.

Some reports say as many as 2,000 people died in Boko Haram's raids on the north-eastern town this month, but the government puts the toll at 150.

Amnesty quotes an unnamed senior army source as saying the Islamist militants told residents about the offensive.

Read it all.

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

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 5:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Internationally known scholars and experts in the field of religion and culture drew a record-breaking crowd of more than 900 to the Charleston Music Hall, Jan. 22-24 for the annual Mere Anglicanism Conference which this year looked at “Salt & Light: The Christian Response to Secularism.”

Bishop NT Wright, one of the world’s foremost New Testament scholars and the leading expert on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, said that Christians had colluded with secularism by letting God be pushed upstairs and out of sight, with Christians holding the view that their purpose lay in being heaven-bound. “That’s not it,” he said. “God rescues us to become rescuers.” “We are put right (justified) so we can help right things on earth.”

Mary Eberstadt, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Washington, D.C. organization dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to public policy issues, argued that the last 15-20 years has seen the emergence in the West of a new intolerance directed at Christians. Increasingly religious believers are the recipients of rage, ridicule and ostracism. “This hateful rhetoric would have been denounced if those on the receiving end were anything but Christians,” she said. She told of Christians losing their jobs or being pushed out of public life for expressing their beliefs.

“In subtle ways intimidation leads to censorship, censorship to self-censorship,” she said. “Free speech intolerance is everybody’s problem. Push back is way overdue.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyApologeticsChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon


The photo here is of all this year's speakers along with hosting bishop Mark Lawrence, second from the right, and the Rev. Jeff Miller, furthest right, conference organizer. The speakers in order from the left are: Alister McGrath, Os Guinness, Tom Wright, Ross Douthat, Mary Eberstadt and Michael Nazir-Ali.

Check them all out courtesy of Joy Hunter, and please note there is a slideshow option (above the top lefthandmost picture).

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* General InterestPhotos/Photography* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, who took the helm of the world’s last absolute monarchy Friday, faces turbulence at home and abroad but is unlikely to change the course set by his predecessors.

“We will continue adhering to the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment,” the king said in his first speech after succeeding his half-brother, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, who died early Friday at the age of 90.

Salman, 79, was serving as defense minister when Saudi Arabia joined U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State. During his tenure, Saudi forces in the south came under attack by Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Houthis, now the dominant military and political force in Yemen, are backed by Saudi Arabia’s main rival and greatest threat in the region — Iran.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSaudi Arabia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted January 27, 2015 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

These news items have begun to clarify my mind, just as I have been reading a short but challenging book by Scott Hahn: Evangelizing Catholics. Now I understand what the phrase means: every baptised Catholic, lay or clerical, has an apostolate, proper to their state, to spread the good news of salvation and the quickest way to achieve it: through participating in the life and mission of the Church. Hahn, who is an American and who was once a Protestant minister dedicated to bringing lapsed, unwary and ignorant Catholics into the Protestant fold, is now a well-known Catholic evangeliser, biblical scholar and academic. He has been using his gifts since his own conversion to explain why the Church’s claims and teachings are true and how they are supported by scripture.

In this book – significantly, it is dedicated to Pope Francis – he sets out to explain to his fellow Catholics why they must change their mentality and realise that they have a duty to share their faith. As he remarks, Catholics tend to think this is being “Protestant” – something they would rather run a mile from than undertake themselves. Sometimes, he suggests, this is ignorance of their faith; unlike Protestants, many Catholics, badly catechised, have “never encountered Jesus Christ in a meaningful and personal way.” Other Catholics, who do know their faith, prefer to keep their heads down, wanting to blend in with their neighbours so as not to appear weird. But, as he points out, “Our faith withers if we don’t share it.”

Quoting St John Paul II, “No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church, can avoid this supreme duty”, Hahn reminds readers that in sharing our faith, whether in our family life, at work, by our example, through the media and through friendship, we slowly start to change the culture around us – a culture which we are generally ready to criticise while doing nothing constructive to alter it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted January 27, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As campaign season ramps up ahead of Nigerian general elections on February 14th, President Goodluck Jonathan has sought to downplay an insurgency in the country’s northeast that has been raging almost as long as he has been in power. The rise of Boko Haram, a Nigeria-based militant Islamist group best known for vicious attacks on military targets and its penchant for kidnapping women and girls and conscripting men and boys, has stymied Jonathan’s government since the former vice-president ascended to the presidency in 2010.

The insurgency has killed an estimated 11,000, according to the Council on Foreign Relation’s Nigeria Security Tracker. Unable to defeat it, the Jonathan campaign has chosen to all but ignore it as the president asks his people for an additional four-year term. But that strategy backfired on Saturday night, as militants swept into the strategic northern capital of Maiduguri just hours after Jonathan stumped for support from city residents.

The militants, who reportedly infiltrated the city of two million disguised as travelers on local buses, laid siege to key military installations and battled into Sunday. The Nigerian army eventually beat them back, but the fact that they were able to penetrate the city undetected raises questions about the military’s ability to defeat the movement....

Read it all.

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

3 Comments
Posted January 27, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamSecularism

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Posted January 26, 2015 at 7:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is Boko Haram becoming Africa’s Islamic State? In its bloodlust and ambition to hold territory, it certainly resembles the jihadists in Iraq and Syria. Boko Haram has carved out a “caliphate” the size of Belgium in the impoverished north-eastern corner of Nigeria. And like IS, it is exporting jihad across post-colonial borders...

What started as a radical but mostly political movement in 2002 has turned, especially since a heavy-handed crackdown in 2009, into a jihadist insurgency that has grown more violent every year. In April 2014 it abducted 276 girls from the town of Chibok. Some fled, some died, and many were sold into slavery or forced to “marry” fighters. Now the uprising is spreading to other countries. A week ago, 80 Cameroonians were kidnapped. Chad is sending troops to help Cameroon; Niger and Benin also feel threatened.

Read it all.

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

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Posted January 26, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A decade ago, 1,500 Holocaust survivors traveled to Auschwitz to mark the 60th anniversary of the death camp’s liberation. On Tuesday, for the 70th anniversary, organizers are expecting 300, the youngest in their 70s.

“In 10 years there might be just one,” said Zygmunt Shipper, an 85-year-old survivor who will attend the event in southern Poland to pay homage to the millions killed by the Third Reich. In recent years, Shipper has been traveling around Britain to share his story with school groups, hoping to reach as many people as he can while he has the strength.

“The children cry, and I tell them to talk to their parents and brothers and sisters and ask them ‘why do we do it and why do we hate?’” he said. “We mustn’t forget what happened.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanyPoland* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted January 26, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the wake of an interfaith Vatican conference on marriage two months ago, a coalition of Roman Catholics and evangelicals -- including Southern Baptist Timothy George -- has issued a statement calling the legalization of same-sex marriage "a graver threat" to society than either "easy acceptance of divorce" or "widespread cohabitation."

"We must say, as clearly as possible, that same-sex unions, even when sanctioned by the state, are not marriages," the statement, titled "The Two Shall Become One Flesh: Reclaiming Marriage," says. "Christians who wish to remain faithful to the Scriptures and Christian tradition cannot embrace this falsification of reality, irrespective of its status in law."

At least two additional Southern Baptists -- Rick Warren and Daniel Akin -- have endorsed the statement, which is slated to appear in the March 2015 issue of First Things, the journal's editor Russell Reno told Baptist Press. A list of approximately 30 Christian leaders to endorse the statement may include other Southern Baptists when it is finalized, Reno said.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental Theology

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Posted January 25, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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