Posted by Kendall Harmon

While religious syncretism is a danger in every age, with the boom of the technological age, it’s becoming increasingly problematic in the urban context. As a pastor in an inner-city context, I regularly engage people with questions about Egyptian mysticism, Pan-Africanism, ecumenical councils, canonization, and the early history of Christianity.

Some of these brothers and sisters, who were once professing Christians, are now seeking to “find their truth” (a colloquial way of saying they are splicing various religious beliefs to contrive an individualist religion that suits their needs). They have developed their theology from videos on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

What becomes apparent after a few minutes of conversation is that there is not absoluteness to their faith because they reject fixed orthodoxy. Those who are influenced by syncretism, especially of the urban variety, believe in God when it suits them and follow the Scripture when it suits their agenda. The basic appeal to the exclusivity of Christ is abhorred in a culture that celebrates religious pluralism. Syncretism is dangerous because it hijacks Christianity, imports non-biblical notions, and distorts its message by doing away with the uncomfortable or unpopular parts. Syncretism robs Christianity of its truth and creates a user-friendly counterfeit that accommodates to our religious preferences but ultimately has no power and cannot save.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* Theology

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Posted February 24, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rod [Dreher]’s forthcoming book, The Benedict Option, is beginning to attract some considerable press attention. The Wall Street Journal has recently featured the book as part of a profile of the Clear Creek Catholics in rural Oklahoma. (I visited them last summer to attend a conference they held and was quite impressed by their hospitality and the amount of work a relatively small group of people have managed to do in a fairly short time.) Then yesterday the excellent religion reporter Emma Green reviewed the book for The Atlantic.

I will be reviewing the book more extensively next month when it releases. For now, I wanted to make a few notes on how the book is being read and received by a larger audience as the ideas begin to find life outside the relatively small readership of trad Christian blogs.

The idea of being a religious minority that selectively secludes itself from the mainstream in order to protect its religious life is a very comfortable one for many American Catholics and, I would think, many Orthodox as well. Both of these groups have been minorities in America from the beginning and have at times faced severe opposition from their neighbors precisely because of their religious faith. For them, the sort of selective, strategic withdrawal that Rod is proposing makes a great deal of sense and, indeed, fits quite well with their own experience.

Evangelicals, however, hear the same language and react quite differently. There are a couple reasons for this: Partly, it is due to an understandable reaction against more schismatic fundamentalist versions of evangelicalism that seem to have done the same thing Rod is proposing. The consequences were frequently disastrous. (As someone who grew up in such a church, I understand this concern.)

A second motivating factor, I am increasingly convinced, is a classically evangelical craving after the approval of our peers. For 30 years we have been trying to tell the world “no no no, we aren’t weird like those other Christians,” we say with our voice dropping on the word “other.” “We’re normal people like you.” The ways our parents did this differ from how millennials tend to do it, but the end result is the same.

That said, I am increasingly convinced that Rod’s project (and it’s one that I am deeply committed to as well) has much less to do with the question “how can orthodox Christians create thick communities to preserve the faith in a post-Christian world?” and is much more about “how do we rebuild civil society at a time when most of the west’s social institutions are in decline?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 24, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bavaria will ban the full-face veil in schools, universities, government workplaces and polling stations, the southern German state said on Tuesday.

The move comes seven months before a federal election where immigration will be a prominent issue and the Bavarian conservatives that govern the region, the sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's, are worried about losing votes to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD).

"Communication happens not only via language but also via looks, facial expressions and gestures," Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said after the regional government agreed a draft law to ban the full-face veil for civil servants and in public places where there are concerns for public safety.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 23, 2017 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an interview for Image magazine in 1997, I asked Hassler about the origin of his Catholic worldview. He responded, “I’m indebted to those first few grades in parochial school for teaching me that everything in life is connected.” A bit later he added, “I guess maybe I see life as a whole.” It is part of Hassler’s gift, throughout his career, to see life as a whole, juxtaposing events and characters, thus yielding new meanings and interrelationships, making the entire work appear to fly. In a word, Hassler’s style is not “magic realism” but realism magically transformed.

Again and again Hassler transforms the banality of evil into Flannery O’Connor-type characters and events. A crazed woman kills a burnt-out teacher; a brilliant teacher stricken by multiple sclerosis turns psychotic in his despondency; an unloved juvenile delinquent is crushed beneath a walk-in cooler like the Wicked Witch beneath Dorothy’s Kansas cottage. But like St. Augustine, who speaks of God’s love treating “each of us as an only child,” Hassler (who includes many only children in his fiction) treats every character in that way. Jon Hassler discovers God’s presence in everyday life, as his novels throw a grace-filled light upon caring teachers, open-hearted wives and lovers, priests and spinsters—and a latchkey child who responds to an old man’s need for friendship and for love.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksEducationHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 22, 2017 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many Muslim parents send their children to church schools because they prepare young people for “life in modern Britain”, a senior figure in the Church of England has said.

The Rev Nigel Genders said that church schools offered a “deeply Christian” education yet were attractive to families of other religions because they took faith seriously.

Mr Genders, chief education officer at the Church of England, which has about 4,500 primary schools, said that they would never drop their religious character even though more children from non-Christian families were attending them.

Read it all (requires subscription)

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 22, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A church in the middle of Cairo is bombed. A 70-year-old woman is stripped naked and paraded through a southern Egyptian village.

Military vehicles run over Coptic protesters, dismembering and mangling 27 people in the worst massacre of Christians in the country's history.

Firebrand preachers shout incensed anti-Christian messages from the pulpit and mobs attack Coptic churches, businesses and homes.

This is now a daily routine for Egypt's Coptic Christians, the largest Christian minority in the Middle East.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 22, 2017 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While Americans rightly exult in the achievements of U.S. medalists, “Chariots of Fire” also serves as a reminder that athletics and even patriotism only mean so much. When Liddell is informed that a qualifying heat takes place on Sunday, his Sabbath, he chooses not to compete in that race. The camera cuts from athletes at the Olympics to Liddell reading a passage in Isaiah: “Behold the nations are as a drop in the bucket . . . but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings, as eagles. They shall run, and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” David Puttnam, a “Chariots of Fire” producer, wrote me that the verses were “specifically selected by the actor, the late Ian Charleson, who gave himself the task of reading the entire Bible whilst preparing for the film.”

The Isaiah passage is liturgically important for Jews: Parts of it are declaimed in synagogue on the Sabbath when we read God’s command to Abraham to leave the center of civilization and found a family, and a faith, in a new land. Isaiah reminds Jews that Abraham’s children have encountered much worse than what Harold Abrahams experienced. While most nations now rest on the ash heap of history, the biblical Abraham’s odyssey continues. The countries competing in today’s Olympics come and go, while those who “wait upon the Lord” endure.

“Chariots of Fire” also offers a message for people of faith who have grown troubled by the secularization of society and the realization that they are often scorned by elites. Like Liddell, we may be forced to choose religious principle over social success. Hopefully, however, we will be able to use our gifts to sanctify this world. As Liddell’s father told his son in the film: “Run in God’s name, and let the world stand back in wonder.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSports* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 22, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two years ago this month Beshir Kamel went on television and thanked so-called Islamic State terrorists for not editing out the last words of his brother and the other Egyptian men they beheaded on a beach in Libya. “Lord, Jesus Christ,” were the last words of the Coptic Christians slaughtered because of their faith.

The courage and integrity of their witness strengthened Kamel’s faith. “We are proud to have this number of people from our village who have become martyrs,” he said after his brother’s murder. “Since the Roman era, Christians have been martyrs and have learned to handle everything that comes our way. This only makes us stronger in our faith, because the Bible told us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us.” He further explained that his mother is prepared to welcome any of the men involved in her son’s beheading into her house. If one of them were to visit her, she would “ask God to open his eyes, because he was the reason her son entered the kingdom of heaven.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

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Posted February 21, 2017 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In my 2006 book, Crunchy Cons, which explored a countercultural, traditionalist conservative sensibility, I brought up the work of philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, who said that Western civilization had lost its moorings. MacIntyre said that the time is coming when men and women of virtue will understand that continued full participation in mainstream society was not possible for those who want to live a life of traditional virtue. These people would find new ways to live in community, he said, just as St. Benedict, the sixth-century father of Western monasticism, responded to the collapse of Roman civilization by founding a monastic order.

I called the strategic withdrawal prophesied by MacIntyre “the Benedict Option.” The idea is that serious Christian conservatives could no longer live business-as-usual lives in America, that we have to develop creative, communal solutions to help us hold on to our faith and our values in a world growing ever more hostile to them. We would have to choose to make a decisive leap into a truly countercultural way of living Christianity, or we would doom our children and our children’s children to assimilation.

Today, Christians who hold to the biblical teaching about sex and marriage have the same status in culture and, increasingly, in law, as racists. The culture war that began with the sexual revolution in the 1960s has now ended in defeat for Christian conservatives. The cultural left—which is to say, the American mainstream—has no intention of living in postwar peace. It is pressing forward with a harsh, relentless occupation, one that is aided by the cluelessness of Christians who don’t understand what’s happening.

I have written The Benedict Option to wake up the church, and to encourage it to act to strengthen itself, while there is still time.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

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Posted February 21, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the first few monks arrived in Hulbert, Okla., in 1999, there wasn’t much around but tough soil, a creek and an old cabin where they slept as they began to build a Benedictine monastery in the Ozark foothills.

Dozens of families from California, Texas and Kansas have since followed, drawn by the abbey’s traditional Latin Mass—conducted as it was more than 1,000 years ago—and by the desire to live in one of the few communities in the U.S. composed almost exclusively of traditional Catholics.

There aren’t many jobs nearby. The nearest bank, grocery store and coffee shop are nearly an hour’s drive on country roads. Yet many residents choosing to live near Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey say it is worth the sacrifice.

“Our goal in moving here was to form our children’s conscience and intellect in a particular way, without society taking that authority from us,” said Mark Wheeler, one of the first to settle on the outskirts of the monastery more than a decade ago.

Read it all.




Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

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Posted February 21, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I once had the honor of spending time in Newman’s rooms at the Birmingham Oratory, which are much as the aged cardinal left them at his death in 1890. Over the altar, which occupies one side of the room, are tacked-up notes by which Cardinal Newman reminded himself of those for whom he had promised to pray. In the sitting room, a tattered newspaper map, also tacked to a wall, bears silent testimony to Newman’s interest in Kitchener’s efforts to lift the siege of Khartoum and rescue General Gordon from the Mahdi, a 19th century jihadist (Gordon died with Newman’s poem, “The Dream of Gerontius,” in his pocket). Perhaps most touching are Newman’s Latin breviaries, which he began to use as an Anglican, causing much controversy about such popish practices.

It is as a man of faith that the Church beatified John Henry Newman, however: the kind of man of faith who could write the following (which I take from another prayer card I’ve had for years, given me by Catholic Worker artist Ade Bethune):

God has created me to do him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught…Therefore I will trust Him, whatever I am…He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me—still, He knows what He is about.
Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us and for the unity in truth of Christ’s Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

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Posted February 21, 2017 at 5:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What a man is on his knees before God, that he is, and nothing more
--Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

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Posted February 19, 2017 at 6:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

..There had been connections, but the relationship hadn’t been re-established for some time.’

It was 10 years ago, when Roger was asked to find out if Freemasons could attend a Cathedral Evensong service, that this all changed. ‘I made an approach, met someone from the Cathedral Trust, which was about to launch an appeal for restoration work funding, and our relationship started again. It was really just us asking what Freemasons could do to help.’

The relationship has since blossomed...

Read it all

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsWicca / paganism

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Posted February 18, 2017 at 9:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But see, how unkindly he turns away the humble request of his mother who addresses him with such great confidence. Now observe the nature of faith. What has it to rely on? Absolutely nothing, all is darkness. It feels its need and sees help nowhere; in addition, God turns against it like a stranger and does not recognize it, so that absolutely nothing is left. It is the same way with our conscience when we feel our sin and the lack of righteousness; or in the agony of death when we feel the lack of life; or in the dread of hell when eternal salvation seems to have left us. Then indeed there is humble longing and knocking, prayer and search, in order to be rid of sin, death and dread. And then he acts as if he had only begun to show us our sins, as if death were to continue, and hell never to cease. Just as he here treats his mother, by his refusal making the need greater and more distressing than it was before she came to him with her request; for now it seems everything is lost, since the one support on which she relied in her need is also gone.

This is where faith stands in the heat of battle. Now observe how his mother acts and here becomes our teacher. However harsh his words sound, however unkind he appears, she does not in her heart interpret this as anger, or as the opposite of kindness, but adheres firmly to the conviction that he is kind, refusing to give up this opinion because of the thrust she received, and unwilling to dishonor him in her heart by thinking him to be otherwise than kind and gracious--as they do who are without faith, who fall back at the first shock and think of God merely according to what they feel, like the horse and the mule, Ps 32, 9. For if Christ's mother had allowed those harsh words to frighten her she would have gone away silently and displeased; but in ordering the servants to do what he might tell them she proves that she has overcome the rebuff and still expects of him nothing but kindness.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheran

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Posted February 18, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Since we know (courtesy of the West Kent Masons) that:
The Service has been prepared in conjunction with the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis, who has kindly agreed to deliver the Sermon on this occasion. We shall be joined by several of the High Rulers in the Craft and the Holy Royal Arch Chapter together with Brethren from the Provinces of East Kent, West Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
.....
here’s the interesting thing..

The scriptures chosen have greater significance (and a very different meaning) to Freemasons than they do to (other) Christians. Indeed, they are used at the highest degree of Masonic initiation in their rituals of exaltation.
.....
There’s nothing wrong with morality and good fellowship: these are virtuous Christian pursuits. But we might well ask the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral why so much of this Order of Service is steeped in covert references to Masonic ritual, with twisted scriptural interpretations known only (now not quite) to the initiated? Why the secret syncretism?

Read it all

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsWicca / paganism

2 Comments
Posted February 17, 2017 at 5:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Justin Welby, the Church of England's Archbishop of Canterbury, is allowing a full Masonic service to be conducted in Canterbury cathedral on the same day that Cardinal Nichols reconsecrates England and Wales to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Westminster cathedral on the18th February 2017.

Canterbury cathedral was the Mother-Church of All England from 597 till the death of the last Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal Pole, in 1558. It was the heart of the Catholic Church in England and one of the major shrines of Christendom because it housed the shrine of St Thomas a Becket.
....
Justin Welby's and Canterbury Cathedrals decision to allow a Masonic service is controversial among certain groups of Anglicans in light of the 1987 summary of the deliberations by the General Synod of the Church of England, Freemasonry and Christianity: Are they compatible?:
It was "clear that some Christians have found the impact of Masonic rituals disturbing and a few perceive them as positively evil." Some believed that Masonic rituals were "blasphemous" because God's name "must not be taken in vain, nor can it be replaced by an amalgam of the names of pagan deities." It noted that Christians had withdrawn from Masonic lodges "precisely because they perceive their membership of it as being in conflict with their Christian witness and belief. The Synod's primary theological objection centred upon Freemasonry's use of the word "Jahbulon," which is the name used for the Supreme Being in Masonic rituals, and is an amalgamation of Semitic, Hebrew and Egyptian titles for God."

....
In view of this history of masonic anti-Catholicism, is it more than an unhappy coincidence that a major Masonic service is being conducted in the ancient mother Church of the Catholic faith in these lands on the very same day that England is reconsecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in honour of Our Lady of Fatima? Even if it is coincidence, it is a conjunction of events that is profoundly significant and meaningful.

Read it all

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsWicca / paganism

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Posted February 17, 2017 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As a new era begins in Washington, it is worth asking whether the similarity between President Trump and King David goes any deeper.

Both men came out of nowhere to deal with an urgent national matter. Each was initially treated as a joke by the experts. When David offered to face Goliath, King Saul told him, “You are a lad, and he is a warrior since his youth.” Yet both prevailed, and each did so by spending far less than his adversaries....

Don’t look to David’s life for a detailed road map of what to expect from the Trump administration. Members of the U.S. government take an oath to the Constitution, not to a leader. But anyone who experiences the rabbis’ mash-up of Jacob and David would have no trouble matching Mr. Trump with David, rather than with Jacob.

The sudden and surprising rise of King David and President Trump make them, in modern parlance, “disruptive innovators.” Contemporary society exhibits a remarkable amount of forgiveness for rule-breakers in high-tech industries. Now, some people are agonizing over whether Mr. Trump should be “normalized”—treated the same way that any other leader would be. It is worth remembering that the Bible didn’t fully normalize David’s actions. The king was denied the pinnacle achievement that he sought, building the Temple. The Lord told him: “You have shed much blood to the ground before Me.” Still, David remains revered.

Whether Americans classify Mr. Trump as “normal” is less important than how they respond to his administration. One wise approach was enunciated by David Petraeus. During a November interview with the BBC, the retired general was asked whether Mr. Trump had the “correct” temperament to be president. He replied: “It’s up to Americans, at this point in time, not only to hope that that is the case, but if they can, endeavor to help him.”

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Donald Trump* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted February 17, 2017 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

A few weeks ago, the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica published a startling article on women priests. Its arguments were familiar: the author, deputy editor Fr Giancarlo Pani, asked readers to consider whether an all-male priesthood might perhaps be outdated. “There is unease,” Fr Pani wrote, “among those who fail to understand how the exclusion of woman from the Church’s ministry can coexist with the affirmation and appreciation of her equal dignity.”
What is startling is that this appeared in a journal edited by one of the Pope’s closest advisers..

Read it all


Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is wide recognition on all sides that one of the central issues revolves around how Scripture is interpreted both in and across cultures. It is our conviction that the hermeneutic task is not simply a matter of ‘correctly’ interpreting Scriptural texts, but must involve reading any given text in the light of the whole gospel, with a heart that is open to what the Spirit is saying to the Church in each and every generation. The Reformation principle of scriptura sui ipsius interpres (scripture interprets itself) must give us cause to pause and consider such texts in the light of Jesus’ overriding call to ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”’ (Luke 10:27)

There are three issues that we believe we, the evangelical community, need to be honest about.

The first, which causes us significant concern, is that of the high levels of homophobia that appear to go unacknowledged and unchallenged. Obviously, we understand that to assert a traditionalist position on same-sex relationships is not in itself homophobic, and that those who take a conservative line may not be individually hostile towards LGBT people. However, we would plead for some recognition, reflection and repentance of the fact that Christian teaching on this continues to function as the lynchpin, not just in the Church but also in secular society, of a widespread and sometimes subterranean nexus of negative attitudes that frequently manifest in overt homophobic behaviour. LGBT people are all too familiar with the impact of this, and whilst some are able to withstand it, many find themselves internalising feelings of shame and self-hatred, which all too frequently then result in depression, self-destructive behaviours, and even suicide. Are these really to be seen as the side-effects of the good news of Jesus Christ? Credible Christian witness cannot just be a matter of repeated verbal denials of homophobia but must involve active steps to combat it. Should not the churches be as well known for their efforts in this area as they are for, say, supporting issues of social justice? The issue is even more pronounced in countries across the world where Christians are known to be condoning and at times positively supporting proposals for severe penalties, including capital punishment, for homosexual behaviour. Should not the repudiation of this by churches in this country be immediate, public, and categorical?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 15, 2017 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

With Gavin Ashenden


With thanks to Kevin Kallsen at Anglican TV

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsWicca / paganism

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Synod, noting the 1988 Report to Synod entitled “Freemasonry Examined” and subsequent resolution 9/88 of that Synod -
(a) affirms that Freemasonry and Christianity are fundamentally and irreconcilably incompatible, and
(b) affirms that Freemasonry teaches and upholds a system of false religious and spiritual beliefs that are contrary to biblical Christianity.
Synod encourages ministers and other Christians to take every opportunity to reach out in love to all Freemasons and share with them the gospel of Christ.
Synod encourages all Christians who are members of a Masonic Lodge to demonstrate their commitment to Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God and as the sole way of salvation, by withdrawing from the Lodge.
Synod encourages ministers not to participate in, nor allow in their church buildings, any religious services or activities that uphold, condone, promote or encourage adherence to Freemasonry.
Synod requests the Councils of all Anglican Schools to consider any association that their school may have with any Masonic Lodge, and to withdraw from any such association. Synod further requests that Anglican Schools neither participate in any activity that may uphold, condone, promote or encourage adherence to Freemasonry, nor give publicity to any such activity, nor allow the name of the school to be used in association with any such activity.
Synod requests Standing Committee to undertake the preparation, production and distribution of a clear and unambiguous booklet suitable for wide distribution, examining the key rites, teachings and beliefs of Freemasonry and explaining why they differ from Biblical Christianity, and explaining why it is wrong for a Christian to belong to the Lodge.

From Here

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsWicca / paganism

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Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:07 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The service next Saturday lunch time will last more than three hours during which the Cathedral is expected to be full of Freemasons.
......

...A spokesperson for the Archbishop of Canterbury declined to comment and referred queries to the Cathedral.

Read it all

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsWicca / paganism

3 Comments
Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Nearly 30 new Anglican Bishops from around the world are spending today in London, visiting Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office, as part of a course at Canterbury Cathedral, to teach them the ropes of being a Bishop.
.....
Bishop Mary Irwin Gibson from Canada is one of those taking part: “It’s been really good to meet Bishops from around the Communion. It’s allowing me to stand back and look at things in more depth. What I’m hearing is that our Communion must grow and we need to find a way to belong together; we don’t have to agree on everything apart from the principles of our faith in Jesus Christ. I do feel more part the Communion after having been to Bishops’ school!”

Read it all

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsWicca / paganism

1 Comments
Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The threat presented by the Islamic State is taking on a new form: child terrorists either directly in contact with or inspired by the militant group. Even as it suffers setbacks on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State is cultivating adolescents in the West, who are being asked to stay in their home countries and strike targets with whatever weapons are available, such as knives and crude bombs. A 16-year-old girl was among four people arrested in the south of France on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack, French authorities said Friday.

“The amount of Islamic State videos and propaganda aimed at children has really jumped in recent months,” said Daniel Koehler, director of the German Institute on Radicalization and Deradicalization Studies. “We haven’t seen anything quite like this, not on this scale and of this quality. They know that in the West, you don’t expect a 10-year-old to be a terror suspect.”

Last September, German authorities arrested a 16-year-old Syrian asylum seeker after they discovered the young man was in contact with an Islamic State handler who was teaching him how to build a bomb.

In December, a 12-year-old German Iraqi boy — guided by an Islamic State contact in the Middle East who warmly addressed him as “brother” and groomed the boy via the encrypted messaging app Telegram — built and tried to detonate a bomb near a shopping center in the western German city of Ludwigshafen. The device failed to explode.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 12, 2017 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What then is Pope John Paul II’s exhortation about?

John Paul II explains human sexuality as a “real symbol for the giving of the whole person,” and namely, “without every temporal or other limitation.” He thus formulates very clearly in article 84 that remarried divorcés must refrain from sex if they want to go to communion. A change in the practice of the administration of the sacraments would therefore be no “further development of Familiaris consortio,” as Cardinal Kasper said, but rather a breach in her essential anthropological and theological teaching on marriage and human sexuality. The Church has no authority, without prior conversion, to approve disordered sexual relationships through the administration of the sacraments, thereby anticipating God’s mercy - regardless of how these situations are to be judged on a human and moral level. The door here – as with the ordination of women to the priesthood – is closed.

Read it all from last year, as it is still deeply relevant.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ore than 500 conservative evangelical pastors and leaders representing all 50 states are urging President Donald Trump to reverse his temporary ban on refugee resettlement and his “dramatic reduction” of the total America will accept this fiscal year.

The open letter, published Wednesday as a full-page ad in The Washington Post with more than 100 of the signatories listed, was notable for two reasons. First, it contained only conservative evangelicals, instead of the mix of progressive names that usually sign such open letters. And second, topping the list were Tim Keller and Max Lucado—two well-known and well-respected pastors and authors who rarely speak out on political matters.

Other key signatories include Kathy Keller, Willow Creek’s Bill and Lynne Hybels, authors Stuart and Jill Briscoe, author Ann Voskamp, Southern Baptist seminary president Daniel Akin, and pastors Joel Hunter and Derwin Gray, among many others [full ad available in the linked article].

Read it all from CT.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 12, 2017 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"As Christians, we have a historic call expressed over two thousand years, to serve the suffering. We cannot abandon this call now."

The evangelical leaders acknowledge the world is dangerous, adding that they "affirm the crucial role of government in protecting us from harm and in setting in terms on refugee admissions."

"However, compassion and security can coexist, as they have for decades," the ad says. "For the persecuted and suffering, every day matters; every delay is a crushing blow to hope."

"While we are eager to welcome persecuted Christians, we also welcome vulnerable Muslims and people of other faiths or no faith at all," the ad says.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted February 10, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Transforming Work is an innovative, liberating resource for Christians in the workplace - whether you've been working for one year or forty years - offering a distinctive blend of ingredients. It brings together a group of like-hearted people for eight sessions over a year, creating space between gatherings to reflect, to try things out, and to pray... and leaving time for seeds to grow, discoveries to be made, change to happen and for God to do what only he can do.

You may find out more about this there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 10, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A pastor in Kenya is making a stand against female genital mutilation (FGM) to protect his daughters from an “injustice that would rob them” of their human rights, education, and well-being, an anti-FGM campaigner in the country, Susan Krop, has reported.

The pastor, Emmanuel Longelech, and his three daughters, live in West Pokot, a region of Kenya where an estimated 72 per cent of girls undergo FGM — also known as female circumcision. There are no known health benefits of the procedure, which can cause severe long-term physical and mental damage.

Ms Krop campaigns against FGM in the region. She is chairwoman of the Kongelai Women’s Network, a group of about 100 members funded by ActionAid. The charity works with women and girls in the poorest parts of the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexualityTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 10, 2017 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some victims of ISIS’ eschatology get it, said Salim Munayer, head of the Musalaha reconciliation ministry in Jerusalem. Many Syrian refugees are questioning Islam and the role of religion, especially as they find Christians responding to meet their needs.

But other research shows that Christian eschatology can get in the way. Overly pro-Israel interpretations are a barrier to evangelism, conversion, and discipleship, according to one academic study of 150 Muslim converts in the Holy Land.

Muslim interest in eschatology ebbs and flows, but is currently at high tide due to the collapse of regional governments and innovative proof-texting of Islamic traditions, said Munayer. This leads to a pessimistic and fatalistic outlook that encourages apocalyptic ideology. “Some Muslims are taking refuge in end-times theology,” he said. “A tendency also found among some Christians and Jews.”

Yet regardless of how Christians interpret Revelation or read the times, Larson calls them back to the gospel’s hope. “We need to witness with assurance that faith in Jesus as the crucified, risen, and coming Messiah makes all the difference in this world,” he said. “And in the world to come.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristologyEschatologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 9, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hundreds of asylum-seeking young people are going missing from care once they arrive in Britain, amid concerns they have been targeted for radicalisation by extremist groups during their journey to the UK, a think tank report has warned.

Militant groups such as Islamic State are deliberately preying on vulnerable young people for recruitment, as they make the perilous journey across the Middle East and north Africa, to Europe.

Extremists try to “buy” the allegiance of migrants and make them feel indebted, by working with people traffickers and funding their travel, the research by the Quilliam Foundation found.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 8, 2017 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Taken together the CORAB recommendations are completely at odds with the realities of twenty-first century life in Britain. At a time when the majority of the British population belongs to no religion at all, proposals to extend the public role of faith amount to little more than an attempt to shore-up the crumbling towers of unwarranted religious privilege.

And while secularism is often presented as involving a curtailment of religious freedom, as an authoritarian attempt to force religion out of public life and to impose a particular (usually non-religious) worldview, the reality is that a secular state – by distancing itself from all systems of religion or belief – provides the best possible framework for guaranteeing equality for all citizens, and the best means of fostering a free, inclusive and democratic society in which people of all faiths and none can live harmoniously together.

The recommendations of the CORAB report, which defends and promotes religious privilege, are a recipe for increasing unfairness and division. Our response highlights the critical need for secular voices to be heard

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistoryMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

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Posted February 8, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tom Harpur was a devout Christian who was not certain that Jesus existed, but did believe in the principles that were taught in his name. He knew before he wrote his most powerful book, The Pagan Christ, that his views would be controversial and unsettling.

“My goal is not to summarily dismiss the deep beliefs held by many millions in North America, Europe, and increasingly now in the Southern Hemisphere, where the vast majority of today’s Christians live. But I do want these people to think deeply about their faith anew,” Mr. Harpur wrote in that book.

Tom Harpur, who died last month at the age of 87, was an ordained Anglican priest and theology professor at the University of Toronto who gained international fame, not from the pulpit, but from his newspaper columns and books. He wrote for the Toronto Star for almost 40 years, first as its full-time religion editor and then as a freelance writer.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

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Posted February 8, 2017 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last September, [Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama known by his chinese nickname as] Ahok told a group of fishermen that politicians who quoted from the Quran to say they should not vote for a non-Muslim were lying to them. But he also told the fishermen to vote their conscience.

Ahok, who has a reputation as a blunt speaker, later apologized, saying he had no intention of insulting the Quran or Islam.

But some Muslims took offense, and hundreds of thousands took to the streets in three massive rallies against Ahok that convulsed central Jakarta in November and December. Demonstrators continue to congregate at the courthouse where Ahok is on trial. Coils of barbed wire and riot police separate pro- and anti-Ahok protesters.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLanguageReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndonesia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 8, 2017 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Taking a page out of the First Things playbook, ­[Sherman] Jackson urges Muslim Americans to “articulate the practical benefits of the rules of Islamic law in terms that gain them recognition by society at large,” something that can be done by drawing on the Islamic tradition of practical reasoning that has family resemblances to the Catholic use of natural law and Protestant analysis of “common grace.” Christians rightly enter into public life, seeking to leaven our laws with the wisdom of Scripture and church ­tradition, not asserting claims on the basis of church authority, but arguing for them in the give-and-take of civic discourse. Muslims should do the same, seeking to bring forward policy proposals “that are grounded in the vision and values of Islam.”

Sherman Jackson is an influential voice in the Muslim American community, and his endorsement of liberal-­pluralist constitutionalism resists Islamic extremism that poses as religious integrity and helps Muslims in the United States to affirm our way of life, which their natural sympathies incline them to do. Which is why I do not regard Islam as a “problem” in the United States. The real threats come from post-Christians. It was not faithful Muslims who decided Roe v. Wade. They weren’t the ones working to suppress religious freedom in recent years. The people who formulated the HHS contraceptive mandate were not influenced by Shari’a law. On the contrary, as G. K. Chesterton observed, the vices of the modern era are Christian virtues gone mad. The greatest threat to the future of the West is the post-Christian West.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamSecularism* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted February 3, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As one immediate result, the travel crackdown is forcing the diversion of some academic events from America to the more liberal atmosphere of Canada, which seems not to have been dented by the killings at a mosque in Quebec City. An Ivy League law school is understood to be raising funds to switch a long-planned conference to a Canadian campus.

At least until recently, academia in Anglophone North America was a more-or-less seamless web, with scholars happily dividing their studies and careers between the two places. Certainly the reaction against the shutdown has been a continent-wide phenomenon, according to Mohammad Fadel, an associate law professor at the University of Toronto, whose early life and research were spent in the United States. (He ponders the compatibility of Western political philosophy with Islamic law and thought.) “North American universities have reacted quickly to defend their students and teaching staff who are nationals of the targeted states,” he reports. “Many departments in the United States stand to suffer directly from the exclusion of highly trained graduate students and faculty from those countries, and they will likely discover that their own academic work, such as lectures, workshops and seminars, is impoverished as they are prevented from inviting leading scholars.” Some non-American scholars who are still entitled to travel might boycott the United States, he adds.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 2, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What had prompted [Henri] Nouwen to embrace a spirituality and a ministry model like this one? Born in the Netherlands in 1932, Nouwen had grown up a pious, conscientious—and ambitious—eldest child. By the time he was five years old, Nouwen had acquired specially made child-size priestly vestments so that he could say Mass at a play altar. “I did all the proper things,” he would later write, comparing himself to the elder brother in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, “mostly complying with the agendas set by the many parental figures in my life—teachers, spiritual directors, bishops, and popes.” Two decades later, having already graduated from two seminaries, Nouwen was ordained to the Catholic priesthood at Utrecht, ready to fulfill a calling—an inevitability, it seemed to those who knew him best—he’d sensed from boyhood. In short, a walking specimen of oozing spiritual wounds, Nouwen most certainly was not. Gregarious, theatrical, often childishly playful, his priestly work led him from strength to strength.

But Nouwen’s deepest self-identification was with the younger son in the parable, not in his outward behavioral choices but in what he described as an inner pain of lostness. This accounts, it would seem, for his constant talk of woundedness. His distance from God the Father’s heart, as he would put it in what is probably his second most-loved book, The Return of the Prodigal Son, had to do not with public rebellion but with an acute inner sensitivity and susceptibility to feelings of rejection. At one of his life’s crucial turning points, he recorded the following sentiment in his journal: “What I am craving is not so much recognition, praise, or admiration, as simple friendship. There may be some around me, but I cannot perceive or receive it.” This insensibility would dog him through his exit from the academy, through his twilight years spent as a carer in a home for disabled persons, through his quieter days of writing, until, en route to St. Petersburg for another viewing of Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son which had renewed his faith years earlier, he died.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted February 1, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Same-sex relationships and marriage. Drawing especially on the biblical creation narrative (Gen. 2:23-4) and on the teaching of Jesus and Paul (Matt. 19:1-12; Eph. 5:22-3), evangelicals and Catholics have widely co-operated in recent times in the promotion, support and defence of marriage as a one-flesh union of one man and one womanfor life. Marriage in this sense has been presented by both as the foundational institution of human society – a corollary to the common good which delivers better outcomes overall for spouses, children and communities than other forms of co-habitation. Alongside this convictionabout monogamous, heterosexual marriage, evangelicals and Catholics have also agreed in highlighting biblical representations of sexually active same-sex unions as falling outside God’s purposes for human relationships and human society. In more recent times, this has meant widespread joint action to oppose legislation approving same-sex marriage. Where same-sex marriage has been legalised, it has meant working together to protect the rights of churches and their ministers to reaffirm heterosexual marriage, and to retain the right to conduct only heterosexual marriages. At the same time, however, evangelicals and Catholics have worked more closely together on welcoming same-sex attracted people and same-sex couples in the church context, and on dialoguing with LGBTI groups to ensure mutual respect and understanding in this contentious area of Christian ethics, ministry and
pastoral care.

Read it all (8 page pdf).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* Theology

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Posted February 1, 2017 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The statement makes clear that we owe a great deal of our doctrinal, spiritual and cultural identity to the Reformation, and goes on to consider:

The enduring importance of the Reformation for evangelical Christians, as well as Christians more generally.
The core theological emphases of the Reformation, and the vital recovery of authentic gospel Christianity that they represented.
The divergences between evangelical and Roman Catholic faith and practice that are rooted in the Reformation, and which persist today.
The attempts that have been made, especially in recent decades, to promote greater understanding, convergence and common action between evangelicals and Roman Catholics.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 1, 2017 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We also touched base with Gary Edmonds, President and CEO of Food for the Hungry, to get further perspective

He explains, “Over decades, we have had many partners who actively engage in resettling refugees in this country. It’s a quite onerous, strict process these refugee candidates and asylum seekers go through. So we know there has been a very strong vetting process over time, and thus we want to make sure our partners who actively engage in working with refugees here in the United States are able to continue to do it as faith-based Christians who are living with the level of passion and seeking to follow the admonishing of Jesus to that point of being hospitable, being welcoming to the foreigner, the alien, [and] those who are in states of poverty.

“We are people who support [and] pray for the president, we pray for those in leadership,” says Edmonds. However, “we…have a sense that the way [the executive order] was written, the way it was rolled out very quickly, that it didn’t seem to take into consideration all the people in present processes and people who are actively right now seeking asylum and being, at least on a temporary basis, turned away. Obviously, if this were rescinded, if the things were taken care of, that would be favorable to us. We would see that as a favorable approach, because we do believe we’ve got a very strict process that is being actively followed in vetting or qualifying those who get to come and seek full refugee status or asylum status here in the United States.”

Read it all from MNN.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted February 1, 2017 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As some residents of the city of Mosul celebrate their new freedom from the Islamic State group, an Iraqi Christian leader who visited the war-torn city said Christian residents are unlikely to return.

"I don't see a future for Christians in Mosul," said Father Emanuel Youkhana, a priest, or archimandrite, of the Assyrian Church of the East.

Father Youkhana, who runs Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq, a Christian program for displaced Iraqis around the city of Dohuk, entered Mosul in a military convoy on Jan. 27, the day Iraqi officials raised the national flag over the eastern part of the city. Islamic State seized the city in 2014, causing Christians and other minorities to flee.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted January 31, 2017 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Joshua Ryan Butler, pastor of local and global outreach at Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon

I want to change the world. But in the process, I’m tempted to see people as a means-to-an-end rather than servants to be discipled deeper into life with Jesus.

When this happens, I find myself using manipulation and guilt as tools to mobilize volunteers. Instead, I want to emphasize the beauty and grandeur of Christ, and use the tools of celebrating who he is and what he has done to draw others to embody his love and serve the world—because they want to, not because they have to.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 31, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As a nation, we must seek to resolve the tension created by these two values — compassion for the sojourner and the security of our citizens — in a way that upholds both values.

While we know refugees are already the most vetted category of immigrants to the United States, the FBI and others raised legitimate questions about the sufficiency of these procedures. It is crucial these questions be resolved. As a result, we are sympathetic to the desire to strengthen our nation’s security processes.

However, we have concerns about the Executive Order’s consequences. We share the concerns of Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.), a Southern Baptist lawmaker, who said, “The language of the order should not apply to legal permanent residents of the United States, and if it is being enforced in any other way, the administration should step in swiftly to clarify.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology


Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Five people have been killed in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque, the president of the center said Sunday.

Mohamed Yangui, the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre president, confirmed the number of dead late Sunday in a telephone call from the provincial capital.

Police said via Twitter that there were “deaths and injuries” after gunmen opened fire around the time of evening prayers but did not specify a number.

Quebec City police spokesman Constable Pierre Poirier said two suspects were arrested.

Read it all.

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

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Posted January 30, 2017 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By giving preference to Christians over Muslims, religious leaders have said the executive order pits one faith against another. By barring any refugees from entering the United States for nearly four months, it leaves people to suffer longer in camps, and prevents families from reuniting. Also, many religious leaders have said that putting an indefinite freeze on refugees from Syria, and cutting the total number of refugees admitted this year by 60,000, shuts the door to those most in need.

“We believe in assisting all, regardless of their religious beliefs,” said Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, the chairman of the committee on migration for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Jen Smyers, the director of policy and advocacy for the immigration and refugee program of Church World Service, a ministry affiliated with dozens of Christian denominations, called Friday a “shameful day” in America’s history.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted January 29, 2017 at 11:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Four days after President Donald Trump was inaugurated, mental health counselors hosted a webinar on how their fellow American Muslims could cope. They surveyed the political landscape: a White House framing Islam itself as a threat, a surge in anti-Muslim hostility and suspicion of immigrants in general.

The counselors offered tips such as limiting time on social media. And they cautioned against withdrawing in discouragement, worried about losing whatever foothold Muslims have gained in public life since the crucible of Sept. 11.

"It's very easy to tell a story of victimization, fear, feeling ... not welcome in our own home," said Ben Herzig, a Massachusetts therapist with a specialty in Muslim mental health. "But the narrative of Islam in American can be a positive one."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed ForcesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 27, 2017 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The isolation experienced by elderly clerics, especially in wealthy, liberal societies, is one symptom of a crisis in the Catholic priesthood. They were ordained at a time when their status as men dedicated to the church was understood and revered, sometimes to an unhealthy degree. In that era, priests could look forward an old age in which the respect and support of the faithful might compensate to some degree for the absence of any life-partner. With the standing (and finances) of the clergy damaged, in many countries, by child-abuse scandals and shabby attempts to cover them up, the twilight years are a harder prospect than ever for priests on their own, even those who have led exemplary lives. Small wonder that fewer and fewer young men want to walk the same stony path..

As measured by the number of faithful, global Catholicism is faring decently. The flock is still growing in the developing world and migration from poor countries is reinvigorating tired congregations in the West. But the priesthood, with its hard calling of celibacy, is in freefall in many places. In America, the number of Catholics connected to a parish has risen over the past half-century from 46m to 67m, while the number of priests has fallen from 59,000 to 38,000. In France, about 800 priests die every year while 100 are ordained. Priest numbers there have fallen from 29,000 in 1995 to about 15,000. On present trends they may stabilise at less than 6,000.

The result is that many jobs once done by priests, like taking funerals or ministering to the sick, are now done by lay-people or by deacons who may be married. But certain functions, including the consecration of bread and wine which is Christianity’s most important rite, can only be performed by a priest.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite previous plans to admit the highest number of refugees in decades, the United States would be shutting its doors to thousands displaced by conflict in the Middle East—at least temporarily—under an executive order President Donald Trump is expected to sign this week.

Christian aid groups responsible for resettlement mourned and criticized the impending decision to stop accepting any refugees into the US for the next four months. A circulating draft of the order puts an indefinite ban on refugees coming from Syria, and a month-long pause on anyone entering America from a handful of Muslim-majority nations.

“Our concern is that this action really does further traumatize a group of people that have already borne so much tragedy,” said Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief, one of nine agencies that partner with the federal government to resettle refugees. “The human toll is really crushing.”

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted January 26, 2017 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Marka MARKA.DU, a retailing group in the United Arab Emirates, has been granted exclusive rights to "manufacture, distribute and sell Real Madrid products" in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

But Marka Vice Chairman Khaled al-Mheiri told Reuters by phone Real Madrid has two versions of the crest for the Middle East market and that Marka would use the one without the Christian cross due to cultural sensitivities.

"We have to be sensitive towards other parts of the Gulf that are quite sensitive to products that hold the cross," said al-Mheiri, who owns a Real Madrid cafe in Dubai.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpainMiddle EastUAE (United Arab Emirates)* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis on Wednesday afternoon presides at Vespers in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls for the closing of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. On that occasion, the Sistine Chapel choir will be joined by the men and boys of the Westminster Abbey choir, renowned as one of the finest choral music groups of its kind.

Ahead of this unprecedented event, pioneered by the two choirs are also performing a free concert on Tuesday evening in the Basilica of St John Lateran. Their collaboration grows out of recent years of deepening Anglican-Catholic relations, in particular following Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to London in September 2010.

Read and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians seem attracted to an alternative set of facts, but we don’t need them.
Even if the truth doesn’t seem favorable to us, we don’t have to go looking for an opposing story. We have a hope in something greater. We believe that Truth is personified in a Person—Jesus. When we dishonor the truth, we dishonor Jesus.
In 2012, I wrote, “I'm saddened that many Christians are being included in the groups that create their own facts." Unfortunately, more and more people are noticing this to be the case.
Gullible or conspiracy-spreading Christians simply do not help these perceptions. Instead, they feed the impression that Evangelicals are simply unwilling to face truth.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 24, 2017 at 1:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England's Bishop with responsibility for homelessness James Langstaff explains why some Christian organisations believe that the Government and local authorities need to do more to implement a comprehensive, long-term national strategy to end homelessness in England.

She was one of the last debutantes destined to live a life of luxury, but then she had a calling from God. Sister Agatha tells Rosie Dawson about her extraordinary life.

A reading from the Qur'an at St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow has not only embroiled the Cathedral in controversy but sparked a wider debate on whether or not Christian buildings should host inter-faith worship at all. Bob Walker reports.

Read it all and listen to the parts you want (the Glasgow Cathedral segment starts about 17 minutes in).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Scottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 23, 2017 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the Queen's chaplains has resigned after a row about reading from the Koran in a Glasgow church.
The Reverend Gavin Ashenden, a senior clergyman in the Church of England, left his position as chaplain in order to be free to criticise the move.
A passage from the Koran was read during an Epiphany service at St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow earlier this month.
Mr Ashenden said the reading had caused "serious offence".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Scottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksMulticulturalism, pluralism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

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Posted January 23, 2017 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

KHALID LATIF: You know, I think a lot of Muslims are very scared, and I think they're valid in that fear. The reality, unfortunately, is such that even leading into the elections we saw a gross increase in anti-Muslim bias and incidents. In New York City, where I live, leading into the elections, just in a matter of weeks you had two imams - religious leaders of a Muslim community in Queens - who were shot in the back of their head and passed away subsequently. Following afternoon prayers, a 60-year-old woman of Bengali descent was walking home one evening in Queens as well with her husband who is asthmatic, and she had moved a few blocks ahead of him to get home quicker to get dinner ready. And he said later at a press conference that I was at that he heard her screaming and came upon her and found her stabbed and had eventually succumbed to the wounds just a couple of blocks away from their home. There was two mothers strolling their babies in Brooklyn who had been assaulted. A woman wearing a headscarf in Midtown Manhattan had been set on fire. These were all things that happened prior to the election.

Post the election, you know, I think what hit me hard, being at New York University, we have various prayer rooms that Muslim students use on our campus. And the day after the election in our school of engineering in Brooklyn, Muslim students walked into their prayer room to find the entrance with the word Trump written across it and an exclamation point. About a week later, there was Jewish students who on their dorm room door found swastikas, the words make America great again, white pride, make America white again on their doorways. And these were realities that I think evoked a lot of different emotions understandably.

Read it all.


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

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Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religions have a mixed relationship with music; within both Christianity and Islam, you can find strains that eschew all human compositions as a distraction from the divine, as well as robust musical traditions. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (to use the Mormons’ official name) has leaned firmly to the latter side since its foundation nearly two centuries ago. Among the revelations claimed by their founder Joseph Smith was God’s affirmation that “the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me”—in other words, the faithful could and positively should sing as well as speak to their Maker. The faith’s choral and orchestral talents were soon reinforced by an influx of converts from Victorian England, some of whom were Methodists and bearers of that faith’s strong musical heritage.

As Markus Rathey, a professor of music history at Yale University puts it, some faiths hold that “the use of music transports you into a state in which you’re open for the divine.” And the Latter-day Saints have always been of that persuasion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMusicReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons

1 Comments
Posted January 21, 2017 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A cathedral has removed a clip of a Muslim prayer being recited within its precincts from its Facebook page after it was heavily criticised for allowing the event to take place.

The prayer took place in Gloucester Cathedral’s chapter house as part of the launch of a multi-faith art exhibition, and was well-received by those who attended.

The cathedral decided to take down its social media post on the event following some of the comments it received on its page.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 20, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than two dozen Jewish community centers across the U.S. reported receiving false bomb threats on Wednesday. It's the second wave of bomb threats in two weeks: On Jan. 9, 16 community centers received threats in a single day.

No actual bombs have been found, according to the JCC Association of North America, and many centers have already reopened and resumed regular operations.

The FBI is investigating "possible civil rights violations in connection with threats," The Associated Press reports.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 19, 2017 at 12:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To prepare for his signature role, Christopher interviewed priests to "help get the tone right." Finally, he created a Los Angeles-area panel of priests to help him deal with questions about how a Jesuit would have handled some rites, and tricky war-zone issues, in the era before the Second Vatican Council.

The goal was to show respect for the priesthood, while avoiding what he called "embarrassed priest situations and celibacy jokes." It was especially sobering to learn how to handle rushed deathbed confessions and Last Rites.

"I tried to humanize Mulcahy as much as possible, although I knew there was a certain danger there since he is a priest. But I felt there was an even greater danger if we let him turn into a stereotype," he explained.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 19, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am a PhD student studying Theology and Religious Studies in the University of Glasgow and go to St Mary’s regularly as a High Church Anglican Christian who recognise the importance of reading the Bible in the Holy Eucharist. The church has a lectionary to decide which biblical lessons should be read on particular day. The Holy Eucharist is a sacrament where the Christ truly presents through the power of the Holy Spirit. The entire service is sacred. The Liturgy of the Word is the moment when the Word of God according to the Holy Scripture is proclaimed to “bring about the obedience of faith” (Romans 16:26). No other religious texts should be read in the Holy Eucharist. Inter-faith dialogue should be conducted in the setting of conference or talk instead of sacrament.

But the Provost of St Mary has no intention to repent. On 12th January St Mary’s cathedral even say that they have reported to the police for the criticisms in the social media. The news even appear on BBC. Many Christian question the faith of Scottish Episcopal Church when my articles are distributed among Christian in Hong Kong and in the United Kingdom.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipSpirituality/Prayer* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

0 Comments
Posted January 19, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While the Archbishops of Canterbury and York embrace the theological distinctives that arose out of the Reformation, specifically Martin Luther's emphasis on Christian salvation being through faith and not by merit or effort, they regret the bloodshed that followed that historic rupture in 1517.
It is worth noting that both Churches always mark 4 May as a day for Reformation Martyrs, with the Church of England praying that 'those who have been divided on earth may be reconciled in heaven'.
Today's statement is a call to all Christians, of whatever denomination, to repent of division and to unite within the Christian Gospel.

Read it all and please note the printed correction at the bottom.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyArchbishop of York John Sentamu* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical Relations* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 18, 2017 at 5:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And so we come to the final apologia for Kelvin Holdsworth's mistake, again from his sermon yesterday: "Nobody at that service that night could be in any doubt that we proclaimed the divinity of Christ and preached the Gospel of God's love."

Well yes, you possibly did recite the Nicene Creed at some point after its key verses were repudiated, but saying that makes the heresy before it OK is like saying that if you deliver a devastating uppercut to a stranger walking down the street, handing him a plaster afterwards makes it OK.

This story hasn't gone away despite the best efforts of the Provost to say nothing, to say he'll say something and then say nothing, to ignore his boss, to ignore the sensible, cogent, important theological questions that even the head of the Episcopal Church of Scotland accepts are perfectly valid.

In ministry, or indeed any position of responsibility, the sooner you learn the lesson that it's better when you're caught red-handed to admit a mistake and ask for forgiveness than to try and defend an indefensible corner, the better.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchBooksMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

0 Comments
Posted January 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head of the Scottish Episcopal Church says the Church is "deeply distressed" at the offence caused by the reading of a passage from the Koran in a Glasgow cathedral.
The comments of the Church Primus, the Most Rev David Chillingworth, follow criticism that Islamic verses were read during an Epiphany service.
In his blog, he also condemned the abuse received by St Mary's Cathedral.
Police are investigating offensive online messages aimed at the church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump remembers representing the family of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black male who was fatally shot in February 2012 in Sanford, Florida.

The shooter, George Zimmerman, was a neighborhood watch volunteer who was found not guilty in a high-profile murder trial.

The verdict, among others Crump has seen, has left minority communities feeling like second-class citizens, he said Sunday at Morris Street Baptist Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical Relations* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted January 16, 2017 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The decisions which have led to the situation in St Mary’s Cathedral are a matter for the Provost and the Cathedral community but the Scottish Episcopal Church is deeply distressed at the widespread offence which has been caused. We also deeply regret the widespread abuse which has been received by the Cathedral community.

“In response to what has happened at the Cathedral, the Scottish Episcopal Church will bring together all those who are involved in the development of interfaith relations. Our intention will be as a Church to explore how, particularly in the area of worship, this work can be carried forward in ways which will command respect. Our desire is that this should be a worthy expression of the reconciliation to which all Christians are called.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchBooksMulticulturalism, pluralism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

4 Comments
Posted January 14, 2017 at 7:03 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In terms of religion, this inauguration exhibits the confluence of two major currents of indigenous American spirituality.

One stream is represented by Norman Vincent Peale’s longtime bestseller “The Power of Positive Thinking” (1952). The famous Manhattan pastor is Trump’s tenuous connection to Christianity, having heard the preacher frequently in his youth. For Peale and his protege, the late Robert Schuller of Crystal Cathedral fame, the gospel of Christ’s death for human sin and resurrection for justification and everlasting life was transformed into a “feel-good” therapy. Self-esteem was the true salvation.

Another stream is represented by the most famous TV preachers, especially those associated with the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, T. D. Jakes, Joel Osteen and Paula White are the stars of this movement, known as Word of Faith.

Read it all from Michael Horton in the Washington Post.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology


Posted January 14, 2017 at 1:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Another 5,000 French Jews emigrated to Israel last year, figures showed Monday, continuing a trend that has seen tens of thousands quit the country after a series of attacks targeting the community.

The Jewish Agency of Israel issued the update as France marked two years since attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices and on a Jewish supermarket in Paris, where four shoppers were shot dead.

Daniel Benhaim, who heads the Israeli-backed group in France, said that insecurity had been a "catalyst" for many Jews who were already thinking of leaving.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The flaw in his approach is that while the Muslims who chose the reading seem to have been only too aware of the differences, and chose to declare them in their Koranic reading during the Christian worship, the Provost, on the other hand, appears to have been unaware.

When asked if he had known what the passage of the Koran said about Jesus, how it denied what Christians hold central to their faith, he “declined to comment further”.

This was not, then, “a dialogue about the ways we differ”. It was not even a strategy of parity. If there had been a conversation in which he had said, “Let us insert into each other’s worship and prayers readings from our sacred scriptures which confront and contradict each others’ faith”, how would the Islamic community have responded? We will never know, because the exercise was not actually the one he claimed it to be.

Read it all from Gavin Ashenden.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

5 Comments
Posted January 12, 2017 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration’s failure to beat back the rise of radical Islam reflects a greater failure of thinking elites. Steeped in an intellectual culture of secularism, Western leaders have consistently denied both the Koranic motives of America’s enemies, and the Christian underpinnings of the U.S. system of values. They look for economic and social reasons for this clash of cultures and dismiss the far more terrible possibility that humanity is actually at war over the nature of God.

This estrangement from the sacred continues a trend begun during the Enlightenment of the 18th century.

But its roots are in the 17th century’s rise of science. The scientific method transformed a world of miracles into a world of material. Its successes, in time, made atheism seem the default setting of true reason. But is it?

The physicist Stephen Hawking, who publicly confirmed his atheism in 2014, doesn’t believe that God is needed to explain creation. “The laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing,” he explained. The philosopher Roger Scruton, writing in this newspaper, thoroughly undid this argument simply by asking, “But what created the laws of physics?” Such an obvious flaw in Mr. Hawking’s reasoning should have been clear to anyone who wasn’t being carried off on the skeptical tide of the times.

As a former secular Jew who converted to Christianity, I understand the temptation of such skepticism. My baptism in 2004 was an act of transgression. I sensed it at the time and know it all the more certainly today. I was nearly 50 then. I had lived my adulthood as a postmodern man, a worldling of the coasts and cities. For me to accept the truth of God and his incarnation in Jesus Christ was to defy the culture of the age.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaismSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 11, 2017 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians are determined by the conviction that a brown-skinned Jew—whose body was publically tortured to death on a cross by a consortium of government and religious officials, and whose crucified body was resurrected from the dead, opening up the realm of God to people of every color, including people who believe their skin is without color—is the truth about God.

The invention of whiteness is the sin of designating humanity by reference to physical characteristics for the purpose of one race (white) dominating nonwhite races. Race is humanly conceived, structurally maintained, deeply personal, and (from a specifically Christian standpoint) sin.

Because power is used to maintain and institutionalize racial privilege, racism is more insidious than disorganized, infrequent racist acts by disconnected individuals. Though a social construction, rooted in sinful misunderstandings of our humanity in Christ, race is a political reality that has far-reaching economic, social, and individual deleterious consequences.

While race is a fiction, a human construction, racism is a fact.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 10, 2017 at 3:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester condemned the reading and called for discipline against those involved.

"The authorities of the Scottish Episcopal Church should immediately repudiate this ill-advised invitation," he said in a statement.

He also called for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to publicly distance the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion from the event.

" Christians should know what their fellow citizens believe and this can include reading the Qur'an for themselves, whether in the original or in translation. This is not, however, the same thing as having it read in Church in the context of public worship," he said.

Read it all from Christian Today.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBooks* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 10, 2017 at 11:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost 1,000 days since she was kidnapped with 275 other schoolgirls from school dormitories in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, the 24th girl to be released from captivity has been found.
Rakiya Abubakar Gali was discovered on 5 Jan. by the Army, who were questioning captured Boko Haram militants. She has a six-month-old baby.

The mass abduction on 14 April 2014 eventually generated headlines around the world and fuelled a social-media storm, with the hashtag #bringbackourgirls and campaign group Bring Back our Girls (BBOG). It says 195 are still missing.

Fifty-seven girls escaped shortly after being taken by extreme Islamist militants Boko Haram, while others have recently found freedom.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 7, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

These men saw a star that made them set out. The discovery of something unusual in the heavens sparked a whole series of events. The star did not shine just for them, nor did they have special DNA to be able to see it. As one of the Church Fathers rightly noted, the Magi did not set out because they had seen the star, but they saw the star because they had already set out (cf. Saint John Chrysostom). Their hearts were open to the horizon and they could see what the heavens were showing them, for they were guided by an inner restlessness. They were open to something new.

The Magi thus personify all those who believe, those who long for God, who yearn for their home, their heavenly homeland. They reflect the image of all those who in their lives have not let their hearts become anesthetized.

A holy longing for God wells up in the heart of believers because they know that the Gospel is not an event of the past but of the present. A holy longing for God helps us keep alert in the face of every attempt to reduce and impoverish our life.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted January 7, 2017 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....one could learn a great deal from the question, “What do you hope to get for Christmas?” For if you know our hopes, you fairly well know us. If you want to know who a person really is, and plans to be, inquire into what that person is hoping for.

What are you hoping for?

I expect that is what most of us think religion is about, the fulfillment of our hopes. We hope to find peace in our anxious lives. So we come to church on Sunday morning hoping that the music of the hymns, the words of scripture and preaching may fill us with a sense of peace.

We hope for thoughtful, reflective lives. So we come to church on Sunday morning hoping for an interesting sermon, something that will help us to use our minds, something that will test our intellects, make us think about things in a way we haven’t thought before.....

The trouble is that the Gospels seem to engage in a continual debate with people’s hopes and expectations. Jesus came, light into our darkness. But the problem with Jesus was he was not the sort of light that we expected. That is where the trouble started. Jesus was the hope of the world. But he was not the hope for which the world was hoping!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyChristology

0 Comments
Posted January 4, 2017 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A crucial event for the church’s confession of the doctrine of the Incarnation came at the Council of Chalcedon (A.D.451), when the church countered both the Nestorian idea that Jesus was two personalities—the Son of God and a man—under one skin, and the Eutychian idea that Jesus’ divinity had swallowed up his humanity. Rejecting both, the council affirmed that Jesus is one divine-human person in two natures (i.e., with two sets of capacities for experience, expression, reaction, and action); and that the two natures are united in his personal being without mixture, confusion, separation, or division; and that each nature retained its own attributes. In other words, all the qualities and powers that are in us, as well as all the qualities and powers that are in God, were, are, and ever will be really and distinguishably present in the one person of the man from Galilee. Thus the Chalcedonian formula affirms the full humanity of the Lord from heaven in categorical terms.

The Incarnation, this mysterious miracle at the heart of historic Christianity, is central in the New Testament witness. That Jews should ever have come to such a belief is amazing. Eight of the nine New Testament writers, like Jesus’ original disciples, were Jews, drilled in the Jewish axiom that there is only one God and that no human is divine. They all teach, however, that Jesus is God’s Messiah, the Spirit-anointed son of David promised in the Old Testament (e.g., Isa. 11:1-5; Christos, “Christ,” is Greek for Messiah). They all present him in a threefold role as teacher, sin-bearer, and ruler—prophet, priest, and king. And in other words, they all insist that Jesus the Messiah should be personally worshiped and trusted—which is to say that he is God no less than he is man. Observe how the four most masterful New Testament theologians (John, Paul, the writer of Hebrews, and Peter) speak to this.

John’s Gospel frames its eyewitness narratives (John 1:14; 19:35; 21:24) with the declarations of its prologue (1:1-18): that Jesus is the eternal divine Logos (Word), agent of Creation and source of all life and light (vv. 1-5, 9), who through becoming “flesh” was revealed as Son of God and source of grace and truth, indeed as “God the only begotten” (vv. 14, 18; NIV text notes). The Gospel is punctuated with “I am” statements that have special significance because I am (Greek: ego eimi) was used to render God’s name in the Greek translation of Exodus 3:14; whenever John reports Jesus as saying ego eimi, a claim to deity is implicit. Examples of this are John 8:28, 58, and the seven declarations of his grace as (a) the Bread of Life, giving spiritual food (6:35, 48, 51); (b) the Light of the World, banishing darkness (8:12; 9:5); (c) the gate for the sheep, giving access to God (10:7, 9); (d) the Good Shepherd, protecting from peril (10:11, 14); (e) the Resurrection and Life, overcoming our death (11:25); (f) the Way, Truth, and Life, guiding to fellowship with the Father (14:6); (g) the true Vine, nurturing for fruitfulness (15:1, 5). Climactically, Thomas worships Jesus as “my Lord and my God” (20:28). Jesus then pronounces a blessing on all who share Thomas’s faith and John urges his readers to join their number (20:29-31).

--Concise Theology: A Guide To Historic Christian Beliefs (Tyndale House, 2011), pp. 105-106

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 3, 2017 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s a story so strange we could not have dreamed it up by ourselves, this story of how God was incarnate in Jesus the Christ. An embarrassing pregnancy, a poor peasant couple forced to become undocumented immigrants in Egypt soon after the birth of their baby, King Herod’s slaughter of the Jewish boy babies in a vain attempt to put an end to this new “King,” From the beginning the story of Jesus is the strangest story of all. A Messiah who avoids the powerful and the prestigious and goes to the poor and dispossessed? A Savior who is rejected by many of those whom he sought to save? A King who reigns from a bloody cross? Can this one with us be God?

And yet Christians believe that this story, for all its strangeness, is true. Here we have a truthful account of how our God read us back into the story of God. This is a truthful depiction not only of who God really is but also of how we who were lost got found, redeemed, restored, and saved by a God who refused to let our rejection and rebellion (our notorious “God problem”) be the final word in the story.

Read it all.

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Posted December 29, 2016 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian joy thus springs from this certainty: God is close, he is with me, he is with us, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as a friend and faithful spouse. And this joy endures, even in trials, in suffering itself. It does not remain only on the surface; it dwells in the depths of the person who entrusts himself to God and trusts in him.

Some people ask: but is this joy still possible today? Men and women of every age and social condition, happy to dedicate their existence to others, give us the answer with their lives! Was not Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta an unforgettable witness of true Gospel joy in our time? She lived in touch daily with wretchedness, human degradation and death. Her soul knew the trials of the dark night of faith, yet she gave everyone God's smile.

In one of her writings, we read: "We wait impatiently for paradise, where God is, but it is in our power to be in paradise even here on earth and from this moment. Being happy with God means loving like him, helping like him, giving like him, serving like him" (The Joy of Giving to Others, 1987, p. 143). Yes, joy enters the hearts of those who put themselves at the service of the lowly and poor. God abides in those who love like this and their souls rejoice. If, instead, people make an idol of happiness, they lose their way and it is truly hard for them to find the joy of which Jesus speaks.

--Pope Benedict XVI (my emphasis).

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Posted December 29, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s tough to be on the receiving end of love, God’s or anybody else’s. It requires that we see our lives not as our possessions, but as gifts. "Nothing is more repugnant to capable, reasonable people than grace," wrote John Wesley a long time ago.

Among the most familiar Christmas texts is the one in Isaiah: "The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (7:14) Less familiar is its context: Isaiah has been pleading with King Ahaz to put his trust in God’s promise to Israel rather than in alliances with strong military powers like Syria. "If you will not believe, you shall not be established," Isaiah warns Ahaz (7:9). Then the prophet tells the fearful king that God is going to give him a baby as a sign. A baby. Isn’t that just like God, Ahaz must have thought. What Ahaz needed, with Assyria breathing down his neck, was a good army, not a baby.

This is often the way God loves us: with gifts we thought we didn’t need, which transform us into people we don’t necessarily want to be. With our advanced degrees, armies, government programs, material comforts and self-fulfillment techniques, we assume that religion is about giving a little, of our power in order to confirm to ourselves that we are indeed as self-sufficient as we claim.

Read it all.

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Posted December 28, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This Gospel is so clear that it requires very little explanation, but it should be well considered and taken deeply to heart; and no one will receive more benefit from it than those who, with a calm, quiet heart, banish everything else from their mind, and diligently look into it. It is just as the sun which is reflected in calm water and gives out vigorous warmth, but which cannot be so readily seen nor can it give out such warmth in water that is in roaring and rapid motion.

Therefore, if you would be enlightened and warmed, if you would see the wonders of divine grace and have your heart aglow and enlightened, devout and joyful, go where you can silently meditate and lay hold of this picture deep in your heart, and you will see miracle upon miracle. But to give the common person a start and a motive to contemplate it, we will illustrate it in part, and afterwards enter into it more deeply.

First, behold how very ordinary and common things are to us that transpire on earth, and yet how high they are regarded in heaven. On earth it occurs in this wise: Here is a poor young woman, Mary of Nazareth, not highly esteemed, but of the humblest citizens of the village. No one is conscious of the great wonder she bears, she is silent, keeps her own counsel, and regards herself as the lowliest in the town. She starts out with her husband Joseph; very likely they had no servant, and he had to do the work of master and servant, and she that of mistress and maid, They were therefore obliged to leave their home unoccupied, or commend it to the care of others.

Read it all.

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Posted December 27, 2016 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Let us allow the Child in the manger to challenge us, but let us also allow ourselves to be challenged by the children of today’s world, who are not lying in a cot caressed with the affection of a mother and father, but rather suffer the squalid “mangers that devour dignity:” hiding underground to escape bombardment, on the pavements of a large city, at the bottom of a boat overladen with immigrants. Let us allow ourselves to be challenged by the children who are not allowed to be born, by those who cry because no one satiates their hunger, by those who have not toys in their hands, but rather weapons.

The mystery of Christmas, which is light and joy, questions and unsettles us, because it is at once both a mystery of hope and of sadness. It bears within itself the taste of sadness, inasmuch as love is not received, and life discarded. This happened to Joseph and Mary, who found the doors closed, and placed Jesus in a manger, “because there was no place for them in the inn” (v. 7). Jesus was born rejected by some and regarded by many others with indifference. Today also the same indifference can exist, when Christmas becomes a feast where the protagonists are ourselves, rather than Jesus; when the lights of commerce cast the light of God into the shadows; when we are concerned for gifts but cold towards those who are marginalized.

Yet Christmas has essentially a flavor of hope because, notwithstanding the darker aspects of our lives, God’s light shines out. His gentle light does not make us fear; God who is in love with us, draws us to himself with his tenderness, born poor and fragile among us, as one of us. He is born in Bethlehem, which means “house of bread.” In this way he seems to tell us that he is born as bread for us; he enters life to give us his life; he comes into our world to give us his love. He does not come to devour or to command but to nourish and to serve.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 26, 2016 at 9:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Opening with an examination of the light and dark motif found in Isaiah’s proclamation—that “on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isa. 9:2)—Keller frames the incarnation as an inbreaking of divine light into our world. The world is fallen, shrouded in the darkness of rebellion, but the true light (John 8:12) has shone forth bringing life. In contrast with secular humanism’s conviction that we’re able to overcome the darkness by our own will, Christmas tells us that only a light from outside us can save us.

When I picture light penetrating into darkness, it’s often a violent thing. For those enveloped in darkness, it’s an assault on their senses. Eyes squinting, we instinctively flinch from the jolt. Yet here with the Christmas story, we have the most dramatic intrusion of light imaginable. It’s the story of the holy One, the Son of God in flesh arrayed, breaking into realms of darkness to reclaim his fallen bride—the unapproachable God approaching his enemies. Our instinct should be to flinch from the threat, as we see the Old Testament saints doing whenever God draws near as a pillar of fire, a whirlwind, or a cloud of glory.

But when God became man, his entrance into the darkness was disarming rather than jarring. A baby is not threatening. Why the difference? [Timothy] Keller asks and answers:

Why would God come this time in the form of a baby, rather than a firestorm or whirlwind? Because this time he has not come to bring judgment but to bear it, to pay the penalty for our sins, to take away the barrier between humanity and God, so we can be together. Jesus is God with us. (54)

Read it all.

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Posted December 24, 2016 at 5:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Federal authorities warned Friday that ISIS sympathizers "continue aspirational calls for attacks on holiday gatherings, including targeting churches."

The bulletin was issued by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security and issued to law enforcement agencies and private security companies around the US.

Read it all.

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Posted December 24, 2016 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




[Sebastian] Kahl wanted to go to the service at the Memorial Church, not just because of what he and his girlfriend went through, but also out of respect for the fates suffered by others. A gesture of compassion. But then he hears the news that the police have arrested the wrong man. His girlfriend is afraid that the terrorist is still running around in the city and that he could kill again and the couple remains at home. They both want to spend Christmas with their families and Kahl feels he has much to be grateful for. He sees his survival akin to "being born again."

5:20 p.m., Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

It is 40 minutes before the services are set to begin, but so many people have come that police have already had to close the church to non-invited guests. The benches inside are full. The closer the hour comes, the more anxious the mood in front of the church becomes. An interpreter tells the heavily armed police that she has to go inside because otherwise the journalists who have traveled from France won't know what is being said from the altar. Some visitors are so brazen that they try to sneak between the Christmas market stalls toward the church entrance. But they don't get far and the police officers react angrily.

A group from the Muslim community Ahmadiyya shows up wearing T-shirts reading: "Love for all, hate for none." When Aiman Mazyek, of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, is allowed to pass with a small entourage, two women standing in front of the church snap: "Of course the Muslims are allowed in."

Read it all.

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Posted December 24, 2016 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So while Christians ask, “What would Jesus do?” Jews ask, “What does Jewish law say?” That’s completely understandable from a traditional Jewish perspective, and it is often praiseworthy. But, I wish Jews would learn from their Christian cohorts and ask directly, “What would God say?” Just as the Prophet Micah did by asking, “What does God require of us?”

Christmas and its celebration of the birth of Jesus compels me to think about the concept of a messiah. I am grateful to my Christian neighbors and friends. Through their religious holy day, I am better able to confront and clarify my own religious convictions and theological certitudes.

Like a brightly lighted Christmas tree, Christianity dispels a lot of darkness, theological as well as moral. In its glow, it challenges Christians and non-Christians alike to consider that which is transcendent, eternal and greater than us all. Merry Christmas indeed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted December 23, 2016 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I wouldn’t characterize the New Testament descriptions of the risen Jesus as fuzzy. They are very concrete in their details. Yes, Mary doesn’t recognize Jesus at first, but then she does. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24) also don’t recognize Jesus at first. Their experience was analogous to meeting someone you last saw as a child 20 years ago. Many historians have argued that this has the ring of eyewitness authenticity. If you were making up a story about the Resurrection, would you have imagined that Jesus was altered enough to not be identified immediately but not so much that he couldn’t be recognized after a few moments? As for Mark’s gospel, yes, it ends very abruptly without getting to the Resurrection, but most scholars believe that the last part of the book or scroll was lost to us.

Skeptics should consider another surprising aspect of these accounts. Mary Magdalene is named as the first eyewitness of the risen Christ, and other women are mentioned as the earliest eyewitnesses in the other gospels, too. This was a time in which the testimony of women was not admissible evidence in courts because of their low social status. The early pagan critics of Christianity latched on to this and dismissed the Resurrection as the word of “hysterical females.” If the gospel writers were inventing these narratives, they would never have put women in them. So they didn’t invent them.

The Christian Church is pretty much inexplicable if we don’t believe in a physical resurrection. N.T. Wright has argued in “The Resurrection of the Son of God” that it is difficult to come up with any historically plausible alternate explanation for the birth of the Christian movement.

Read it all.

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Posted December 23, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The scale of religious persecution around the world is not widely appreciated. Nor is it limited to Christians in the troubled regions of the Middle East. A recent report suggests that attacks are increasing on Yazidis, Jews, Ahmadis, Baha’is and many other minority faiths. And in some countries even more insidious forms of extremism have recently surfaced, which aim to eliminate all types of religious diversity.

We are also struggling to capture the immensity of the ripple effect of such persecution. According to the United Nations, 5.8 million MORE people abandoned their homes in 2015 than the year before, bringing the annual total to a staggering 65.3 million. That is almost equivalent to the entire population of the United Kingdom.

And the suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land. We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith.

Read it all.

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Posted December 23, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Mediators urged Congo’s president and opposition parties to reach an agreement before Christmas on a peaceful settlement to the country’s political crisis, saying dozens already have been killed this week amid protests over the president’s stay in power.

“Enough is enough,” Msgr. Marcel Utembi, one of the Catholic Church mediators, said Wednesday. “A solution must be found as soon as possible by all political actors, but in particular by the government in order to reassure the Congolese people.”

He also conveyed a message from Pope Francis following their meeting this week: “I am concerned by what is happening in your country, which I wish to visit at the opportune moment. I pray for the Congolese people, who need peace so much now.”

Read it all from the WSJ.

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Posted December 22, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In many parts of our troubled, uncertain world, Christian minority communities along with other minorities are being similarly targeted. In some places, this is motivated by a desire to eradicate the indigenous Christian presence completely. These are acts not only of terror but of genocide; criminal acts for which the international community must bring those guilty to account. Yet although so vulnerable and often forgotten and marginalised, our brothers and sisters are being courageous in the Lord. Indeed, ‘God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong’ (1 Corinthians 1.27).
In other places conflict and corruption have become so normal that the world forgets the suffering of the poor.
I ask your prayers for those of us who live in safety that we may not be bystanders afar off, beating our breasts as we retire to the security of our homes, but that we may draw nearer to the cross of Jesus, stand there alongside our suffering brothers and sisters and be ready to take our part in practical action for change. I pray that Christ will strengthen all his people in our inner being with power through the Holy Spirit to be faithful, to have courage and to live in hope.
More than ever we need Christ like communities proclaiming the good news of the gospel in word and action.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther Churches

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Posted December 22, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rashad Ali is a British Sunni Muslim who devotes most of his life to combating extremism and urging young co-religionists to reject the siren voices of jihadism. At the risk of making himself unpopular with some members of his community, he actively assists the government’s efforts to counter hard-line Islamism. He works mostly in his own country but also follows the Muslim scene in many other places.

Like many others working in his field, he is convinced that recent events in Syria have made his life much, much harder. Whether in Britain or in Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia or Morocco (all countries he has visited recently), he finds that ordinary Sunnis are appalled and angry over the suffering of civilians in east Aleppo before and during the collapse of the rebel stronghold.

The news has made them furious with Russia, which claims inter alia to be deploying its fighter-bombers in support of local Christians; angry with Iran and the Shia Muslim militias that it sponsors in Syria; and disappointed with Western countries for doing nothing to restrain the Russo-Iranian coalition. A common grievance, says Mr Ali, a fellow of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, is that Western consciences are moved by the plight of ethnic and religious minorities, such as the Kurds or Yazidis or small Christian sects, but indifferent to ordinary Sunni Arabs.

Read it all.

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Posted December 21, 2016 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jediism, the worship of the mythology of Star Wars, is not a religion, the Charity Commission has ruled.
The commission rejected an application to grant charitable status to The Temple of the Jedi Order.
It said Jediism did not "promote moral or ethical improvement" for charity law purposes in England and Wales.
In the 2011 census, 177,000 people declared themselves Jedi under the religion section, making it the seventh most popular religion.

Read it all.

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Posted December 21, 2016 at 3:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The church is in the [St Marks] cathedral complex signaling the vivid symbolism of the explosion,” says Ishak Ibrahim, a religious freedoms researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. “It aims at terrorizing the heart of Coptic Orthodoxy in Egypt”.
The terrorist group vowed further attacks and declared ‘a war against polytheism’ referring to the Christians’ belief in the trinity pejoratively in a statement.
This particular attack fits in with the pattern of ISIS’s notorious aim to shock and awe, hitting a minority religion and at women. It also shows the difficult position Coptic Christians find themselves in Egypt today, as the largest religious minority in the Middle East at around 10 million people. On the one hand an easy target for a callous terror group. But on the other, living as a second class group in their own country, under a different kind of threat from the authorities.

Read it all.

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Posted December 21, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Holy See diplomat has said that Christians face increasing discrimination, even in countries where there is not obvious persecution.

Mgr Janusz Urbanczyk, the Holy See’s permanent representative to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), was speaking last week at a conference in Vienna on combating intolerance and discrimination against Christians across the OSCE region. The region includes 57 countries in Europe, Central Asia and North America.

Mgr Urbanczyk said that even though the OSCE region does not see “blatant and violent persecution” of Christians as in some parts of the world, “manifestations of intolerance, hate crimes and episodes of violence or vandalism against religious places or objects continue to increase.”

In addition, he said, “offending, insulting or attacking Christians because of their beliefs and their values, including in the media and in public debate, based on a distorted and misinterpreted concept of freedom of expression, often goes uncontested.”

Read it all.

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Posted December 20, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every person in this nativity tableau [see picture at link] bar one is spending their first Christmas as a Christian.

And two of them, a shepherd and an angel, were baptised at the very service in which they performed this nativity, to the music of a Christian version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.

They are truly men and women from the East, being born again in a stable.

Their miraculous stories are among the remarkable events that have been taking place this year at St Mark's, part of the Hanley team ministry in Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, which has seen more than 50 Muslims convert to Christianity in one year alone.

Read it all from Christian Today.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted December 19, 2016 at 7:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The world’s largest Islam­ic nation is Indonesia, where Muslims represent a large majority of a population of some 250 million. Christians make up about 10 percent of that number, and relations between the two faiths have on occasion been rocky. Matters reached their worst in the late 1990s, a time of economic crisis and the collapse of the long-standing military dictatorship. During the chaos, Christian minorities in regions like Sulawesi were subjected to ethnic cleansing and Chinese Chris­tians in major cities were targeted for violence and mass rape.

In large part, these crimes resulted from economic grievances—Chinese merchants were targeted as scape­goats. Active Islamist terror movements also appeared, with ties to al-Qaeda. For some years, Indo­nesia seemed to epitomize Muslim-Christian tensions at their most alarming.

Subsequently, conditions have improved enormously, or rather, reverted to traditional norms of tolerance. Although Christians must be very cautious about any attempts at evan­gelism, congregations worship openly, and Indonesia is now home to some spectacular megachurches.

The most encouraging man­i­festation of improved attitudes is Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is commonly known by his Chinese nickname, Ahok. Since 2014, Ahok has been governor of the nation’s capital, Jakarta, a city with a population of 10 million, with some 30 million in the larger metropolitan region.

Read it all.


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Posted December 19, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Monday, December 12, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi walked alongside the Coptic Pope Tawadros (Theodore) II at the funeral procession for victims of the bombing that had killed at least twenty-five people at the chapel of St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo the day before. At the funeral, Sisi announced that the government had identified the suicide bomber, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahmoud Shafik Mostafa, and arrested four other people—three men and one woman—in connection with the attack. He also had strong words of condemnation: “Those who commit acts such as this do not belong to Egypt at all, even if they are on its land.”

This series of events was strangely similar to what had taken place almost six years ago in another Egyptian city. In the early morning of January 1, 2011, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the midst of a large crowd of worshippers who were leaving al-Qiddissin Church in Alexandria. Twenty-three people died. Soon thereafter, President Hosni Mubarak appeared on state television to condemn the attack: “The blood of their martyrs in Alexandria mixed to tell us all that all Egypt is the target and that blind terrorism does not differentiate between a Copt and a Muslim.”

Much has changed in Egypt since 2011. Mubarak is no longer in office. He was ousted by a peaceful popular uprising a little over a month after the Alexandria attack. Mohamed Morsi—the Muslim Brotherhood–backed candidate who became the first democratically elected president of Egypt in 2012—has come and gone. He was ousted by a coup d’état led by Sisi in 2013. Sisi is still in power, having won an “election” (with 97 percent of the vote), and he has aggressively opposed his rivals, notably the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet with all of these developments, one thing has not changed: Attacks against Christians have continued.

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

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Posted December 19, 2016 at 6:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Little could dampen the enthusiasm of 13-year-old Tony Atef as he wore his soccer outfit and headed to Egypt’s most successful club, Al Ahly, to partake in the team’s junior soccer tryouts. After Tony scored two goals, a coach approached him, asking for his name to record among those accepted. But his dream of making the team died quickly, when the coach noticed the small tattoo of a cross on his wrist. Tony was quickly sent home. There would be no place for a Coptic Christian on an Egyptian soccer team.

Tony’s case soon went viral, after his brother took to social media to decry bigotry and discrimination. Embarrassed, the club invited Tony for another tryout, but it was too late. Similar stories soon emerged of other Coptic kids being rejected by other soccer teams. A newspaper pointed out that there wasn’t a single Copt among the league’s top 540 players. In fact, there had been only five Copts among the league’s players in the last few decades, and some of them spoke out about the discrimination they faced.

During Mass this past Sunday, an Islamic State suicide bomber made his way inside St. Peter and St. Paul’s Coptic Church in Cairo and detonated his bomb, leaving 25 people, mostly women, dead. The bombing, the deadliest since the 2010 New Year’s Eve bombing of the Two Saints Church in Alexandria, drew swift condemnations from governments around the world. But as much as such attacks remind the world of the plight of Copts, it is their daily encounter with discrimination and persecution that poses the greatest threat to their future.

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

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Posted December 18, 2016 at 5:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

St. John the Baptist Parish was formed through the merger of two smaller local congregations that broke away from the Episcopal Church because of concerns about changes within their denomination: St. Michael the Archangel, which worshiped in Philadelphia’s Mount Airy section and Blessed John Henry Newman, which worshiped in Wayne.

Last year the St. John’s community arranged for a lease to purchase the former Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, an Italian personal parish in Bridgeport, which had merged into Sacred Heart Parish in nearby Swedesburg in 2014.

Father David Ousley, the pastor of St. John the Baptist, expects arrangements for the purchase will be finalized in the near future. His congregation, which has about 100 members, is financially stable and he expects further growth.

“Our primary focus is Catholicity for Anglicans who see a need for it,” he said. “Usually they see a need for the sacraments or the need for sound and concrete teaching.”

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted December 18, 2016 at 4:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This [Will] Herberg challenge radically affected Oden's work in the 1970s, as he evolved from backing an edgy liberalism to spreading an ecumenical approach to orthodoxy in shelves of books. Oden kept publishing into the final years of his life, until his Dec. 8 death at the age of 85. "Here was a guy who -- until his mid-40s -- had been a success on that career track in the contemporary academy," said Seamands. Oden had a Yale University doctorate and thrived in an era "built on the idea that new is better and that you looked down on anything old. You were supposed to idealize whatever people called the latest thing. That's how you got ahead."

In the 1950s, Oden embraced Marxism, existentialism and the demythologization of Scripture. He was an early leader among Christians supporting abortion rights. In the 1960s he plunged into transactional analysis, Gestalt therapy, parapsychology and what, in one of my first encounters with him, he called "mild forms of the occult."

As he dug into early church writings from the ancient East and West, Oden came to the conclusion that "I had been in love with heresy." In a 2012 interview with Good News magazine, Oden explained: "My basic question early on in the 1970s was, is the Resurrection really just an idea or is it a fact of history? ... Did this Jesus rise from the dead? Not symbolically, not just as a fragile memory of the earliest Christian rememberers, not just as an ever-questionable matter of fallible human remembering, but did Jesus actually rise from the dead. And finally, I did believe. And that changed my life."

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted December 18, 2016 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So how does Pope Francis’ record look so far? He remains popular and scandal-free. When secret recordings of the pope discussing Vatican finances in July 2013 leaked, he sounded as committed to reform in private as he does in public, calling the Holy See’s costs “out of control.” Yet it remains an open question whether the Curia will implement his ambitious reforms, such as improving Vatican accounting or eliminating unnecessary positions. The Vatican bank also changes at a glacial pace, and it will take years to judge whether transparency efforts pay off.

The most immediate change comes from how Francis’ style has had an influence on everyone who works within the Vatican’s walls. Rather than live in the Apostolic Palace, Francis chose to live in a guesthouse. This makes him physically and spiritually closer to his employees and visitors. He also left behind fancier vestments and speaks plainly and directly to his subjects.

Under Francis, the Vatican looks less like a medieval court and more like a responsive government. He has placed a bishop exclusively in charge of helping the homeless near the Vatican. He ordered the installation of showers and bathrooms for the homeless, brought in refugee families to live at the Vatican, and welcomed the homeless for private tours. The pope has also publicly criticized the Vatican for “spiritual Alzheimer’s.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentarySouth AmericaArgentina* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * Theology

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Posted December 16, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

7. Assisted suicide grows in availability and popularity.

Assisted suicide spread this year to California, Colorado, and Canada as polls reveal that a strong majority of 67 percent of Americans believe this practice is morally acceptable for terminally, painfully ill patients. Christian arguments for the dignity of all life made in God’s image suffer limited effectiveness in Western culture, which views “death with dignity” as the compassionate choice. What happens, though, when option becomes expectation for the suffering? Without acknowledging God as Creator or recognizing purpose to suffering, there are no cultural resources to resist technocratic exploitation.

6. Christian education weathers threat—for now.
Not even legislative reprieve in California or unexpected national election results brought comfort to Christian school administrators worried that anti-discrmination concerns will force them to choose between biblical teaching and financial survival. There is no choice in the short term but to fight to preserve government aid in the form of tax exemption, grants, and subsidized loans. Many Christian colleges can’t survive without it. But in the long term, some administrators are pushing for landmark compromise, while others plan to forsake government dependence in favor of full freedom to teach and enforce biblical morality. Either way the implications for theological education cannot be exaggerated.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMediaReligion & Culture* General InterestHumor / Trivia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted December 15, 2016 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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