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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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A new ecumenical resource is offering an alternative way for small groups and congregations to lead worshippers in the singing of hymns and spiritual songs.
Sing Hallelujah! is a video hymnal comprised of a five-volume DVD set. In each video, musicians perform well-known traditional and contemporary hymns while lyrics scroll in large letters along the bottom of the screen, allowing viewers to join in and sing along.
Ralph Milton, a retired former missionary and longtime member of First United Church in Kelowna, B.C., played the lead role in creating the video hymnal. Reflecting his ecumenical outlook, Sing Hallelujah! was designed for use by all denominations, though many selections are drawn from United Church hymn books.
“Having been a writer and penned more books than anybody would want to read, I did a lot of travelling around at one point to small, various congregations,” Milton said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Music Religion & Culture Science & Technology * International News & Commentary Canada * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology
The radical Islamist group Boko Haram has intensified its suicide bombing attacks in northern Nigeria and Cameroon in recent weeks.
On Friday (31 July) a massive bomb exploded in the market in Maiduguri, north-eastern Nigeria – the traditional heartland of Boko Haram violence. At least six died, and 11 were injured.
The previous Saturday (25 July), 20 people were killed when a 12-year-old girl blew herself up in a crowded bar in Maroua, northern Cameroon. Seventy-nine others were injured.
However, on 2 August the Nigerian military said it had rescued 178 people – including 101 children and 67 women – taken captive by Boko Haram in the northern Nigerian state of Borno.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Cameroon Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
On June 28 a handful of fundamentalist hecklers from the Church of Wells, located in the piney woods of East Texas about three hours northeast of Houston, disrupted services at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church. As reported in national and local media outlets, and astutely analyzed by historian Charity Carney, security removed the activists after they shouted at the popular preacher and they were arrested. While that June Sunday was not the first time the Wells hecklers visited Lakewood, it represented a bold and memorable confrontation with America’s smiling pastor, not unlike the one evangelist Adam Key had with Osteen in 2007.
It is easy to dismiss the Wells hecklers and Key as fundamentalist partisans whose messages appeal to a small number of like-minded followers. However, as my book Salvation with a Smile argues, their actions are part of a longer history of public castigation of popular preachers. And Molly Worthen’s insightful description of evangelicalism’s crisis of authority speaks powerfully to the rhetorical combat between Osteen and his critics, as does Todd Brenneman’s post for this blog.
Lakewood’s heckler episode this summer, while documenting one way to understand Osteen’s popularity, also prompts historical reflection about the summer of 2005 when Joel and his congregation moved into Houston’s Compaq Center, a sports-arena-turned-megachurch. The last decade encompassed Joel Osteen’s ascendancy to the peak of American evangelicalism.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
...the scale of the initial rescue is tragically small. The objective is to rescue 2,000 families. Compared to the carnage in Syria wrought by the pitiless combatants — 230,000 dead, half the 22 million population driven from their homes — it’s a paltry sum. But these are real people who will be saved. And for Weidenfeld, that counts.
Yet he has been criticized for rescuing just Christians. In fact, the U.S. government will not participate because the rescue doesn’t extend to Yazidis, Druze or Shiites.
This comes under the heading of no good deed going unpunished. It’s a rather odd view that because he cannot do everything, he should be admonished for trying to do something. If Weidenfeld were a man of infinite means, the criticism might be valid. As it is, he says rather sensibly, “I can’t save the world.” The Arab states, particularly the Gulf monarchies, are surely not without resources. With so few doing so little for so many, he’s doing what he can.
And for him, it’s personal. In 1938, still a teenager, he was brought from Vienna to London where the Plymouth Brethren took him in and provided for him. He never forgot. He is trying to return the kindness, he explains, to repay the good that Christians did for him 77 years ago. In doing so, he is not just giving hope and a new life to 150 souls, soon to be thousands. He has struck a blow for something exceedingly rare: simple, willful righteousness.
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According to David Alton, a crossbench peer who campaigns on religious freedom, “some assessments claim that as many as 200 million Christians in over 60 countries around the world face some degree of restriction, discrimination or outright persecution”. That is about one in 10 of the 2.2 billion Christians in the world. Christianity remains the faith with the most adherents.
“Whatever the real figures the scale is enormous. From Syria, Iraq, Iran and Egypt to North Korea, China, Vietnam and Laos, from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, from Cuba, Colombia and Mexico to Eritrea, Nigeria and Sudan, Christians face serious violations of religious freedom,” Alton said. Persecution ranged from murder, rape and torture to repressive laws, discrimination and social exclusion.
One consequence was “a form of religio-ethnic cleansing of Christian communities”, said John Pontifex of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a Catholic campaign group that monitors persecution. “The persecution of Christians is at a level we’ve not seen for many, many years and the main impact is the migration of Christian people. There are huge swaths of the world which are now experiencing a very sharp decline in the number of Christians.”
In the past 15 months, a number of egregious attacks have highlighted the targeting of Christians by Islamic extremists in the Middle East and Africa. They include:
Read it all and there is more information linked here
..Pope Francis, who was born in Argentina, knows how to talk in a language that is not simply a replay of liberation theology. During his trip, which included visits to Ecuador and Paraguay, he repeatedly invoked the idea of a “Patria Grande,” a great Latin American homeland, brought about through greater social, political, and economic unity. Such appeals for unity have been made in the recent past by the likes of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez, but they have their origins in the stirring rhetoric of Latin American independence heroes such as José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar.
Notably, Pope Francis was a crucial figure, behind the scenes, in the recent secret diplomatic rapprochement between the United States and Cuba. In May, Cuba’s President Raúl Castro, a lifelong communist, went to the Vatican to see Francis and remarked, “If the Pope continues to speak like this, sooner or later I will start praying again and I will return to the Catholic Church—and I’m not saying this jokingly.” Evo Morales, for his part, said, “For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a Pope—Pope Francis.”
But it is not only the leftists of Latin America who see something in the pontiff. Paraguay’s conservative President, Horacio Cartes, was equally effusive, lauding him for “his direction [that] lights the way and also gives us a grand task: to work together, with sacrifice and perseverance, so that we might have a country that is more equal for all.”...
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Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily suspended the death sentence of a Christian woman accused of blasphemy, her lawyer said, in a case that hit global headlines after the murder of two politicians who tried to intervene on her behalf.
Asia Bibi, a farm worker and mother of four, became the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law in 2010.
The Supreme Court will soon begin hearing an appeal against her conviction, said lawyer Saif-ul-Malook.
"The execution of Asia Bibi has been suspended and will remain suspended until the decision of this appeal," Malook said. No date had been set for her execution, he added.
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British Muslims who hold “intolerant ideas” and create a climate for extremism will become the target of a new clampdown to be announced by David Cameron today.
In a landmark speech the prime minister will say that a failure of integration has meant that there are people born and raised in this country who do not identify with Britain. Outlining a five-year strategy to combat extremism, he will attack those who hold ideas “hostile to basic liberal values” and who promote “discrimination, sectarianism and segregation”.
Mr Cameron will single out Muslim conspiracy theorists who believe that “Jews exercise malevolent power”, that 9/11 was inspired by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, and that Britain allowed 7/7 because it wanted an anti-Muslim backlash.
Read it all (subscription required).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Polygamy may well make for a coalition of strange bedfellows drawn from across the religious and non-religious spectrum in the United States. If the so-called “mainline” churches repeat their same-sex marriage trajectory, they could well provide polygamy some hefty cultural and political ballast (though the impact of that support may not be quite as big as it was for same-sex marriage in light of the continued demographic decline of these denominations).
These Christians would, of course, also need to square their religious heritage around polygamy with the kinds of feminist critiques that informed the overhaul of monogamy during the past 50 or so years. The Reformation proponents of polygamy, after all, only had polygyny in mind, and a very male-dominated version at that. Protestants today would almost certainly need to consider polyandry and, to use a clunky term, polygynandry.
I agree with Douthat and Silk that Americans are going to need to think seriously about polygamy. Douthat is probably right in arguing that many of the arguments liberals put forth on behalf of same-sex marriage will be deployed on behalf of polygamy, but Silk is probably also correct that religious freedom claims will play a role as well. In any case, rather than let fear guide the conversation, perhaps we should embrace an honest, thorough, and thoughtful debate that will likely generate a new set of pro- and con- alliances from a diverse range of people and groups in the United States. It wouldn’t be a reformation of marriage without one.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Philosophy Psychology Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Lutheran Methodist Presbyterian United Church of Christ
“One of the highlights for me in the last few months has been the visit of the Grand Imam of Al-Alzhar. He came and stayed here at Lambeth Palace for three days, and we spent much time in conversation. The importance of those sorts of relationships cannot be overestimated. In spending time together we were able to discuss our differences, as communities and as individuals. We need to recognise that we differ on crucial points of faith, but that we are united in understanding the importance of faith, and in our commitment to the common good.
“During this last few weeks as well you have been on my prayers as news has put pressure on the Muslim community. I never forget how much you need support and encouragement when you’re under pressure, as we do as well.
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In recent years, traditional Islamic seminaries, or madrasas, have come under scrutiny and criticism as incubators of terrorism and extremist interpretations of Islam. Correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro has a report on one school, the Jamia Islamia Clifton madrasa founded 40 years ago in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, that is trying to change that image and broaden the scope of what students are taught.
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"Compromising the truth is a serious blunder" but we must always live out our beliefs with love and grace, Ravi Zacharias has said in a detailed blog post addressing same-sex relationships.
The author and speaker who chairs the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA), says he is against gay marriage, and points to the biblical description of one man and one woman in sacred commitment. "So profound is this union that the relationship of God to the Church bears that comparison. He is the bridegroom; the Church is the bride," Zacharias writes.
Responding to the US Supreme Court's recent decision to legalise same-sex marriage, which Zacharias says "sent tremors around the globe," the author warns that we are at "breaking point".
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General Supreme Court * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Haley knew early on that she’d attend every funeral, even speaking at them when asked. She wanted each family to feel the state’s embrace of support.
“And I felt the need to go for me,” she says during a rare moment of quiet in a sitting room at the Governor’s Mansion.
Haley wanted to know the nine beyond a list of names.
“I had a need to meet them. I had a need to know, because I knew the forensic story. I knew the investigative part of the story. I needed to know the people.”
Through each funeral, she met them.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General State Government * International News & Commentary Asia India * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Hinduism * Theology
Just beyond a massive strip mall, with its Best Buy and Hobby Lobby, Abdul Baasit, the imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga, found himself preaching on Friday about a nightmare.
It was Eid al-Fitr, at the end of Ramadan, normally a time of gift-giving and carnival celebration. But the party that had been planned was canceled: A man who had attended prayer services at the center’s mosque killed four Marines on Thursday. And Mr. Baasit, 48, was trying to help Chattanooga’s Muslim faithful cope with their grief over the deaths, and their fear of reprisal.
“You do not want what is not right to be associated with Islam,” Mr. Baasit, a native of Ghana, said in lilting, heavily accented English. “And yet it is happening.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology
A picture emerged Friday of Abdulazeez as a likable, outgoing young man who enjoyed a laugh, made the wrestling team and seemed "as Americanized as anyone else," yet was clearly aware of what set him apart at his Chattanooga high school.
What's not clear — to counterterrorism investigators and to neighbors and former classmates — is what set him on the path to violence that ended with him being gunned down by police.
Abdulazeez did not appear to have been on federal authorities' radar before the bloodshed Thursday, officials said. But now counterterrorism investigators are taking a deep look at his online activities and foreign travel, searching for clues to his political contacts or influences.
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Imagine that an American politician, competing with a dozen other candidates for media attention, launched his presidential campaign by describing the nation’s evangelical Christians as a problem: “They’re charlatans who raise money from poor people to spend on private jets,” he says. “They have multiple affairs and sexually abuse children. And, some, I assume, are good people.”
Millions of evangelical Christians would be fighting mad, and rightly so. While there have been a few, highly publicized cases of professing evangelicals committing these sins and crimes, the overwhelming majority have not. This charge against believers would be what the Bible calls bearing false witness, and what the world calls slander.
No presidential candidate would make such a claim, as no candidate would want to alienate millions of evangelicals. And yet this blanket slander is precisely what Donald Trump did in recent days by describing Mexican immigrants as “bringing crime” to the U.S. and as “rapists.” Mr. Trump then “clarified” his views by suggesting that the problem is “not just Mexico,” but immigrants from other parts of the world as well.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Immigration Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Like 1.6 billion Muslims around the world fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, Jeff Cook has been rising before dawn each morning to have breakfast. He doesn’t eat again until breaking his fast with dinner.
But Mr. Cook isn’t Muslim, doesn’t have close Muslims friends, and has never been inside a mosque. The Christian pastor from Greeley, Colo., is fasting for the 30 days of Ramadan, which ends Friday, as part of a nascent effort among American Christians to better understand and support Muslims.
Mr. Cook posted a photo of himself on Twitter holding a sign that read: “I’m Jeff—A Christian in America. I’ll be fasting in solidarity #Christians4Ramadan.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Dieting/Food/Nutrition History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology
At least 49 people were killed and dozens injured when twin blasts struck a market in the northeast Nigerian city of Gombe on Thursday, rescue workers said.
The first explosion took place outside a packed footwear shop around 1620 GMT, followed by a second explosion just minutes later, said Badamasi Amin, a local trader who counted at least three bodies.
He said the area at the time was crowded with customers doing some last-minute shopping on the eve of the Eid festival marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
It has been a deadly July in Nigeria. More than 200 people have been killed since June 30 in attacks that have come almost daily in the country's northern and northeastern regions, stronghold of the militant Islamic sect Boko Haram.
Obscured by Boko Haram's headlines, violence also has raged farther south, where a lesser reported, years-long campaign has claimed thousands of Christian lives. Militants among the ethnic Fulani, a predominantly Muslim and nomadic population of cattle herders, are suspected of killing dozens of Christians in the states of Plateau and Taraba in recent months. The two states form the eastern end of Nigeria's "Middle Belt" -- the handful of states straddling the pre-colonial line dividing Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north from its Christian south.
The Middle Belt's most recent violence traces back to March, to a case of cattle rustling....
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Sacks is well placed to muse on this theme as the former Chief Rabbi of Britain and a prolific author on religious conflict. In fact, he has carved out a niche for himself as the man who gave theological coherence to the Samuel Huntingdon “clash of civilisations” thesis while also critiquing it. Sacks’ 2004 book, The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilisations, remains one of the wisest texts for negotiating religious pluralism in the modern world.
Sacks has no time for the politician’s mantra that violence committed by religious extremists like ISIL has nothing to do with Islam. Yes, the vast majority of the conflicts in the world today are nothing to do with religion, but “when terrorist or military groups invoke holy war, define their battle as a struggle against Satan, condemn unbelievers to death and commit murder while declaring ‘God is great,’ to deny that they are acting on religious motives is absurd” (p.11). Harder work needs to be done to glimpse the twisted logic and primitive psychology of these groups, he says, otherwise the proffered solutions will never create a compelling enough counter-narrative that weans believers from hate to love, and to value weakness rather than power.
Religious violence is rooted in the same source as all violence – identity wars, and Sacks worries that the West, which secularized so merrily, has created societies and institutions that cannot provide enough identity because it has forgotten humans are meaning -seeking creatures; “The result is that the twenty-first century has left us with a maximum of choice and a minimum of meaning” (p.13). Having thought religion was finished, now the West has seen it roar back - partly because of the vacuum secularisation created and, tragically, the religion that has returned is not gentle or ecumenical, but adversarial and aggressive. Make no mistake he warns “the greatest threat to freedom in the post-modern world is radical, politicised religion” (14). So if you don’t realise you are dealing with religion – however twisted – you are not going to find any meaningful responses.
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The video reveals Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services for Planned Parenthood, discussing the intentional harvesting of organs and other tissues from babies aborted in Planned Parenthood clinics. While reaching with her fork for salad, Dr. Nucatola openly tells a group she believes to be medical researchers that there is a great demand for fetal livers, but “a lot of people want intact hearts these days.”
Dr. Nucatola went on to explain in chilling detail that abortionists often plan in advance how to harvest desired organs, even telling the group that a “huddle” is sometimes held with clinic staff early in the day, so that targeted organs can be harvested from unborn babies.
Her language is beyond chilling as she described how abortions are conducted specifically to harvest intact organs: “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part. I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.” She also described using an abortion technique that appears to be partial-birth abortion.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Most British Muslims are Sunni, only about 5 per cent are Shia, but both communities are represented by the MC, which believes the government’s “Prevent” anti-terrorism strategy is discriminatory, demonising a law-abiding community. Relations have thawed; Shafi is pleased that Theresa May, the home secretary, is beginning to close what he calls the “trust deficit” by ordering police authorities to record every reported Islamophobic incident for the first time, even if charges are not pressed.
The MC is working with the government and the police to find out why young Muslims feel “alienated” and hence vulnerable to be being lured by the promise of a foreign adventure by people who are “misinterpreting Islam”.
“The Muslim Council has condemned those who claim to act in our name and we have mobilised mosque leaders, civil society leaders and families to speak out and redouble their efforts. However, we’ve no magic wand and what is important is sustained work within communities,” says Shafi, a retired doctor who arrived in Britain from India 46 years ago. “Extremism is mainly hidden on the internet and on social media and our concern is that the age group it attracts is getting younger and younger.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on the Italian embassy in Cairo. The BBC reported that ISIL had called western embassies “legitimate targets”.
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently said it was important not to underestimate or be complacent about the national security threat from ISIL. He also said it was equally important not to overestimate that threat. He called ISIL twisted and wicked but said it wasn’t Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia, with their power to conquer or challenge the West.
Australian journalist Martin Chulov has been on the ground in Iraq and Syria for a decade. He is Middle East correspondent for The Guardian and recently won the prestigious Orwell Award for his reporting. In Australia for a series of Guardian lectures, he assesses the current strength of ISIL.
Listen to it all from the Religion and Ethics Report.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The free tickets were for the festival this Saturday in Central Park featuring Luis Palau, one of the world’s leading evangelical Christian figures, whose event is expected to draw 60,000 people to the Great Lawn. For months it has been promoted not only in churches, but also on billboards, on the radio and in the subways, and it promises to be the largest evangelical Christian gathering in New York since the Rev. Billy Graham led a crusade in Queens 10 years ago.
The size of the festival belies the city’s secular reputation and speaks to the vibrant evangelical movement in New York. The phenomenon is driven largely by immigrant-led churches that have proliferated in the boroughs outside Manhattan.
Nearly 900 of the 1,700 churches participating in the festival are Hispanic, organizers said. Latino leaders were the ones two years ago to invite Mr. Palau, an endearing, white-haired bilingual immigrant from Argentina who has built a reputation as the Hispanic Billy Graham, but African-American and Korean-American church leaders quickly got involved in the planning.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Christology Soteriology
A Change of Heart recounts his dramatic turnabout. After he arrived at Drew University in 1970, his older colleague, the former Communist Will Herberg—by then writing for National Review, having returned to his own Jewish faith at Reinhold Niebuhr’s urging—implored Oden to read the early church fathers before presumptuously rejecting their faith. After months in the library absorbing Sts. Athanasius, Vincent, and Augustine, among others, Oden was stunned by their persuasive powers, which he credited to the Holy Spirit. He would spend his next three decades at Drew as a respected but lonely voice for Christian orthodoxy, tutoring several generations of “young fogey” orthodox scholars and clergy.
No less important, Oden connected with a wider network of conservative religious voices who shared his critique of liberal modernity, including the Vatican theologian Joseph Ratzinger—who, of course, would become Pope Benedict XVI and whom Oden credits for inspiring his Ancient Christian Commentary project—and the Lutheran-turned-Roman-Catholic Richard John Neuhaus, who joined Oden in the ecumenical project of Evangelicals and Catholics Together. Oden also befriended Avery Dulles, the Catholic-priest son of John Foster Dulles who excelled as a crisply orthodox theologian and became a cardinal.
Unlike other Protestant intellectuals who turned conservative in collaboration with Catholic thinkers, Oden seems never to have been seriously tempted to leave Wesley for Rome. He insists that he would never leave the church that baptized him, which means the small-town Methodism of Depression-era Oklahoma, where he was shaped by the preaching, prayers, and hymn-singing of traditional Wesleyan piety.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
For years Catholics and evangelical Protestants have found common cause especially in opposing abortion and homosexual practice, including gay marriage and challenges to Christian privilege. They have also stood together to assert their right to conscientiously object to laws they find morally repugnant.
But does this mean they're friends? Jamie Manson's sharp-eyed piece on the pope's embrace of some of the more visible evangelical figures suggests it is so. If that is the case, it must be a rather narrow version of friendship that collides with the pope's major message in several ways.
Rick Warren , Tony Perkins, Jim Robison and the others identified as Francis' amigos are an unblended lot. They act on their individual agendas (evangelicalism being perhaps the truest form of free enterprise extant) and not only compete for audience but frequently stir mutual friction. They publicly stand four square against shared moral evils, however, and that alone makes for friendships of convenience with official Catholicism. Warren has become the media go-to preacher for his image as the "new evangelical" who shows sympathy with broader social causes like environmentalism, but so far that advocacy has barely shown itself.
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In recent days, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis have all spoken out on the vital issue of climate change. It is vital, because the long-term future of the Earth and its inhabitants is at stake. It is no less a matter than that.
The issue of climate change led to the landmark Rio Earth Summit in 1992, which set out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid dangerous interference with the climate system. What is termed the Conference of Parties (COP) regularly reviews the implementation of the Rio action programme. The next COP will be held next December in Paris and, for the first time in two decades of UN negotiations, will seek to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, aiming to keep global warming below 2°C.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Energy, Natural Resources Foreign Relations Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
On Dec. 6, 1942, 10 German soldiers marched into Rekówka, a Polish village 90 miles south of Warsaw. They’d received a tip from some locals that two families, the Skoczylas and Kosioróws, were sheltering Jews. When the Germans apprehended the families in their shared house, all but four of its inhabitants were at home. The soldiers spotted a trapdoor in the kitchen, which opened to a small, but empty, hiding place. They demanded that the families reveal the whereabouts of the stowaways, but nobody would talk. The soldiers took them to the barn behind the house, locked them inside and burned them alive. When two of the boys tried to escape, they were shot in the back.
Almost 72 years later, in August 2014, a cultural investigator named Jonny Daniels lifted that trapdoor for the first time since the surviving family members sealed it off years ago. He lowered himself down a ladder into a dark, damp space, with no light source and a floor covered with straw. He didn’t know it at the time, but he had uncovered the only known World War II hiding place for Jews that has remained intact and undisturbed since the end of the war.
On Thursday, after a year of negotiations and research, the space became an official heritage site in Poland, the only one of its kind.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary Europe Germany Poland * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Judaism * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Cameroon's army has repulsed an attack by Boko Haram and killed three of the Nigerian Islamist militants in heavy fighting in the Far North region of the country, a Cameroon government spokesman said on Thursday.
The attack represented a change of tactics by the militants following a series of battlefield defeats this year in which they have lost territory to a regional force that comprises Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, spokesman Issa Tchiroma said.
"Early Tuesday morning around 3.:40 a.m. (0140 GMT) an enemy column in four-wheel drive vehicles opened fire on positions held by our defense forces," he said of the attack in Bodo town.
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Shortly after graduating from college in Pennsylvania last year, Elaine Rita Mendus hopped on a Greyhound bus, hoping the $2,000 in her bank account would keep her afloat until the first paycheck. There was only one city in the country that seemed moderately promising for a 6-foot-3 transgender woman in the early stages of transitioning to launch a career.
“I figured, where else will I be accepted?” Ms. Mendus, 24, said. “New York.”
It was a rude awakening. The luckiest break she caught after a monthslong quest to find steady work was a coveted slot at one of the city’s few homeless shelters that give refuge to gay and transgender youths for a few months. It was a blessing, she said, but also “a really strange pill to swallow.”
Americans’ understanding of transgender people has been shaped recently by the riveting, glamorous lives of the former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner and the actress Laverne Cox. The two, though, are far from representative of an economically disadvantaged community that continues to face pervasive employment discrimination, partly as a result of lagging legal protections.
Roughly 15 percent of transgender Americans earn less than $10,000 a year, a rate of extreme poverty that is almost four times higher than the national average, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. They are twice as likely to be unemployed as the general population, though transgender Americans have a higher level of education than the general population. About 16 percent of respondents to a 2011 survey said they resorted to illegal trades like prostitution and drug dealing. Ninety percent said they faced harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job. The worst off are black and Hispanic transgender women, particularly those who don’t have the means to alter their physical appearance as much as they would like. For many, coming out means being drawn into a cycle of debt, despair and dreadful choices.
In 1993, Minnesota became the first state to enact a law protecting employees from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Since then, 18 other states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and scores of jurisdictions have taken similar steps, which today collectively cover about 51 percent of the population.
In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began taking the position that discrimination against transgender employees was a form of sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That offers individuals valuable legal recourse, but pursuing claims through the E.E.O.C. is time-consuming and generally futile for those who cannot afford to hire a lawyer.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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Four children were killed when Islamic State blew up an historic church in Mosul, Iraq's second city.
The blast destroyed the Mother of Aid church, according to the Kurdish news site Rudaw.
Saeed Mamuzini, of the Mosul branch of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, said the children happened to be near the church, which was more than 1,000 years old and was in central Mosul.
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We presume to know more than we can know. In periods and places where religious doubt is criminalized, unquestioning faith is likely to appear universal. Where religious faith is treated as naive and intellectually indefensible, few will confess to it. Where it truly is naive and intellectually indefensible, those who can’t identify with it are often treated as having actually rejected faith, and may believe this of themselves.
So let us call this inability to know the state of our fellow’s soul a veil dropped down between his or her sacred inwardness and the coercive intrusions to which the religious and the anti-religious are equally tempted. If the fate of souls is at the center of the cosmic drama, is it difficult to imagine that it will unfold, so to speak, in a place set apart, a holy of holies—that is, a human consciousness? Where better might an encounter with God take place? If God is attentive to us individually, as Jesus’ saying about the fall of a sparrow certainly implies, then would his history with us be the same in every case, articulable and verifiable, manifest in behaviors that square with expectations? Would it be something we should be ready to talk about to pollsters or journalists?
Perhaps the real lack of faith in modern society comes down to a lack of reverence for humankind, for those around us, about whom we might consider it providential that we can know nothing—in these great matters that sometimes involve feigning or concealment, that are beyond ordinary thought and conventional experience, and that can in any case be minutely incremental, since God really does have all the time in the world. Perhaps it is a gross presumption to try to imagine a God’s eye view of things, but I can only think these encounters, every one unique, must be extraordinarily beautiful. If it is hard for us to believe that the God who searches us and knows us also loves us, perhaps we should learn to be better humanists.
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Some Christians are worried that their churches will lose their tax-exempt status as a result of the Supreme Court's decision declaring gay marriage a constitutional right. I'm worried that my church will cease to exist altogether, or at least in its present form.
The United Methodist Church is the largest mainline Protestant denomination in America. Following decades of steep membership losses across all these historic churches, that's kind of like being the tallest building in Topeka. But only the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention have more U.S. members, and the United Methodist Church's international membership is actually growing.
Almost alone among mainline Protestant churches, the United Methodists have remained committed to orthodox Christian standards of sexual morality. Clergy must be celibate when single and monogamous in marriage, which is defined as the union of a man and a woman. Methodist pastors are not permitted to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.
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People of Irish Catholic ancestry will be able to trace their origins back almost 300 years online from Wednesday.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys will officially launch online the entire collection of Catholic parish register microfilms held by the National Library of Ireland (NLI).
Involved are more than 370,000 digital images of the microfilm reels on which the parish registers are recorded and which will be accessible free of charge.
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The Catholic Church in England and Wales is turning to the pioneer of the Alpha course to inspire parishes to evangelise.
The Revd Nicky Gumbel, vicar at the Holy Trinity Brompton church in South Kensington, London, is due to address 850 diocesan representatives at Proclaim ’15, a national Catholic evangelisation gathering in Birmingham on Saturday.
The Alpha course is a 10-week introduction to Christianity borne out of the charismatic Evangelical movement and is now used by more Catholic churches worldwide than Anglican ones.
Clare Ward, home mission adviser to the bishops’ conference said Mr Gumbel had been invited to help parishes shift their mentality “from maintenance to mission”.
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Over the past three years, a major church scandal has unfolded in the island state of Singapore (literally, the “Lion City”). The target of investigation is the mighty City Harvest megachurch, which claims more than 20,000 adherents. Founding pastor Kong Hee has been accused of diverting at least $20 million to support his wife’s pop music career. Several other church leaders have been implicated in alleged cover-ups.
At first sight such a scandal might seem unremarkable. Sadly, clergy on all continents sometimes fail to live up to their principles, and churches often lack accountability.
What is astonishing is the existence of megachurches in Singapore, and their enormous popularity. This fact challenges much of what we commonly think we know about the nature of Christianity outside its traditional Euro-American heartlands. It also raises basic questions about the process of secularization....
Most of the usual explanations for Christian expansion in Asia fall flat in the case of Singapore.
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A bomb attack has killed at least 25 people and wounded 32 others in northern Nigeria's Zaria city, the state governor has said.
A suspected suicide bomber targeted civil servants at a government building in the city, witnesses said.
Emergency workers have rushed to the scene to help evacuate the wounded.
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Ten years to the minute after the 7/7 bombings brought carnage to London, the 52 victims of the terrorist atrocity were remembered in a simple ceremony at the Hyde Park memorial that bears their names.
At the first of a series of events throughout Tuesday to mark the 10th anniversary, David Cameron and Boris Johnson stood with heads bowed in silent tribute at 8.50am amid the 52 steel pillars, each one representing a life lost.
The skies above central London darkened suddenly as the prime minister and the mayor of London walked silently through the thicket of stainless steel pillars, the only sounds the clicking of cameras and the rumble of passing traffic.
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Contrast this statement with another, from January 1963. [Maxie] Dunnam, then a young pastor in Mississippi, invited three other Methodist pastors to his river camp in order to draft “Born of Conviction,” a historic challenge to Jim Crow amid one of its darkest moments. Only a few months before, rioting had broken out when James Meredith became the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. A few months later, a white supremacist shot and killed Mississippi NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers (whose wife would later honor Dunnam).
“Born of Conviction” cited the official Methodist teaching that all men were equal, denounced resegregation under the cover of Christian schooling, and rejected the charge that the civil rights movement was Communist. Several of the twenty-eight Methodist pastors who subsequently signed the statement were forced to leave the state. Some received death threats.
The distance between Dunnam's statement in 1963 and [Bill] Mefford's in 2015 provides another measure of the loss of moral seriousness in mainline social justice activism. The comparison is not, I think, an altogether unfair one. Mefford's official position makes it impossible to dismiss his comments as the mere product of one man's glibness, rather than to admit them as evidence of a church bureaucracy that has lost touch with scripture, tradition, and the believers it purports to represent.
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...in the wake of the 5-4 Obergefell decision by Justice Anthony Kennedy and the U.S. Supreme Court, the Chicago Tribune has followed up with a news report about Reardon that does a good job of describing his decision, yet does little to dig into the thoughts and beliefs of those who either oppose or dismiss his strategy. Consider, for example, this passage in which an Orthodox bishop seems to echo, in reverse, some of Reardon's thinking:
Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, said he doesn’t foresee such a boycott in Chicago. He even questions whether it’s legal.
“I can’t imagine any of our priests doing that,” he said. “It hasn’t happened yet and I don’t anticipate it happening to make a political statement,” he said.
That's a really important quote.
I would stress that this statement by a Greek Orthodox bishop in no way represents an endorsement of Obergefell, but it clear indicates that there will be theological and legal debates ahead – inside Eastern Orthodoxy in this land and in other sanctuaries – about how priests should handle this clash between state and church.
In other words, this quote should have been near the top of the Tribune report and backed with more material explaining, on the record when possible, the views of those – in Orthodoxy and elsewhere – who have rejected Reardon's strategy.
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Senior Anglican leaders have responded to a move by the Presbyterian Church in NSW to consider ministers handing back their marriage licences if marriage is redefined to include same-sex couples.
Kevin Murray, the moderator of the NSW Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, wrote to churches about debate at the annual assembly in Sydney last week.
“The Assembly considered what the church should do if marriage is redefined in Australia. It decided to ask the General Assembly of Australia to withdraw the whole church from the Marriage Act, so that our ministers could no longer solemnise marriages under the Marriage Act.” Mr Murray said. “The report which recommended this decision argued that if the Federal Government were to redefine marriage to include same-sex marriage then it would corrupt a good gift of God into a wrong. That would mean that ministers would then be acting for the government in a system which did not reflect the biblical view of marriage. In this case the positive reason for our co-operation with the Marriage Act would have been removed, and we would be better to avoid association with evil by no longer acting as celebrants.”
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Carrying one child in her arm, a second on her back and holding the hand of a third, Hasinah Izhar waded waist-deep through a mangrove swamp into the Bay of Bengal, toward a fishing boat bobbing in the dusk.
“Troops are coming, troops are coming,” the smuggler said. “Get on the boat quickly.”
If she was going to change her mind, she would have to do it now.
Ms. Izhar, 33, had reached the muddy shore after sneaking down the dirt paths and around the fish ponds of western Myanmar, where she and about one million other members of the Rohingya minority are stateless, shunned and persecuted for their Muslim faith.
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Two bombs blamed on the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram exploded at a crowded mosque and an elite Muslim restaurant in Nigeria’s central city of Jos, killing 44 people, officials said Monday.
Sixty-seven other people were wounded and were being treated at hospitals, said National Emergency Management Agency coordinator Abdussalam Mohammed.
The explosion at the Yantaya Mosque came as leading cleric Sani Yahaya of the Jama’atu Izalatul Bidia organization, which preaches peaceful coexistence of all religions, was addressing a crowd during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to survivors, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
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Justin taylor provides a helpful summary which begins:Tony Reinke asks New Testament scholar and Gospel Coalition president D. A. Carson the following questions:
 Generally speaking, what would you say to someone who came up and asked you for your initial thoughts about the SCOTUS ruling?
 Does this landmark ruling today mark a new era for the church in America?
 What would you say to Christians who feel angry and betrayed by the courts for this ruling?...
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The Area Bishop of North Africa, and Rector of St George's, in the capital Tunis, the Rt Revd Bill Musk, visited survivors of the attack in intensive care at hospital. He said that they were still deeply in shock.
"It's very humbling - you just go to listen," he said. "Everyone wants us to pray with them. When you have come very close to dying, or someone you love has, we are all vulnerable."
The overwhelming response from Tunisians has been one of shame, Bishop Musk said. One of the nurses at the bedside of a British victim of the shooting was continually apologising and explaining how Mr Rezgui did not represent true Islam, he said.
The attack was also a disaster for Tunisia, as it would lose billions of pounds if tourists decided to stay away.
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One reason that this has been rather shocking to American Catholics is that we have had, at least for the last century or so, a fairly benign relationship with the environing culture. Until around 1970, there was, throughout the society and across religious boundaries, a broad moral consensus in our country, especially in regard to sexual and family matters. This is one reason why, in the 1950's, Archbishop Fulton Sheen could find such a wide and appreciative audience among Protestants and Jews, even as he laid out fundamentally Catholic perspectives on morality.
But now that consensus has largely been shattered, and the Church finds itself opposed, not so much by other religious denominations, as it was in the 19th century, but by the ideology of secularism and the self-defining individual -- admirably expressed, by the way, in Justice Kennedy's articulation of the majority position in the case under consideration.
So what do we do?
We continue to put forth our point of view winsomely, invitingly, and non-violently, loving our opponents and reaching out to those with whom we disagree. As St. John Paul II said, the Church always proposes, never imposes. And we take a deep breath, preparing for what could be some aggression from the secular society, but we take courage from a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us.
The Church has faced this sort of thing before -- and we're still standing.
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An historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church is "getting closer every day," a senior Orthodox prelate said in an interview published on 28 June.
The unprecedented meeting would be a significant step towards healing the 1,000-year-old rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity, which split in the Great Schism of 1054.
"Now such a meeting is getting closer every day but it must be well prepared," Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church's foreign relations department, said in an interview with Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper.
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Some of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria have been forced to join Islamist militant group Boko Haram, the BBC has been told.
Witnesses say some are now being used to terrorise other captives, and are even carrying out killings themselves.
The testimony cannot be verified but Amnesty International says other girls kidnapped by Boko Haram have been forced to fight.
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The result has been an obvious change in tone and emphasis — but not teaching or policy — at many churches. Almost all evangelical churches oppose same-sex marriage, and many do not allow gays and lesbians to serve in leadership positions unless they are celibate. Some pastors, however, now either minimize their preaching on the subject or speak of homosexuality in carefully contextualized sermons emphasizing that everyone is a sinner and that Christians should love and welcome all.
“Evangelicals are coming to the realization that they hold a minority view in the culture, and that on this issue, they have lost the home-field advantage,” said Ed Stetzer, the executive director of LifeWay Research, which surveys evangelicals. “They are learning to speak with winsomeness and graciousness, which, when their view was the majority, evangelicals tended not to do.” A handful of evangelical churches have changed their positions. City Church in San Francisco, for example, has dropped its rule that gays and lesbians commit to celibacy to become members, and GracePointe Church in Tennessee has said gays and lesbians can serve in leadership roles and receive the sacrament of marriage. Ken Wilson, who founded the Vineyard Church in Ann Arbor, Mich., published an open letter calling for a greater embrace of gays and lesbians in evangelical churches. But Mr. Stetzer said they are the exceptions.
“Well-known evangelicals who have shifted on same-sex marriage, you could fit them all in an S.U.V.,” Mr. Stetzer said. “If you do shift, you become a media celebrity, but the shift among practicing evangelicals is minimal.”
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“We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can almost be as stupid as a cabbage as long as you doubt.”--Dallas Willard, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God (IVP, 2012), p.283
At First Baptist Dallas, where the pulpit was adorned Sunday with red, white and blue bunting to honor the Fourth of July, the pastor called the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling “an affront in the face of Almighty God.”
The iconic rainbow colors that bathed the White House Friday night after the court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide represent “depravity, degradation and what the Bible calls sexual perversion,” the Rev. Robert Jeffress said.
“But we are not discouraged,” Jeffress said. “We are not going to be silenced. This is a great opportunity for our church to share the truth and love of Jesus Christ and we are going to do it.”
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Almost on cue, there were three different news stories about abortion and Down syndrome around the time of the encyclical’s release. New blood screening, for instance, has resulted in a 34 percent increase in such abortions in Britain. Just a few days later, a Washington Post guest columnist argued such routine and systematic screening — not least because between 67 percent and 92 percent end up aborting — constitutes the formal “elimination of a group of people quite happy being themselves” under “the false pretense of women’s rights.” And then there was the story of the truly despicable company stealing the image of a child with Down syndrome for their Orwellian-sounding test kit named “Tranquility.”
You couldn’t ask for a more revealing practice of the throwaway culture Pope Francis so strongly decries. It doesn’t matter that people with Down syndrome are happier than those who are “normal;” our consumer culture’s tendency is to turn everything into a mere object or tool of the market, and when the object or tool is no longer useful, we simply discard it. These children don’t meet the quality-control standards of the consumer, and so the product simply gets thrown out as so much trash.
But one of the central themes of Pope Francis’s encyclical is that all creation has value independent of its value within a consumer culture. In response to my sharing the three stories mentioned above on social media, an old friend sent me a touching e-mail (parts of which are shared here with permission) about her sister with Down syndrome. She remembers that her family was initially sad and worried — but now, looking back, “it truly made no sense....”
Read it all from Charles Camosy in the Washington Post.
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“Catholic teaching maintains that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman joined in an intimate partnership of life and love—a union instituted by God for the mutual fulfillment of the husband and wife as well as for the procreation and education of children.
“Partnerships of committed same-sex individuals are already legal in California. Our state has also granted domestic partners spousal-type rights and responsibilities which facilitate their relationships with each other and any children they bring to the partnership. Every person involved in the family of domestic partners is a child of God and deserves respect in the eyes of the law and their community. However, those partnerships are not marriage—and can never be marriage—as it has been understood since the founding of the United States. Today’s decision of California’s high court opens the door for policymakers to deconstruct traditional marriage and create another institution under the guise of equal protection.
“Although we strongly disagree with the ruling, we ask our Catholic people, as well as all the people of California, to continue to uphold the dignity of every person, to acknowledge individual rights and responsibilities, and to maintain support for the unique and irreplaceable role of traditional marriage as an institution which is fundamental to society.”
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Update (June 22): InterVarsity has given CT more details about its reinstatement at 19 California campuses.
"Cal State has not changed the language of their 'all comers' policy," said Greg Jao, vice president of campus engagement. "They have clarified that the policy only requires that (a) we allow all students to become members, which we have always done, and (b) we allow all students to apply for leadership positions.
"We have been assured that we can have a rigorous selection process which reflects InterVarsity’s mission and message as a Christian ministry," he told CT. "We’re confident in our ability to choose leaders who reflect our mission and message."
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All of us must be full of grief at the attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait. They are intended not only to destroy but to divide, not only to terrify but to take from us our own commitment to each other in our societies....
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Episcopalians are continuing calls for unity with other Christian churches despite actions that have had the effect of increasing divisions between Episcopalians, Global South Anglicans and other branches of historic Christianity.
A number of international bishops from smaller Anglican provinces are in attendance at the Episcopal Church’s triennial General Convention meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, with a handful of ecumenical guests from other churches. None of the Anglican Communion’s larger provinces are represented, and there is no bishop representing the Church of England in an official capacity at General Convention this year. There are no bishops from the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches. The headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) is one block from the convention center, but there is no delegation or representative from the Mormon faith at General Convention.
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Let’s also recognize that if we’re right about marriage, and I believe we are, many people will be disappointed in getting what they want. Many of our neighbors believe that a redefined concept of marriage will simply expand the institution (and, let’s be honest, many will want it to keep on expanding). This will not do so, because sexual complementarity is not ancillary to marriage. The church must prepare for the refugees from the sexual revolution.
We must prepare for those, like the sexually wayward Woman at the Well of Samaria, who will be thirsting for water of which they don’t even know.
There are two sorts of churches that will not be able to reach the sexual revolution’s refugees. A church that has given up on the truth of the Scriptures, including on marriage and sexuality, and has nothing to say to a fallen world. And a church that screams with outrage at those who disagree will have nothing to say to those who are looking for a new birth.
We must stand with conviction and with kindness, with truth and with grace. We must hold to our views and love those who hate us for them. We must not only speak Christian truths; we must speak with a Christian accent. We must say what Jesus has revealed, and we must say those things the way Jesus does — with mercy and with an invitation to new life.
Read it all from Russell Moore.
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Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.
The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.
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“As evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court’s ruling that redefines marriage. The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image,” the leaders wrote. “We will not capitulate on marriage because biblical authority requires that we cannot. The Supreme Court’s actions pose incalculable risks to an already volatile social fabric by alienating those whose beliefs about marriage are motivated by deep biblical convictions and concern for the common good.”
In the statement, the leaders suggest that the Court’s ruling is part of a negative trajectory on marriage and “represents an aftermath that evangelicals themselves, sadly, are not guiltless in contributing to. Too often, professing evangelicals have failed to model the ideals we so dearly cherish and believe are central to gospel proclamation.”
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The work of the church is not merely to accept those of us who are transgender, asexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, and intersex. The work of the church is to accept and celebrate that the church—the body—is itself queer. The body of Christ is queer because it isn’t defined or bound by human constructs or binaries. It transcends and subverts norms and boundaries. It contains multitudes. But the body is also queer simply because its queer members are a vital component of its identity. When I was dating a cisgender (i.e., identifying with the gender assigned at birth), heterosexual man last fall, we were in a queer relationship. My queer identity made the relationship itself queer, even though he was straight. The body of Christ is queer in this same way because it contains queer identities.
It is time for the church to sit down nervously at its own Table and confront its internalized queerphobia. It is time for the body of Christ to come out. Some of us who have come out ourselves are happy to be the friend that talks the church through it.
Coming out is not easy. It is not just about moving forward in celebration and inclusion. It is about accepting that in some ways you are just now becoming acquainted with who you really are. It means recognizing you have missed opportunities for relationship, happiness, and growth. It means grieving the years lost to fear and the heartbreak of relationships with loved ones who cannot understand. It means holding with grace the wounds you will always carry.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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Last week marked the passing of a woman whose missionary work and writings inspired hundreds of thousands of Christians to live lives of faith and obedience to God, and led thousands to bring the gospel to people in countries around the world. Elisabeth Elliot died June 15 at age 88, but her legacy will continue through the lives transformed by her example. I knew her simply as “Aunt Betty,” as she was my father’s sister.
Elliot first entered the news in January 1956, when her husband, Jim Elliot, and four other missionaries were killed by a group of Auca Indians, today known as Waorani, in the deepest jungles of Ecuador. The five missionaries—three of them, like Elisabeth, were former students at Wheaton College in Illinois—felt called by God to bring the gospel to this fiercest of tribes, one that had no connections to the outside world.
After months of groundwork, the missionaries made friendly contact with three tribal members near the main Waorani village. But two days later, several warriors burst out of the jungle and speared and hacked the men to death. The missionaries were armed, but when the attack came they only fired their weapons into the air, as they had agreed they would in such an event. Why? Because they believed that they were ready to meet their maker, while the Waorani were not. The incident made headlines around the world, including articles in Life, Time and Reader’s Digest magazines.
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The "greatest turning of Muslims to Jesus Christ in history" is taking place across the world, the author of a new book, on tour in the UK, suggests.
A Wind in the House of Islam, by Dr David Garrison, a missionary pioneer with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, documents a Muslim "movement to Christ" in more than 70 places across 29 countries. Converts, it says, now number between two and seven million.
Dr Garrison defines a "movement" as being at least 100 new churches started, or 1000 baptisms, within a 20-year period in one people group. He estimates that there have been 82 "movements" across the centuries, of which 69 began, or are continuing to unfold, in the 21st century.
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The rector of the Paris Grand Mosque has sparked uproar by suggesting that disused churches could be turned into mosques. Dalil Boubakeur, who recently said France needed double the 2,000 or so mosques it now has, said on French radio this was a sensitive question but he thought it could be done.
“We have the same God ... I think that Muslims and Christians can coexist and live together,” he said in a radio interview.
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Boko Haram militants have killed at least 40 people in north-eastern Nigeria, according to witnesses.
The attacks on Monday and Tuesday took place in the villages of Debiro Hawul and Debiro Bi in Borno state.
Residents say the militants drove into the towns and began shooting, looting and burning houses.
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The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches says Christians must grasp the “unique ecumenical momentum” created by Pope Francis’ new encyclical on the environment. He also believes it’s vital to respond in a more practical and pastoral way to migrants in Europe who are radically changing our “reflection about who is in communion with whom”.
Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit was in Rome on Tuesday to attend celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the Joint Working Group of the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches. Set up just before the end of the Second Vatican Council, the Group is holding a plenary session in Rome this week to begin its tenth round of ecumenical conversations.
In a message to Rev Fykse Tveit to mark the occasion, Pope Francis said we should be encouraged by the collaboration the Group has promoted, “not only in ecumenical issues, but also in the areas of interreligious dialogue, peace and social justice, and works of charity and humanitarian aid”. But he stressed that despite the many ecumenical achievements, “Christian mission and witness still suffer due to our divisions”.
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There are no mirrors in heaven, no
tied tongues, pride
rung and hung before
eyes to see or
on ears marred by wounding words
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Before he became senior pastor of the Fort Lauderdale congregation, [Tullian] Tchividjian’s church plant, New City, merged with the larger Coral Ridge. Seven months in, a group of church members, headed by Kennedy’s daughter, circulated a petition calling for his removal. Church members voted 69 percent to 31 percent to keep him, but a group of congregants formed a new church in response.
Tchividjian was described by the Miami Herald as a pastor who would focus on specific Bible passages rather than on the news, preferred more contemporary music over the organ, and chose podcasting over broadcasting.
The Hartford Institute for Religion Institute’s database of megachurches lists Coral Ridge as having 1,900 attendees. The church began in 1978 under Kennedy, and its weekly services were televised as the Coral Ridge Hour, reportedly reaching up to 3 million people. Kennedy was a founding board member of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Moral Majority and developed the popular curriculum “Evangelism Explosion.”
Last year, Tchividjian broke up with the Gospel Coalition, a network of Reformed leaders, over a theological dispute. His popular blog was hosted at TGC and he wrote several books with evangelical publishers Crossway and David C. Cook.
Read it all from the Washington Post.
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At the June 18 launch of the highly-anticipated encyclical Laudato Si (The Care for Our Common Home), Cardinal Peter Turkson acknowledged a critique that the Church is taking sides on scientifically still-debatable topics such as global warming, pollution, species extinction and global inequality’s impact on natural resources.
“The aim of the encyclical is not to intervene in this debate, which is the responsibility of scientists, and even less to establish exactly in which ways the climate changes are a consequence of human action” he said. Instead, the goal of the document is to promote the well-being of all creation and “to develop an integral ecology, which in its diverse dimensions comprehends ‘our unique place as human beings in this world and our relationship to our surroundings,” the cardinal said, quoting the encyclical.
“Science is the best tool by which we can listen to the cry of the earth,” Cardinal Turkson said, noting that regardless of the various positions, studies tells us that “today the earth, our sister, mistreated and abused.”
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we cry at the violence thrust upon this congregation and wonder when we will be able to sing again. We pray for families, a congregation, and a community in grief. This doesn’t make any sense.
Despite our theological sophistication that tells us we ought to know better, the questions persist: Where was God when the shooter entered? Where is God now?
The answer is contained in the name of this African Methodist Episcopal church.
“Mother Emanuel,” as the members have historically referred to Emanuel AME Church, has known her share of pain. Through their building being burned under suspicion the pastor was leading a slave revolt in the 1820s, and during a time when black churches were outlawed, the congregation persevered. According to the church’s website, they “continued the tradition of the African church by worshipping underground until 1865 when it was formally reorganized, and the name Emanuel was adopted, meaning ‘God with us.’”
The congregation borrowed the name from Matthew’s Gospel, who borrowed it from the prophet Isaiah.
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With the busyness on the blog yesterday given the Charleston shootings and quite a number of other important posts, some readers may have missed the post about Lent & Beyond's list of resources to help us pray for Muslims during Ramadan. You'll find it here..
Today they have posted a Ramadan Day 2 Prayer Roundup including short prayers for several countries, and a challenging exhortation that all their readers "might commit to spending 5 or 10 minutes before or after your evening meal for the next 4 weeks to pray for Muslims’ spiritual hunger to be satisfied in Jesus."
You'll find each day's prayer entry using the Ramadan 2015 tag.
People of faith need to focus on the moral and spiritual elements of the crisis brought about by rapid climate change, Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, said today in response to Pope Francis's encyclical on the issue.
In a statement issued from Cape Town, the Archbishop said:
"I would like to thank Pope Francis for this historic, ground-breaking letter. I look forward to studying it in more detail.
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Opposition to the encyclical has been building for months. The Heartland Institute launched a campaign to “Tell Pope Francis: Global Warming is not a Crisis,” asking readers to “Talk to your minister, priest, or spiritual leader. Tell him or her you’ve studied the global warming issue and believe Pope Francis is being misled about the science and economics of the issue. Refer him or her to this website.” Others have suggested that Francis is advocating Latin American style socialism.
Hyperbole is part of politics. But there seems to be a fairly large disconnect between the criticism of Laudato Si (much of it made prior to the release of the actual text) and the encyclical itself. The actual document is a more measured affair. For one thing, it’s not even really accurate to call it a “climate encyclical.” Most of the document is devoted to other environmental issues (ranging from clean drinking water to biodiversity) or to the proper Christian perspective on the environment generally. Only a small portion of the lengthy encyclical is devoted to climate change per se, and much of what the encyclical does say about climate change is in keeping with the prior statements of John Paul II and Benedict XVI on the issue. The encyclical says that:
A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. . . . It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity. Concentrated in the atmosphere, these gases do not allow the warmth of the sun’s rays reflected by the earth to be dispersed in space.Read it all.
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Lent & Beyond has compiled a comprehensive list of resources, links and Twitter feeds of interest during Ramadan 2015, which began today. Traditionally many Christians and Christian ministries use Ramadan as a time to pray for Muslims and encourage outreach to Muslim neighbors and colleagues.
Go check out all the links.. Ramadan prayer entries during the coming month will be posted using the Ramadan 2015 tag.
Also, you can follow Lent & Beyond on Twitter
“Laudato si’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.
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Appealing to the entire world, Pope Francis urged everyone to read his upcoming encyclical on the care of creation and to better protect a damaged earth.
“This common ‘home’ is being ruined and that harms everyone, especially the poorest,” he said June 17, the day before the Vatican was releasing his encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”
He said he was launching an appeal for people to recognize their “responsibility, based on the task that God gave human beings in creation: ‘to cultivate and care for’ the ‘garden’ in which he settled us.”
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Several denominations partnered with the Canadian government for nearly a century to run the more than 130 residential schools, including Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and the United Church of Canada.
Winnipeg’s Anglican bishop says the report provides a framework for action and education, such as including indigenous perspectives in theological schools, studying the history and legacy of residential schools, and understanding the role of churches in colonization.
"For us, the TRC report is not threatening and it gives us a shot in the arm to really keep the agenda of healing and reconciliation and working in partnership with aboriginal people in front of (our) people," says Bishop Donald Phillips of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land.
Read it all from the Winnipeg Free Press.
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Loving Lord and Heavenly Father I offer up today all that I am, all that I have, all that I do, and all that I suffer, to be Yours today and Yours forever. Give me grace, Lord, to do all that I know of Your holy will. Purify my heart, sanctify my thinking, correct my desires. Teach me, in all of today’s work and trouble and joy, to respond with honest praise, simple trust, and instant obedience, that my life may be in truth a living sacrifice, by the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ, my Master and my all. Amen(Hat tip: Lent and Beyond who a has a link to more background also)
Four suicide bombers on motorcycles killed at least 23 people and wounded more than 100 others in Chad’s capital on Monday, raising fears of a widening threat from the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the simultaneous attacks on two buildings, including the national police academy, in N’Djamena. But suspicion quickly fell on Boko Haram, the Islamist group based in northeast Nigeria.
The suicide attacks were the first of their kind in the capital of an ally of Nigeria involved in the fight against the group. In recent months, its strongholds in Nigeria have come under increased pressure from a five-nation coalition of African forces.
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Al Qaeda confirmed Tuesday that it's No. 2 official — a former aide to Osama Bin Laden who rose to lead the terror group's powerful Yemen affiliate — was killed in a U.S. airstrike.
Rumors about Nasir al-Wuhayshi's death first circulated on social media and in the Yemeni press.
A video released by al Qaeda on Tuesday said Wuhayshi had been killed in a U.S. airstrike along with two other militants and that a successor, Qassim al Rimi, had been appointed.
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In 1952, both Elisabeth and Jim left independently for Ecuador as mission workers. Elisabeth's assignment was with the Colorado Indians of the western jungle. Jim began work with the Quichua Indians of the eastern jungle area. When a flood necessitated rebuilding part of the station where Jim lived, he and Elisabeth decided to marry. The civil ceremony took place in Quito on October 8, 1953. Together they worked on the Quichua language and translation of the New Testament, under the sponsorship of Christian Missions in Many Lands. On February 27, 1955, their daughter Valerie was born.
Proximity of the remote Waorani people (or as called by their neighbors Auca or savage)had previously stimulated Jim Elliot's determination to attempt contact and evangelization. In 1955, plans were made for contacting the Waoranis. These plans included aerial reconnaissance flights with Nate Saint, Mission Aviation pilot, and bucket "drops" with gifts for the Waoranis. Rudiments of the Waorani language were studied and broadcast from the plane during these contacts. The language had been translated by Rachel Saint, sister of Nate, through her work with Dayuma, a refugee girl from the Waorani tribe whose family had been killed by tribesmen.
On January 2, 1956, Saint and Elliot, with Pete Fleming, Roger Youderian and Ed McCully, landed on Curaray Beach and established a camp. After an apparently friendly visit from two women and a man from the Waorani tribe, the five men were killed with wooden spears on January 8, 1956. The international attention focused on their deaths resulted in a request to write their story. Through Gates of Splendor was published in 1957, authored by Elisabeth. It was followed a year later by Shadow of the Almighty, a biography of Jim Elliot. His personal journals were edited by Elisabeth as The Journals of Jim Elliot and published in 1978.
Following her husband's death, Elisabeth decided to remain, with Valerie, and continue the work with the Quichua Indians in Ecuador. (She briefly returned to her parents’ home in New Jersey after Jim’s death.) During the next two years, further contacts were made with the Waorani tribes and on October 8, 1958, Rachel Saint, Elisabeth and Valerie, accompanied by Dayuma, were able to move in with the tribe in the their remote village, Tewaenon, on the Tiwaenu River and live with the family group which had killed the men. Elisabeth was given the name Omiwaeni, which means Crane, because of her height. There they studied the language and worked on Bible translations. Their experiences were recorded in Elisabeth's book, The Savage My Kinsman (1961). Jim Elliot's killers and other members of the tribe were later converted to Christianity. She also wrote two other books about her missionary experience, No Graven Image, a novel (Harper & Row, 1966) and These Strange Ashes (Harper & Row, 1975)
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[Recently]...Elisabeth Elliot came face to face with her heart’s truest love—Jesus Christ. On Earth, she married three times—her first two husbands preceded her in death – but from earliest childhood her deepest affections were for her Savior, and it was for Him that her soul yearned. June 14, 2015 is the day her lifelong passion, zeal, and rugged obedience see fulfillment in his presence. I am thrilled for her!
I, on the other hand, am sitting here with tears in my eyes, already missing one of my most sacred companions on the journey towards home. I know from the get-go that I will not be able to fully articulate her impact on me; words are going to fail me in my attempt to honor her, but I have to try.
As a college freshman in 1972, I got to be a part of history. My little (at the time) college—California Baptist—was no different than hundreds of other Christian colleges. We lived in the era of no dancing, drinking, smoking, girls couldn’t wear pants to class, “mixed bathing” was frowned upon, drums and guitar in worship were radical ideas, and boys with long hair were instantly pegged as hippies (which was definitely not a good thing). Our faith was buttoned up, quiet, respectful, filled with rules and regulations, and not very exciting or challenging.
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A scholar has sparked controversy by telling British Muslims that they can cut their Ramadan fast because of the long summer days.
The holy month begins on Thursday, and believers will by tradition stop eating and drinking from dawn until dusk.
However, Usama Hasan has issued a fatwa saying that Muslims can fast for shorter periods in 2015 because Ramadan falls during summer.
The Islamic calendar uses lunar months, so the fast occurs at different times on the western calendar each year. In the Middle East, where Islam originated, the days are shorter. In Mecca the fast lasts between 12 and 15 hours. Fasting is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith.
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When Islamic State seized Iraq's largest northern city of Mosul almost a year ago, tribal leader Hekmat Suleiman was sure the extremist militants wouldn't expand further into his hometown.
"We bet Islamic State won't have what it takes to last," Suleiman said in October during a visit to the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil, smoke rising from his shisha water pipe. "We've reached the beginning of the end of extremism."
He was wrong. His hometown of Ramadi fell last month, three days before Islamic State captured Palmyra, a 2,000-year-old UNESCO world heritage city on the Syrian side of its territory.
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What led you to write How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization? Did it begin more as a hypothesis to be tested or a thesis to be proved?
Like many Americans who have visited Europe, I was struck repeatedly by how secular some of the Continent’s societies are and how empty their churches. So the first reason I started researching into theories of secularization was simple curiosity: What makes formerly Christian precincts lose God?
And the interesting thing about the existing literature is that none of the going answers really explain the decline of Christianity in parts of the West. As chapters in my book go to show, prosperity alone doesn’t drive out belief in God, and neither does education, rationalism, or science per se. Nor do the two world wars explain it, another commonly accepted explanation.
So little by little I started re-arranging the pieces of this great intellectual puzzle, and what emerged was a new way of looking at it: one in which the fate of Christianity turns out to be more tightly tethered to the fate of the family than has been understood before.
Read it all from 2013.
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Caitlyn Jenner may have given Americans a crash course in transgender acceptance. But progressive pockets of Europe are moving toward an even higher plane — embracing what advocates describe as a post-gender world that critics say is leaving no room for women to be women and men to be men.
In Berlin, for instance, fresh rules for billboard ads in a district of the liberal German capital read like a new constitution for a land without gender identity. Girls in pink “with dolls” are basically out, as are boys in blue playing “with technical toys.” In ads showing both adult women and men, females cannot be depicted as “hysterical,” “stupid” or “naive” alongside men presented as “technically skilled,” “strong” or “business savvy.”
Adult women — featured alone or otherwise — must not be shown “occupied in the household with pleasure.” And in one stipulation pounced upon by critics, the equal-opportunity board of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg — home to Checkpoint Charlie and remnants of the Berlin Wall — no longer wants to see images of women “smiling for no reason.”
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There are now more Southern Baptist churches than ever before: 46,449 as of last year.
And more than 200,000 extra spaces in the pews.
As the nation’s largest Protestant group prepares to meet in Columbus next week, it reported its largest annual decline in more than 130 years—a loss of 236,467 members.
With just under 15.5 million members, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) remains the largest Protestant group in the United States. But it has lost about 800,000 members since 2003, when membership peaked at about 16.3 million.
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The Church of the Intercession is a beautiful stone building constructed in 1915, with vaulted ceilings, large stained glass windows, and a nave that could seat several hundred. It now needs $1 million in repairs, and its members face difficult choices.
Outside this Episcopal church in Harlem is its sweeping cemetery that includes the grave of naturalist John Audubon. Inside on a Sunday only 42 worshippers, including the choir, were present. Almost everyone was elderly. There were three canes, one walker, and one child.
Those 42 seemed a megachurch in comparison with the congregation across the street in North Presbyterian Church (PCUSA). In its historic stone building Pastor Carmen Mason-Browne preached to an audience of six women in a room with space for several hundred. The women weren’t even sitting together, but spaced like strangers on an empty train.
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The country's largest evangelical denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, announced this week that their membership fell for the eighth straight year in 2014. But as I recently explained, American Christianity, particularly evangelicalism, is neither dead nor dying.
There are numerous evangelical denominations, though, and many are thriving. The Assemblies of God, the second-largest evangelical denomination in the United States, reported their 25th year of growth this week.
Still, there is a correct perception that many evangelical denominations are declining, even as the number of evangelicals overall is growing.
Here are three ways to square that statistical circle...
Read it all from Ed Stetzer.
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The Iraqi city of Mosul fell to the Islamic State on June 10, 2014. When the militants laid out an ultimatum -- convert, pay a tax or be killed -- thousands of Christians and other religious minorities fled to neighboring cities, like the northern city of Erbil.
Even though it’s been more than a year, Erbil’s Chaldean Catholic leader, Bishop Bashar Warda, still vividly remembers what it was like to watch the streams of refugees enter his city.
“It was [a] really sad occasion,” Warda said in an interview with Vatican Radio. “The memories that we have is the queue of thousands of people arriving, tired, crying and leaving behind everything, memories and properties.”
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When jihadi forces over-ran Iraq’s strategic city of Ramadi last month, officials and analysts rushed to explain how militants could claim a major win nine months after the world’s most powerful military set out to destroy them. But for residents, the only surprise was how such a predictable attack caught everyone off guard.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (known as Isis) used the same playbook it employed when it shocked the world with its capture of Iraq’s second city Mosul last summer: it set up sleeper cells and assassinated security officials months before it blitzed across Iraq and neighbouring Syria.
“We knew they were coming,” says resident Abu Abbas. “Everybody in Ramadi knew where they were, and we warned security forces for months, but it was useless. Eventually they spread messages to civilians saying ‘Isis is coming to save you from the apostates’, and then the blasts came.” He fled Ramadi as at least five trucks driven into the city by suicide bombers exploded, and amid reports of the army retreating.
“Isis hasn’t changed at all,” Abu Abbas says, almost in disbelief. “They don’t need to.”
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So where does that leave us? Separated churches in themselves create a mindset, a separative one at its root, but in fact a similar one all across the board. And that is perhaps the thing we must confront. The question today is no longer, "What is a Christian?" This was the old question of the Reformation and its aftermath, and it focused precisely on doctrinal questions. Is a Christian one who believes this or that? Is a Christian one who follows this or that practice? Is a Christian one who is bound to this or that order or authority?
"What is a Christian?" was the old question. And it has left us with the shrivelled and unappealing answer: "A Christian is someone who separates from other Christians." But the new question, the question of today, is not, "What is a Christian?" but, "Who is a Christian?" This question must be answered in a new way, and with new tools theologically. It is a single question that, if answered rightly, offers a single counter-charge to the separative mindset that we all still share.
The question, "Who is a Christian?" emerges from a range of factors. Let me note two. First, there is the obvious point that, as people have shed their doctrinal clothing, in the course of the various developments I have already noted, one is left with, as it were, a "naked" religious figure - the one we call "Christian." But what is this naked Christian? "I am not really a Catholic or a Baptist or Lutheran or an Anglican or Presbyterian," someone might tell the Pew Forum survey. "So, what are you?" one might ask in response. Are you a Christian? What in the world is that?
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But then, in a very curious paragraph, [Mark] Galli stated:
“We’ll be sad, but we won’t panic or despair. Neither will we feel compelled to condemn the converts and distance ourselves from them. But, to be sure, they will be enlisting in a cause that we believe is ultimately destructive to society, to the church, and to relations between men and women.”
I have to admit that I do not understand how those two sentences can be combined. If the view of the “converts” to same-sex marriage and the acceptance of homosexual partnerships is “ultimately destructive to society, to the church, and to relations between men and women,” how can that distance be avoided?
The reality is that it cannot. This is a moment of decision, and every evangelical believer, congregation, denomination, and institution will have to answer. There will be no place to hide. The forces driving this revolution in morality will not allow evasion or equivocation. Every pastor, every church, and every Christian organization will soon be forced to declare an allegiance to the Scriptures and to the Bible’s teachings on marriage and sexual morality, or to affirm loyalty to the sexual revolution. That revolution did not start with same-sex marriage, and it will not end there. But marriage is the most urgent issue of the day, and the moment of decision has arrived.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
...we were surprised when former CT editor David Neff on Facebook praised Campolo’s move. As he put it in an email to me clarifying his comment, “I think the ethically responsible thing for gay and lesbian Christians to do is to form lasting, covenanted partnerships. I also believe that the church should help them in those partnerships in the same way the church should fortify traditional marriages.”
At CT, we’re saddened that David has come to this conclusion. Saddened because we firmly believe that the Bible teaches that God intends the most intimate of covenant relationships to be enjoyed exclusively by a man and a woman. We’ve stated this view explicitly in many editorials, and it is implicit but clear in many of our feature stories.
Still, many of our readers become alarmed when a prominent evangelical leader says otherwise. Add the changes of mind to the legal juggernaut sweeping through the land to legitimize gay marriage, and the orthodox can become demoralized. They fear that history will sweep all of us into this view eventually.
But it’s not at all certain that the rapid cultural shift in America on gay marriage will be mirrored in the Christian church. North American and European Christians who believe in gay marriage are a small minority in these regions, and churches that ascribe to a more liberal sexual ethic continue to wither.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
Bailey's story nailed that other development, too, that caused waves on social media:
After Campolo’s announcement, David Neff, retired editor in chief of Christianity Today who still writes a column for the magazine, indicated his similar support on his private Facebook account, drawing notice from some observers.....
Neff confirmed his support for same-sex marriage in a statement. Neff says that he still holds a high view of biblical authority, but that he has learned to read the relevant biblical passages in a different way than he used to.
“I think the ethically responsible thing for gay and lesbian Christians to do is to form lasting, covenanted partnerships,” Neff said in a statement to CT. “I also believe that the church should help them in those partnerships in the same way the church should fortify traditional marriages.”
Read it all.
Most of our schools are rated good or outstanding, with pupils attaining academic benchmarks. But we want more for our children. Church of England schools focus on spirituality and creativity which values the arts and religion as much as it looks for the beauty in maths, the wonder in science and the emotional understanding enhanced through poetry and music.
We also focus on the development of character and virtue that enables pupils to play their part in transforming the neighbourhood and world in which they live. That is why we are delighted to be one of fourteen from more than a thousand applicants, to be awarded a grant from the DfE Character Fund to carry out a substantial research project examining how various approach to teaching and pedagogy might better develop not just resilience and grit but ways of thinking which lead to service and mutual understanding.
We are also pleased to be developing ways in which schools and colleges can help communities live well together. This is not simply about fundamental British values which might be driven by the fear of extremism, but flows from a desire to use the diversity that is present in our schools to demonstrate what living well together really means.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Children Climate Change, Weather Education Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths * Theology
In groups of eight or so, riders wheeled their bicycles down the red-carpeted center aisle of Toronto’s Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church.
The white-robed officiant sprinkled holy water on about 50 riders’ heads, one by one, and on their bikes’ handlebars and wheels.
“May the road rise to meet you,” she pronounced. “May the wind be ever at your back; may all your journeying be joyous; may you and your bicycle be cherished in the Spirit of Life.”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Travel Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources * International News & Commentary Canada * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology
The Middle East crisis that peaked one year ago Wednesday when the Islamic State captured Mosul may result in the breakup of Iraq and an indefinite continuation of a war in Syria that’s already out of control, analysts say.
Yet still worse things could happen.
“The conditions are very much like 1914,” says Michael Stephens of the Royal United Service Institute in London. “All it will take is one little spark, and Iran and Saudi Arabia will go at each other, believing they are fighting a defensive war.”
Hiwa Osman, an Iraqi Kurdish commentator, was even more blunt: “The whole region is braced for the big war, the war that has not yet happened, the Shiite-Sunni war.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam
Hisham: "Daily life has changed in an indescribable way. Those who were in the military and day labourers no longer have any income because there are no jobs anymore. The rich have been relying on their savings, those with a salary are just about getting by, but the poor have been left to the mercy of God.
"I have lost my job and have been forced to abandon my studies. Like everyone else, I am denied my basic rights. According to IS, everything is 'haram' (forbidden) and so I end up just sitting at home all the time. Even simple leisure activities like picnics are banned now in Mosul, under the pretext that they are a waste of time and money.
"IS takes a quarter of everyone's salary as a contribution towards paying for rebuilding the city. People can't say no because they would face harsh punishments. The group controls everything. Rent is paid to it and the hospitals are for its members' exclusive use.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Dear Ms. Eleanor Maxine and the Family, Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
It is with great sadness that we received the news of the passing of the Lay Canon Kodwo E. Ankrah of the Church of the Province of Uganda, a native of Anomabu, Ghana.
I write to express my sincere condolences as well as those of the World Council of Churches. The Canon was respected and beloved among you, the Church of the Province of Uganda and his childhood Methodist Church in Ghana but also within the ecumenical movement, through his leadership in the Christian Council of Ghana, the All Africa Conference of Churches and the World Council of Churches. A true “sojourner” in his own words in transit from Ghana to Uganda from 1970s to the time he was called to the eternal home on Friday 29th May 2015.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Province of West Africa * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * International News & Commentary Africa Ghana * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations
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