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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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[WARNING: the following post may be dangerous to one's mental health. The panoply of unbelievably large figures in it may also cause one's eyes to glaze over. For those who cannot wade through it all, here is the bottom line:
The Episcopal Church (USA) has spent, and further committed (in its adopted budgets) to spend, a total of $42,675,466 on suing fellow Christians in the civil and ecclesiastical courts over the first eighteen years of this century. When one adds in the estimated additional amounts spent by individual dioceses on such litigation, the total amount exceeds Sixty Million Dollars.
Can't believe it? Well, then, read on -- you have been warned.]
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Most Rev. Hector “Tito” Zavala, Bishop of Chile and Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Province of South America, made his comments in clear English during a meeting at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul, Charleston, May 20. He said that, despite the Diocese’s separation from the Episcopal Church in 2012, the Diocese continues to be recognized as Anglicans by the majority of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
“I'm here with you with the consent of the Archbishop of Canterbury," said Bishop Zavala. He told those gathered that Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was with the Global South Primates "Steering Committee" in a meeting in Cairo, Egypt in 2014 when "we decided to establish a Primatial Oversight Council to provide pastoral and primatial oversight to some dioceses in order to keep them within the Communion" said Bishop Zavala.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Identity Global South Churches & Primates * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained * International News & Commentary South America Chile * South Carolina * Theology
Over the years, the Diocese of Los Angeles moved in a more liberal, revisionist direction but some parishes, including St. James, remained faithful. After my father retired in 1985, the vestry of St. James called a young priest from South Dakota to be their new Rector. The Rev. David Anderson and his lovely wife and children came to sunny California from a much different place. However they brought with them the same faith my father and the people of St. James held. Under Father David’s leadership, St. James grew and became an even more vibrant place of ministry and gospel witness. Healing ministries continued to flourish. New ministries were birthed—“Discovery (a kind of in house “Cursillo”) to introduce new members at St. James to discipleship in Christ, outreach to local rescue missions and jails, and a focus on evangelism through pre-marital and baptismal preparation. Many members of St. James were encouraged to participate in the life of the Diocese, to engage different points of view, and to share their Biblical faith in Christ with both truth and grace. As the congregation expanded, so did the building and facilities. Even after Father Anderson retired from St. James in 2004 to lead the American Anglican Council, St. James remained a place of faithful gospel witness in one of the most affluent areas of the country.
It’s with these memories in mind that I was saddened when I heard what The Episcopal Church was planning on doing with St. James. Like hundreds of other parishes, St. James voted to leave The Episcopal Church in the early 2000’s and was subsequently mired in a protracted lawsuit with The Diocese of Los Angeles. After years of fighting in court, the Diocese won the property. At the time, Bishop Jon Bruno said St. James was for those faithful Episcopalians in the Newport Beach area. So it was surprising when I read this Monday that Bishop Bruno and the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles had agreed to sell St. James to a real estate developer. It will be bulldozed to the ground to make room for retail boutiques and condominiums, in keeping with the redevelopment of downtown Newport Beach. No provisions have been made for any sacred space for people of faith to replace this sacred space in the heart of the city.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Departing Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;
To the end that [my] glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.
--Psalm 30:11-12 (KJV)
A Christian mother has slammed a vicar who refused to baptise her nine-month-old son because she is not married to the baby's father.
Heather Lawrence and her partner Jonathan, tried to arrange a service with Reverend Tim Hayes at St John's Church in Dunkinfield, Manchester, but were told they could only have a blessing.
The couple, who have been in a relationship for four years, were shocked by the vicar's refusal on the grounds that were not married.
The 30-year-old says the only reason they haven't had a wedding is because they cannot afford one but had hoped to have baby Roman christened in order to be accepted into the church.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Sacramental Theology Baptism
The U.S. economy shrank at an annualized pace of 0.7 percent in the first three months of the year, according to government data released Friday morning, a tumble for a recovering nation that until recently seemed poised for takeoff.
The contraction, the country’s third in the aftermath of the Great Recession, provides a troubling picture of an economy that many figured would get a lift from cheap oil, rapid hiring and growing consumer confidence. Instead, consumers have proved cautious, and oil companies have frozen investment — all while a nasty winter caused havoc for transportation and construction and a strong dollar widened the trade deficit.
The numbers released Friday were a revision of earlier figures that had shown GDP growing in the first quarter at 0.2 percent. Markets had since expected the downward revision, in large part because of recent data showing the trade deficit at a 6½-year high.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- The U.S. Government Federal Reserve * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
When I started researching the death penalty in 1995, roughly 80% of Americans favored its use. The death penalty was a rare point of consensus in American politics, crossing party affiliation and political ideology.
Times have changed. The unicameral legislature of a very conservative state, Nebraska, voted last week, 32-15, to repeal capital punishment. Gov. Pete Ricketts vetoed the bill on Tuesday. But on Wednesday Nebraska became the 19th state to abolish the death penalty after legislators voted to override the governor’s veto.
Clearly, a tide is building against the death penalty in America. One of the most powerful factors is science. DNA evidence in the past 20 years was a strong reason for the exoneration of many of the 153 innocent people released from death row during that period. These people in earlier generations would have been wrongfully put to death. This realization has challenged the conscience of a fair-minded country that doesn’t want to kill innocent people.
Read it all.
When Tricia Salese called her local pharmacy for a price check on her next prescription refill, she was stunned when the pharmacist told her the cost of her generic-brand pain medication had gone up again.
Salese, 49, started talking fentanyl citrate, the generic version of Actiq, a powerful painkiller, in 2010, and she takes three doses per day. Back then, she said, the price per dose was 50 cents. Now, the pharmacist told her when she called, it was going to cost her $37.49 per dose.
“I thought $25 [per dose for generics] was a lot. $37 is just-- What is this stuff made of? I mean, this is ridiculous,” Salese said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Psychology Stress * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Few arrests can have provoked such Schadenfreude as those of seven senior officials of FIFA, football’s world governing body, early on May 27th at a swish Swiss hotel. The arrests are part of a wide-ranging investigation by America’s FBI into corruption at FIFA, dating back over two decades. The indictment from the Department of Justice named 14 people on charges including racketeering, wire fraud and paying bribes worth more than $150m. They are likely to face charges in a US federal court. As more people start talking in a bid to sauve qui peut, the investigation will with luck reach into every dark and dank corner of FIFA’s Zurich headquarters...
American extraterritorial jurisdiction is often excessive in its zeal and overbearing in its methods, but in this instance it deserves the gratitude of football fans everywhere. The hope must be that FIFA’s impunity is at last brought to an end and with it the career of the ineffably complacent Sepp Blatter, its 79-year-old president, who was nonetheless expected to be re-elected for a fifth term after The Economist had gone to print.
The evidence of systemic corruption at FIFA has been accumulating for years, but came to a head in 2010 with the bidding for two World Cups. When the right to hold the competition in 2022 was won by tiny, bakingly hot Qatar, against the strong advice of FIFA’s own technical committee, suspicions that votes had been bought were immediately aroused. Thanks to two female whistleblowers and the diligent investigative work of the Sunday Times, a wealth of damning evidence was unearthed involving a Qatari FIFA official, Mohamed bin Hammam, who allegedly wooed football bigwigs in Africa with a $5m slush fund.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Sports * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Where do Irish Christians go from here? Ireland is spiritually and morally bankrupt, at war with itself, and Hell-bent, detesting the idea of Christianity - at least the version of it that has been presented to it by the Roman Catholic church. But in one sense, nothing has changed. We know already from the Scriptures that Jesus said: ‘wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14). This is and will always remain true no matter what decisions nations and individuals take.
So, where do we go from here? Well, like the Apostle Paul, our ambition in Ireland is simply to preach the Gospel where Christ is not known (Romans 15:20). In Ireland, the vast majority ‘know’ Christ as only a swear word, or as a distant, cold stone statue figure at best. But our ambition, as Irish Christians, as Evangelicals, is to bring the Gospel afresh to this generation of Irish to know Him as their loving Lord and Saviour. To preach the Gospel, was ‘always’ Paul’s ambition in life, and this ambition should grip every Evangelical and every Evangelical church in Ireland.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Ireland * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Soteriology
It is a holy moment. It almost always is. At the heart of the worship area the long banqueting table, covered by a shimmering purple-blue cloth, is set. In the centre is the platter with a large flat loaf resting on a mound of red grapes.
Once the Eucharistic bread and wine have been consecrated, the children will flock to take their seats at the banquet. Each child will be given a hunk of loaf followed by a handful of grapes. They will be reminded by name that Jesus loves them, that he died for them, that he is with them always and everywhere.
The children are not receiving Holy Communion. They have not gone through a preparation course although at least once a year they all explore the meaning of Holy Communion. Their parents may stay with them if they are very young but this is essentially a ‘children only’ experience. Prior to his retirement, Bishop Peter appreciated the banquet when he visited us.
The Eucharistic banquet is rich in symbolism and meaning for these children and for the whole church at St Paul’s Finchley. Let me explain!
Read it all.
A liturgy to "mark a person's gender transition" should be devised to help the Church welcome and affirm transgender people, a motion from the diocese of Blackburn suggests. The motion was sent for consideration to the General Synod last month, after being carried by the diocesan synod.
Its origins lie in a service led last year by the Vicar of St Mary's, Lancaster, the Revd Chris Newlands, after a young man had asked to be "rebaptised", explaining that he had been baptised as a girl.
"He said: 'I don't think God knows me; so I would like to be introduced to God as a man,'" Mr Newlands recalled on Tuesday. A liturgy was devised, drawing on the initiation service, which enabled the man to reaffirm his baptismal vows.
"It was just a very simple pastoral response to something which came out of the blue," Mr Newlands said. "It was really moving, as he felt he was in a proper relationship with God. He just wanted God to know his new name."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology Sexuality * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Nigerian President-elect Muhammadu Buhari's promised campaign to defeat Boko Haram could drive more militants over the country's borders, raising the need for cooperation between governments across the region, senior U.N. officials said on Thursday.
Speaking on the eve of the former army general's inauguration, they voiced hope that the new Abuja government would crush the Islamist militants accused of using women and children as sexual slaves and suicide bombers
"There is this concern that success inside northeast Nigeria spells trouble for Niger, Cameroon, and even potentially Chad. So there is a lot of focus on regional cooperation," Robert Piper, U.N. Assistant Secretary-General and regional humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel, told a news briefing.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
Come graduation day, I know I won’t be the only parent with invisible armor who worried that a diploma might be knocked out of reach or rendered irrelevant by bigger issues. There is an epidemic of depression and anxiety in our schools–and I suspect we’re only documenting a fraction of the problem. So while there will be tall young women, cool and confident in their caps and gowns, some will have spent eight weeks at grueling wilderness camps foraging for food because they stopped eating at home. There will be brilliant boys who cut themselves, a tangible reflection of wounds they get in the social-media Thunderdome. There will be kids who don’t have safe homes, or homes at all, and others who have everything but a purpose.
And the school auditorium will be filled with the parents who’ve soldiered on, mortgaged houses to pay for substance rehab, spent more time in emergency sessions with teachers than on vacation, who turned the city upside down to get their son a place at that last-chance school. They know about the impossible choices and disappointments that aren’t in any parenting book. And they include some of the people you think have done everything right. Sometimes what looks like indulgent, competitive helicopter parenting is really a desperate fight to be ordinary. For all of them, this rite of passage is anything but ordinary, but you wouldn’t know it.
Sometimes it feels like a secret society. Kid trouble is the last taboo, after all. We confess to infidelity or Botox or grownup mental-health battles, but we cover up or downplay our most visceral fears about our children even when we’re talking to our oldest friends. It’s the topic that makes us most vulnerable. Which is all the more reason to celebrate a diploma.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Psychology Young Adults * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Opponents of payday lending have a new ally in the fight against predatory lenders: Leaders from the 15.7-million member Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
“We cannot sit by idly while some of the poorest among us are preyed on by people simply looking for a quick buck with no regard for the devastation they cause in the lives of others,” said Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research at the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).
The ERLC is one of the founding members of the newly-formed Faith for Just Lending coalition, which launched earlier this month. Among other members are the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the National Baptist Convention USA, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, and the PICO National Network.
“While representing distinct institutions with different histories and practices, these faith organizations hold a shared conviction that Scripture speaks to the problem of predatory lending—condemning usury and teaching us to respect the God-given dignity of each person and to love our neighbors rather than exploit their financial vulnerability,” the group stated in a press release. “They believe that just lending is a matter of biblical morality and religious concern.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Poverty Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life The Banking System/Sector Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
In England and Wales, the Suicide Act 1961 makes it an offence to encourage or assist a suicide or a suicide attempt.
Former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer said he would attempt to reintroduce a bill that would allow assisted dying in the UK.
He said it was "completely wrong" that terminally ill people did not have the option to end their life.
"Whatever your take on the subject, it should be debated," Lord Falconer told the BBC.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe Switzerland * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Lying liars lie. That’s clear. But does everyone else lie too? Are we all liars? A new documentary called “(Dis)Honesty – The Truth About Lies” rounds up the research and lays out what we know. Little lies, white lies, big lies, whoppers. What we condemn and what we roll with. It’s quite a smorgasbord. You may think you’re above all that. But are you? And what about the power-brokers who frame our world? What happens when they lie? This hour On Point: the truth about lies.
– Tom Ashbrook
Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. Founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. Author of “Predictably Irrational,” “Irrationally Yours” and “The Honest Truth About Dishonesty.” Featured in the new documentary film, “(Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies.” (@danariely)
Dallas Denery, professor of history and chair of the history department at Bowdoin College. Author of the book, “The Devil Wins.”
Listen to it all.
This spring, the journal International Archives of Medicine published a delicious new study: According to researchers at Germany’s Institute of Diet and Health, people who ate dark chocolate while dieting lost more weight...
It was unbelievable news. And reporters shouldn’t have believed it.
It turns out that the Institute of Diet and Health is just a Web site with no institute attached. Johannes Bohannon, health researcher and lead author of the study, is really John Bohannon, a science journalist. And the study, while based on real results of an actual clinical trial, wasn’t aimed at testing the health benefits of chocolate. It was aimed at testing health reporters, to see if they could distinguish a bad science story from a good one.
In many cases, they couldn’t.
Read it all.
The Federal Reserve's report on the economic well-being of U.S. households is out, and it contains one very interesting finding: A decent share of Americans want to work longer hours even without a raise.
The Fed asked non-self-employed workers whether they'd prefer to work more, less, or the same amount that they now work if their hourly wage was unchanged. The goal of the question was to help gauge the amount of underemployment in the economy, according to the report.
Thirty-six percent of respondents said they'd prefer to work more hours at their current wage. Among those who work part time, the share is even higher at 49 percent. The results might help Fed Chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues connect the dots in a labor market that's still flashing mixed signals.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- The U.S. Government Federal Reserve * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
One morning recently, a dozen college students stepped out of the bright sunshine into a dimly lit room at the counseling center here at the University of Central Florida. They appeared to have little in common: undergraduates in flip-flops and nose rings, graduate students in interview-ready attire.
But all were drawn to this drop-in workshop: “Anxiety 101.”
As they sat in a circle, a therapist, Nicole Archer, asked: “When you’re anxious, how does it feel?”
“I have a faster heart rate,” whispered one young woman. “I feel panicky,” said another. Sweating. Ragged breathing. Insomnia....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Drugs/Drug Addiction Education Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Psychology Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Key trends in Americans' views of the moral acceptability of certain issues and behaviors include the following:
--The substantial increase in Americans' views that gay and lesbian relations are morally acceptable coincide with a record-high level of support for same-sex marriage and views that being gay or lesbian is something a person is born with, rather than due to one's upbringing or environment.Read it all.
--The public is now more accepting of sexual relations outside of marriage in general than at any point in the history of tracking these measures, including a 16-percentage-point increase in those saying that having a baby outside of marriage is morally acceptable, and a 15-point increase in the acceptability of sex between an unmarried man and woman. Clear majorities of Americans now say both are acceptable.
--Acceptance of divorce and human embryo medical research are also up 12 points each since 2001 and 2002, respectively.
--Polygamy and cloning humans have also seen significant upshifts in moral acceptability -- but even with these increases, the public largely perceives them as morally wrong, with only 16% and 15% of Americans, respectively, considering them morally acceptable.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships Sociology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
More than half of the world’s countries are now producing jihadis to fill the ranks of violent Sunni terrorist organisations in the Middle East, according to a UN report.
The al-Qaeda network and its schismatic rival, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) have seen more than 25,000 mujahideen join them in recent years, it states, creating an “unprecedented” threat to national and international security in both the “immediate and long-term” that most governments have failed to grasp the significance of so far.
The report — prepared by the UN Security Council’s special permanent committee for monitoring violent Islamism — amounts to one of the most bleak and comprehensive assessments of the global foreign fighter phenomenon compiled yet. Its findings are based on “robust and detailed” evidence from 27 intelligence and security services spread across UN member states, its authors state.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture Teens / Youth Violence Young Adults * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The FBI director, James Comey, commenting on the arrests in Zurich yesterday of senior Fifa officials, identified rampant, systemic and deep-rooted corruption in the federation. “Undisclosed and illegal payments, kickbacks and bribes became a way of doing business at Fifa,” he said. The raids by both the American and Swiss authorities were cynically welcomed by Mr Blatter’s team as a sign that it was cleaning up its act.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. The decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, as our sister paper The Sunday Times has diligently exposed, was secured by the rigging and purchase of votes. Despite clear evidence of wrongdoing, Qatar has held on to the cup. An investigation by Fifa’s ethics committee, a body created by Mr Blatter to soothe the many doubts about federation practices, was not published in full to spare the leadership embarrassment. On an almost daily basis, the absurdity of Qatar hosting the cup becomes apparent, from its treatment of construction workers to the extraordinary decision to switch the games to the winter in the midst of the European club season.
The Blatter years have been distinguished by a Machiavellian manipulation of the executive committee and of the broader football voting community.
Read it all (requires subscription) [my emphasis].
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Sports * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
President Buhari's to-do list is indeed a long one.
Earlier this month, his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, said that 110 million out of Nigeria's population of 170 million were living in "extreme poverty" while the largest chunk of the nation's wealth was going into the pockets of a small percentage of the population.
This situation has been brought about by the mindless corruption of the past six years, mainly fuelled by a cabal in the oil and gas industry.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Energy, Natural Resources Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
There is scarcely any one who is ashamed to acknowledge that every thing good which he possesses comes from God; but, after making this acknowledgment, they imagine that universal grace has been given to them, as if it had been implanted in them by nature. But Christ dwells principally on this, that the vital sap — that is, all life and strength — proceeds from himself alone. Hence it follows, that the nature of man is unfruitful and destitute of everything good; because no man has the nature of a vine, till he be implanted in him. But this is given to the elect alone by special grace. So then, the Father is the first Author of all blessings, who plants us with his hand; but the commencement of life is in Christ, since we begin to take root in him. When he calls himself the true vine the meaning is, I am truly the vine, and therefore men toil to no purpose in seeking strength anywhere else, for from none will useful fruit proceed but from the branches which shall be produced by me.
--Commentary on John, Volume II
He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a steward, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ And the steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that people may receive me into their houses when I am put out of the stewardship.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest steward for his shrewdness; for the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations.
United States law enforcement officials declared in forceful terms on Wednesday that their broad investigation of FIFA had only begun and pledged to rid the international soccer organization of systemic corruption.
The Justice Department, F.B.I. and I.R.S. described soccer’s governing body in terms normally reserved for Mafia families and drug cartels, saying that top officials treated FIFA business decisions as chits to be traded for personal wealth. One soccer official took in more than $10 million in bribes, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said.
The schemes involving the fraud included the selection of South Africa as the host of the 2010 World Cup; the 2011 FIFA presidential elections; and several sports-marketing deals
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Sports * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The chimes atop St. John's Cathedral in Saskatoon will ring out this week in honour of Canada's missing and murdered aboriginal women.
As part of national initiative by the Anglican Church of Canada, the bells in Saskatoon will ring 1,017 times — one chime for each aboriginal women and girls murdered between 1980 and 2012, according to a press release by the church.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Women * Theology Anthropology
The 4,130 square metre Brown Street property housed the city’s successive Anglican bishops until current bishop Greg Thompson chose to reside elsewhere.
The seven bedroom, four bathroom 1929 Bishopscourt is not heritage listed but parts of its grounds are.
Last year, the Anglican Synod gave the greenlight for the Newcastle sale to be considered. At the time Bishop Greg Thompson asked the Synod to consider “the economics of having this property, the suitability of it as the home of the Bishop and family, and the historic sentiment of previous bishops who lived within it.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A different health care issue has emerged for Democrats, in sync with the party’s pitch to workers and middle-class voters ahead of next year’s elections.
It’s not the uninsured, but rather the problem of high out-of-pocket costs for people already covered.
Democrats call it “underinsurance.”
Read it all.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President Senate * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
During my time in seminary I took a leadership course taught by the late, great Howard Hendricks. As we studied the life of David, Hendricks shared a study he conducted with a group of men in full-time ministry who had fallen into a morally disqualifying sin.
At the time, I had only been a Christian for a few years, but unfortunately the subject was all too relevant. During my early days I had witnessed several men whom I loved and respected fall into serious sinful compromise. At one point in those days, the falls came so frequently I felt as if I was on the spiritual beach of Normandy watching buddies’ lives get blown apart all around me.
The study examined 246 men in full-time ministry who experienced moral failure within a two-year period. As far as Hendricks could discern, these full-time clergy were born-again followers of Jesus. Though they shared a common salvation, these men also shared a common feat of devastation; they had all, within 24 months of each other, been involved in an adulterous relationship.
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Just over a year ago Lichfield diocese agreed to pilot a fresh approach. 60 people, lay and ordained, gathered one morning in Stafford to think about how to get people talking about death, dying and funerals. They went away to try out a new concept: GraveTalk, with 35 parishes setting up café-style events. Each event involves setting up a space to look like a café, where refreshments are served. People gather in small groups at tables. Conversations are started through a pack of 52 specially written questions covering a wide range of topics, ranging from attitudes to death to personal experiences.
There are no answers, just a space to talk. Facilitators, lay or ordained, make sure the event is running smoothly – and there is always ‘tea and cake’. The trial was researched in partnership with the University of Staffordshire, and the results were overwhelmingly positive: when we make the time and the space, people will talk.
One vicar who piloted GraveTalk said:
“I gave it to them and I went and made coffee while they started discussing it. And I just couldn’t shut them up. When I came to draw them to a conclusion, they wanted to carry on. They thought it was absolutely brilliant. I was really surprised.”
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Express Scripts Holding Co. , a large manager of prescription-drug benefits for U.S. employers and insurers, is seeking deals with pharmaceutical companies that would set pricing for some cancer drugs based on how well they work.
The effort is part of a growing push for so-called pay-for-performance deals amid complaints about the rising price of medications, some of which cost more than $100,000 per patient a year.
Some insurers and prescription-benefit managers are pushing back by arguing that they should pay less when drugs don’t work well in certain patients. Drug companies are countering with pricing models of their own, such as offering free doses during a trial period.
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After the accident, it was revealed that leaders from the Diocese of Maryland knew Cook had been arrested for a previous DUI before she was hired as the assistant bishop. They failed to pass that information on to the committee that appointed her.
MONTAGNE: Now, the diocese has appointed a new assistant bishop, who is a recovering alcoholic. Chilton Knudsen has made addiction counseling a key part of her ministry. She took a break from a conference on clergy addiction to talk to us and said her selection was no accident.
CHILTON KNUDSEN: Renee, I'm confident that the Diocese of Maryland came looking for me because they know I'm a publicly acknowledged person in recovery. And so as an ordained person and a recovering person, I have a little palette of skills that I think are uniquely helpful in a situation like the diocese of Maryland has now.
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The Justice Department unsealed a 47 count indictment early Wednesday charging 14 world soccer figures, including officials of FIFA, with racketeering, bribery, money laundering and fraud. Four of the accused have already pleaded guilty.
The announcement in a press release followed a round-up of officials of FIFA, the world soccer federation, at a swanky Zurich hotel where they were assembling for an important meeting.
“The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.”
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But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word; but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.
--2 Corinthians 2:14-17
The UN children's agency says there has been an "alarming" increase in the number of suicide attacks in northern Nigeria, with many of them involving women and children.
There had been 27 attacks so far this year, compared with 26 for the whole of last year, Unicef said in a statement.
Three-quarters of the attacks were carried out by female bombers, some as young as seven, it added.
Militant Islamist group Boko Haram is waging an insurgency in Nigeria.
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The Internal Revenue Service said identity thieves used its online services to obtain prior-year tax return information for about 100,000 U.S. households, a major setback for the agency that is charged with safeguarding taxpayers’ privacy.
The IRS said criminals used stolen Social Security numbers and other specific data acquired from elsewhere to gain unauthorized access to the tax agency accounts. About 100,000 more attempts were unsuccessful, the agency said.
Thieves used the information from prior years’ returns to help them file for fraudulent refunds, the IRS said.
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The archbishops and bishops of the Church of Ireland wish to affirm that the people of the Republic of Ireland, in deciding by referendum to alter the State’s legal definition of marriage, have of course acted fully within their rights.
The Church of Ireland, however, defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and the result of this referendum does not alter this.
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Core Issues Trust offers its gratitude to the many thousands of citizens who voted against changing the Irish Constitution to replace marriage as the union between one man and one woman for life, with a new concept which takes no account of the sex of the marriage partners.
The Irish Government’s poll has enabled simple majoritarianism to usher in a radically new model of marriage based on the lowest possible construct: love while it lasts. Denying that all marriage is thereby redefined, the government has eliminated the very foundation of marriage based on natural male-female complementarity, a complementarity self-evident in human anatomy, physiology (procreative capacity), and even psychology. Now, instead of having sexual unions in which the extremes of each sex are moderated and the gaps filled, we will see the institution of marriage deteriorate even further as the extremes of each sex reshape marriage to be far more accommodating to non-monogamous behaviour and rapid dissolutions. The integrity of the sexes, male and female, will be further dishonoured as people are praised by the state for treating their sex half in relation to their own sex rather than as half of a whole sexual spectrum of male and female, as though two half-males make a whole male or two half-females make a whole female.
In addition, with the elimination of a male-female prerequisite for sexual unions, there no longer remains a logical reason to deny adult-consensual polyamorous unions or even incestuous unions (particularly incestuous unions where procreation is minimized or eliminated). For the limitation of two persons to a sexual union is predicated on the duality of the sexes, male and female; and the principle of embodied otherness upon which incest may be rejected absolutely is discarded in the embrace of the excessive sameness of same-sex sexual unions. The Irish Government in our view has also sacrificed innocent children to the demands of individuals who prioritise their “right” above the right of children to be raised by their natural parents.
We note also that this momentous change has taken place in the vacuum – evident in Irish society and in all our islands and beyond – following the collapse of a faithful Christian witness in Western civilisation: both Catholic and Protestant. Together we have failed to reflect the fruits of repentance and holiness of life in the sanctity of marriage and we are guilty in this fact.
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he medium of television is—like newspapers, magazines and books—undergoing massive disruption.
The average number of cable stations Americans receive ballooned from 129 in 2008 to 189 in 2013, an increase of one-third in just five years.(1) During the same five-year period, Netflix introduced subscription-based Internet streaming of both TV shows and movies, a service that has multiplied to include more than 60 million subscribers around the globe.(2)
What effects, if any, have these seismic shifts had on the TV audience? Barna Group surveyed a nationally representative panel of U.S. adults on their viewing habits and preferences.
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The American public estimates on average that 23% of Americans are gay or lesbian, little changed from Americans' 25% estimate in 2011, and only slightly higher than separate 2002 estimates of the gay and lesbian population. These estimates are many times higher than the 3.8% of the adult population who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Gallup Daily tracking in the first four months of this year.
The stability of these estimates over time contrasts with the major shifts in Americans' attitudes about the morality and legality of gay and lesbian relations in the past two decades. Whereas 38% of Americans said gay and lesbian relations were morally acceptable in 2002, that number has risen to 63% today. And while 35% of Americans favored legalized same-sex marriage in 1999, 60% favor it today.
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The United Methodist Church has only 15 years to reverse its decline in the United States if it is to have a sustainable future, an economist warned church leaders.
At the same gathering, the church leaders discussed possible missional goals to address that decline and enhance the global denomination’s ministries around the world.
“By 2030, the denomination in the United States will either have found a way to turn around, meaning it is growing, or its turnaround in the United States is not possible,” Donald R. House Sr. told the May 19 combined meeting of the Connectional Table and the General Council on Finance and Administration board. “By 2050, the connection will have collapsed.”
In other words, he predicted that unless things change soon, the denomination in coming decades will not have enough U.S. churches to pay for its connectional structures. Such structures include conferences, bishops, agencies, missions and international disaster response.
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So nine months into this campaign, is the strategy working, and are the losses of cities like Ramadi temporary setbacks – just bricks and mortar and not symbolic of anything, to paraphrase General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in recent congressional trestimony?
Clearly, the strategy has severe problems. To have any chance of succeeding in its present form, it must be seriously re-tuned or altered.
The first is that the air campaign is proving unable to contain IS. It has had successes, most notably in areas like Kobani or around Mosul, where it has degraded IS at the fringes. On the one hand, where it has utterly rooted out IS, as in Kobani, it is difficult to claim a victory after four months of bombing left the city in ruins and likely in need of billions of dollars to repair. On the other hand, while the IS advance has been stopped in places, not enough air power is available to gut the economic wherewithal of IS. The recent success in Ramadi demonstrates that IS can move where air power is not. The coalition’s undisputed technical superiority does not translate into numerical sufficiency.
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Be your own size. There are 300 billion stars in our own galaxy and a hundred billion galaxies in the universe. Before you tell everyone not to start the party until you arrive, take in the enormity of that reality and your tiniest part in it. Before you say to someone, “Do you know who I am?” ask yourself, in light of the scale of the universe and its venerable age, “Who exactly am I?” Look at the earth, which you share with so many living beings. Many of the tiny ones scurry and multiply in hidden ways that make it possible for you to breathe, heal, digest, and sleep. Realize how you take for granted that the sun will rise tomorrow. If it wasn’t so, what could you do about it? Your life rests in an ecology that you will never live long enough to comprehend, much less thank.
Be gentle. Remember the physician’s mantra, “First, do no harm.” In the words of William Blake, “We are put on earth a little space, / That we may learn to bear the beams of love.” There is so much that we’ve never even paused to imagine. When we look to right and left, we see others who know as little as we do. People tend to do the best they can with what they have and what they know. A little compassion, a little generosity of heart helps us look to our fellow creatures with gentleness rather than bitterness, anger, or condemnation. How often have you commented on what another person said or did with horror, fury, or scorn, only to find yourself, ten years or ten minutes later, saying or doing the same thing? Be sparing with your scorn, lest it rebound on you and make you lamentable in your own sight.
Be a person of praise and blessing.
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In late April, a commander for Islamic State said his forces were ready to launch an offensive to take Ramadi, and the group called for fighters to redeploy to Iraq from Syria.
Three weeks later, the jihadist group seized the capital of Anbar province after relentless waves of suicide bombings.
U.S. defense chief Ash Carter has blamed Ramadi’s fall mainly on Iraqi forces’ lack of will to fight. But Islamic State’s battlefield performance suggests the terrorist group’s tactical sophistication is growing—a development the Iraqis and the U.S.-led coalition have so far failed to counter, said Iraqi officials, former U.S. officials and military analysts studying the organization.
An examination of how Ramadi fell indicates that Islamic State commanders executed a complex battle plan that outwitted a greater force of Iraqi troops as well as the much-lauded, U.S.-trained special-operations force known as the Golden Division, which had been fighting for months to defend the city.
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You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.
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O LORD, I love the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy glory dwells.
To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in thee I trust,
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Make me to know thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
for thou art the God of my salvation;
for thee I wait all the day long.
Renewal in the Spirit
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost letter to the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion
‘They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak’ (Acts 2.4). At Pentecost, we celebrate the gift God gives us of being able to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ in the various languages of the whole human world. The Gospel is not the property of any one group, any one culture or history, but is what God intends for the salvation of all who will listen and respond.
St Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit is also what God gives us so that we can call God ‘Abba, Father’ (Rom. 8.15, Gal. 4.6). The Spirit is given not only so that we can speak to the world about God but so that we can speak to God in the words of his own beloved Son. The Good News we share is not just a story about Jesus but the possibility of living in and through the life of Jesus and praying his prayer to the Father.
And so the Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of ‘communion’ or fellowship (II Cor. 13.13). The Spirit allows us to recognise each other as part of the Body of Christ because we can hear in each other the voice of Jesus praying to the Father. We know, in the Spirit, that we who are baptised into Jesus Christ share one life; so that all the diversity of gifting and service in the Church can be seen as the work of one Spirit (I Cor. 12.4). In the Holy Eucharist, this unity in and through the self-offering of Jesus is reaffirmed and renewed as we pray for the Spirit to transform both the bread and wine and ‘ourselves, our souls and bodies’.
When the Church is living by the Spirit, what the world will see is a community of people who joyfully and gratefully hear the prayer of Jesus being offered in each other’s words and lives, and are able to recognise the one Christ working through human diversity. And if the world sees this, the Church is a true sign of hope in a world of bitter conflict and rivalry.
From the very first, as the New Testament makes plain, the Church has experienced division and internal hostilities. From the very first, the Church has had to repent of its failure to live fully in the light and truth of the Spirit. Jesus tells us in St John’s gospel that the Spirit of truth will ‘prove the world wrong’ in respect of sin and righteousness and judgement (Jn 16.8). But if the Spirit is leading us all further into the truth, the Spirit will convict the Church too of its wrongness and lead it into repentance. And if the Church is a community where we serve each other in the name of Christ, it is a community where we can and should call each other to repentance in the name of Christ and his Spirit – not to make the other feel inferior (because we all need to be called to repentance) but to remind them of the glory of Christ’s gift and the promise that we lose sight of when we fail in our common life as a Church.
Our Anglican fellowship continues to experience painful division, and the events of recent months have not brought us nearer to full reconciliation. There are still things being done that the representative bodies of the Communion have repeatedly pleaded should not be done; and this leads to recrimination, confusion and bitterness all round. It is clear that the official bodies of The Episcopal Church have felt in conscience that they cannot go along with what has been asked of them by others, and the consecration of Canon Mary Glasspool on May 15 has been a clear sign of this. And despite attempts to clarify the situation, activity across provincial boundaries still continues – equally dictated by what people have felt they must in conscience do. Some provinces have within them dioceses that are committed to policies that neither the province as a whole nor the Communion has sanctioned. In several places, not only in North America, Anglicans have not hesitated to involve the law courts in settling disputes, often at great expense and at the cost of the Church’s good name.
All are agreed that the disputes arising around these matters threaten to distract us from our main calling as Christ’s Church. The recent Global South encounter in Singapore articulated a strong and welcome plea for the priority of mission in the Communion; and in my own message to that meeting I prayed for a ‘new Pentecost’ for all of us. This is a good season of the year to pray earnestly for renewal in the Spirit, so that we may indeed do what God asks of us and let all people know that new and forgiven life in Christ is possible and that created men and women may by the Spirit’s power be given the amazing liberty to call God ‘Abba, Father!’
It is my own passionate hope that our discussion of the Anglican Covenant in its entirety will help us focus on that priority; the Covenant is nothing if not a tool for mission. I want to stress yet again that the Covenant is not envisaged as an instrument of control. And this is perhaps a good place to clarify that the place given in the final text to the Standing Committee of the Communion introduces no novelty: the Committee is identical to the former Joint Standing Committee, fully answerable in all matters to the ACC and the Primates; nor is there any intention to prevent the Primates in the group from meeting separately. The reference to the Standing Committee reflected widespread unease about leaving certain processes only to the ACC or only to the Primates.
But we are constantly reminded that the priorities of mission are experienced differently in different places, and that trying to communicate the Gospel in the diverse tongues of human beings can itself lead to misunderstandings and failures of communication between Christians. The sobering truth is that often our attempts to share the Gospel effectively in our own setting can create problems for those in other settings.
We are at a point in our common life where broken communications and fragile relationships have created a very mistrustful climate. This is not news. But many have a sense that the current risks are greater than ever. Although attitudes to human sexuality have been the presenting cause, I want to underline the fact that what has precipitated the current problem is not simply this issue but the widespread bewilderment and often hurt in different quarters that we have no way of making decisions together so that we are not compromised or undermined by what others are doing. We have not, in other words, found a way of shaping our consciences and convictions as a worldwide body. We have not fully received the Pentecostal gift of mutual understanding for common mission.
It may be said – quite understandably, in one way – that our societies and their assumptions are so diverse that we shall never be able to do this. Yet we are called to seek for mutual harmony and common purpose, and not to lose heart. If the truth of Christ is indeed ultimately one as we all believe, there should be a path of mutual respect and thankfulness that will hold us in union and help us grow in that truth.
Yet at the moment we face a dilemma. To maintain outward unity at a formal level while we are convinced that the divisions are not only deep but damaging to our local mission is not a good thing. Neither is it a good thing to break away from each other so dramatically that we no longer see Christ in each other and risk trying to create a church of the ‘perfect’ – people like us. It is significant that there are still very many in The Episcopal Church, bishops, clergy and faithful, who want to be aligned with the Communion’s general commitments and directions, such as those who identify as ‘Communion Partners’, who disagree strongly with recent decisions, yet want to remain in visible fellowship within TEC so far as they can. And, as has often been pointed out, there are things that Anglicans across the world need and want to do together for the care of God’s poor and vulnerable that can and do go on even when division over doctrine or discipline is sharp.
More and more, Anglicans are aware of living through a time of substantial transition, a time when the structures that have served us need reviewing and refreshing, perhaps radical changing, when the voice and witness in the Communion of Christians from the developing world is more articulate and creative than ever, and when the rapidity of social change in ‘developed’ nations leaves even some of the most faithful and traditional Christian communities uncertain where to draw the boundaries in controversial matters – not only sexuality but issues of bioethics, for example, or the complexities of morality in the financial world.
A time of transition, by definition, does not allow quick solutions to such questions, and it is a time when, ideally, we need more than ever to stay in conversation. As I have said many times before, whatever happens to our structures, we still need to preserve both working relationships and places for exchange and discussion. New vehicles for conversations across these boundaries are being developed with much energy.
But some decisions cannot be avoided. We began by thinking about Pentecost and the diverse peoples of the earth finding a common voice, recognising that each was speaking a truth recognised by all. However, when some part of that fellowship speaks in ways that others find hard to recognise, and that point in a significantly different direction from what others are saying, we cannot pretend there is no problem.
And when a province through its formal decision-making bodies or its House of Bishops as a body declines to accept requests or advice from the consultative organs of the Communion, it is very hard (as noted in my letter to the Communion last year after the General Convention of TEC) to see how members of that province can be placed in positions where they are required to represent the Communion as a whole. This affects both our ecumenical dialogues, where our partners (as they often say to us) need to know who it is they are talking to, and our internal faith-and-order related groups.
I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces – provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) – should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged. I am further proposing that members of such provinces serving on IASCUFO should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members. This is simply to confirm what the Communion as a whole has come to regard as the acceptable limits of diversity in its practice. It does not alter what has been said earlier by the Primates’ Meeting about the nature of the moratoria: the request for restraint does not necessarily imply that the issues involved are of equal weight but recognises that they are ‘central factors placing strains on our common life’, in the words of the Primates in 2007. Particular provinces will be contacted about the outworking of this in the near future.
I am aware that other bodies have responsibilities in questions concerned with faith and order, notably the Primates’ Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Standing Committee. The latter two are governed by constitutional provisions which cannot be overturned by any one person’s decision alone, and there will have to be further consultation as to how they are affected. I shall be inviting the views of all members of the Primates’ Meeting on the handling of these matters with a view to the agenda of the next scheduled meeting in January 2011.
In our dealings with other Christian communions, we do not seek to deny our diversity; but there is an obvious problem in putting forward representatives of the Communion who are consciously at odds with what the Communion has formally requested or stipulated. This does not seem fair to them or to our partners. In our dealings with each other, we need to be clear that conscientious decisions may be taken in good faith, even for what are held to be good theological or missional reasons, and yet have a cost when they move away from what is recognisable and acceptable within the Communion. Thus – to take a very different kind of example – there have been and there are Anglicans who have a strong conscientious objection to infant baptism. Their views deserve attention, respect and careful study, they should be engaged in serious dialogue – but it would be eccentric to place such people in a position where their view was implicitly acknowledged as one of a range of equally acceptable convictions, all of which could be taken as representatively Anglican.
Yet no-one should be celebrating such public recognition of divisions and everyone should be reflecting on how to rebuild relations and to move towards a more coherent Anglican identity (which does not mean an Anglican identity with no diversity, a point once again well made by the statement from the Singapore meeting). Some complain that we are condemned to endless meetings that achieve nothing. I believe that in fact we have too few meetings that allow proper mutual exploration. It may well be that such encounters need to take place in a completely different atmosphere from the official meetings of the Communion’s representative bodies, and this needs some imaginative thought and planning. Much work is already going into making this more possible.
But if we do conclude that some public marks of ‘distance’, as the Windsor Continuation Group put it, are unavoidable if our Communion bodies are not to be stripped of credibility and effectiveness, the least Christian thing we can do is to think that this absolves us from prayer and care for each other, or continuing efforts to make sense of each other.
We are praying for a new Pentecost for our Communion. That means above all a vast deepening of our capacity to receive the gift of being adopted sons and daughters of the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It means a deepened capacity to speak of Jesus Christ in the language of our context so that we are heard and the Gospel is made compelling and credible. And it also means a deepened capacity to love and nourish each other within Christ’s Body – especially to love and nourish, as well as to challenge, those whom Christ has given us as neighbours with whom we are in deep and painful dispute.
One remarkable symbol of promise for our Communion is the generous gift received by the Diocese of Jerusalem from His Majesty the King of Jordan, who has provided a site on the banks of the Jordan River, at the traditional site of Our Lord’s Baptism, for the construction of an Anglican church. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of blessing the foundation stone of this church and viewing the plans for its design. It will be a worthy witness at this historic site to the Anglican tradition, a sign of real hope for the long-suffering Christians of the region, and something around which the Communion should gather as a focus of common commitment in Christ and his Spirit. I hope that many in the Communion will give generous support to the project.
‘We have the mind of Christ’ says St Paul (I Cor. 2.16); and, as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has recently written, this means that we must have a ‘kenotic’, a self-emptying approach to each other in the Church. May the Spirit create this in us daily and lead us into that wholeness of truth which is only to be found in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus.
I wish you all God’s richest blessing at this season.
"Since God has put His work into your weak hands, look not for long ease here: You must feel the full weight of your calling: a weak man with a strong God."--Lady Culross to John Livingston of the Scottish Covenanters as cited in Ruth Bell Graham, Prodigals and Those Who Love Them: Words of Encouragement for Those Who Wait (Grand Rapdis: Baker, 2008), p.110, and used by yours truly in this morning's Pentecost sermon
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Among the many friends I have had who have now entered the larger life, several were poets. They were more than fashioners of words – they were first the hearers of words. Francis Hall Ford was a parishioner in St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Mission in Chattanooga, which I had a small share in founding. She and her family had years before entered Orthodoxy through the Greek Church. In later years she split her time between little St. Tikhon’s in Chattanooga and St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas where her daughter, Katie, now lives. Katie has been kind enough to share some of her mother’s poetry. With her permission I share it here. As for Frances (whom I knew better by her Orthodox name, Kassiane) may her memory be eternal!
May we ourselves hear what the poets hear, and with such sounds echo the treasure of God in our world. A good feast to you.
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[At Pentecost Peter] intendeth to prove...that the Church can be repaired by no other means, saving only by the giving of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, forasmuch as they did all hope that the restoring drew near, he accuseth them of sluggishness, because they do not once think upon the way and means thereof. And when the prophet saith, “I will pour out,” it is, without all question, that he meant by this word to note the great abundance of the Spirit....when God will briefly promise salvation to his people, he affirmeth that he will give them his Spirit. Hereupon it followeth that we can obtain no good things until we have the Spirit given us.
--Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles
Our attitude to our fallen nature should be one of ruthless repudiation. For ‘those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires’ (Gal. 5:24). That is, we have taken this evil, slimy, slippery thing called ‘the flesh’ and nailed it to the cross. This was our initial repentance. Crucifixion is dramatic imagery for our uncompromising rejection of all known evil. Crucifixion does not lead to a quick or easy death; it is an execution of lingering pain. Yet it is decisive; there is no possibility of escaping from it.
Our attitude to the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is to be one of unconditional surrender. Paul uses several expressions for this. We are to ‘live by the Spirit’ (Gal. 5:16, 18. 25). That is, we are to allow him his rightful sovereignty over us, and follow his righteous promptings.
Thus both our repudiation of the flesh and our surrender to the Spirit need to be repeated daily, however decisive our original repudiation and surrender may have been. In Jesus’ words, we are to ‘take up (our) cross daily’ and follow him (Lk 9:23). We are also to go on being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), as we open our personality to him daily. Both our repudiation and our surrender are also to be worked out in disciplined habits of life. It is those who ‘sow to the Spirit’ (Gal. 6:8) who reap the fruit of the Spirit. And to ‘sow to the Spirit’ means to cultivate the things of the Spirit, for example, by our wise use of the Lord’s Day, the discipline of our daily prayer and Bible reading, our regular worship and attendance at the Lord’s Supper, our Christian friendships and our involvement in Christian service. An inflexible principle of all God’s dealings, both in the material and in the moral realm, is that we reap what we sow. The rule is invariable. It cannot be changed, for ‘God cannot be mocked’ (Gal. 6:7). We must not therefore be surprised if we do not reap the fruit of the Spirit when all the time we are sowing to the flesh. Did we think we could cheat or fool God?
--Authentic Christianity (Nottingham, IVP, 1995)
...in an odd way, I suspect that is the way it is supposed to work - namely, that the Spirit is quite good at catching us unaware. The Spirit is, as Pentecostals remind us, no tame Spirit. Rather, the Spirit is full of unanticipated surprises....
Stephen Pickard ends his book with reflections on the current state of the church in what were once presumed to be Christian cultures. It is no secret that the church has rapidly lost its standing in those cultures, leading, at least according to Pickard, to two equally disastrous strategies. One alternative Pickard characterizes as the "fast-asleep church," which he associates with churches that continue to rely on the general presumption that religion is a "good thing" so nothing about the church needs to change. The other strategy he characterizes as the "frenetic church," which he describes as the attempt to force new life into a dying church by meeting consumer demand. He doubts either response to the loss of the church's status will be successful. Each in their own way fail to rely on the Holy Spirit.
Pickard proposes an alternative understanding he calls "the slow church." We are a culture of speed, but Pickard draws on the example of monasticism to argue that the work of the Spirit is work for the long haul. It is the work of Holy Saturday in which patience and perseverance are made possible and required. Pickard refuses any suggestion that a slow church is a church that no longer has passion for justice and change, but the change sought is not that of solutions that do not last. Rather, it is the kind of church that makes possible companionship in a world based on isolation. The Spirit rests on our bodies making us capable of friendship.
I call attention to Pickard's account of what it would mean for the church to be a slow church, because I am confident that is pointing the church to where the Spirit is leading us.
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[Today]...is Wesley Day when Methodists across the globe mark the anniversary of the day in 1738 when their founder John Wesley underwent a deep spiritual experience.
In London, Wesley’s Chapel on City Road — the “Mother Church of World Methodism” — will be holding a day of commemorations, including prayers round his tomb, while in chapels and churches across the country a host of special services will be taking place.
An Anglican clergyman, John Wesley had lived a devout life — visiting prisoners, studying the Bible, praying, living simply and even travelling to America to be a missionary — but on May 24 something happened that changed him. That evening he went (“unwillingly” as he admitted in his journal) to a meeting of Christians on Aldersgate Street, near St Paul’s Cathedral, where someone read aloud Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans, describing the change God works in the heart through faith in Christ.
Wesley recorded in his journal how, as he listened, “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
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O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever!
Anglican war chaplains saw terrible things on the Western Front in the First World War and many were hailed as heroes for ministering to dying men amid the shell fire and machinegun bullets in no man’s land. They returned to their pulpits with a righteous anger to change their church and British society.
Linda Parker’s wide-ranging book, Shellshocked Prophets: Former Anglican Army Chaplains in Interwar Britain, tells the story of this brave band of Anglican clergyman — who were awarded around 250 Military Crosses between them — and then helped to transform the church. “Given the changes that occurred in the Church of England institutionally, liturgically and in its attitudes to a rapidly changing society, it is important that the role of former chaplains should be examined and their significance analysed,” says Dr Parker, herself the daughter of a former Territorial Army chaplain.
A harbinger of social change in the church was the Industrial Christian Fellowship founded by the Rev Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, MC,in 1919 to encourage Christians to relate their faith to their working lives. As chief “missioner”, Studdert Kennedy travelled the country evangelising in factories, mines and canteens, and gathered about him a team of other ex-war chaplains.
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Americans have major doubts about the financial health of Social Security.
A new survey by Pew Research Center finds that 41 percent of Americans think there will be no Social Security benefits for them when they retire and nearly a third expect reduced levels of benefits. (Tweet This)
Some of those fears may be overblown. "People who think they will get zero benefits from Social Security are wrong and they should look at the facts," said Andy Landis, a former claims representative for the Social Security Administration (SSA) and author of "Social Security: The Inside Story."
There are concerns that benefits may be reduced, however.
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In his visit to the Republic of Ireland earlier this week, Prince Charles changed the climate in which reconciliation can take place, and massively changed it for the better.
In word as well as action, tone as well as content, public as well as in private, he moved the heart of reconciliation away from the political arena.
He took it to a place where the facing of pain, resentment, anguish and agonies (to use his own words) are put at the very centre of leaving our grandchildren “a legacy of lasting peace, forgiveness and friendship” (again, his own words).
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Hundreds of former players have filed a lawsuit claiming all 32 NFL teams, their doctors, trainers and medical staffs obtained and provided painkillers to players — often illegally — as part of a decades-long conspiracy to keep them on the field without regard for their long-term health.
The lawsuit reprises some of the allegations made in a federal lawsuit last year on behalf of 1,300 former players against the NFL. That complaint was filed in May, 2014 and dismissed in December by Judge William Alsup of the U.S. Northern District in California. Alsup wrote that the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association was the appropriate forum to resolve such claims. That decision is being appealed.
The new lawsuit was filed Thursday in the U.S. Northern District of Maryland. It names each NFL team individually as a defendant and lists 13 plaintiffs, including Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Renfro of the Dallas Cowboys and Etopia Evans, the widow of Charles Evans, a running back who played eight years with the Minnesota Vikings and the Baltimore Ravens and retired after the 2000 season. Evans died of heart failure in October 2008 at age 41.
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By about 4pm, the national Yes vote stood at 62.4 per cent against 36.6 per cent for the No side with 60.2 per cent of the country going to the polls.
Donegal, against some expectations, has approved the amendment to the Constitution by a small margin. Donegal South West has been the closest so far, with 50.1 per cent voting Yes, representing a margin of just 33 votes.
The Yes vote in Dublin was particularly pronounced. Dublin Midwest reported a Yes vote of 70.9 per cent and Dublin Southwest returned 71.3 per cent, in line with an overall 70 per cent positive vote anticipated in the capital. As the result emerged thousands of people gathered, against convention, in the courtyard of Dublin Castle signalling widespread jubilation.
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With Victorian-style public lectures now a rarity, listening to anyone speak to a crowd, for most of us above school age, occurs only when the best man tells stories of the groom’s indiscretions. “Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking” is as much a case of “unaccustomed as I am to public listening”.
Pity the preacher then, who, as well as the regular Sunday gig, is drafted in for school assemblies, the Women’s Institute and the odd Rotary dinner.
The vicar is charged with delivering something memorable, neither too long nor too short, and not just once in a while, but week in week out. For me, the Sunday sermon looms large enough to make many a Saturday night sleepless. As I step nervously up the pulpit steps I worry that my waffling will leave them uninspired or, worse still, asleep. But while preaching is culturally alien to many, and being “preached at” unappealing to most, it is similar to something we are more used to seeing: standup comedy.
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“‘A good job’ means a really tough fire,” says retired firefighter Alfred Benjamin. Some call it terrifying or seductive, but as Rescue 5’s Joseph Esposito notes, “You should be scared…that’s what keeps you alive.”
Directed and produced by Liz Garbus (HBO’s Emmy®-nominated “Bobby Fischer Against the World”) and produced by actor Steve Buscemi (Emmy® nominee for HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”), A GOOD JOB: STORIES OF THE FDNY explores life in one of the most demanding and innovative fire departments in the world.
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But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
I can write in the midst of—not very conveniently—but I can make progress in the midst of the usual family clamor. But it has to be said, perhaps with some regret, that the first thing that distinguishes a writer is that he is most alive when alone, most fully alive when alone. A tolerance for solitude isn’t anywhere near the full description of what really goes on. The most interesting things happen to you when you are alone....
When I worked on my first book at home, my bedroom was above my father’s study, and I would often hear, not crazy scientist’s laughter, but the sort of laughter where the shoulders are shaking, coming from below. And I continue that tradition. I do find that not only the comic scenes make you laugh but anything that works well. Really, laughter is the successful serendipity of the whole business.
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Voters will be given two ballot papers: a white ballot paper for the marriage referendum and a green ballot paper for the age of presidential candidates referendum.
In the marriage referendum people may vote Yes or No to the proposal to include a new clause about marriage in the Constitution.
This new clause provides that two people may marry each other regardless of their sex.
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Islamic State fighters are celebrating their second major conquest in a week in Syria and Iraq as they pick through the ruins of the historic city of Palmyra.
The sudden advance of the militants into the UN heritage site in central Syria resulted in the rout of a national army, the exodus of refugees and a fresh pulse of regional alarm at the resilience of the self-styled caliphate force.
The UN said one-third of Palmyra’s 200,000-strong population had fled. And Isis militants used social media to show themselves posing amid ancient columns in Palmyra on Thursday. Other images displayed a more familiar theme: the summary slaughter of local men whose blood drenched the road.
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The public view of religion among young people, according to a YouGov poll - well, alright it’s a poll, but … [laughter] the reputation of religion among young people is actually more negative than neutral: 41% – this was a poll in 2013, when they still got them right – 41% of 18-24 year olds agreed that “religion is more often the cause of evil in the world” and only 14% say it is a cause for good.
The Faith Action Audit reveals something different. It shows the breadth of commitment across the country, the depth of commitment, and above all the strength of experience and good practice. Thanks to Cinnamon [Network] and other bodies like it, this is not mere do-goodery. It is seeking to find best practice and put it into action in the most professional way that can be imagined.
We’ve heard some of the figures, but just a reminder: the faith sector collectively is delivering, according to the audit – I’ll round it – 220,000 social action projects, from which 47 million people benefit.
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[THE] REV. WAYNE MEISEL: We have a generation of young people in their 20s and 30s that define themselves by their commitment to service and justice work. The challenge is that many of them, I think most of them, do not believe the church cares about them or the causes they care about. There’s this bubbling fervor and energy and possibility that we just have to figure out how to both tap and how to support, and then for guys like me to get out of the way.
ABERNETHY: Craig Barnes is the president of Princeton Theological Seminary.
CRAIG BARNES (President, Princeton Theological Seminary): Wayne is a fascinating and charismatic kind of leader. He works best kind of on the margins of schools, churches, and organizations, and he’s a visionary. But he doesn’t work through the system. He works with the students themselves, and he excites students, and they become all caught up in his vision of changing the world and thinking that their life can make a real difference. And this is not just happening in Princeton. This is happening in seminaries all over the country. So it’s a phenomenon.
The students are asking different questions in class. Our professors are developing their syllabi differently to account for this passion they have to not just study ethics but to do ethics along the way. These students actually are devoted to loving thy neighbor. And they won’t tolerate any more sitting in class taking notes on wonderful lectures about social responsibility and then folding up their laptops and just going home.
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The Nigerian army has relocated at least 260 women and children recently rescued from the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, officials say.
They were taken from a camp in the north-eastern city of Yola and flown to an unspecified military facility.
The women will receive medical help and support as part of their rehabilitation process, the BBC has learnt.
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Readers know of the phenomenon at college campuses regarding charges of “microaggressions” and “triggers.” It’s been going on for a while and is part of a growing censorship movement in which professors, administrators and others are accused of racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, gender bias and ethnocentric thinking, among other things. Connected is the rejection or harassment of commencement and other campus speakers who are not politically correct. I hate that phrase, but it just won’t stop being current.
Kirsten Powers goes into much of this in her book, “The Silencing.” Anyway, quite a bunch of little Marats and Robespierres we’re bringing up.
But I was taken aback by a piece a few weeks ago in the Spectator, the student newspaper of Columbia University. I can’t shake it, though believe me I’ve tried. I won’t name the four undergraduate authors, because 30 years from now their children will be on Google, and because everyone in their 20s has the right to be an idiot.
Yet theirs is a significant and growing form of idiocy that deserves greater response.
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Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They will perish, but thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment. Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away; but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.
Southern Iraq’s long-shuttered museums are also finally reopening. The National Museum of Iraq reopened in February 2015 after a $40 million renovation. And in Nasiriya, a city famed for its step ziggurat, the director of the antiquities museum, Iqbal Ajeel, proudly displayed the museum’s exquisite Sumerian miniatures and naked figurines to her first group of high school visitors since the 1991 Gulf War forced its closure.
Few Iraqis in the south openly champion separation from the rest of the country, but the chasm is widening. It is not only a question of ISIS imposing its rules on personal behavior and punishing people only slightly out of line. While ISIS destroys museums, the south refurbishes them; while ISIS destroys shrines, the ayatollahs expand them; and while ISIS is burning relics and books, the Imam Ali shrine hosts a book fair where scripture shares space with romantic novels. On the new campus of Kufa University, a burned-down wreck under American occupation when last I saw it, three engineering professors spoke of the golden age that awaits a united Iraq, or at least its Arab provinces, once the militias defeat ISIS.
But a dissenting fourth engineer quietly questioned why the south should bother. As long as al-Sistani’s jihad was defensive he supported it, but why, he asks, shed blood against ISIS for a Sunni population that is neither welcoming nor particularly wanted? The further north the militia advances, the more lives are lost, and the returns from the battle diminish. Compared to the south’s mineral wealth, the Sunni provinces offer few natural resources. Much of their territory is desert, and their feuding tribes will only cause trouble. Better, he argued, to safeguard what the south already has. In short, he said, breaking a taboo by uttering a word he claims many privately already espouse, why not opt for taqsim, partition? A heavy silence followed.
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To this author, to “go all the way” means to swim upstream against societal currents and to cleave to a life of prayer and Bible study. Evangelical Christians, she writes, are paying the greatest cost–giving themselves over completely to Christianity and paying a personal price.
The implication is that progressive Christian churches are practicing Christianity Lite, a version that demands little of us spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually. It’s ironic that, on the one hand, the author points out how the Episcopal Church and other progressive churches are declining in number, and on the other, that we have not paid a price for our Christian commitments.
I have never found Christianity more demanding of me than in the Episcopal Church. And it’s precisely because the Episcopal Church does not embrace many absolutist statements, but rather requires me and other followers of Jesus to pray, worship, study, and serve to figure out what the heck God requires of us in a given moment.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
In a world of driverless cars, U.S. auto sales would plummet, vehicle ownership falls 50% and opportunities in fleet management, tech and mapping arise.
In a society dominated by self-driving cars, U.S. auto sales might fall 40% and vehicle ownership could drop 50%, forcing entrenched automakers such as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors to adapt or die, according to a Barclays analyst report.
This shift will also create opportunities for tech startups and rental car companies.
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MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Australia is clearly being asked to take a regional role in this ongoing crisis. What role should we take?
PHILIP FREIER: Well, I think there's a couple of things we could do. One is to look at these countries where many people are wanting to leave for a manifest number of reasons and seek some of the long term solutions that might stabilise those.
But I think that plainly we need to do all we can in association with our regional neighbours in making sure that there are not people simply left starving on boats with nowhere to go.
So the breakthrough that we've had are people being able to come onshore, seems to be the initiative of some fishermen in Indonesia, seems very welcome.
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Exeter Cathedral is fighting for its future after it failed to secure multi-million pound funding to uncover the city’s Roman baths.
The £8.7m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) bid would have seen the first century bath house, buried under the Cathedral Green, excavated and opened to the public.
But the ambitious plans to create a worldwide tourist attraction were dealt a major blow when the funding body decided not to support the project.
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Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria have entered the Unesco World Heritage site of Palmyra after seizing the town next to the ancient ruins, reports say.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there were no reports yet of any destruction of artefacts.
The militants had taken control of the nearby airport, prison and intelligence HQ after government forces pulled out of the area, the monitoring group said.
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The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, the Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), on Wednesday called on Nigerians and the incoming administration led Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to focus on peace and the unity of the country. Okoh told newsmen in Abuja no development could be achieved in any society without peace and unity. He said the current problem of insurgency, regional and ethnic suspicion in the country was a threat to peace and unity. “Peace is a major capital needed to develop the country and there must be a deliberate policy by the incoming administration to reassure Nigerians of peace and unity....
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Last year, a death penalty sentence slapped on a Sudanese doctor for refusing to renounce her Christian faith stirred international outrage and heightened calls on the government to increase religious liberty.
Meriam Yahya Ibrahim was released a month later, but now two Christian pastors have been jailed and they also face a possible death sentence.
The Rev. Michael Yat and the Rev. Peter Yein Reith, both from the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, have been charged with undermining the constitutional system and spying, offenses punishable by death or life imprisonment.
The clerics are charged with waging a war against the state and assault on religious belief.
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“… must protect all. It must protect the rights of the defendants to have and to manifest their religious beliefs but it also recognizes that the rights of the plaintiff not to be discriminated because of his sexual orientation must also be protected. If the plaintiff was a gay man who ran a bakery business and the defendants as Christians wanted him to bake a cake with the words ‘support heterosexual marriage’ the plaintiff would be required to do so as, otherwise; he would, according to the law be discriminating against the defendants. This is not a law which is for one belief only but is equal to and for all. The defendants are entitled to continue to hold their genuine and deeply held religious beliefs and to manifest them but, in accordance with the law, not to manifest them in the commercial sphere if it is contrary to the rights of others [93 & 94].
As to the defendants’ argument that Article 10 (expression) meant that they could not be compelled to express or commit themselves to a viewpoint or to appear to give support to another’s views, she concluded that what the defendants had been asked to do “did not require them to support, promote or endorse any viewpoint” and did not engage Article 10 – and her view was that, even if she was wrong in that conclusion and Article 10 was engaged, any infringement of the defendants’ rights was justified under Article 10 (2) because they were prescribed by law, necessary in a democratic society and for the protection of the rights of others
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And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
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A new chapter of the Revd Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan’s lifelong ecumenical engagement has begun with her installation as the new president of the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) on 14 May.
The current Interim Secretary General of the Anglican Communion and its former Director for Unity, Faith and Order, she was unanimously elected to a three-year term as CCC president by the council’s Governing Board. She succeeds Lt. Col. Jim Champ of the Salvation Army.
A priest of the Anglican Church of Canada, for which she served several years as ecumenical officer, Canon Dr Barnett-Cowan had previously served a term as one of CCC’s vice-presidents. She brings with her a wealth of ecumenical experience, having been engaged with various inter-church dialogues and councils of churches at the local, regional, and international level.
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It is religious persecution on a horrific scale, involving massacres, bombings, slavery, beheadings and mass rape.
So why don’t our churches protest against this slaughter of their own?
Yes, Christians are now the prime target of unbelievably barbaric attacks in the Middle East and Africa, yet Australia’s bishops, ministers, priests, church “social justice” units and Christian aid groups — usually so vocal — are now near mute.
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US regulators are increasingly concerned about the threat that cyber attacks pose to financial stability after assaults on Sony Pictures and Target highlighted the proliferating range of techniques used by digital raiders.
In a new report on risks to the financial system, regulators also sounded the alarm on risk-taking by institutions searching for higher investment yields, as well as the threat of rising interest rates triggering market volatility.
On cyber security, the annual report from the Financial Stability Oversight Council said “the prospect of a more destructive incident that could impair financial sector operations” was even more concerning than recent breaches that have compromised financial information.
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DUP MLA Paul Givan is consulting on an Assembly bill that would allow people with religious beliefs a limited exemption from certain equality law requirements.
He said his private member’s bill would protect Christians who “do not feel there is space being made for their religious beliefs”.
Following the court ruling, DUP leader Peter Robinson said: “We have been listening to people and I think the term ‘reasonable accommodation’ is now what we would like to frame some legislation around – recognising that there are rights on both sides and therefore there has to be a reasonable accommodation between the two. So, I think we are not surprised at the outcome, that’s why we had embarked upon the legislative process.”
Mr Givan said his party leader had no apology to make for last year labelling the commission’s support for the court action “bonkers”.
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I have to admit I was surprised by the verdict. For me, the case was not simply one of straightforward homophobia. Refusing to write a message fundamentally at odds with one’s beliefs is different from, say, refusing a couple a bed in a B&B: it is to involve people in an argument rather than simply request that they act as disinterested providers. If Ashers had simply refused to sell any cake at all to Mr Lee or any other LGBT person, then that would be an obvious act of discrimination.
The case is complicated further by the fact that equal marriage is not just a religious issue in Northern Ireland: it is a live political issue. Less than a month ago, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted against the legalisation of equal marriage. We are now in the strange situation where the Equality Commission and the court have both decided that refusing to write an equal marriage slogan on a cake is against equality, while equal marriage itself is illegal.
The court ruled that as Ashers is a commercial organisation rather than a church there can be no exception. This is bound to lead to a wonderful summer of Northern Ireland’s national sport, whataboutery. Already all sorts of scenarios are being dreamt up, from Jews baking Nazi cakes to the somewhat confusing conclusion by loyalist “flags” activist Jamie Bryson that the ruling now means pubs must serve him while wearing his pipe band uniform.
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The reason for Coren’s conversion and the manner of it are newsworthy. It is significant in terms of religious culture and the profession of commentary.
Coren left Catholicism over homosexuality and gay marriage. In the face of cultural juggernauts, people do change their minds. Coren is following the theological path of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. I wouldn’t have picked the contrarian Coren to join the trendiest cause around, but that’s how cultural trends become trendy; people join them.
Two weeks ago, Coren told our colleague Joseph Brean that he came back to Catholicism (the second time) for the Eucharist. He then left over homosexuality. In the long Christian tradition, sexual morality has never been more important than Eucharistic theology. Coren lambastes those who put sexual morality at the heart of their faith. Yet in choosing his ecclesial allegiance on matters sexual rather than matters liturgical, sacramental and Eucharistic, Coren did just that. The cultural import of his conversion is that it calls attention to exactly the choice facing churches the world over. Around what principles shall a church organize itself? The sexual revolution? Or divine revelation?
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The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
The Bishop of Salisbury will bless 42 young yew trees on Wednesday at the cathedral.
The Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam — the Church of England’s lead bishop for the environment — will hold the service as part of a campaign to celebrate the heritage of the nation’s ancient yew trees.
The trees represent the 42 dioceses of the Church of England.
The Conservation Foundation's 'We Love Yew' campaign is being launched to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.
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The Anglican church here will not allow same-sex marriages to take place on its premises, said newly installed Anglican bishop Melter Jiki (pic).
The 50-year-old bishop, who is the first native Kadazan chosen to lead the 90,000-strong Anglican community in the state, said this when asked about the church’s policies and what to expect during his tenure.
“We are totally against the so-called same-sex marriage. We will not allow it in the church,” said the father of four who was installed as the sixth Anglican bishop in Sabah on Tuesday
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Boys who smoke cannabis before puberty could be stunting their growth by more than four inches, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that youngsters who were addicted to the drug were far shorter than their non-smoking peers.
And they also discovered that rather than being a relaxing pass time, smoking dope actually makes the body more stressed in the long term.
"Marijuana use may provoke a stress response that stimulates onset of puberty but suppresses growth rate,” said study leader Dr Syed Shakeel Raza Rizvi, of the Agriculture University Rawalpindi in Pakistan.
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....perhaps the day has arrived in the PCA when progressives need not worry about any negative connotations of the term "progressive." However, it might still be proper to ask, "Towards what are the progressives asking their church to progress? If we follow the path of progress or get swept along by its tide, what will be left behind and where will we end up?" (Or, for real traditionalists, "where up will we end?")
Dr. Chapell places the label "Traditionalists" on those who are "highly committed to Confessional fidelity and are often worried about perceived doctrinal drift." Is there a more pejorative term in America, where you buy your laundry detergent because it is "new and improved," than the term "traditional"? Not even conservatives want to be traditionalists unless they are appealing to "traditional values" (as in "family" or , peculiarly in Mississippi, "traditional Mississippi values" - wink, wink, hint, hint, get it?). Americans fought a great War for Independence so we wouldn't have to be traditional like those stuffy old British. The last thing a true American wants to be is a stick-in-the-mud old fuddy-duddy traditionalist.
In the churches it's the old and soon to pass from the scene folks who attend the "traditional" service, which may not be traditional at all but a service in which gospel hymns are sung with a song leader rather than praise and worship songs with a praise team. The cool kids flock to the contemporary service, where they will not be turned off by robes, minsters leading worship, and too much Scripture and prayer - until that comes to feel like it is traditional in which case they may join Rachel Held Evans who likes her doctrine and morals progressive but her liturgy sort of traditional in The Episcopal Church.
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My initial reaction to the claim in the subtitle of this celebrity biography was incredulity, but Richard Zoglin has convinced me that Bob Hope (1903-2003) can fittingly be referred to as the most successful entertainer of the 20th century. This place of preeminence is secured by the heights of popularity that he achieved, the number of decades during which his star power continued to shine so brightly, and his triumphing in seemingly every possible form of mass entertainment.
That last point is particularly compelling. Hope rose to success in vaudeville, and then conquered Broadway, before proceeding to the #1 spot in radio, film, and television—holding in the top ten in all three across decades. And the half is yet untold. Hope was a singer and recording artist; on Broadway, he stole the show with "I Can't Get Started," and in his first film he did the same with "Thanks for the Memory," which became his theme song. His initial vaudeville success was as a dancer.
Hope eventually became the most successful live performer going, often setting all-time attendance records for the cities he visited. He had a regular newspaper column, and his I Never Left Home—believe it or not—was the bestselling nonfiction book of 1944. A cultural ambassador during the Cold War, he did historic shows in Russia and China. (During the Iran hostage crisis, he seriously proposed doing his 1980 Christmas special from Tehran.) Hope was considered the greatest emcee in the business—hosting the Academy Awards an astonishing 19 times—and, to bury the lede, he was "the most popular comedian in American history."
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Speaking thirty years ago, Attorney General Meese warned that “there are ideas which have gained influence in some parts of our society, particularly in some important and sophisticated areas that are opposed to religious freedom and freedom in general. In some areas there are some people that have espoused a hostility to religion that must be recognized for what it is, and expressly countered.”
Those were prophetic words, prescient in their clarity and foresight. The ideas of which Mr. Meese warned have only gained ground in the last thirty years, and now with astounding velocity. A revolution in morality now seeks not only to subvert marriage, but also to redefine it, and thus to undermine an essential foundation of human dignity, flourishing, and freedom.
Religious liberty is under direct threat. Just days ago the Solicitor General of the United States served notice before the Supreme Court that the liberties of religious institutions will be an open and unavoidable question. Already, religious liberty is threatened by a new moral regime that exalts erotic liberty and personal autonomy and openly argues that religious liberties must give way to the new morality, its redefinition of marriage, and its demand for coercive moral, cultural, and legal sovereignty.
A new moral and legal order is ascendant in America, and this new order is only possible, in the arena of American law and jurisprudence, if the original intent and the very words of the Constitution of the United States are twisted beyond recognition.
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Hundreds of women and girls captured by Boko Haram have been raped, many repeatedly, in what officials and relief workers describe as a deliberate strategy to dominate rural residents and possibly even create a new generation of Islamist militants in Nigeria.
In interviews, the women described being locked in houses by the dozen, at the beck and call of fighters who forced them to have sex, sometimes with the specific goal of impregnating them.
“They married me,” said Hamsatu, 25, a young woman in a black-and-purple head scarf, looking down at the ground. She said she was four months pregnant, that the father was a Boko Haram member and that she had been forced to have sex with other militants who took control of her town.
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Islamic State leaders in Syria have sent money, trainers and fighters to Libya in increasing numbers, raising new concerns for the U.S. that the militant group is gaining traction in its attempts to broaden its reach and expand its influence.
In recent months, U.S. military officials said, Islamic State has solidified its foothold in Libya as it searches for ways to capitalize on rising popularity among extremist groups around the world.
“ISIL now has an operational presence in Libya, and they have aspirations to make Libya their African hub,” said one U.S. military official, using an acronym for the group. “Libya is part of their terror map now.”
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