Posted by Kendall Harmon

It so happened that in this man Jesus God himself came into the world, which he had created and against all odds still loved. He took human nature upon himself and became man, like the rest of us, in order to put an end to the world's fight against him and also against itself, and to replace man's disorder by God's design. In Jesus God hallowed his name, made his kingdom come, his will done on earth as it is in heaven, as we say in the Lord's Prayer. In him he made manifest his glory and, amazingly enough, he made it manifest for our salvation. To accomplish this, he not only bandaged, but healed the wounds of the world he helped mankind not only in part and temporarily but radically and for good in the person of his beloved Son; he delivered us from evil and took us to his heart as his children Thereby we are all permitted to live, and to live eternally.

It happened through this man on the cross that God cancelled out and swept away all our human wickedness, our pride, our anxiety, our greed and our false pretences, whereby we had continually offended him and made life difficult, if not impossible, for ourselves and for others. He crossed out what had made our life fundamentally terrifying, dark and distressing - the life of health and of sickness, of happiness and of unhappiness, of the highborn and of the lowborn, of the rich and of the poor, of the free and of the captive. He did away with it. It is no longer part of us, it is behind us. In Jesus God made the day break after the long night and spring come after the long winter.

All these things happened in that one man. In Jesus, God took upon himself the full load of evil; he made our wickedness his own; he gave himself in his dear Son to be defamed as a criminal, to be accused, condemned, delivered from life unto death, as though he himself, the Holy God, had done all the evil we human beings did and do. In giving himself in Jesus Christ, he reconciled the world unto himself; he saved us and made us free to live in his everlasting kingdom; he removed the burden and took it upon himself He the innocent took the place of us the guilty. He the mighty took the place of us the weak. He the living One took the place of us the dying.

This, my dear friends, is the invisible event that took place in the suffering and death of the man hanging on the middle cross on Golgotha. This is reconciliation: his damnation our liberation, his defeat our victory, his mortal pain the beginning of our joy, his death the birth of our life. We do well to remember that this is what those who put him to death really accomplished. They did not know what they did. These deluded men and women accomplished by their evil will and deed that good which God had willed and done with the world and for the world, including the crowd of Jerusalem.

--Karl Barth (1886-1968) from a sermon in 1957

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* TheologyChristology

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Posted April 18, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Through Mary he received his humanity, and in receiving his humanity received humanity itself. Which is to say, through Mary he received us. In response to the angel’s strange announcement, Mary said yes. But only God knew that it would end up here at Golgotha, that it had to end up here. For here, in darkness and in death, were to be found the prodigal children who had said no, the prodigal children whom Jesus came to take home to the Father.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* TheologyChristology

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Posted April 18, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O My chief good,
How shall I measure out thy bloud?
How shall I count what thee befell,
And each grief tell?

Shall I thy woes
Number according to thy foes?
Or, since one starre show’d thy first breath,
Shall all thy death?

Or shall each leaf,
Which falls in Autumn, score a grief?
Or can not leaves, but fruit, be signe
Of the true vine?

hen let each houre
Of my whole life one grief devoure;
That thy distresse through all may runne,
And be my sunne.

Or rather let
My severall sinnes their sorrows get;
That as each beast his cure doth know,
Each sinne may so.

Since bloud is fittest, Lord, to write
Thy sorrows in, and bloudie fight;
My heart hath store, write there, where in
One box doth lie both ink and sinne:

That when sinne spies so many foes,
Thy whips, thy nails, thy wounds, thy woes,
All come to lodge there, sinne may say,
No room for me, and flie away.

Sinne being gone, oh fill the place,
And keep possession with thy grace;
Lest sinne take courage and return,
And all the writings blot or burn.

--George Herbert (1593-1633)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* Culture-WatchPoetry & Literature* TheologyChristology

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Posted April 18, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Let man’s soul be a sphere, and then, in this,
Th’ intelligence that moves, devotion is ;
And as the other spheres, by being grown
Subject to foreign motion, lose their own,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a year their natural form obey ;
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit
For their first mover, and are whirl’d by it.
Hence is’t, that I am carried towards the west,
This day, when my soul’s form bends to the East.
There I should see a Sun by rising set,
And by that setting endless day beget.
But that Christ on His cross did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.

Yet dare I almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for me.
Who sees Gods face, that is self-life, must die ;
What a death were it then to see God die ?
It made His own lieutenant, Nature, shrink,
It made His footstool crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands, which span the poles
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes ?
Could I behold that endless height, which is
Zenith to us and our antipodes,
Humbled below us ? or that blood, which is
The seat of all our soul’s, if not of His,
Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn
By God for His apparel, ragg’d and torn ?
If on these things I durst not look, durst I
On His distressed Mother cast mine eye,
Who was God’s partner here, and furnish’d thus
Half of that sacrifice which ransom’d us ?
Though these things as I ride be from mine eye,
They’re present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them ; and Thou look’st towards me,
O Saviour, as Thou hang’st upon the tree.
I turn my back to thee but to receive
Corrections till Thy mercies bid Thee leave.
O think me worth Thine anger, punish me,
Burn off my rust, and my deformity ;
Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace,
That Thou mayst know me, and I’ll turn my face.

–John Donne (1572-1631)

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* TheologyChristology

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Posted April 18, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The ancient and saintly fathers and theologians have contrasted the living wood with dead and have allegorized that contrast this way: From the living wood came sin and death; from the dead wood, righteousness and life. They conclude: do not eat from that living tree, or you will die, but eat of the dead tree; otherwise you will remain in death.

You do indeed desire to eat and enjoy [the fruit] of some tree. I will direct you to a tree so full you can never eat it bare. But just as it was difficult to stay away from that living tree, so it is difficult to enjoy eating from the dead tree. The first was the image of life, delight, and goodness, while the other is the image of death, suffering and sorrow because one tree is living, the other dead. There is in man's heart the deeply rooted desire to seek life where there is certain death and to flee from death where one has the sure source of life.

--Martin Luther, "That a Christian Should Bear his Cross With Patience," 1530

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* TheologyChristology

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Posted April 18, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied me three times.

--John 13:36-38

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 18, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Because the newly public message which is the good news of Easter is at one and the same time so obvious – the message of new creation, which answers the deepest longings of the whole cosmos – and so utterly unexpected that if we are to announce God in public in these terms, as Paul did so spectacularly at Athens, we need the preceding private stillness to rinse our minds out of preconceived notions and make ready for God’s startling new world. Note, by the way, that it is the public truth of Easter – the dangerous, strikingly political truth that the living God is remaking the world and claiming full sovereignty over it – that has been for two hundred years the real objection, in western thinking, to the notion that Jesus rose bodily from the tomb. Western thought has wanted to keep Christianity as private truth only, to turn the Lion of Judah into a tame #####-cat, an elegant and inoffensive, if occasionally mysterious, addition to the family circle.

And part of the point of where we are today, culturally, socially, politically and religiously, is that we don’t have that option any more. We face a dangerous and deeply challenging future in the next few years, as the demons we’ve unleashed in the Middle East are not going to go back into their bag, as the ecological nightmares we’ve created take their toll, as the people who make money by looking after our money have now lost their own money and perhaps ours as well, as our cultural and artistic worlds flail around trying to catch the beauty and sorrow of the world and often turning them into ugliness and trivia. And we whose lives and thinking and praying and preaching are rooted in and shaped by these great four days – we who stand up dangerously before God and one another and say we are ready to hear and obey his call once more – we have to learn what it means to announce the public truth of Easter, consequent upon the public truth of Good Friday and itself shaped by it (as the mark of the nails bear witness), as the good news of God for all the world, not just for those who meet behind locked doors. Every eye shall see him, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn as they realise the public truth of his Easter victory. But we can only learn that in the quiet privacy around the Lord’s Table, and the humble stillness where we lay aside our own agendas, our own temperamental preferences, in the darkness of Holy Saturday. When we say Yes to the questions we shall be asked in a few minutes’ time, we are saying Yes to this rhythm, this shaping, of our private devotion to our Lord, our private waiting on him in the silence, in order to say Yes as well to this rhythm, this shaping, of our public ministry, our living out of the gospel before the principalities and powers, our working with the grain of the world where we can and against the grain of the world where we must.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristology

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Posted April 17, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At a time when some argue that faith and religious life should be kept behind closed doors, it is reassuring that the BBC and other broadcasters still invest in imaginative, high-quality religious programming, especially during Christian festivals such as Easter and Christmas.

But I believe passionately that religious broadcasting is not just for Easter or Christmas: its presence is vital the whole year round. I could not agree more with Ian Hislop, who wrote in last month’s Radio Times “that programmes that concern themselves with faith are still trying to engage with the world, rather than just trying to escape from it into the next”.

The dramatic events of Holy Week remind us that God is intensely engaged with the world he created – not just the ‘religious’ bits of life. St Paul told early Christians that, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God chose to “reconcile to himself all things”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 17, 2014 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This week, as Jews celebrate the Passover holiday, they are commemorating the Bible's Exodus story describing a series of plagues inflicted on ancient Egypt that freed the Israelites, allowing them to make their way to the Holy Land. But over the past century, another exodus, driven by a plague of persecution, has swept across the Middle East and is emptying the region of its Christian population. The persecution is especially virulent today.

The Middle East may be the birthplace of three monotheistic religions, but some Arab nations appear bent on making it the burial ground for one of them. For 2,000 years, Christian communities dotted the region, enriching the Arab world with literature, culture and commerce. At the turn of the 20th century, Christians made up 26% of the Middle East's population. Today, that figure has dwindled to less than 10%. Intolerant and extremist governments are driving away the Christian communities that have lived in the Middle East since their faith was born.

In the rubble of Syrian cities like Aleppo and Damascus, Christians who refused to convert to Islam have been kidnapped, shot and beheaded by Islamist opposition fighters. In Egypt, mobs of Muslim Brotherhood members burn Coptic Christian churches in the same way they once obliterated Jewish synagogues. And in Iraq, terrorists deliberately target Christian worshippers. This past Christmas, 26 people were killed when a bomb ripped through a crowd of worshipers leaving a church in Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relationsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 17, 2014 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Few who have heard or read [Barbara Brown] Taylor are surprised that she is nudging people down a path toward endarkenment. For years, her sermons have been required reading at seminaries nationwide, and she often lectures at Princeton, Duke and the National Cathedral in Washington. She is the most requested Sunday speaker at New York’s Chautauqua Institution and draws both atheists and divinity students to her book signings. And 13 books on, she has chronicled her own fascinating and complex faith journey for hundreds of thousands of readers. Taylor, says Randall Balmer, chair of Dartmouth’s department of religion, “belongs in the pantheon of spiritual writers that includes such luminaries as the late Will Campbell, Anne Lamott and Frederick Buechner. She doesn’t shy away from big issues, and her honesty is disarming.”

Certainly, Taylor’s new memoir, Learning to Walk in the Dark–on spirituality and self-help shelves in time for Good Friday–challenges the broad theological belief that darkness is evil, scary and just plain bad. But she is also taking on the sometimes far-too-sunny fashion in which churches tell their most important stories. It is easy to forget, amid “the Easter lilies, the sound of trumpets and bright streaming light,” she notes, that the Resurrection happened in a dark cave. “God and darkness have been friends for a long time,” Taylor says. “It’s just one nighttime story after another–amazing.”

Read it all and take a look at the Time Cover picture also.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* TheologyTheodicy

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Posted April 17, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some people feel that in this ever more secular age we shouldn't talk about these things. I completely disagree. I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country, more ambitious about expanding the role of faith-based organisations, and, frankly, more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people's lives.

First, being more confident about our status as a Christian country does not somehow involve doing down other faiths or passing judgement on those with no faith at all. Many people tell me it is easier to be Jewish or Muslim in Britain than in a secular country precisely because the tolerance that Christianity demands of our society provides greater space for other religious faiths, too.

Crucially, the Christian values of responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility, and love are shared by people of every faith and none - and we should be confident in standing up to defend them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

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Posted April 17, 2014 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This Lent we, and thousands of others, made the rise of hunger in the UK the focus of our fasting. It has been a time of sorrowful and deep reflection on a rise we see every day in the numbers visiting food banks in towns and cities across the country.

The Trussell Trust figures, released today, only further illustrate this terrible rise, from 350,000 last year to over 900,000 this year. This figure, shocking as it is, is far from the total number of people going hungry in our country today – from those too ashamed to visit their local food bank to those many families not in crisis but ever more worried about keeping the cupboards full. One in four is cutting portion sizes and half are cutting their household food budgets.

Lent has finally seen the beginning of a real national discussion on what this hunger means, what causes it and how we as a society can begin rising to the challenge of this national crisis.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekLent* Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionGlobalizationHunger/MalnutritionPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 17, 2014 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lift up your hearts
We lift them to the Lord

The focus of my sermon this evening is what it means to say those words and what it is to set those words at the heart of ministry.

Some of us have the immense privilege as priests of summoning a whole community to lift up their hearts in the Eucharist. But others are called no less to invite God’s people to lift up their hearts in different ways: in the ministry of the word and in the prayers, in pastoral care, in evangelism, as we lead worship or work with children or young people. This call and invitation goes right to the heart of our understanding of every kind of ministry. So what does it mean?

The words have a long and wide pedigree. They go back to the earliest descriptions of the Eucharist in the third century. They are present in the rites of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches and all the churches of the Reformation as well as our own Church of England. What does it mean to say “Lift up your hearts”?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Theology

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Posted April 17, 2014 at 5:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

--Psalm 102:25-27

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 17, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mahatma Gandhi was once asked what was the greatest obstacle to the extension of Christianity. He answered: "Christianity."

Christianity faces the prospect of its own death through the death of its inadequately conceived Easter God. Christianity, as practised in New Zealand, is not credible and is dying.

If Christianity faces up to this full reality, it will survive to be a useful religious community. If it fails to shoulder the full weight of its own cross, it will not discover whether its Christian faith is really true.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyApologeticsEschatology

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Posted April 16, 2014 at 4:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Young adults who occasionally smoke marijuana show abnormalities in two key areas of their brain related to emotion, motivation, and decision making, raising concerns that they could be damaging their developing minds at a critical time, according to a new study by Boston researchers.

Other studies have revealed brain changes among heavy marijuana users, but this research is believed to be the first to demonstrate such abnormalities in young, casual smokers.

The Boston scientists also found that the degree of brain changes appeared to be directly related to the amount participants smoked per week.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 16, 2014 at 10:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Given what we’ve seen in Ukraine, the US and the EU need to work much more closely together on policy vis a vis the non-Russian former Soviet states. This policy can’t be seen as simply legalistic or commercial, expanding free trade zones or supporting the rule of law and the development of institutions; security issues are also involved.

More, Europe’s failure to develop coherent energy policy is clearly a contributing factor to Putin’s transparent contempt for the bloc as well as to Europe’s continuing vulnerability to Russian pressure. Europe’s countries have many voices when it comes to energy policy; the United States needs to play a larger and more constructive role in the continent’s musings over energy policy, and the new American reserves now coming on line could be part of a long term strategy to reduce Europe’s vulnerability to energy blackmail.

The US may also need to consider how it can play a more useful role in Europe’s internal debates over economic policy. Europe’s weakness before Russian pressure is both directly and indirectly attributable in part to the fallout from the euro disaster. Economic pain has divided the union, alienated many voters both from Brussels and their national authorities, reduced Europe’s energy and resources for external policy ventures, contributed to the bitterness over immigration and fueled the rise of the extreme right wing parties Putin now seeks to mobilize. Important American interests have been seriously harmed by the monetary muddle in Europe, and Washington needs to think more carefully about how it can play a more consequential and constructive role.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 16, 2014 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Easter is now [almost] upon us, and we await the predictable onslaught of naysayers who declaim with an almost evangelical fervour that the Jesus story is one big lie. Such tirades by the evangelists of scepticism seem almost to constitute a pastoral responsibility on their part annually to reinforce the ideological conceits of their tribe of followers, thus providing atheists, agnostics and "nones" with reassurance that they needn't take Jesus too seriously.

The opening salvo this year comes courtesy of the indefatigable Bart Ehrman. For those who don't know, Ehrman is something of a celebrity sceptic in the United States. A professor of religion at the University of North Carolina, he was formerly a fundamentalist Christian who de-converted to agnosticism, and now writes books exposing the apparently fallacious claims of traditional Christianity. He has several New York Times best-sellers to his name, including Misquoting Jesus: The Story of Who Changed the Bible and Why, Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible and Forged: Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. Ehrman is a regular on the talk-show circuit, frequenting programs like The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, Dateline, CNN, and National Public Radio.

A genuinely erudite scholar of ancient texts and a fierce debater, Ehrman is the bane of traditionalists and the champion of sceptics. A pity, then, that he is almost always wrong.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistory* TheologyChristologySeminary / Theological EducationTheology: Scripture

4 Comments
Posted April 16, 2014 at 7:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The language used by the national media in reporting the story this time reveals the lack of confidence now placed in the fragment. The Boston Globe reported that the tests “have turned up no evidence of modern forgery,” but the reporter had to acknowledge that at least one of the scholars writing in the Harvard Theological Review insisted that the fragment is not only a forgery, but an amateurish effort. The New York Times ran a story that featured a headline announcing that the fragment “is more likely ancient than fake.” Note the uncertainty evident even in the headline.

In her major article released last week, Professor King defended the fragment’s authenticity, but acknowledged that — all previous sensationalism aside — “It is not entirely clear, however, how many women are referred to [in the fragment], who they are, precisely what is being said about them, or what larger issues are under consideration.”

This is a very different message than was sent back in 2012. Professor King now acknowledges that all the references to females in the fragment might be “deployed metaphorically as figures of the Church, or heavenly Wisdom, or symbolically/typologically as brides of Christ or even mothers.” In other words, the fragment might not even conflict with Christian orthodoxy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMediaReligion & Culture* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted April 16, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Apartment vacancy rates have dropped so low that forecasters at Capital Economics, a research firm, said rents could rise, on average, as much as 4 percent this year, compared with 2.8 percent last year. But rents are rising faster than that in many cities even as overall inflation is running at little more than 1 percent annually.

One of the most expensive cities for renters is Miami, where rents, on average, consume 43 percent of the typical household income, up from a historical average of just over a quarter.

Stella Santamaria, a divorced 40-year-old math teacher, has been looking for an apartment in Miami for more than six months. “We’re kind of sick of talking about it,” she said of herself and fellow teachers in the same boat. “It’s like, are you still living with your mom? Yeah, are you? Yeah.” After 11 years as a teacher, Ms. Santamaria makes $41,000, considerably less than the city’s median income, which is $48,000, according to Zillow.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 16, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This coming Aug. 3 will mark the golden anniversary of Flannery O’Connor’s “Passover,” to adopt the biblical image John Paul II used to describe the Christian journey through death to eternal life. In the 50 years since lupus erythematosus claimed her at age 39, O’Connor’s literary genius has been widely celebrated. Then, with the 1979 publication of The Habit of Being, her collected letters, another facet of Miss O’Connor’s genius came into focus: Mary Flannery O’Connor was an exceptionally gifted apologist, an explicator of Catholic faith who combined remarkable insight into the mysteries of the Creed with deep and unsentimental piety, unblinking realism about the Church in its human aspect, puckish humor—and a mordant appreciation of the soul-withering acids of modern secularism.

Miss O’Connor’s sense that ours is an age of nihilism—an age suffering from by a crabbed sourness about the mystery of being itself—makes her an especially apt apologist for today...

[She believed the world's]...darkness is rendered darker still by late modernity’s refusal to recognize its own deepest need. For as Miss O’Connor put it in a 1957 lecture, “Redemption is meaningless unless there is cause for it in the actual life we live, and for the last few centuries there has been operating in our culture the secular belief that there is no such cause.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* Culture-WatchPoetry & LiteratureReligion & CultureWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyApologetics

1 Comments
Posted April 16, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Mustang, Okla., school board voted Monday (April 14) to adopt a Bible course developed by Steve Green, clearing the way for the Hobby Lobby president, whose suit against the Affordable Care Act is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, to enter another charged arena at the borderline of church and state.

The board, whose district is practically in Hobby Lobby’s Oklahoma City backyard, agreed to beta-test the first year of the Museum of the Bible Curriculum, an ambitious four-year public school elective on the narrative, history and impact of the Good Book.

For at least the first semester of the 2014-15 year, Mustang alone will employ the program, said Jerry Pattengale, head of the Green Scholars Initiative, which is overseeing its development. In September 2016, he hopes to place it in at least 100 high schools; by the following year, “thousands.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 16, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How the Lord in his anger
has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud!
He has cast down from heaven to earth
the splendor of Israel;
he has not remembered his footstool
in the day of his anger.

The Lord has destroyed without mercy
all the habitations of Jacob;
in his wrath he has broken down
the strongholds of the daughter of Judah;
he has brought down to the ground in dishonor
the kingdom and its rulers.

He has cut down in fierce anger
all the might of Israel;
he has withdrawn from them his right hand
in the face of the enemy;
he has burned like a flaming fire in Jacob,
consuming all around.

He has bent his bow like an enemy,
with his right hand set like a foe;
and he has slain all the pride of our eyes
in the tent of the daughter of Zion;
he has poured out his fury like fire.

The Lord has become like an enemy,
he has destroyed Israel;
he has destroyed all its palaces,
laid in ruins its strongholds;
and he has multiplied in the daughter of Judah
mourning and lamentation.

He has broken down his booth like that of a garden,
laid in ruins the place of his appointed feasts;
the Lord has brought to an end in Zion
appointed feast and sabbath,
and in his fierce indignation has spurned
king and priest.

The Lord has scorned his altar,
disowned his sanctuary;
he has delivered into the hand of the enemy
the walls of her palaces;
a clamor was raised in the house of the Lord
as on the day of an appointed feast.

The Lord determined to lay in ruins
the wall of the daughter of Zion;
he marked it off by the line;
he restrained not his hand from destroying;
he caused rampart and wall to lament,
they languish together.

Her gates have sunk into the ground;
he has ruined and broken her bars;
her king and princes are among the nations;
the law is no more,
and her prophets obtain
no vision from the Lord.

--Lamentations 2:1-9

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 16, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The number and identity of the women in the resurrection accounts can be difficult to untangle, which is one of the reasons why we provide a glossary in The Final Days of Jesus as a guide. One of the confusing things, for example, is that no less than four of the women share the name Mary: (1) Mary Magdalene; (2) Mary the mother of Jesus; (3) Mary the mother of James and Joses/Joseph; and (4) Mary the wife of Clopas (who may have been the brother of Joseph of Nazareth). In addition, there is Joanna (whose husband, Chuza, was the household manager for Herod Antipas) and Salome (probably the mother of the apostles James and John).

As you preach this Easter, do not bypass the testimony of the women as an incidental detail. In the first century, women were not even eligible to testify in a Jewish court of law. Josephus said that even the witness of multiple women was not acceptable "because of the levity and boldness of their sex." Celsus, the second-century critic of Christianity, mocked the idea of Mary Magdalene as an alleged resurrection witness, referring to her as a "hysterical female … deluded by … sorcery."

This background matters because it points to two crucial truths. First, it is a theological reminder that the kingdom of the Messiah turns the system of the world on its head. In this culture, Jesus radically affirmed the full dignity of women and the vital value of their witness. Second, it is a powerful apologetic reminder of the historical accuracy of the resurrection accounts. If these were "cleverly devised myths" (2 Pet. 1:16, ESV), women would never have been presented as the first eyewitnesses of the risen Christ.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEasterHoly WeekParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristologyEschatologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted April 15, 2014 at 5:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Efforts to fix the notorious Heartbleed bug threaten to cause major disruptions to the Internet over the next several weeks as companies scramble to repair encryption systems on hundreds of thousands of Web sites at the same time, security experts say.

Estimates of the severity of the bug’s damage have mounted almost daily since researchers announced the discovery of Heartbleed last week. What initially seemed like an inconvenient matter of changing passwords for protection now appears much more serious. New revelations suggest that skilled hackers can use the bug to create fake Web sites that mimic legitimate ones to trick consumers into handing over valuable personal information.

The sheer scale of the work required to fix this aspect of the bug — which makes it possible to steal the “security certificates” that verify that a Web site is authentic — could overwhelm the systems designed to keep the Internet trustworthy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 15, 2014 at 5:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

CareerCast is out with their annual ranking of the 10 best and 10 worst jobs for 2014, and let's just say that math and science guys everywhere are about to high-five.

Nine out of 10 of the best jobs fell into the STEM career category (science, technology, engineering and math), with the "numbers guys," in particular, locking in 3 of the top 4 spots.

"This absolutely verifies the importance of STEM careers," said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com and JobsRated.com.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationScience & TechnologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 15, 2014 at 4:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev David Smith from Oakfield Methodist Church, Rev Kelvin Bolton from Christ Church and Holy Trinity and Father Stephen Maloney from All Saints Church Anfield led the service and read the names of the 96 from the Book of Remembrance.

It took eight poignant minutes.

The stadium then fell silent for a minute in memory of the victims of that terrible day in Sheffield at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureSportsUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 15, 2014 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Around 100 girls are thought to have been abducted in an attack on a school in north-east Nigeria, officials say.

Gunmen reportedly arrived at the school in Chibok, Borno state, late last night, and ordered the hostel's teenage residents on to lorries.

The attackers are believed to be from the Islamist group, Boko Haram, whose militants frequently target schools.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 15, 2014 at 3:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An historic consultation took place between Anglicans and Pentecostals earlier this week at High Leigh in Hertfordshire.

Initiated by the Church of England’s Council for Christian Unity, it took forward resolutions passed at successive Lambeth Conferences, and bore out Archbishop Justin Welby’s recent call for greater interaction between the two traditions.

Nine Anglicans and eight Pentecostals gathered for two days of dialogue, prayer and worship to explore their similarities and differences, and to chart a way forward for enhanced partnership in mission.

Read it all.

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

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Posted April 15, 2014 at 3:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1. The coming into effect of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 may have changed English law but it has not changed Anglican Mainstream’s commitment to promote, teach and maintain the commonly agreed Scriptural truths of the Christian faith. For Anglicans these truths are expressed by the historic Creeds, the 39 Articles, and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. They provide the source of true unity and fellowship, and the basis of our mission and service to a needy world. Those truths remain and, as the Church of England’s house of bishops’ statement has explicitly confirmed, the church’s doctrine of marriage remains unchanged.

2. We recognise that the passage of the 2013 Act marks a further step away from biblical values in our national life and demonstrates the extent of the decline in the influence of the Christian churches in Parliament and public debate. In spite of much effort from the churches individually and collectively, the Parliamentary vote was substantially in favour of the measure, as was public opinion.

3. Nevertheless, the failure to win the debate about the legislation does not indicate that we were wrong; rather, that the arguments offered and the strategy adopted failed to overcome the intellectual and emotional appeals of the forces of self-centred secularism which dominates our culture. There was in fact little debate and those urging care and caution were disregarded.

4. Powerful as those forces are, we place our faith in a stronger power, that of God Himself.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted April 15, 2014 at 12:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

RNS: You’ve talked a lot about your journey out of the church world. What do you consider yourself now? Christian or Episcopalian or something else?

BBT: It’s true that a wrote a book called Leaving Church in which I detail leaving parish ministry, but I’m still very much involved in the church world. I end up speaking and lecturing in church settings at least twice a month. So I haven’t journeyed out of the church at all as far as I can tell. I’d say I consider myself a practicing Christian and in April I’ll celebrate my 30th anniversary as a priest in the Episcopal church. So I’m an active and practicing Christian, though I’m as bad at it as most of us are.

RNS: So if you’re a Christians and other who have very different beliefs and practices than you are too, what makes a person a Christian exactly?

BBT: I can call myself a Christian, and there are bodies of Christians who could disagree with me based on their own criteria about what makes a real Christian. But I think a lot of us are rethinking what it means to be Christian. And a lot of us are rejecting other people’s rejection of us as Christians. At this point in my life, I am pretty willing to let people tell me whether or not they are Christian rather than imposing my own definitions of it on them. My base definition is “here she says, here she is a Christian.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Theology

3 Comments
Posted April 15, 2014 at 12:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Editor's note: Sarah Coakley, Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University and Canon of Ely Cathedral, delivered the following meditations at Salisbury Cathedral over the course of Holy Week in March 2013. Last year, we published the final of those meditations on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. This year, we are thrilled to publish these masterpieces of theological reflection in their entirety. Throughout Holy Week, this page will be updated with the meditation that corresponds to each day, reaching its climax on Easter Sunday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekParish Ministry* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 15, 2014 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As priests chanted and smeared vermilion on Narendra Modi’s forehead, the opposition leader prayed that India would make him its next prime minister.

Modi came to this Hindu holy city late last year to worship at a site that has been contested by Hindus and Muslims for centuries. Just yards from where he stood, a two-story wall of metal bars separated the historic temple from a mosque.

Modi has been a polarizing figure in India for years. Now his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has surged in the polls as a discontented electorate has embraced his message of economic growth and corruption-free government. Voters have begun to cast their ballots in national elections, which will continue in stages until May 12.

Read it all from the Washington Post.

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

1 Comments
Posted April 15, 2014 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all (every photo has a story just click on each person)

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

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Posted April 15, 2014 at 7:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Understanding the Christian faith in the light of current scientific theories is a vital topic for anyone seeking to commend Christ today. The highly-publicized recent debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye “the Science Guy” is a case in point, as is the choice to focus on this topic for the recent Mere Anglicanism conference.

With my background in physics, it is a subject that has long interested me. In engaging these conversations, it is important to remember that scientists study a disordered world. It has fallen into sin, death, and destruction, which we know from Scripture are not part of God’s long-term plans for His creation. But this fall is something that probably cannot be detected scientifically. Scientists can only study what they “see” and then draw inferences from that. They observe, for instance, that entropy (disorder) always increases in natural events, but cannot know scientifically that this must be a temporary crisis that will be resolved in the new heavens and new earth that will last forever.

Read it all (page 3).

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyApologeticsEthics / Moral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

1 Comments
Posted April 15, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The comments by Matthew Henry that caught Wesley’s attention were:
“We have, every one of us, a charge to keep, an eternal God to glorify, an immortal soul to provide for, needful duties to be done, our generation to serve; and it must be our daily care to keep this charge, for it is the charge of the Lord our Master” (The Matthew Henry Commentary, p. 121).
CH-1) A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
Who gave His Son my soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.

CH-2) To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfil:
O may it all my powers engage
To do my master’s will!

Many things have changed, on this side of the cross. There is no longer a Levitical tribe of priests, or one central tabernacle (or temple) as Israel had. And because of the great sacrifice of Christ, God’s Lamb (Jn. 1:29), we no need to offer animal sacrifices. They were simply a foreshadowing of Calvary.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, Worship* TheologyChristology

3 Comments
Posted April 15, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.

To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill:
O may it all my powers engage
To do my master’s will!

Arm me with jealous care,
As in Thy sight to live;
And O Thy servant, Lord, prepare
A strict account to give!

Help me to watch and pray,
And on Thyself rely,
Assured, if I my trust betray,
I shall for ever die.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekLiturgy, Music, Worship* Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 15, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead; he delivered us from so deadly a peril, and he will deliver us; on him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us in answer to many prayers.

For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience that we have behaved in the world, and still more toward you, with holiness and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God. For we write you nothing but what you can read and understand; I hope you will understand fully, as you have understood in part, that you can be proud of us as we can be of you, on the day of the Lord Jesus.

Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a double pleasure; I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedo′nia, and to come back to you from Macedo′nia and have you send me on my way to Judea. Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans like a worldly man, ready to say Yes and No at once? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silva′nus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God. But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has commissioned us; he has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

--2 Corinthians 1:8-22

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 15, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The marriage of canon Jeremy Pemberton and Laurence Cunnington, the first gay clergy wedding in England, looks like a decisive test of strength within the Church of England between liberals and conservatives. But it may just shift the trenches a few hundred yards. The tangles of employment law and church law make it almost impossible for either side to get all they want.

It looks as if it should be easy for the bishop of Lincoln, in whose diocese the canon works, to discipline Pemberton if he wants to. But Pemberton is not in fact a vicar. He is a hospital chaplain, which means he is employed by the local NHS trust. They are not going to sack him for contracting a perfectly legal marriage. The bishop has no power to get him sacked even if he wanted to.

But this is the Church of England; things are seldom simple....

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

4 Comments
Posted April 14, 2014 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMedia* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted April 14, 2014 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every time I say I believe in God, people look a bit embarrassed. It’s become one of those subjects most people don’t want to discuss.

We can talk face-to-face and chat online about our sex lives, our children and our fantasy partners, but we hesitate to reveal whether we believe in life after death.

At Easter, the most important religious festival for Christians, politicians go through hoops to avoid talk of the G (God) word, for fear of alienating voters.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Theology

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Posted April 14, 2014 at 3:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Do the work of an Evangelist!” charged Bishop Mark Lawrence in his sermon to the 75 clergy of the Diocese of South Carolina who attended the annual Renewal of Ordination Vows service, held April 1 at the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston.

“The clock is ticking,” said the Bishop. “There are seven billion people in the world – three times as many as when I was born – Seven billion trying to eke out a living and experience a meaningful life. Can you digest a fact like that and not hear the clock ticking?”

Read it all and there is an audio link to the sermon also.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 14, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Holy Monday is also frequently linked to the Lord’s cleansing of the Temple which had become a den of thieves. The House of God, supposedly a place set aside for meditation and prayer, had become a place of hypocrisy, insincerity, greed and lust. Nothing really changes.

Christians are called to be living sacrifice; to worship God daily in their actions and their words. This is becoming increasingly difficult in a context of increasing secularisation confronted by a compromised church. But the witness of our extravagant devotion to the Lord is wholly dependent upon the purity and honesty of our lives: and that must be marked by humility and love, not by aggressive demands for rights or assertions of pride.

Let Caesar collect his taxes and make his laws: it is for Christians to cleanse our temple and devote ourselves lavishly to the Lord, that we may find peace, joy and happiness.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet* TheologyChristology

1 Comments
Posted April 14, 2014 at 7:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dozens of people have been killed in two blasts that rocked a crowded bus station on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital, Abuja, officials say.

The blast happened as commuters were about to board buses and taxis to go to work in central Abuja, the BBC's Haruna Tangaza reports.

Eyewitnesses say there are dead bodies scattered around the area.

This may have been another attack by the Islamist militant group known as Boko Haram, correspondents say.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 14, 2014 at 6:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Listen to it all should you wish to and also note that there is an option to download it there (using the button which says "download" underneath the link which says "listen").

Filed under: * By KendallSermons & Teachings* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted April 14, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother.

To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Acha′ia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

--2 Corinthians 1:1-7

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 14, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One hundred and thirty five civilians have reportedly been killed in North East Nigeria since Wednesday. The killings, which took place in the State of Borno, were carried out in at least three separate attacks.
The attackers are suspected to be from the Islamist Boko Haram movement. Human rights organizations say that at least 1,500 people, half of them civilian, have been killed in the region this year.
Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos in Plateau State which is also in the North Eastern region of Nigeria. Archbishop Kaigama appeals for help and support in tracing the roots of the Boko Haram group in what could prove a necessary attempt to reveal who is behind the group, who provides its militants with arms, what is its scope beyond wreaking fear, death and destruction…

Read and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 13, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In February, the 20 or so Christian families still living in the northern Syrian town of Raqqa were given the same choice. The cost of protection is now the equivalent of $650 in Syrian pounds, a large amount for people struggling to make ends meet in a war zone. The other two options remain unchanged. This time the offer came from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), an extremist antigovernment group that seized Raqqa in May 2013 from more-moderate rebel brigades and declared the town the capital of its own Islamic state.

Most of Raqqa’s 3,000 Christians had already fled the fighting, leaving just a few families in a place suddenly run by a group known for its violent tactics in both Iraq and Syria, including beheadings and floggings–tactics so ruthless that even al-Qaeda has disowned the group. The number had fallen even further by the time ISIS commanders promised the Christians that as long as they paid the levy, the one church that had not already been destroyed in the fighting would be left untouched and the Christians would not be physically harmed. They would have the right to practice their religion as long as they didn’t ring bells, evangelize or pray within earshot of a Muslim.

Church leaders urged Raqqa’s Christians to pay the militants. “[ISIS] told me that all I need to do is pay the taxes, and they will protect me,” says George, a 17-year-old Christian music student still living in Raqqa. “I know that under the Caliphate, Christians got a lot of things in return for paying taxes. The Christian community was left in peace.” That hasn’t been the case so far in Syria’s new Caliphate. When ISIS arrived in town, it warned Christians to stay out of sight and hide their crucifixes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The crowd went wild as they got nearer. This was the moment they'd been waiting for. All the old songs came flooding back, and they were singing, chanting, cheering and laughing. At last, their dreams were going to come true. But in the middle of it all, their leader wasn't singing. He was in tears. Yes, their dreams were indeed coming true. But not in the way they had imagined.

He was not the king they expected. Not like the monarchs of old, who sat on their jewelled and ivory thrones, dispensing their justice and wisdom. Nor was he the great warrior-king some had wanted. He didn't raise an army and ride to battle at its head. He was riding on a donkey. And he was weeping - weeping for the dream that had to die, weeping for the sword that would pierce his supporters to the soul. Weeping for the kingdom that wasn't coming as well as the kingdom that was. What was it all about? What did Jesus think he was doing?

On Palm Sunday, Jesus was riding into the perfect storm. Recall the story of the famous "perfect storm." It was late October 1991. A New England fishing boat by the name of Andrea Gail had sailed five hundred miles out into the Atlantic. But the weather was changing rapidly. A cold front moving along the American-Canadian border sent a strong disturbance through New England, while at the same time a large high-pressure system was building over the Maritime provinces of south-eastern Canada. This intensified the incoming low-pressure system, producing what locals called "The Halloween Nor'easter."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 13, 2014 at 12:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Anglican hospital chaplain has become what is believed to be the first member of the clergy in Britain to have a gay marriage.

Canon Jeremy Pemberton is a chaplain at Lincoln Hospital and has Permission to Officiate and leads occasional services in Nottinghamshire.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 13, 2014 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without Church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without contrition. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the Cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows Him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of His son: 'ye were bought at a price,' and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon His Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered Him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.--Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* TheologyChristologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

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Posted April 13, 2014 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first suffering of Christ we must experience is the call sundering our ties to this world. This is the death of the old human being in the encounter with Jesus Christ. Whoever enters discipleship enters Jesus' death, and puts his or her own life into death; this has been so from the beginning. The cross is not the horrible end of a pious, happy life, but stands rather at the beginning of community with Jesus Christ. Every call of Christ leads to death. Whether with the first disciples we leave home and occupation in order to follow him, or whether with Luther we leave the monastery to enter a secular profession, in either case the one death awaits us, namely death in Jesus Christ, the dying away of our old form of being human in Jesus' call.

….Those who are not prepared to take up the cross, those who are not prepared to give their life to suffering and rejection by others, lose community with Christ and are not disciples. But those who lose their life in discipleship, in bearing the cross, will find it again in discipleship itself, in the community of the cross with Christ. The opposite of discipleship is to be ashamed of Christ, of the cross, and to take offense at the cross. Discipleship is commitment to the suffering Christ.

--Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Meditations on the Cross (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1998 [trans Douglas Stott]), pp. 14,16

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* TheologyChristology

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Posted April 13, 2014 at 5:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the presence of God who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; and this will be made manifest at the proper time by the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

--1 Timothy 6:12-16

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 13, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gunmen have killed 135 civilians in north east Nigeria since Wednesday, a senior official from the region has told the BBC.

Borno state senator Ahmed Zannah said the killings took place in at least three separate attacks in the state.

The attackers are suspected to be from the Islamist Boko Haram movement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 12, 2014 at 7:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am (or try to be) a partisan of pluralism....But this respect is difficult to maintain when these institutions will not admit that this is what is going on. Instead, we have the pretense of universality — the insistence that the post-Eich Mozilla is open to all ideas, the invocations of the “spirit of free expression” from a school that’s kicking a controversial speaker off the stage.

And with the pretense, increasingly, comes a dismissive attitude toward those institutions — mostly religious — that do acknowledge their own dogmas and commitments, and ask for the freedom to embody them and live them out.

It would be a far, far better thing if Harvard and Brandeis and Mozilla would simply say, explicitly, that they are as ideologically progressive as Notre Dame is Catholic or B. Y.U. is Mormon or Chick-fil-A is evangelical, and that they intend to run their institution according to those lights.

I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted April 12, 2014 at 2:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was the two whales,
swimming each an inch
below the surface of my eight-year-old
mind that confused me,
left me standing before the Sunday School class
mute in my corduroy pants,
hair as stiff and slicked as the oil-spill
collected in the rushes along the beach,
trying to remember
what God sent a marionette
to Nineveh and whether the message
was “repent” or “always tell the truth.”

Read it all and consider reading his "Elegy for Trains" which contains not only this poem but many others--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBooksChildrenPoetry & Literature* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 12, 2014 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The Drop Box" - Documentary Trailer from Arbella Studios on Vimeo.



Worth every second of the three minutes of your time it takes to watch--touching, heart-rending, and encouraging--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaSouth Korea* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted April 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Every one there is filled full of what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world. No one's eyes can see very far beyond that: lots of people's eyes can see further than mine.
--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Chapter 12 ("Faith"; emphasis mine) [Hat tip:JH]

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

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Posted April 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The final evening of Jack Chen’s life was indistinguishable from many others. The sophomore returned home from school, ate dinner with his mother and retired to his room. His mother asked him to turn out his light at midnight.

Inside his bedroom, anguish gnawed at him, a darkness invisible to friends and family: He maintained a 4.3 grade-point average at one of the area’s top high schools, was a captain of the junior varsity football team and had never tried drugs or alcohol.

But that hidden pain drove Jack from his Fairfax Station home early the next morning — Wednesday, Feb. 26. The 15-year-old, who pestered his father to quit smoking and wear his safety belt, walked to nearby tracks and stepped between the rails as a commuter train approached.

His death is one of six apparent suicides at Fairfax’s W.T. Woodson High School during the past three years, including another student found dead the next day. The toll has left the school community reeling and prompted an urgent question: Why would so many teens from a single suburban school take their lives?

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHealth & MedicinePsychologySuicideTeens / YouthViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I want to propose a slightly different approach, grounded both in experience and theology, of the prophetic response to violence which accepts the world as it is and seeks to bring redemption and salvation.

It is not popular to speak of forgiveness during a war as one city lies burning, like Dick Howard. But the deep tragedy of World War II, and of the cumulative ten years of war between the United Kingdom and Germany in the first half of the last century, in which those two countries alone killed several million of each other’s citizens, that tragedy began to be redeemed on the day that Dick Howard wrote ‘Father forgive’ on the ruined wall of Coventry Cathedral. We prefer to win wars, we prefer to win wars against violence, and to defeat our dehumanised enemy than to find the reconciliation that is the true victory of the gospel of peace.

So in conclusion, what does a church committed to reclaiming the gospel of peace look like? What does it look lie in the USA where there are people who are faithful Christians on all sides of the debate about guns? What does it mean to be a faithful Christian? What it does not mean is to shout louder from your corner in the conviction that you are right and everyone else is stupid.

Rather, a church committed to the reclaiming of the gospel of peace looks like those who join their enemies on their knees.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 12, 2014 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 1803, in a house overlooking Plymouth harbor, a 14-year-old boy lay dangerously ill. Before this time, he'd never given much time to serious thought about the course his life would take. But during his year-long convalescence, he began to reflect on the possibility of future fame. Would he be a statesman, an orator, or a poet? An eminent minister of a large, wealthy church? Where did true greatness lie? He was shocked out of his reverie—and very nearly out of his bed—by a mysterious voice that uttered the words "Not unto us, not unto us, but to Thy name be the glory."

Adoniram Judson would remember that startling revelation for the rest of his life. With his strong academic training, keen intellect, and linguistic abilities, he might well have become a prominent theologian, scholar, or politician in 19th-century America. But his profound desire to do the will of God led him down a very different path.

"The motto for every missionary, whether preacher, printer, or schoolmaster, ought to be 'Devoted for Life.'"
Adoniram Judson

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissions* International News & CommentaryAsiaMyanmar/Burma* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted April 12, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

--2 Corinthians 4:13-18

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 12, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jeff Bauman knows the exact moment his life was changed forever. It was the moment he looked Boston Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the face.

“He just seemed out of place,” said Bauman in his most recent interview with Brian Williams. “Everybody there was having fun, you know, clapping, taking pictures, and he was just standing there with a backpack ... he just looked really odd. So I looked at him and I stared at him.”

And then, in an instant: a flash, and what sounded like a pop, and he was lying flat on his back.

Watch and/or read it all from NBC.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologyUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted April 11, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The thing about the wife issue is that it's near sexual ethics. There's no hotter topic in our culture right now than sexual ethics. If you can turn it around and say, "You [Christians] have been thinking for 2,000 years that Jesus was celibate, and you held that forth as an ideal. It turns out that he was married and very much interested in sex. Therefore, he didn't really care about sexual ethics they way modern-day Christians do."

Is there any reason Christians should be unsettled by documents like these?

The Wife of Jesus fragment should not at all be unsettling for the Christian faith. It reflects the belief of someone who was writing between the fifth and ninth century. That belief might go earlier, but when we know that there were all kinds of heretical beliefs cropping up around end of the first century, we also know this is nothing new.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyChristology

6 Comments
Posted April 11, 2014 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The archbishop of Canterbury, under fire for appearing to link expanded gay rights in the United States to violence against Christians in Africa, said on Thursday that he is advocating for a slow and deliberative response to same-sex marriage, mindful of the global implications.

“I think we need to be aware of the realities on the ground, in our own countries and around the world, and to take those into account when we’re moving forward,” the archbishop, Justin Welby, told reporters in Oklahoma City, where he was meeting with the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and attending a conference on violence.

“It doesn’t mean you necessarily do something other than you feel is the right thing to do,” he said, “but you’re aware of the need perhaps to do it in a different way.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbySexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted April 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...changing its employment policies to contradict the entire Christian tradition’s understanding of sin and obedience, vice and virtue where human sexuality is concerned would not be, as the letter’s writers and signers seem to imagine, an embrace of an “agree to disagree” accommodation between Christians who differ on “narrow doctrinal matters.” Such a change would be a capitulation by one side, and a victory by the other, on a question that goes to the heart of what it means to be a Christian organization. World Vision got the message loud and clear from many supporters that they would no longer consider it a Christian organization if it really undertook this capitulation.

The signers of the Whitworth “Response” claim with equal clarity—when they want to be clear—that the Christian thing to do would be toss out the Great Tradition wherever it rests on “a few passages in the Bible” that “have been historically misconstrued.” So again, why do they pretend that a victory for their principle, and a defeat for their adversaries’ principle that they revile, is a sweetly reasonable coming-together-across-differences?

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 11, 2014 at 12:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is the Rev'd Mark Abrey, vicar of St. Nicholas' Church, Chadlington, Oxfordshire. He seems to be a quiet and unassuming sort of minister, so you won't find much written about him anywhere. Indeed, it took His Grace the best part of an hour to unearth a photograph. The Rev'd Mark happens to be David Cameron's local vicar in his constituency. And this is what the Prime Minister said of him at Wednesday's Downing Street Easter reception:

..it’s lovely to have here tonight the vicar from St Mary Abbots school, Gillean Craig, and also the vicar who looks after me spiritually in the constituency, Mark Abrey in Chadlington, who, when I often – anyone asks me about the pastoral care that many vicars carry out across the country, I remember 5 years ago when we had to mourn the loss and bury my son Ivan, I can’t think of anyone who was more loving or thoughtful or kind than Mark. And of course, Ivan would have been 12 yesterday, which has had me pause to think about that.

Now, Mr Cameron said an awful lot more in his speech, which spanned politics, religion, the law of Christ, the Big Society and Dyno-Rod. And you may read all of that for yourselves and make up your own minds what you think about it. But His Grace is going to dwell on this single sentence of tribute to a single Church of England vicar, for this speech was extempore - not carefully crafted by some Downing Street hireling. And, clearly coming from the heart, it reveals rather more about the Prime Minister's spirituality and appreciation of the Church of England's ministry than anything he has previously disclosed.

Read it all from Archbishop Cranmer's blog.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted April 11, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Weighing in at more than $1 trillion, student loan debt is now larger than total credit card debt. Morning Edition recently asked young adults about their biggest concerns, and more than two-thirds of respondents mentioned college debt. Many say they have put off marriage or buying a home because of the financial burden they took on as students.

William Elliott, director of the Assets and Education Initiative at the University of Kansas, says the burden of student loans isn't just a personal, short-term problem for individuals. Loans now make up too large a part of financial aid packages, he tells NPR's David Greene, "and they're too big of a part of how we finance college."

As a result, Elliott says, too many young people are spending years on loan repayment, instead of growing personal wealth through investments like real estate and retirement accounts. In the long-term, he adds, that can be a drag on the economy — and create a wealth divide between people who have student debt and those who don't.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 11, 2014 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After four years of research, American Bible Society has found the Bible landscape in the U.S. is shifting.

A new report released today finds the percentage of Americans who are considered "Bible engaged"i is now equal to the percentage who do not believe the Bible to be sacredii—both at 19 percent. The latest findings are in American Bible Society’s fourth annual State of the Bible survey. Since 2011, this latter category of “Bible skeptics”iii has risen from 10 percent to 19 percent of those surveyed. During the same period, the percentage considered "Bible-friendly"iv dropped from 45 percent to 37 percent, while “Bible-engaged” remained steady. The percentage of those considered neutralv toward the Bible, 26 percent in 2014, has remained statistically unchanged.

The report, conducted by Barna Group, details Americans’ beliefs about the Bible, its role in society, its presence in U.S. homes and other information about the best-selling book of all time. As in previous years, the survey found the Bible remains a highly valued, influential force in America. But beliefs about the Bible and its role in society are becoming increasingly polarized—particularly when the data are examined by age group.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 11, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bible has been making its way onto box office screens and home TV screens over the past year: from Noah to Son of God, people have been watching the Bible. But are they still reading the Bible? And do they still believe in the Bible?

Each year, Barna Group partners with the American Bible Society on State of the Bible, a comprehensive study of Americans' attitudes and behaviors toward the Bible. Asking a national representative sample of adults the same questions year after year allows us to track the country's shifting perceptions of Scriptures.

This year's research reveals six trends in Bible engagement: from the Bible's continued role as a cultural icon, to increased digital Bible reading, to a rise in skepticism toward Scripture, particularly among Millennials.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 11, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has submitted its response to the Government's consultation document on the future of civil partnership. The 12 week consultation period opened in January and closes next Thursday (17 April).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 11, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishops in South Sudan have confirmed the Archbishop of Canterbury's warning that Christians in their country face a violent reaction if the Church of England permits same-sex marriage and blessings.

Archbishop Welby gave his warning during a phone-in on LBC radio last Friday. Asked why the Church of England could not permit clergy to bless same-sex relationships, he said: "The impact of that on Christians in countries far from here, like South Sudan, like Nigeria, and other places, would be absolutely catastrophic."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesEpiscopal Church of the SudanSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Theology

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Posted April 11, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

--2 Corinthians 4:1-12

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 11, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Emma Pierson studied “studied 1 million matches made by the online dating website eHarmony’s algorithm, which aims to pair people who will be attracted to one another and compatible over the long term; if the people agree, they can message each other to set up a meeting in real life. eHarmony’s data on its users contains 102 traits for each person — everything from how passionate and ambitious they claim to be to how much they say they drink, smoke and earn.”

She found that the old adage about opposites and attraction doesn’t hold...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMenPsychologyWomen* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There was a time when hitting a fresh cycle low in initial jobless claims was something to cheer. That doesn’t seem like the appropriate response this cycle. The labor backdrop at present is punctuated not by the fact that layoffs are diminishing, but rather by the sheer lack of hiring. We have gone through this calculus ad nausea but it bears repeating. The pace of hiring (as measured by the hiring rate, which is hiring relative to employment) at present is not just lower than the previous cycle low, it also shows a stunning lack of momentum. Make no mistake, the level of hiring is trending in the right direction, but at best the pace is quite modest. Part of the problem is the difficulty filling job openings…while the hiring rate remains weak by any standard, the ratio of hires-to-job openings continues to print cycle lows and remains at levels that are more consistent with a very tight labor backdrop
--RBC Capital Market’s Tom Porcelli as quoted this afternoon by Barrons

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As many congregations have already split within mainline Protestantism, Northern Seminary professor Scot McKnight said that in 25 years, he suspects evangelical churches will be split on the issue.

“What has happened is that the same-sex marriage/same-sex legitimacy has become the focal point or scapegoat of the culture wars,” McKnight said. “It is Bible, theology and politics all rolled into one big monster.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 10, 2014 at 11:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Enio Aguero had never been to Oso before late last month. But he recognized the faces.

“Faces of hopelessness, trying to find out why or how this could happen,” said the 53-year-old chaplain from Northern Virginia, a veteran of disaster relief in Moore, Okla., where a tornado last May obliterated entire subdivisions and killed 24 people.

“When a disaster like this happens, it touches the deepest part of our being. At one minute, there was everything; a minute later, there was nothing,” said Aguero, a chaplain coordinator for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. “There’s no way we can make sense of this, except that God is in control.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureRural/Town Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicy

0 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I appreciate the spirit (if you will) of... [Barbara Ehrenreich's] argument, but I am very doubtful as to its application. The trouble is that in its current state, cognitive science has a great deal of difficulty explaining “what happens” when “those wires connect” for non-numinous experience, which is why mysterian views of consciousness remain so potent even among thinkers whose fundamental commitments are atheistic and materialistic. (I’m going to link to the internet’s sharpest far-left scold for a good recent polemic on this front.) That is to say, even in contexts where it’s very easy to identify the physical correlative to a given mental state, and to get the kind of basic repeatability that the scientific method requires — show someone an apple, ask them to describe it; tell them to bite into it, ask them to describe the taste; etc. — there is no kind of scientific or philosophical agreement on what is actually happening to produce the conscious experience of the color “red,” the conscious experience of the crisp McIntosh taste, etc. So if we can’t say how this ”normal” conscious experience works, even when we can easily identify the physical stimulii that produce it, it seems exponentially harder to scientifically investigate the invisible, maybe-they-exist and maybe-they-don’t stimulii — be they divine, alien, or panpsychic — that Ehrenreich hypothesizes might produce more exotic forms of conscious experience.

Especially since, by definition, the truly exotic is not likely to repeat itself for the convenience of a laboratory technician. There are kinds of numinous experience that can be technically investigated, in the limited sense that Ehrenreich (rightly) suggests is insufficient to understanding them — you can put a praying or meditating person in a brain scanner and see which areas of their brain seem to be involved in the journey into the mystic, you can look for ways to attempt to recreate those brain states, you can link similar experiences to medical conditions and hallucinogens, etc.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropology

0 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, has been given until Tuesday to propose measures in response to the ongoing presence of Russian troops along the border with eastern Ukraine

NATO troops, including Americans, could be deployed to Eastern Europe in an effort to shore up defenses in allied countries that share a border with Russia, a top U.S. military official said Wednesday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--Eastern EuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A plan to build a skyscraper near Liverpool Street railway station, slated to be the tallest in the City of London, may be revived this year as rising occupancy rates in the financial district draws investors, according to Peter Rees, the City’s former planning officer.

Work on the Pinnacle, an office tower designed to have a height of about 288 meters (945 feet), was halted in 2012 after the economic crisis roiled financial markets.

“There is a will to go forward, there is a demand for the space and there’s no difficulty at all in finding funding to build the project,” Rees said in a March 21 interview ahead of his retirement last week.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Where did this all begin? September, 1981, at St Peter’s Toton outside Nottingham Kris and I and kids wandered into the neighborhood Anglican church, loved both Curate John and Elisabeth Corrie, and we began our lifetime appreciation and formative influence of The Book of Common Prayer, and you may have detected my own interest in prayer books through my small book Praying with the Church. So there’s nothing at all close to any kind of major shift in our life to become Anglicans — we have sustained an Anglican connection for three decades.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted April 10, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a conflict that pits animal welfare against religious rights, Denmark has ordered that all food animals must be stunned before being killed. The move effectively bans the ritual slaughter methods prescribed in both Muslim and Jewish tradition.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* General InterestAnimals* International News & CommentaryEuropeDenmark* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 10, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Song of Ascents. Of David. O LORD, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother's breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.

--Psalm 131

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 10, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Q: Some people have reacted strongly to your statements about the issue of gay marriage in your interview with LBC radio.


A: Lots of people have.

Q: Were you in fact blaming the death of Christians in parts of Africa on the acceptance of gay marriage in America?

A: I was careful not to be too specific because that would pin down where that happened and that would put the community back at risk. I wouldn't use the word “blame”— that's a misuse of words in the context. One of the things that's most depressing about the response to that interview is that almost nobody listened to what I said; they mostly imagined what they thought I said...It was not only imagination, it was a million miles away from what I said.

Q: So what exactly were you saying?

A: What I was saying is that when we take actions in one part of the church, particularly actions that are controversial, that they are heard and felt not only in that part of the church but around the world.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of CanadaSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAfrica* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 9, 2014 at 5:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The founder and CEO of FreshMinistries, a Jacksonville-based nonprofit that works to eradicate poverty, recently met with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Rev. Dr. Robert V. Lee III and FreshMinistries Chief of Staff Shelly Marino met the Most Rev. Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, at Lambeth Palace in England, according to a news release.

During the meeting, the three had "substantive discussions about replicating in other areas of the globe the successful efforts by FreshMinistries to eradicate poverty in marginalized areas," according to the release.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchGlobalizationPovertyReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 9, 2014 at 4:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Travis Wiseman and Andrew Young, the two economists who wrote this study, found that the more Christians there are in a state, the lower the level of entrepreneurship for that state.

For some, this may come as a surprise. Yet many of us have come to the realization that the Protestant work ethic has all but disappeared.
- See more at: http://blog.tifwe.org/the-atheist-work-ethic/#sthash.QilmokYV.dpuf

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 9, 2014 at 3:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“A Journey to Waco,” [Clive] Doyle’s memoir, is an account of what it means to be a religious radical—to worship on the fringes of contemporary Christianity. Doyle takes the story from his childhood in Australia through the extraordinary events of 1993, when some eighty armed agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms raided the Mount Carmel community, in an effort to serve a search and arrest warrant on Koresh, on suspicion of violating federal firearms rules. “I want you all to go back to your rooms and stay calm,” Doyle recalls Koresh saying, as federal agents descended on Mount Carmel. Doyle goes on, “I could hear David’s steps going down the hall toward the front door. . . . Then all of a sudden I heard David say: ‘Hey, wait a minute! There are women and children in here!’ Then all hell broke loose—just a barrage of shots from outside coming in. It sounded like a bloodbath.”

In the resulting gun battle, four A.T.F. agents and six Davidians were killed. The F.B.I. was called in. The Davidian property was surrounded. An army of trained negotiators were flown to the scene, and for the next fifty-one days the two sides talked day and night—arguing, lecturing, bargaining—with the highlights of their conversations repeated at press conferences and broadcasts around the world. The Waco standoff was one of the most public conversations in the history of American law enforcement, and the question Doyle poses in his memoir, with genuine puzzlement, is how a religious community could go to such lengths to explain itself to such little effect....

The F.B.I. agent expected that the Davidians, like a fragile cult, would turn paranoid and defensive in the presence of a threat. He didn’t grasp that he was dealing with a very different kind of group—the sort whose idea of a good evening’s fun was a six-hour Bible study wrestling with a tricky passage of Revelation. It was a crucial misunderstanding, and would feed directly into the tragedy that was to come.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. Government* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When LaTisha Styles graduated from Kennesaw State University in Georgia in 2006 she had $35,000 of student debt. This obligation would have been easy to discharge if her Spanish degree had helped her land a well-paid job. But there is no shortage of Spanish-speakers in a nation that borders Latin America. So Ms Styles found herself working in a clothes shop and a fast-food restaurant for no more than $11 an hour.

Frustrated, she took the gutsy decision to go back to the same college and study something more pragmatic. She majored in finance, and now has a good job at an investment consulting firm. Her debt has swollen to $65,000, but she will have little trouble paying it off.

As Ms Styles’s story shows, there is no simple answer to the question “Is college worth it?” Some degrees pay for themselves; others don’t. American schoolkids pondering whether to take on huge student loans are constantly told that college is the gateway to the middle class. The truth is more nuanced, as Barack Obama hinted when he said in January that “folks can make a lot more” by learning a trade “than they might with an art history degree”. An angry art history professor forced him to apologise, but he was right.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period of our national history with the Christian people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people.

--Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a final letter to Rienhold Niebuhr before departing America for Germany in 1939

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeGermany* Theology

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Posted April 9, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs. Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without Church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without contrition. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the Cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows Him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of His son: 'ye were bought at a price,' and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon His Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered Him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.
--Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted April 9, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on your hearts, to be known and read by all men; and you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit; for the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life.

--2 Corinthians 2:14-3:6

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 9, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At Harvard, Updike’s freshman roommate was Christopher Lasch, who would become the author of “The Culture of Narcissism” (1979). It was a competitive, uneasy friendship. At Harvard, Updike met his first wife, Mary Pennington, to whom he would remain married for more than 20 years. It was their social set in Ipswich, Mass. — the cocktails, the games, the gamboling adultery — that he would describe so lovingly and so wickedly, deploying the full sensorium of his prose, in “Couples” (1968) and in so many short stories.

That Updike had affairs, sometimes with his friends’ wives, is not news. “I drank up women’s tears and spat them out,” he declared in one late poem, “as 10-point Janson, Roman and ital.” Mr. Begley charts some of the details while naming few names, in order, he says, to respect privacy and promote candor.

“It was a matter of certain pride to be sleeping with John,” one friend comments. Mr. Begley suggests that Mary might have been the first in their marriage to have an affair. “Welcome to the post-pill paradise,” he wrote in “Couples....”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 8, 2014 at 3:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As a part of a mutually agreed court settlement of a defamation of character lawsuit, David Jenkins has apologized to Bishop Michael Bird of the diocese of Niagara “for any suffering he has experienced as a result of blog postings” on his blog Anglican Samizdat.

The settlement also stipulated that Jenkins would pay “a majority of the legal costs involved, remove the Bishop from his posts, and agree not to publish any similar posts about the Bishop in the future,” according to a release issued by the diocese of Niagara. In a related post on Anglican Samizdat, Jenkins noted that he had agreed to pay $18,000 toward legal costs, which Bird’s lawyer had stated were $24,000. Jenkins did not pay damages, which were listed as $400,000 in the original claim filed in February 2013.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a brief order filed...[yesterday], the Supreme Court of South Carolina has granted the motion filed earlier by Bishop Lawrence, his diocesan trustees and individual parishes to transfer to it jurisdiction of the current appeals brought by ECUSA and its rump group in an attempt to delay the trial of the main action set for next July in front of Judge Goodstein.

The Supreme Court's action came just after ECUSA and its rump group had filed a petition for rehearing with the Court of Appeals, asking a full panel to overrule a single judge's earlier order dismissing that appeal, which seeks review of an order by Judge Goodstein denying the rump group access to attorney-client communications between Bishop Lawrence and his counsel, Alan Runyon.

The appeal raises the question of whether the rump group may be seen in law as the continuing successor to the Episcopal Diocese, or whether it is a new entity that began its legal life with a special convention in January 2013 -- regardless of whether ECUSA treats it for religious purposes as a continuing "diocese" in the Church. The rump group contends that they are the legal successor to the Diocese, and so are entitled to see prior communications between the Episcopal Diocese and its attorneys.

But the Episcopal Diocese is very much alive as a legal entity under South Carolina law, with its same Constitution and Canons (amended so as to remove any affiliations with ECUSA), as the rump group has found out in defeat after defeat these past fifteen months.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South Carolina* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Florida megachurch pastor Bob Coy has resigned from his 20,000-member Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale congregation over a “moral failing.”

A statement on the church’s website reported the news: ”On April 3, 2014, Bob Coy resigned as Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, effective immediately, after confessing to a moral failing in his life which disqualifies him from continuing his leadership role at the church he has led since its founding in 1985.”

A call to Coy on Sunday (April 6) was not returned. But it appears extramarital affairs may have been one reason.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:07 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While I hear 20-somethings asking, "What if my life doesn't go anywhere?" I hear my peers sighing, "My life isn't going where I thought it would go." Somewhere along the line, we feel, things have gone off track.

In just the past month, I have heard several Christians articulate surprise at the turns their lives have taken: "I never thought adultery would happen to me," "I never could have imagined myself as a widow," "I don't want to be the mother of a deceased daughter." Each deviation from our expectations of "normalcy" can leave us confused and recalibrating. How do we cope with the suspense of life in such an unpredictable world? How do we deal with the fear that our lives will be disappointing—to us or to God?

The good news from the Scriptures is this: No follower of Jesus is an isolated entity, living out a solitary, potentially tragic plot line. The life story of a disciple is inextricably linked with the life story of Jesus. Each of us is connected to Jesus as a branch is connected to the vine, a body part is connected to the head, or a wife is connected to her husband (John 15; Eph. 4:15-16; Eph. 5:31-32). In fact, the truth gets even more shocking: As the Father is in Jesus, and he is in the Father, so are we "in" Christ, and he in us (John 17:20-26). In other words, in the same way that the Father and the Son are connected to one another, so we are connected with the Son by the work of his Spirit. We are "joined to the Lord" (1 Cor. 6:17, ESV).

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* TheologyChristologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)Theology: Scripture

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Posted April 8, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Once upon a time, we pasted photos of our babies and kids into scrapbooks. The scrapbook has increasingly moved online – in many cases onto social media sites such as Facebook – and the ease of filling up virtual page after virtual page is hard to overstate. This is not without consequences, of course.

These days, parents need to develop a strategy – either through forethought or facts on the ground – in order to use social media services such as Facebook as a way to document and share the moments of their kids' lives. Err too far toward conservatism, and you lose a sense of community (and irritate the grandparents). Err too far in the other way, and some of your friends may view you as the equivalent of a polluter, clogging up their news feed with baby photo after baby photo.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenMarriage & Family* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 8, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

American Lutherans became a full part of American Protestantism just in time to participate in its decline. From its high of more than 9 million members in 1965, the total number of American Lutherans declined to just over 7 million in 2013, representing about 2 percent of the American population. Though Lutheran numbers generally plateaued through the 1970s and 1980s, both the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod have declined markedly over the past 25 years. The ELCA went from 5.2 million members in 1988 to 3.9 million in 2013; the LCMS declined less severely, from 2.7 million members in 1988 to 2.3 million in 2013. The decline in giving to the national programs and offices of these two denominations is also fairly dramatic, though more pronounced in the ELCA.

Besides suffering from the same negative demographic trends facing other mainline Protestant denominations in this period—aging membership and an inability to retain younger members—the ELCA since 2000 has witnessed the departure of nearly 500,000 members who have coalesced into two new and distinct centrist Lutheran denominations: the Lutheran Congre­ga­tions in Mission for Christ (2001) and the North American Luth­eran Church (2010). Though the scale of these departures is noteworthy in itself, this development is all the more interesting for the new patterns and new directions that these denominations are attempting to develop. Their rejection of the ELCA (and implicitly the LCMS) has forced them to experiment with new ways of being Lutheran Christians in the American context, and they are actively exploring these possibilities.

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

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Posted April 8, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Whether a lesson be mastered in obedience to conscience, or from a dread of punishment, from filial affection, or determination to beat a rival, is a question of little moment, I grant, in reference to the stock of knowledge acquired, but of incalculable consequence when asked in reference to the bearing upon moral character. The zeal to make scholars, should, in the minds of Christians at least, be tempered by the knowledge that it may repress a zeal for better things. The head should not be furnished at the expense of the heart. Surely, at most, it is exchanging fine gold for silver, when the culture of gracious affections and holy principle is neglected for any attainments of intellect, however brilliant or varied. What Christian parent, would wish his son to be a linguist or a mathematician, of the richest acquirements or the deepest science, if he must become so by a process, in which the improvement of his religious capabilities would be surrendered, or his mind accustomed to motives not recognised in the pure and self-denying discipline of the Gospel. Not that such discipline is unfriendly to intellectual superiority; on the contrary, the incentives to attain it, will be enduring, and consequently efficient, in proportion to their purity. The highest allurements to the cultivation of our rational nature, are peculiar to Christianity. Hence, literature and science have won their highest honors in the productions of minds most deeply imbued with its spirit. The effect, however, of exclusively Christian discipline in a seminary of learning, when fairly stated, is not so much to produce one or two prodigies, as to increase the average quantum of industry; to raise the standard of proficiency among the many of moderate abilities, rather than to multiply the opportunities of distinction for the gifted few.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryAdult Education* Culture-WatchChildrenEducation* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted April 8, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Song of Ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore.

--Psalm 121

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 8, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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