Posted by Kendall Harmon

Statement in response to the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church resolution regarding same sex marriage

We are deeply grieved again by the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) Resolution to change the definition of marriage in their church canons in their current ongoing General Convention.

By this action, TEC has chosen by its own will and actions in clear knowledge to depart from the Anglican Communion’s standard teaching on human sexuality according to Lambeth Resolution 1:10. This TEC Resolution is another example of such unilateral decisions that are taken without giving the least consideration to the possible consequences on other provinces and the Anglican Communion as a whole, the ecumenical partnerships, the mission of the church worldwide, and the interfaith relations. This Resolution clearly contradicts the Holy Scriptures and God’s plan for creation as He created humankind as man and woman to complement each other physically and emotionally.

Indeed the church must provide pastoral care for all, whether heterosexuals or homosexuals. However the church should not alter the teachings of the Holy Scriptures, that was interpreted by the majority churches globally, to provide such pastoral care. The aim of pastoral care is to restore people to the bosom of God where they encounter His love and design to live a life according to His plan. We are against any criminalization of homosexuals, they are like all of us, need God’s mercy, grace and salvation. The church is intended by its Lord to be the holy leaven to shape society by its spiritual and moral values
in line with God’s design. But sadly, by this action of TEC, the church gives way to the society to alter and shape its values. In other words the church is losing its distinctiveness as salt and light in this world.

“do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2)

This statement is approved by:
The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis, Archbishop, Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa and Chairman of the Global South.
The Most Rev. Ian Ernest, Primate of the Indian Ocean and General Secretary of the Global South.
The Most Rev. Bolly Lapok, Primate of South East Asia and treasurer of the Global South.
The Most Rev. Stephen Than Myint Oo, Primate of Myanmar.
The Most Rev. Hector “Tito” Zavala, Primate of the Anglican Church of South America.
The Rt. Rev. John Chew, member of the GS Global South steering committee, former GS chairman.

* The above mentioned GS Primates are the ones who sent their approval and amendments before posting this statement. We will add the names of those who will send their approval after.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Executive CouncilGlobal South Churches & Primates* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that "all states must license marriage between two people of the same sex" and "recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed “out-of-state." Despite this change, the Diocese of South Carolina continues to affirm the historic position of the Christian Church: that God has ordained two states of life for His people, singleness or Holy Matrimony – the joining together of one man and one woman into a holy union. By affirming this position, we stand firmly under the authority of Holy Scripture, in continuity with the two thousand year history of the church, and in accord with the vast majority of Christians around the world. Therefore, it is clear that while the Supreme Court may be changing the civil definition of marriage, it has no authority over Holy Matrimony and the Church’s blessing of the union between husband and wife.

The Bible envisions Holy Matrimony as the life long, exclusive union of one man and one woman. While Christians, like others, experience failure in realizing this vision, it is nevertheless the standard we profess and toward which we strive. We believe that marriage, like all areas of life, can be redeemed, and that by God’s grace all married people can be enabled to live into its unique calling.

The full consequences of the Supreme Court’s cultural and legal innovation have yet to be seen, and will be tested over time. It is our strong belief that this same Constitution, to which they have appealed, must protect the rights of all people to the free exercise of religion. In the light of this conviction, the Diocese of South Carolina will faithfully conduct its ministry in accordance with our beliefs, trusting that this freedom will be upheld.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Justin taylor provides a helpful summary which begins:Tony Reinke asks New Testament scholar and Gospel Coalition president D. A. Carson the following questions:

[1] Generally speaking, what would you say to someone who came up and asked you for your initial thoughts about the SCOTUS ruling?

[2] Does this landmark ruling today mark a new era for the church in America?

[3] What would you say to Christians who feel angry and betrayed by the courts for this ruling?...

Read it all and listen to the whole 18 minute recording.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 5, 2015 at 3:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I think the key takeaway is the following two sentences:
It remains to be seen whether or not the issue of women’s ordination can be resolved in any direction beyond the status quo, apart from making judgments about these divergent views, thereby further defining holy orders for the whole church. The bishops and church will need to consider the tension between the values of liberty and unity in this regard.
Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchWomen* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am left with the sense that in many ways Nicholson’s own life stopped that day. Faith, career and marriage all ended soon afterwards and for years after the bombings she would take the train from Bristol to London, travel to Edgware Road Tube station and stare into the tunnel where her daughter died.

She says she will never forgive Mohammad Sidique Khan, her daughter’s killer. How does she feel when she sees a picture of him today?

“There’s a moment in the film when Emily Watson, as me, throws a bottle of wine at the television screen when his face appears on it. I feel that I could still throw that wine.”

Early in our conversation, while discussing her writing and what it has brought her, I clumsily use the word “catharsis”. Nicholson interrupts: “I wouldn’t call it that. After catharsis there is a sense of renewal and I don’t feel renewed. I’m still grieving deeply. I will be until I take my last breath.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are, as many European and American writers have been commenting lately, sound geopolitical reasons to prevent the worst from happening in Greece. Migration issues, NATO issues, energy issues, terrorism, Russia: an angry, inflamed, suffering and radicalized Greece on a kind of Venezuelan path to national destruction could make life much more difficult for Europeans and Americans both. These considerations should be enough to command some attention and resources from policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic sufficient to avert worst case scenarios for the Greek people.

For Grexit to be a step forward rather than a step back, Western and Greek leaders need to become more creative and forward-looking. Washington needs to stop bleating platitudes about the evils of austerity and to start thinking hard about bolstering an alliance that remains critical to its global position; Brussels and Berlin need to move beyond anger at Greek tactics to a sober calculation of Europe’s interests; the Greeks need to reflect on the cost of being represented at a grave hour of national crisis by inexperienced politicians who none of their counterparts in Europe trust or respect.

But Brussels and Berlin (and Paris, Rome and Madrid) need to realize something else. Greece’s problems under the euro have been worse than anyone else’s, but Greece is not totally unique. There are deep design flaws in the euro and the common currency has not worked nearly as well as any of its proponents hoped. The discussion over the future of Greece needs to be delinked from the discussion over the future of the euro—but that doesn’t mean that the future of the euro doesn’t need to be discussed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGreece* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 5, 2015 at 1:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amongst Princess Charlotte’s own ancestors, now buried in the Holy Land, is a saint, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, whose life was one of transparent beauty and death one of beautiful courage and service. In her life she forgave the man who killed her husband. At her cruel murder she continued to care for those suffering with her. It is of such beauty that Jesus speaks when he talks of being great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Such beauty of character begins with baptism, and is established in the habits of following and loving Jesus Christ, habits to be learned from parents and God parents, and the whole community of the church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildren* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptism

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Posted July 5, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Known as the “red carpet curate” for his appearance at glitzy film and theatrical premieres, he wants to make the church relevant to creatives struggling with life and their spirituality.

We meet in a public relations office in Soho, the heart of London’s theatreland. (The PR executives are donating their time for free.) His dog collar is accessorised with a bright blue jacket, bowler hat and a multicoloured scarf. The flamboyance reflects his vivacious and garrulous personality. “I am groovy. I am theatrical. I am loud,” he says, redundantly. “I love people. Not everyone gets me.” Yet, he says, he is also a “contemplative soul”.

It is the larger ambition that is so arresting. For Rev Feital is on a mission to create a social enterprise — called the Haven — in central London. This is part of the Diocese of London’s strategy, Capital Vision 2020, which aspires to reach new people and engage with the creative arts to find fresh ways to convey the church’s message. The steering committee is being put in place, which Rev Feital says will include a City investor as well as representatives from the music, film and fashion industries.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTheatre/Drama/PlaysUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentarySouth AmericaBrazil* TheologyAnthropology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He has been under the watchful eyes of millions of American people across the nation as he took to the pulpit days after the shooting to deliver a Sunday service, as he led services at the murdered parishioners’ funerals, and as he spoke alongside President Barack Obama at the funeral of Pinckney, who was also a state senator.

And although the shooting has quickly grown into a statewide and national debate of the use of the Confederate flag and race relations in general, Goff maintains his church is his first priority.

“Our focus has been the nine families who lost loved ones,” he said. “Those issues may arise and warrant it, especially about the flag, in the arena of ideas and politics, community activists and faith, but in due time. There is a time and place for everything. For us, this is a time to heal. When it comes to the flag, Gov. (Nikki) Haley is to be commended for her position, but there are other things we need to work on. … What’s the common good and the greater good for the community? That’s where I am and where my concern is.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted July 5, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the last several decades we’ve come to a different take on marriage, as part of a much larger cultural shift I discussed before. Marriage is now primarily a relationship for the betterment and self-fulfillment of two individuals. Two are stronger than one, after all. Together two individuals can better gratify each other’s desires and fulfill each others needs—right up until the moment they no longer seem able or willing, of course.

None of that is false, so far as it goes. But when you take this understanding of marriage and place it within the context of a self-indulgent culture like ours, you create marriages between two people looking to get the most out of the relationship for themselves. University of Virginia sociologist Sarah Corse and Harvard sociologist Jennifer Silva, for instance, describe the rise of “therapeutic” marriage, which centers on the “happiness, equality, mutuality, and self-actualization of individuals.”

When the individuals involved think they can get more for themselves outside the marriage, they cheat or just “consciously uncouple,” to use Gwyneth Paltrow’s morally beatific euphemism for divorce. “[W]e don’t divorce—or have affairs—because we are unhappy but because we could be happier,” explains therapist Esther Perel.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 5, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Isaac Holt Jr.

Senior Pastor, Royal Missionary Baptist Church

North Charleston

Forgiveness is done as soon as humanly possible by those who know the toxic consequences of not forgiving.

In forgiveness, the benefit is greater for the forgiver than for the forgiven. Forgiveness begins emotional healing. It releases you from the poisonous thoughts of personal revenge and the prison of hatred.

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 5, 2015 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the risks have not been eliminated. The margin for error for the major banks and other financial institutions is narrow. Because they are still not strongly capitalized, modest losses from direct defaults and indirect losses from companies with business in Greece can threaten bank equity, causing bankers to cut back on lending. A few miscalculations in a major institution could have substantial repercussions. Making matters worse, central bankers have only a limited capacity to buoy the economy, as interest rates are still near zero.

The second channel through which risk and loss can spread from Greece is other heavily indebted countries, like Spain and Italy. So far, the financial markets have not panicked over the ability of these countries to repay their bonds. But a shift in the political situation – especially in Spain, where the left-wing Podemos party is doing well in the polls – could change that in an instant.

Finally, a Greek default and exit from the eurozone could unleash unpredictable political forces with a knock-on effect on the European economy. After all, it was the first wave of austerity in Greece that led to the election of Syriza, a left-wing party that few had expected would ever govern.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGreece* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have being. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help.

--Psalm 146:1-3

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 5, 2015 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 4, 2015 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Anani′as. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Anani′as.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying, and he has seen a man named Anani′as come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Anani′as answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon thy name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Anani′as departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized, and took food and was strengthened.

For several days he was with the disciples at Damascus.

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 4, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...one thing is certain: the religious liberty of individuals and faith-based institutions -- up to and including churches -- is now threatened in a way not present before the ruling. When the Court heard oral arguments for Obergefell in April, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli's admitted that the tax-exempt status of religious institutions "could be an issue" if same-sex marriage is recognized as a right.

Sounding very much unlike the man from Burwell, Chief Justice Roberts's Obergefell dissent lays the stakes on the table:

Today's decision, for example, creates serious questions about religious liberty. Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is -- unlike the right imagined by the majority -- actually spelled out in the Constitution. Respect for sincere religious conviction has led voters and legislators in every State that has adopted same-sex marriage democratically to include accommodations for religious practice. The majority's decision imposing same-sex marriage cannot, of course, create any such accommodations. The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to "advocate" and "teach" their views of marriage. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to "exercise" religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.

How do we get from "marriage equality" to churches forced into performing weddings that violate their teachings? Lawsuits.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralSupreme Court* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 3, 2015 at 4:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many years ago, I received a shocking revelation about reading the Bible. No bright lights or angelic visitations were involved. Never since, though, have I been able to look at the text in quite the same way.

I was at a friendly discussion between Christians and Jews gathered in a synagogue library, when the rabbi suggested consulting a particular Biblical reference. I volunteered to find it, and picked up the convenient Bible volume, or rather, the Jewish Bible, the Tanakh. Now, I know my way around the Bible pretty well, in the sense of being able to place roughly in the text where I am going to find a particular book. To my horror, I was lost in this particular volume, which arranged the books in a sequence totally different from the Christian tradition. Please don’t smile at my ignorance.

The main lesson I derived from that experience was how thoroughly we take for granted the structure of the Bible as we know it, and the potent but unrecognized significance of the ordering we use.

Read it all.


Filed under: * TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 3, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In years and decades to come, we’ll remember the last two weeks. The Emanuel A.M.E. massacre, the sudden shift away from the Confederate flag, the Supreme Court’s reaffirmation of the Affordable Care Act and its extension of same-sex marriage to every state. Last Friday there was an awesome funeral service for Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of Emanuel and one of the victims in the shooting. And all of it while once again black churches have been burning, some under suspicious circumstances.

For all of America’s secularization, actual and expected, each event was resonant with religious significations—and each prompted a wave of public theology. And none more so than Pinckney’s funeral, which saw a small army of clergy, a massive choir, an arena full of mourners, and the president of the United States in the pulpit for the eulogy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* South Carolina* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly seven in 10 millennials, or 69% of those ages 18 to 34, say they have it harder than previous generations in securing a middle-class lifestyle. But the story doesn’t stop at younger Americans feeling they have it harder than older generations. Seventy-seven percent of seniors say that young people today have a harder time achieving a secure middle-class lifestyle compared with their counterparts 20 or 30 years ago. The share of seniors with this view is striking, particularly given that many of them have lived through the Great Depression, World War II, Stagflation, the stock market crash of 1987, and, most recently, the Great Recession.

More than seven in 10 Americans also believe that millennials have it harder when it comes to saving for retirement (81%); owning a home (76%); having a stable, decent-paying job (71%); and having stable, affordable housing (71%).

These are some of the findings from a recent Hart Research survey conducted for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s How Housing Matters Initiative. It also found that millennials are concerned about their housing situation and that many have had personal experience with housing distress. This has caused them to re-assess the feasibility of homeownership, with many millennial homeowners considering whether to rent in the future.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 3, 2015 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Area Bishop of North Africa, and Rector of St George's, in the capital Tunis, the Rt Revd Bill Musk, visited survivors of the attack in intensive care at hospital. He said that they were still deeply in shock.

"It's very humbling - you just go to listen," he said. "Everyone wants us to pray with them. When you have come very close to dying, or someone you love has, we are all vulnerable."

The overwhelming response from Tunisians has been one of shame, Bishop Musk said. One of the nurses at the bedside of a British victim of the shooting was continually apologising and explaining how Mr Rezgui did not represent true Islam, he said.

The attack was also a disaster for Tunisia, as it would lose billions of pounds if tourists decided to stay away.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 3, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Before the bullets and bloodshed in the movie theater, Stefan Moton was a teenager who did push-ups and boxing exercises in his bedroom, his dreams fixed on becoming a mixed martial arts fighter. Now, his goals are humbler: Strengthen the sections of his upper body that he can still move. Maybe get a new tattoo. Feed himself again.

“I just try to push it aside and move on,” he said. “Focus on getting better.”

Mr. Moton, 21, who was shot through the spine and left paralyzed from the chest down, is among scores of survivors who have taken the witness stand in the murder trial of James E. Holmes, the former neuroscience graduate student charged with carrying out the midnight rampage at a multiplex here in July 2012. But testimony is narrowly focused on the scene inside Theater 9 and whether the gunman was legally sane or insane when he opened fire. Many stories of Aurora’s painful legacy, which families say remains as raw and urgent as ever, have gone untold in court.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 3, 2015 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Surely the righteous shall give thanks to thy name; the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

--Psalm 140:13

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 3, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Doctors in Belgium have granted a medically depressed woman the right to end her own life.

The 24-year-old woman, named only as ‘Laura’, told doctors she had suffered from depression since she was a child and wished to end her life, local newspaper De Morgen reported.

Laura, who entered a psychiatric facility when she was 21, told the publication: “life, that’s not for me.”

"Death feels to me not as a choice. If I had a choice, I would choose a bearable life, but I have done everything and that was unsuccessful," she told the newspaper.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPsychologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 2, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The bishops agreed to allow clergy to begin offering same-sex marriages using the new rites after Nov. 1. However, no clergy could be compelled to perform a same-sex marriage, and a bishop had the authority to forbid his clergy from celebrating gay marriages.

The former bishop of Virginia, Peter Lee, explained to the bishops in Salt Lake City the accommodation meant that a conservative priest in a liberal diocese would incur no penalty if he refused to perform a same-sex marriage. The priest would, however, have to pass a couple seeking to be married on to another church or priest to perform the ceremony.

Priests in dioceses where the bishop forbid same-sex marriages may not solemnize gay marriages. A priest who did so would be liable for punishment for disobeying the bishop. A diocese that does not perform gay marriages must pass the couple on to another part of the church that permits gay marriage.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC BishopsTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted July 2, 2015 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nathan Collier said he was inspired by the recent Supreme Court decision that made marriage equal. He said he was particularly struck by the words of dissenting Chief Justice John Roberts who claimed giving gay couples the right to marry, might inspire polygamy.

And so this week, Mr Collier and his two wives, Victoria and Christine, entered a courthouse in Billings, Montana, and sought an application to legalise the trio’s polygamous union,

“Right now we're waiting for an answer," Mr Collier told The Independent. “I have two wives because I love two women and I want my second wife to have the same legal rights and protection as my first.”

He added: "Most people are not us. I am not trying to define what marriage means for anybody else - I am trying to define what marriage means for us."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralSupreme Court* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 2, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What does this show us? Three things, I think.

It shows us that tolerance is over. I’m not breaking new ground here–but this must be said. Tolerance is dead. Oppenheimer’s piece ran all of two days after the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage. He wants to crush those who dare to stand against the fullest possible acceptance of what Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield has called “samesexuality.” Sexuality liberated from any constraints is now a full-blown worldview. This is paganism, 21st-century version. The body is all; sex is all.

The hippies now wear steel-toed boots. The earlier “free love” movement was all about doing what you want–live and let live. Today’s version of this pagan impulse is militaristic–live and you better approve. There’s a menace, a fury, in this cultural momentum. There will be no tolerance. There will be no dissent. Churches and organizations that stand bravely against the rushing tide of the late stages of the sexual revolution will be crushed.

It shows us that churches and organizations doing much good are imperiled.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 2, 2015 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

3. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman?

14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?

15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?

16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangement that puts children with a mom and a dad?

17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?

18. How would you define marriage?

19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?

20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 2, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain and America may now be post-Christian societies but they don’t need to become anti-Christian societies. Sadly, I see signs that we might be drifting in that direction. There is the mounting campaign to close all faith schools; the questioning of Tim Farron MP’s legitimacy to lead the Liberal Democrats because of his evangelical background; and the fear of the chief justice of the US Supreme Court that opponents of Christian morality “are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent”; no charitable status for faith-based groups and no room for believers in the public square.

Half of me can identify with the anti-religious instinct because, while I’m a Christian seeking space within a secular society, I am also a sceptic about Islam. I’m fearful that, without Christianity’s clear narrative — ending as the New Testament does with the example of Jesus — Islam is a religion that’s too easy for the likes of Seifeddine Rezgui to misinterpret. Most Muslims, of course, hate the heinous crime he committed in their name — but, regardless of what we might think about Islam, thinking the worst is not really a practical option. Nearly three million Britons are Muslims; 1.6 billion of our global neighbours see Allah as the one true God. The challenge must be to understand them and help them to reform their religion — not to drive them and it underground.

I want less vacuous talk of fairness, tolerance and generosity from our politicians. Let’s start getting specific about what we mean by “British values”. Freedom of religion should be a cornerstone of western belief and it must stand as a contrast to the many Islamic states where apostasy is punishable by death.

Read it all from the London Times (subscription required) [emphasis mine].

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaTunisiaAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The murders of 9 churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, rekindled the debate about gun control in America. But some religious leaders are advocating using armed security to defend their congregations.

One church where this is already happening is the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit which has its own 25-strong security force called "The Ministers of Defence". Charles H. Ellis III is its senior pastor.

Listen to it all (a little over 3 minutes).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 2, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the past few days, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Greece has blown up negotiations with European creditors on staving off default, then retreated and accepted more or less the same terms, only to have European leaders tell him the offer had expired.

Greeks are supposed to vote on a referendum this weekend, but no one there or elsewhere seems sure what they will be asked, or what the consequences will be for voting yes or no.

And European leaders here and in Berlin and Paris have been saying distinct — sometimes directly contradictory — things about whether there is a bailout deal for Greece still on the table, and whether they want Greece to hold its referendum before they can renew discussions about it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGreece* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 2, 2015 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

0 Comments
Posted July 2, 2015 at 3:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So is polygamy passé? The next slide on our slippery slope to damnation? The next rung on our steep climb towards full civil rights and equality in America?

Whatever your take, there’s no denying that last week’s SCOTUS opinions broke our collective silence on poly rights. If Friday’s ruling was about dignity and equality, as Justice Kennedy made clear, we must continue this debate.

Read it all from Brian Pellot.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Polyamory--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralSupreme Court* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted July 1, 2015 at 3:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The House of Bishops has rejected the call to revisit the issue of allowing the non-baptized to receive Holy Communion. By a vote of 79 to 77 the bishops rejected Resolution C010 “Invite All to Holy Communion” which called for the creation and funding of a task force to study...[communion of the unbaptized].

During the afternoon session of the 7th legislative day on 30 June 2015 at the 78th General Convention meeting in Salt Lake City the House of Bishops took up three resolutions submitted for consideration by the Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music.

Without debate the bishops endorsed Resolution A067 “Revise Book of Common Prayer for Revised Common Lectionary”, which calls for the church to use the lectionary found in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and not the Revised Common Lectionary for services during Holy Week.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC Bishops* TheologyAnthropologySacramental TheologyEucharist

9 Comments
Posted July 1, 2015 at 2:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today, a new "cloud tax" takes effect in the city of Chicago, targeting online databases and streaming entertainment services. It's a puzzling tax, cutting against many of the basic assumptions of the web, but the broader implications could be even more unsettling. Cloud services are built to be universal: Netflix works the same anywhere in the US, and except for rights constraints, you could extend that to the entire world. But many taxes are local — and as streaming services swallow up more and more of the world's entertainment, that could be a serious problem.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetMovies & Television* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceTaxesPolitics in GeneralCity Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 1, 2015 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past few days, it’s this: Most people—religious or otherwise—have no idea what marriage is, why it exists, and what we need it for. And what’s worse, they have no idea they have no idea.

Read it all and follow the links.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...we should call Oppenheimer’s arguments what they are: societally destructive. He seems to think that churches losing their privileged positions will be just peachy for society, because the government will then step in and execute the same work with extreme competency. His faith in big government is touching, but naive. Consider how the Great Society programs have fared. The government often does a much worse job of distributing funds and targeting local needs than community-specific outfits that must give local account for their operations.

[Also]...we should challenge Oppenheimer on the way he makes his case. He dislikes Scientology. He’s fit-to-be-tied that the group was given a tax-exemption as a religion. But Scientology is quite different from the vast spectrum of American churches. Oppenheimer has used a tiny group at the margins to deny an obvious truth about the myriad groups at the center. Oppenheimer would nuke a thriving continent to vanquish an unwanted mouse.

He also notes the awkwardness of the IRS determining what is and isn’t a church. But instead of dealing with that problem, he doubles down on it, and encourages exponentially greater government involvement to regulate congregations. A most vexing solution, this. His comments on Yale and universities are in truth a screen to hide his real target: churches, particularly those “that dissent from settled public policy on matters of race or sexuality.”

Here we behold the Oppenheimer Project with unveiled face. It isn’t really about redirecting a few odd dollars and cents currently going to religious nutjobs. It’s about smashing into oblivion those who dare to resist the late stages of the sexual revolution. They no longer deserve to thrive, or perhaps even exist, in this country.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 1, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One hundred and twenty-nine of the bishops in the Episcopal Church (USA) House of Bishops voted yesterday to embrace blasphemy as a "trial rite" for same-sex marriages in the Church. The blasphemy begins in the rite at the point where the celebrant says to the congregation (see p. 98 of these materials; my bold emphasis added):

Dearly beloved: We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of N. and N. in Holy Matrimony. The joining of two people in a life of mutual fidelity signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and so it is worthy of being honored among all people.

As I wrote in an earlier post, critiquing the rite when it was first proposed, the bold language evinces a category mistake of the worst sort, by equating the union of two people of the same gender to the holy union between Christ and His Church. (How can they be equated? In the former, which of the two men -- or two women -- signifies Christ, and which the Church?)

The bishops approved three other rites for trial use, as well, but they are just as blasphemous in invoking the blessing of the triune God on the union/marriage of a same-sex pair.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Those who work with children, young people and vulnerable adults know only too well the risks associated with residential care. In 2012, of the 16,500 children who were found to be at high risk of sexual exploitation, more than a third—35%—were children living in residential care. It seems to me that these amendments would add additional strength to the general direction of the Bill, which we on these Benches happily support. We also draw on the research and briefing of the Children’s Society.

Places which care for children, young people and vulnerable adults in either residential or supported care facilities can easily become targeted by people who, via grooming and addiction to psychoactive drugs, use control to lead children and vulnerable adults into other very serious kinds of abuse. I note the point that the noble Lord made that accepting the amendment would put this offence on the same footing as that of supplying drugs outside a school, which the Bill already makes an aggravating factor.

My colleague the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol told me that last year, in his own city of Bristol, 13 men were convicted of a string of sexual offences involving sexual abuse, trafficking, rape and prostitution of teenage girls as young as 13 years old. Their tactics were clear: in return for drugs and alcohol, young girls were forced to perform sexual acts with older men. Much more could be said but I want to support these amendments because, as I say, they would help this vulnerable group to receive additional protection.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureTeens / Youth* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We must contend for marriage as God’s gift to humanity – a gift central and essential to human flourishing and a gift that is limited to the conjugal union of a man and a woman. We must contend for religious liberty for all, and focus our energies on protecting the rights of Christian citizens and Christian institutions to teach and operate on the basis of Christian conviction.

We cannot be silent, and we cannot join the moral revolution that stands in direct opposition to what we believe the Creator has designed, given, and intended for us. We cannot be silent, and we cannot fail to contend for marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

In one sense, everything has changed. And yet, nothing has changed. The cultural and legal landscape has changed, as we believe this will lead to very real harms to our neighbors. But our Christian responsibility has not changed. We are charged to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman and to speak the truth in love. We are also commanded to uphold the truth about marriage in our own lives, in our own marriages, in our own families, and in our own churches.

We are called to be the people of the truth, even when the truth is not popular and even when the truth is denied by the culture around us.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 1, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One year ago I wrote in these pages about how the InterVarsity ministry at Bowdoin College, with a forty year history of ministering the Christian Gospel, was formally refused access to meet with students on campus facilities. Christian students in the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship were denied access to the funds and facilities for student activities and other benefits enjoyed generally by students participating in voluntary activities on the campus....

One year later, the ministry continues with these important changes to report.

The venue has changed. This Christian ministry, through the help of committed friends, acquired a building on the edge of campus and became a member of the Consortium of Christian Study Centers. The meetings that once took place in the college chapel, the college dining halls, and in buildings reserved for Christians to practice religious faith now take place in a converted living room at the Joseph and Alice McKeen Christian Study Center, named after the first President of Bowdoin College and his first lady.

The challenge to incarnational and invitational ministry has changed. The InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin College previously operated primarily from a base on campus and only secondarily retreated to points beyond. Those priorities have been reversed by force of circumstance, and the ministry now operates primarily from its newly acquired space on the edge of campus.

Read it all from First Things.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 1, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Then the whole company of them arose, and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, “I find no crime in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length; but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then, arraying him in gorgeous apparel, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

--Luke 23:1-12

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 1, 2015 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon


Simmons was a fourth-generation preacher and longtime pastor at several AME churches in South Carolina including: Wayman AME, Pleasant Grove AME, Allen Chapel AME, Greater Zion AME, Friendship AME, Olive Branch AME, St. Stephens AME. He was pastor of St. Luke AME in Hollywood, until his retirement in 2013. Upon his retirement, he joined the ministerial staff of Emanuel AME Church.

Simmons was born in Clarendon County in 1940. He graduated from Palmetto High School in Mullins and received a bachelor’s degree from Allen University, a master’s degree in social work from the University of South Carolina and a master’s in divinity from Lutheran Seminary.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 30, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One reason that this has been rather shocking to American Catholics is that we have had, at least for the last century or so, a fairly benign relationship with the environing culture. Until around 1970, there was, throughout the society and across religious boundaries, a broad moral consensus in our country, especially in regard to sexual and family matters. This is one reason why, in the 1950's, Archbishop Fulton Sheen could find such a wide and appreciative audience among Protestants and Jews, even as he laid out fundamentally Catholic perspectives on morality.

But now that consensus has largely been shattered, and the Church finds itself opposed, not so much by other religious denominations, as it was in the 19th century, but by the ideology of secularism and the self-defining individual -- admirably expressed, by the way, in Justice Kennedy's articulation of the majority position in the case under consideration.

So what do we do?

We continue to put forth our point of view winsomely, invitingly, and non-violently, loving our opponents and reaching out to those with whom we disagree. As St. John Paul II said, the Church always proposes, never imposes. And we take a deep breath, preparing for what could be some aggression from the secular society, but we take courage from a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us.

The Church has faced this sort of thing before -- and we're still standing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 30, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[ESPN's Frank Isola said] “Starting with [coach] Pat Riley in the early ’90s, the Knicks held training camp at the College of Charleston in South Carolina for nearly 15 years. It was the team’s home away from home in early October — a time when hope is at its peak for every NBA team. The players, coaches and yes, even the curmudgeon beat writers absolutely fell in love with the place. The weather, the food, but mostly the people make Charleston the beautiful city it is today. I was there with my family last August, in fact.

“Now for all the wrong reasons, Charleston has been in the news lately. And yet in its darkest hour, Charleston sent a powerful message to the world when relatives of nine African Americans gunned down at a local church stood in a courtroom and told a hateful white man they forgive him. Thanks, Charleston.

“On Friday, President Obama delivered a moving eulogy for one of the victims, the Reverend Clementa Pinckney. He even sang ‘Amazing Grace.’ This all took place inside a basketball arena at the College of Charleston — more than ever, a symbol of hope.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 30, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church is "getting closer every day," a senior Orthodox prelate said in an interview published on 28 June.

The unprecedented meeting would be a significant step towards healing the 1,000-year-old rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity, which split in the Great Schism of 1054.

"Now such a meeting is getting closer every day but it must be well prepared," Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church's foreign relations department, said in an interview with Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesOrthodox ChurchRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEcclesiology

1 Comments
Posted June 30, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The danger now is that, just as Greece was once a trailblazer in linking a democratic transition to the European project, so it may become an emblem of a new and dangerous process: the disintegration of the EU. The current crisis could easily lead to the country leaving the euro and eventually the union itself. That would undermine the fundamental EU proposition: that joining the European club is the best guarantee of future prosperity and stability.

Even if an angry and impoverished Greece ultimately remains inside the tent, the link between the EU and prosperity will have been ruptured. For the horrible truth is dawning that it is not just that the EU has failed to deliver on its promises of prosperity and unity. By locking Greece and other EU countries into a failed economic experiment — the euro — it is now actively destroying wealth, stability and European solidarity.

The dangers of that process are all the more pronounced because Greece is in a highly strategic location. To the south lies the chaos and bloodshed of Libya; to the north lies the instability of the Balkans; to the east, an angry and resurgent Russia.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGreece* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 30, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The body of a dead Liberian man has tested positive for Ebola - the country's first reported case since it was declared free of the disease.

Deputy health minister Tolbert Nyenswah said tests confirmed that the 17-year-old man, from a town near the main airport, had died of the disease.

Officials are investigating how he contracted Ebola, Mr Nyenswah said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaLiberia* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 30, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

She was remembered as a tireless woman whose devotion to Mother Emanuel, the church in which she grew up, was second only to her commitment to her family: her husband, the Rev. Anthony Thompson, and children, Kevin Singleton and Denise Quarles. When the lights went out in the chandelier above the sanctuary, she called the Fire Department to replace them. A fixture in the church basement, Thompson had her Bible and hymn book in tow when the Rev. Norvel Goff signed her certificate to preach. That was June 17, the evening of her death. A moment you could say she prepared for her entire life.

“My mother actually prepared me for this day,” her daughter Denise said. “She would often say to me, ‘Dee, Mama isn’t gonna always be around, and I want you to be a good girl and always remember what I taught you.’ ... I told my mom I would do exactly as she instructed me to do, but I never thought she would be gone.”

Thompson was entombed in Carolina Memorial Gardens, wearing clothes from her favorite designer, a St. John ivory jacket and dress her daughter picked out. After the service, as mourners spilled out the front doors and down the stairs of Mother Emanuel, a group had assembled along the iron barricade on Calhoun Street. They were singing “Amazing Grace.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiology

0 Comments
Posted June 30, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The BIS critique goes like this. Low interest rates have sustained the recovery, but the support is fragile. The economy relies too much on debt, which cannot build forever, and artificially high asset prices (stocks, homes, bonds) may someday tumble from unrealistic levels. A new crisis could be severe because governments have already deployed their standard anti-recession tools: cheap credit and big deficits.

The BIS’s most intriguing point is that a new recession or financial crisis might originate with emerging-market countries: China, Brazil, India, Turkey and the like. Although there has been debt repayment in the United States, the opposite has happened in some emerging-market countries, the BIS says. Private firms have assumed dollar loans worth $3 trillion, even though their “debt servicing capacity . . . has deteriorated.” Will defaults follow?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyEuropean Central BankThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 30, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria have been forced to join Islamist militant group Boko Haram, the BBC has been told.

Witnesses say some are now being used to terrorise other captives, and are even carrying out killings themselves.

The testimony cannot be verified but Amnesty International says other girls kidnapped by Boko Haram have been forced to fight.

Read it all.


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

0 Comments
Posted June 30, 2015 at 4:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

--Psalm 121:1-3

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted June 30, 2015 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The critiques of forgiveness in recent days are strikingly similar to the critiques against nonviolence during the civil rights movement. In both cases, some advocates for social justice misunderstood the allegiances of the black Christians they criticized. Dr. King and the Charleston families believed forgiveness and nonviolence are on the right side of history. They believed they would be served well on this earth by those tenets, but also that their reward is in heaven. And, clearly, they saw no conflict between forgiveness and full-throated, sacrificial advocacy for change. People so often underestimate the Christian conviction that the ends do not justify the means. The ultimate goal is not to achieve justice on this world, though we pursue that with all of our souls, but to be faithful to God. We believe, ultimately, that faithfulness is justice.

I do not think I could forgive Roof. Forgiveness is not a burden I would place on anyone in the situation of those families. We should reject all calls from those who wish to sweep under the rug the culture and systems of racism that infect people like Roof. We should reject all calls to make excuses for the evil Roof actively embraced and acted upon. He was no passive actor. He was more than simply a result of cultural, economic, or social circumstances. He had agency. And his actions were evil.

But we should also reject all calls to strip the agency and dignity from the mourning families as well. I am not mature enough in the faith to so quickly pass the burden of judgment to God. But I am inspired by those family members to grow in that direction. I am a Christian because of the black church and black faith. When I was far from God, it was the unashamedly Christian black culture, movies, and music of people like Lauryn Hill and Fred Hammond that introduced me to Jesus. It is the black church that so consistently embodies the confounding, radical love of Jesus. What other American community today displays less shame, less reservation, less self-awareness about proclaiming the Christian faith? I will not turn the Bride of the living Christ into a cultural artifact.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted June 29, 2015 at 5:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I do not forgive Dylann Roof, a racist terrorist whose name I hate saying or knowing. I have no immediate connection to what happened in Charleston, S.C., last week beyond my humanity and my blackness, but I do not foresee ever forgiving his crimes, and I am wholly at ease with that choice.

My unwillingness to forgive this man does not give him any kind of power. I am not filled with hate for this man because he is beneath my contempt. I do not believe in the death penalty so I don’t wish to see him dead. My lack of forgiveness serves as a reminder that there are some acts that are so terrible that we should recognize them as such. We should recognize them as beyond forgiving.

I struggle with faith but I was raised Catholic....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted June 29, 2015 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The result has been an obvious change in tone and emphasis — but not teaching or policy — at many churches. Almost all evangelical churches oppose same-sex marriage, and many do not allow gays and lesbians to serve in leadership positions unless they are celibate. Some pastors, however, now either minimize their preaching on the subject or speak of homosexuality in carefully contextualized sermons emphasizing that everyone is a sinner and that Christians should love and welcome all.

“Evangelicals are coming to the realization that they hold a minority view in the culture, and that on this issue, they have lost the home-field advantage,” said Ed Stetzer, the executive director of LifeWay Research, which surveys evangelicals. “They are learning to speak with winsomeness and graciousness, which, when their view was the majority, evangelicals tended not to do.” A handful of evangelical churches have changed their positions. City Church in San Francisco, for example, has dropped its rule that gays and lesbians commit to celibacy to become members, and GracePointe Church in Tennessee has said gays and lesbians can serve in leadership roles and receive the sacrament of marriage. Ken Wilson, who founded the Vineyard Church in Ann Arbor, Mich., published an open letter calling for a greater embrace of gays and lesbians in evangelical churches. But Mr. Stetzer said they are the exceptions.

“Well-known evangelicals who have shifted on same-sex marriage, you could fit them all in an S.U.V.,” Mr. Stetzer said. “If you do shift, you become a media celebrity, but the shift among practicing evangelicals is minimal.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureRural/Town LifeSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsSupreme Court* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At First Baptist Dallas, where the pulpit was adorned Sunday with red, white and blue bunting to honor the Fourth of July, the pastor called the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling “an affront in the face of Almighty God.”

The iconic rainbow colors that bathed the White House Friday night after the court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide represent “depravity, degradation and what the Bible calls sexual perversion,” the Rev. Robert Jeffress said.

“But we are not discouraged,” Jeffress said. “We are not going to be silenced. This is a great opportunity for our church to share the truth and love of Jesus Christ and we are going to do it.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I asked Dr. Susan Glisson, executive director of the William Winter Institute of Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi. She and Associate Director Charles Tucker gave me a three-hour tutorial in my Washington living room about how people can have the necessary conversation and work toward true reconciliation. First, said Glisson, it can’t be a national conversation. “The best conversations are the most local,” she says.

To this end, the institute created a portable template for conversation called “The Welcome Table,” a physical table where up to 25 people of all races sit and talk. Really talk. As moderator, Glisson or Tucker might ask each participant to speak for three minutes about when he or she first noticed the elephant of race in the room.

Honesty is crucial, even if it smarts. Sometimes people’s stories lead to tears. Other times, to laughter. People often laugh over what Tucker calls their “nervous stories.” Tucker, who is African-American and grew up on a cotton plantation in the Mississippi Delta, releases a rolling, baritone laugh from deep within his 6-foot-3 frame at my own nervous story. He has had plenty of personal encounters with racism yet seems to have a considerable well of compassion for the most foolish among us. This is in part because he has listened to other people’s stories and really heard them. Something about the telling of stories draws out our more human selves. Empathy displaces cynicism and guardedness.

Glisson, a font of knowledge and wisdom, paraphrases Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, saying, “My enemy is someone whose stories I don’t know.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rejected in 2006, and again in 2009, attempts to introduce assisted suicide are now back on the table. This also follows rejection in Wales, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Rob Marris MP has introduced an assisted dying bill that is expected to be largely the same as Lord Falconer’s previous effort, which ran out of time before May’s general election. It is anticipated the bill will make it legal to assist in the death of people who are terminally ill with six months or less to live, provided they are considered mentally competent by two doctors. The change is presented as a compassionate response to tragic situations. Cases of people in severe continual pain make us want to be compassionate, and that is a good thing.

But this is a wholly wrong way to look after the most vulnerable. In fact, it does the opposite, putting them in mortal peril. The law must stay as it is now to protect those who are least able to have their voice heard: the disabled, terminally ill and elderly, people who might otherwise feel pressured into ending their lives. Campaigners to change the law make grand promises for the modesty of their goals, but I don’t believe them. The parameters set out for who could ask for a doctor’s help in killing themselves are ambiguous, open to challenge, and not unanimously supported among assisted dying advocates.

For example, many campaigners would like the law to apply to chronic non-terminal conditions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

There a many references to the Diocese of South Carolina statement here if you need it.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* By KendallSermons & Teachings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost on cue, there were three different news stories about abortion and Down syndrome around the time of the encyclical’s release. New blood screening, for instance, has resulted in a 34 percent increase in such abortions in Britain. Just a few days later, a Washington Post guest columnist argued such routine and systematic screening — not least because between 67 percent and 92 percent end up aborting — constitutes the formal “elimination of a group of people quite happy being themselves” under “the false pretense of women’s rights.” And then there was the story of the truly despicable company stealing the image of a child with Down syndrome for their Orwellian-sounding test kit named “Tranquility.”

You couldn’t ask for a more revealing practice of the throwaway culture Pope Francis so strongly decries. It doesn’t matter that people with Down syndrome are happier than those who are “normal;” our consumer culture’s tendency is to turn everything into a mere object or tool of the market, and when the object or tool is no longer useful, we simply discard it. These children don’t meet the quality-control standards of the consumer, and so the product simply gets thrown out as so much trash.

But one of the central themes of Pope Francis’s encyclical is that all creation has value independent of its value within a consumer culture. In response to my sharing the three stories mentioned above on social media, an old friend sent me a touching e-mail (parts of which are shared here with permission) about her sister with Down syndrome. She remembers that her family was initially sad and worried — but now, looking back, “it truly made no sense....”

Read it all from Charles Camosy in the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Praise the LORD! O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever! Who can utter the mighty doings of the LORD, or show forth all his praise? Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!

--Psalm 106:1-3

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Dan] Price dropped his salary from about $1 million to $70,000 in order to increase pay for many of his employees.

In the weeks that have followed, Price has received hundreds of messages — some from CEOs who followed suit with similar moves and others from critics who feel the decision will destroy Price's company.

Of all the notes that he has received, the most striking to Price was a stack of 33 letters — delivered by mail — from a class of sixth graders at Woodbury Elementary School in Irvine, California.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducation* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 28, 2015 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the Court majority wrote that gays and lesbians do not want to change the institution of marriage, but rather want to benefit from it. This is hard to believe, given more recent writing from gay activists like Dan Savage expressing a desire to loosen the strictures of monogamy in all marriages. Besides, if marriage can be redefined according to what we desire — that is, if there is no essential nature to marriage, or to gender — then there are no boundaries on marriage. Marriage inevitably loses its power.

In that sense, social and religious conservatives must recognize that the Obergefell decision did not come from nowhere. It is the logical result of the Sexual Revolution, which valorized erotic liberty. It has been widely and correctly observed that heterosexuals began to devalue marriage long before same-sex marriage became an issue. The individualism at the heart of contemporary American culture is at the core of Obergefell — and at the core of modern American life.

This is profoundly incompatible with orthodox Christianity. But this is the world we live in today.

Read it all from Time Magazine.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 28, 2015 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Biden’s attendance, along with his son and daughter-in-law Hunter and Kathleen, was a meant to be a show of solidarity, he said, but it was also an effort to lift him and his family up during their time of grief.

“The reason we came was to draw strength from all of you, draw some strength from the church,” he said, noting that he had spoken and or met with each of the nine victim’s families since their losses. “I wish I could say something that would ease the pains of the families and of the church. But I know from experience, and I was reminded of it again 29 days ago, that no words can mend a broken heart. No music can fill the gaping void.”

Biden’s son died May 30 of brain cancer. No stranger to death in his family, Biden said only faith could bring relief during such difficult times.

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* South Carolina* TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicy

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Posted June 28, 2015 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mourners filled Emanuel AME Church on Sunday afternoon to pay their last respects to the Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor.

Middleton Doctor is one of nine parishioners fatally shot June 17 during a church Bible study she was leading in the historic Charleston church. She was 49.

The Rev. Margaret Cochran said Middleton Doctor ministered so well that “when I walked out of this sanctuary I was not the same person.”

Several dignitaries also spoke at the services.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted June 28, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Defenders of tax exemptions and deductions argues that if we got rid of them charitable giving would drop. It surely would, although how much, we can’t say. But of course government revenue would go up, and that money could be used to, say, house the homeless and feed the hungry. We’d have fewer church soup kitchens — but countries that truly care about poverty don’t rely on churches to run soup kitchens.

Exemption advocates also point out that churches would be squeezed out of high-property-value areas. But if it’s important to the people of Fifth Avenue to have a synagogue like Emanu-El or an Episcopal church like St. Thomas in their midst, they should pay full freight for it. They can afford to, more than millions of poorer New Yorkers whose tax bills the synagogue and church exemptions are currently inflating.

So yes, the logic of gay-marriage rights could lead to a reexamination of conservative churches’ tax exemptions (although, as long as the IRS is afraid of challenging Scientology’s exemption, everyone else is probably safe). But when that day comes, it will be long overdue. I can see keeping some exemptions; hospitals, in particular, are an indispensable, and noncontroversial, public good. And localities could always carve out sensible property-tax exceptions for nonprofits their communities need. But it’s time for most nonprofits, like those of us who faithfully cut checks to them, to pay their fair share.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 28, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So many social, political, and sociological assertions have been projected onto the story of the Charleston martyrs that their own story as not untypical followers and seekers of Christ has been obscured. Maybe their martyrdom is only the small part of a vast historical narrative about race and oppression across centuries.

But it’s also about small acts of faithfulness that led to global and eternal significance for God’s Kingdom. A demented young man, escaping his dysfunctional family, pursued darkness, unable to find kindred twisted spirits, instead finds sinister validation on the internet. Committed to murder, he unexpectedly meets friendly saints whose kindness gives him pause before he kills, hoping to spread his poison through publicity.

His crime is instead overshadowed by the faith and hope of his victims and their church. We should join the families of those victims in praying that the killer, before he leaves this world, hopefully in the administration of swift justice, accepts the God whom he defied, and can meet in Heaven the martyrs he sought to destroy, instead falling before them in holy sorrow and recompense, honoring them as the instruments of his own redemption.

The ultimate story about the Charleston martyrs is not about the sins of a particular culture or nation but about the far wider and exponentially more powerful demonstration that God’s love is undefeatable, even in a hail of bullets.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyChristologyEschatology

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Posted June 28, 2015 at 12:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Though they might have nightmares, give them sweet dreams.”

Jackson was remembered as a gentle, loving figurehead.

“She was a mother to so, so many, this matriarch of the Jackson family,” church member Carlotta Dennis remarked.

Jackson, who was 87 when she died, sang in the choir, was a member of the Woman’s Missionary Society, attended Bible study regularly, was a trustee of the church and volunteered in myriad ways over her many years of constant faith and fidelity, Dennis said. She gave generously, to her church, to her family, even to strangers.

Jackson was deeply rooted in Charleston. She lived in an old single house within walking distance of her church. She attended Buist Elementary School and Burke High School and worked as a beautician and home health care provider. She was always thinking of others, her family said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted June 28, 2015 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tywanza Sanders was shot protecting his mother. As he died he reached to help Susie Jackson.

“You don’t have to do this,” he told the man who pulled a gun on the Bible study at Emanuel AME Church. “We are no harm to you.”

Tywanza Kibwe Diop Sanders, 26, was hailed as a hero Saturday at a funeral service for him and his relative Susie Jackson, 87, in the sanctuary. So many members of the large extended family were there that church leaders had to ask mourners to give up seats so that immediate family could be seated.

Felicia Sanders, his mother, who was at the Bible study but not shot, had to be helped to her pew. She paused to gaze at her son but could not bear it for long. She lingered, gazing at Jackson, then leaned over to kiss her forehead.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted June 28, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cynthia Hurd’s love of books couldn’t be limited to a single library, and her “homegoing service” couldn’t be contained in a single church.

Hundreds of mourners showed up Saturday morning for the funeral of the Charleston County librarian, as the city, state and nation continue to grieve for her and the eight other lives lost in the June 17 shooting inside Emanuel AME Church.

Mother Emanuel filled quickly with mourners, and about 200 people unable to get in watched via a video feed from inside the nearby Second Presbyterian Church.

Assistant Democratic Leader U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, said he is a longtime friend of Hurd’s brother, former North Carolina Sen. Michael Graham, and one of his daughters considered Hurd her best friend, “This is a family that makes us all proud,” Clyburn said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted June 28, 2015 at 11:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Supreme Court prepares to announce its decision on same-sex marriage, religious people are wondering: will we lose our tax-exempt status for our religious institutions? Justice Samuel Alito raised this question during the oral arguments, citing the 1983 Supreme Court case that ruled Bob Jones University could lose its tax-exempt status if it continued to oppose interracial dating and marriage.

The solicitor general, arguing the case for same-sex marriage, responded that it would “depend on how states work out the balance between their civil rights laws.” This sort of reply should do nothing to calm the nerves of those who object to same-sex marriage. When the conscientious objectors become a minority of the voting population, will our rights be protected?

The issue of the tax-exempt status of religious organizations is already a hot topic in some quarters. Those in favor of taxing religious organizations point out the huge financial impact that it would have, anywhere from tens to hundreds of billions of dollars per year.

The confiscation of church property is no new thing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State Matters* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 28, 2015 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:

“Catholic teaching maintains that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman joined in an intimate partnership of life and love—a union instituted by God for the mutual fulfillment of the husband and wife as well as for the procreation and education of children.

“Partnerships of committed same-sex individuals are already legal in California. Our state has also granted domestic partners spousal-type rights and responsibilities which facilitate their relationships with each other and any children they bring to the partnership. Every person involved in the family of domestic partners is a child of God and deserves respect in the eyes of the law and their community. However, those partnerships are not marriage—and can never be marriage—as it has been understood since the founding of the United States. Today’s decision of California’s high court opens the door for policymakers to deconstruct traditional marriage and create another institution under the guise of equal protection.

“Although we strongly disagree with the ruling, we ask our Catholic people, as well as all the people of California, to continue to uphold the dignity of every person, to acknowledge individual rights and responsibilities, and to maintain support for the unique and irreplaceable role of traditional marriage as an institution which is fundamental to society.”

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 28, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The promise to Abraham and his descendants, that they should inherit the world, did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants--not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all, as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations" --in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, "So shall your descendants be." He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was "reckoned to him as righteousness." But the words, "it was reckoned to him," were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

--Romans 4:13-25

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 28, 2015 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

All of us must be full of grief at the attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait. They are intended not only to destroy but to divide, not only to terrify but to take from us our own commitment to each other in our societies....

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 2:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The young daughters of the slain Emanuel AME pastor Rev. Clementa Pinckney wrote heartbreaking letters to their father. The letters were included in the funeral program distributed Friday during services at the College of Charleston arena, where President Obama eulogized Pinckney.

Thousands of mourners flipped through the programs which included photos of the family smiling. One snapshot shows the older daughter wearing a yellow sun dress; her hair twisted with yellow barrettes. The younger daughter with a pink rose hairclip poses in front of Emanuel AME church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyEschatology

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 2:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, found that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment prohibited government actions that “demean” the lives of homosexuals and that therefore gay marriage is a constitutional right. Homosexuals, he said, cannot be deprived of the “constellation” of state-conferred benefits limited to marriage, “a keystone of the nation’s social order.” He was joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Each of the four dissenting justices issued separate opinions, the central gist of which was summed up by Justice Scalia when he wrote, “It is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.”

Justice Samuel Alito, making a similar point, noted that, “Until the federal courts intervened, the American people were engaged in a debate whether their States should recognize same-sex marriage. ... Today’s decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage.” He added, “It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState GovernmentSupreme Court* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Simply put, mutual responsibility towards offspring naturally demands a long-term commitment (at least 18 years) while mutual attraction and erotic desire does not. What we see in the modern world is the fracturing of a very lofty ideal of marriage back into two different kinds of relationships: those which are primarily focused on children, and those which are primarily focused on erotic love. The battle over the institution of marriage is basically a battle over whether which of these two purposes of marriage ought to have primacy.

The answer that the Supreme Court has given by ruling in favour of same-sex marriage is basically a ruling in favour of erotic love. This should surprise no one. It’s the more culturally popular option, and it’s the view of marriage that the vast majority of heterosexuals already subscribe to. It’s also, in practice, the definition that we’ve been using for a long time. The truth is that most of the material and social supports that exist to help parents with the task of raising children are no longer associated with the institution of marriage in any way – and unfortunately, the pro-family groups that could be providing financial, emotional and practical support to people who are choosing traditional marriage tend to waste their resources fighting fruitless political battles instead.

The challenge, then, is for advocates of the traditional family to stop wringing their hands over the SCOTUS decision and blaming the gays for the demise of the family, and to focus instead on renewing the practice of sacramental marriage by building up communities of support so that the traditional understanding of marriage will become practicable and attractive again.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySexualityYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in one of the ironies in which the arc of history specializes, while the conservative case for same-sex marriage triumphed in politics, the liberationist case against marriage’s centrality to human flourishing was winning in the wider culture.

You would not know this from Kennedy’s opinion, which is relentlessly upbeat about how “new insights have strengthened, not weakened” marriage, bringing “new dimensions of freedom” to society.

But the central “new dimension of freedom” being claimed by straight America is a freedom from marriage — from the institution as traditionally understood, and from wedlock and family, period.

Read it all (emphasis and article title his).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 8:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Let’s also recognize that if we’re right about marriage, and I believe we are, many people will be disappointed in getting what they want. Many of our neighbors believe that a redefined concept of marriage will simply expand the institution (and, let’s be honest, many will want it to keep on expanding). This will not do so, because sexual complementarity is not ancillary to marriage. The church must prepare for the refugees from the sexual revolution.

We must prepare for those, like the sexually wayward Woman at the Well of Samaria, who will be thirsting for water of which they don’t even know.

There are two sorts of churches that will not be able to reach the sexual revolution’s refugees. A church that has given up on the truth of the Scriptures, including on marriage and sexuality, and has nothing to say to a fallen world. And a church that screams with outrage at those who disagree will have nothing to say to those who are looking for a new birth.

We must stand with conviction and with kindness, with truth and with grace. We must hold to our views and love those who hate us for them. We must not only speak Christian truths; we must speak with a Christian accent. We must say what Jesus has revealed, and we must say those things the way Jesus does — with mercy and with an invitation to new life.

Read it all from Russell Moore.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 8:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet from your brethren as he raised me up.’ This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living oracles to give to us. Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods to go before us; as for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and rejoiced in the works of their hands.

--Acts 7:38-41

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.
‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us

Then Frodo kissed Merry and Pippin, and last of all Sam, and went abroad; and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew, and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth; and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore glimmered and was lost. And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last one night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.

--J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPoetry & Literature* Theology

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 1:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.

The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“As evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court’s ruling that redefines marriage. The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image,” the leaders wrote. “We will not capitulate on marriage because biblical authority requires that we cannot. The Supreme Court’s actions pose incalculable risks to an already volatile social fabric by alienating those whose beliefs about marriage are motivated by deep biblical convictions and concern for the common good.”

In the statement, the leaders suggest that the Court’s ruling is part of a negative trajectory on marriage and “represents an aftermath that evangelicals themselves, sadly, are not guiltless in contributing to. Too often, professing evangelicals have failed to model the ideals we so dearly cherish and believe are central to gospel proclamation.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 11:57 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Supreme Court on Friday delivered a historic victory for gay rights, ruling 5 to 4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live and that states may no longer reserve the right only for heterosexual couples.

The court’s action marks the culmination of an unprecedented upheaval in public opinion and the nation’s jurisprudence. Advocates called it the most pressing civil rights issue of modern times, while critics said the courts had sent the country into uncharted territory by changing the traditional definition of marriage.

Read it all and the full text of the decision is there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted June 26, 2015 at 9:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“As usual, baby names are reflecting a larger cultural shift,” says BabyCenter’s Global Editor in Chief Linda Murray. “Millennials are an open-minded and accepting group, and they don’t want their children to feel pressured to conform to stereotypes that might be restrictive.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....the controversial law still faces a bumpy future. Here are five challenges the ACA will face during the next several years:

Healthcare costs are still too high. As many enrollees are discovering, the “Affordable” Care Act is somewhat misnamed. Healthcare costs continue to rise faster than wages or overall inflation, putting a financial burden even on people who have healthcare. A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund found that 23% of Americans who have healthcare coverage are “underinsured,” meaning their out-of-pocket spending on healthcare is more than 10% of their income in a given year. Deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs have been rising because consumers and businesses have been opting for plans with lower premiums—which usually require the patient to bear more of the cost before 100% coverage kicks in. The irony is that insurance has gotten more affordable, but actual healthcare hasn’t.

The ACA includes several long-term provisions meant to explore ways to lower costs, but they may not be nearly enough to offset other trends pushing costs up, such as the retirement of the baby boomers and the development of expensive new drugs. If Congress ever gets serious about improving the ACA rather that faux-repealing it, cost will be the thing to focus on.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The work of the church is not merely to accept those of us who are transgender, asexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, and intersex. The work of the church is to accept and celebrate that the church—the body—is itself queer. The body of Christ is queer because it isn’t defined or bound by human constructs or binaries. It transcends and subverts norms and boundaries. It contains multitudes. But the body is also queer simply because its queer members are a vital component of its identity. When I was dating a cisgender (i.e., identifying with the gender assigned at birth), heterosexual man last fall, we were in a queer relationship. My queer identity made the relationship itself queer, even though he was straight. The body of Christ is queer in this same way because it contains queer identities.

It is time for the church to sit down nervously at its own Table and confront its internalized queerphobia. It is time for the body of Christ to come out. Some of us who have come out ourselves are happy to be the friend that talks the church through it.

Coming out is not easy. It is not just about moving forward in celebration and inclusion. It is about accepting that in some ways you are just now becoming acquainted with who you really are. It means recognizing you have missed opportunities for relationship, happiness, and growth. It means grieving the years lost to fear and the heartbreak of relationships with loved ones who cannot understand. It means holding with grace the wounds you will always carry.

Read it all.

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


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted June 26, 2015 at 7:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a tent city under a highway overpass in Baghdad, refugees from Iraq’s Sunni province of Anbar were unanimous about whom to blame for their misery.

“I hold Americans responsible for destroying Anbar,” said former policeman Wassem Khaled, whose home was taken over by Islamic State, or ISIS, after the Iraqi army fled from Anbar’s provincial capital of Ramadi last month.

“We all know that America is providing ISIS with weapons and food, and that it is because of American backing that they have become so strong,” added Abbas Hashem, a 50-year-old who also escaped from Ramadi and now lives in the makeshift Baghdad camp that is only occasionally supplied with water.

Such conspiracy theories about America’s support for Islamic State are outlandish, no doubt. But they are so widespread that they now represent a political reality with real-world consequences—making it harder for the U.S. and allies to cobble together Iraqi forces that could regain the country’s Sunni heartland from Islamic State’s murderous rule one day.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The searing shock and lingering pain inflicted by last week’s mass murder at the Emanuel AME Church hasn’t been confined to Charleston. It has extended across our nation. And Americans’ expressions of sympathy and solidarity have helped bolster our community’s spirit in this time of profound sorrow.

So it’s quite fitting that as our nation mourns the nine good people killed at a Bible study meeting, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, will deliver the eulogy today at the funeral of one of those victims — the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who also was a state senator.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hours before first light, they began to line up along Marion Square for what is anticipated to be among the most historic days in Charleston’s long history.

The Rev. Curtis Capers of Summerville was among those first in line when he showed up at 3:30 a.m. Just three hours later, the line would extend from Calhoun Street, up Meeting Street and about 100 yards around on Hutson Street.

Capers, pastor of the Honey Hill Baptist Church in Cottageville, said he came to pay his respects to the Rev. Clementa Pinckney and other victims of last week’s Bible study massacre inside Emanuel AME Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyEschatologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....I haven’t encountered many defenders of U.S. counterterrorism strikes. Last year, I co-chaired a Stimson Center commission on U.S. drone policy with retired Gen. John Abizaid. The commission, which included former senior military and intelligence officials from both Obama’s and George W. Bush’s administrations, concluded in June 2014 that “the Obama administration’s heavy reliance on targeted killings as a pillar of US counterterrorism strategy rests on questionable assumptions, and risks increasing instability and escalating conflicts. While tactical strikes may have helped keep the homeland free of major terrorist attacks, existing evidence indicates that both Sunni and Shia Islamic extremist groups have grown in scope, lethality and influence in the broader area of operations in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.” In dozens of interviews and conversations with national security experts since June 2014, I have yet to find anyone who won’t admit, off the record, that U.S. counterterrorism policy is flailing badly.

So here’s the question: If no one except administration press flacks thinks the whack-a-mole approach to counterterrorism is working, why are we still using it?

To me, that’s one of the unsolved mysteries of the universe, right up there with “what is dark matter?” and “why do we yawn?” Why do smart people like Obama and his top advisors continue to rely on counterterrorism policies that aren’t working?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury's attention has been drawn to a statement forwarded to him from the Office of the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, on the above subject. This statement was first posted on the Church of Nigeria website April 30, 2015.

The appointment of the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office (ACO) is made by the Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) with the approval of the President of the Standing Committee, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of NigeriaGlobal South Churches & Primates* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

9 Comments
Posted June 26, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last week marked the passing of a woman whose missionary work and writings inspired hundreds of thousands of Christians to live lives of faith and obedience to God, and led thousands to bring the gospel to people in countries around the world. Elisabeth Elliot died June 15 at age 88, but her legacy will continue through the lives transformed by her example. I knew her simply as “Aunt Betty,” as she was my father’s sister.

Elliot first entered the news in January 1956, when her husband, Jim Elliot, and four other missionaries were killed by a group of Auca Indians, today known as Waorani, in the deepest jungles of Ecuador. The five missionaries—three of them, like Elisabeth, were former students at Wheaton College in Illinois—felt called by God to bring the gospel to this fiercest of tribes, one that had no connections to the outside world.

After months of groundwork, the missionaries made friendly contact with three tribal members near the main Waorani village. But two days later, several warriors burst out of the jungle and speared and hacked the men to death. The missionaries were armed, but when the attack came they only fired their weapons into the air, as they had agreed they would in such an event. Why? Because they believed that they were ready to meet their maker, while the Waorani were not. The incident made headlines around the world, including articles in Life, Time and Reader’s Digest magazines.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissionsParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristologyEschatologySoteriology

2 Comments
Posted June 26, 2015 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The "greatest turning of Muslims to Jesus Christ in history" is taking place across the world, the author of a new book, on tour in the UK, suggests.

A Wind in the House of Islam, by Dr David Garrison, a missionary pioneer with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, documents a Muslim "movement to Christ" in more than 70 places across 29 countries. Converts, it says, now number between two and seven million.

Dr Garrison defines a "movement" as being at least 100 new churches started, or 1000 baptisms, within a 20-year period in one people group. He estimates that there have been 82 "movements" across the centuries, of which 69 began, or are continuing to unfold, in the 21st century.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryAdult EducationEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologySoteriology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two South Sudanese pastors whose legal plight is drawing comparisons to Meriam Ibrahim have been isolated by Sudan. They won’t be heard from until next Thursday, when a judge lets them speak in a Khartoum court.

The question is what role American advocacy played in their relocation to a higher-security prison earlier this month.

The families of Yat Michael (imprisoned for six months) and Peter Yen Reith (imprisoned for five months) were denied visitation on June 4. The day before, a vocal New York City pastor had attempted to visit the two Presbyterian pastors. A few days before that, a Virginia-based Christian TV network aired a telephone interview the two pastors gave from prison.

William Devlin, who pastors Infinity Bible Church in the Bronx, has long advocated for American pastors to travel to “hard, dangerous, difficult places” in support of persecuted Christians. Sudan ranks No. 6 among the world’s most difficult places to be a Christian.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudanAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to thee! Do not hide thy face from me in the day of my distress! Incline thy ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!

--Psalm 102:1-2

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Norvel Goff will walk into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for Bible study keenly aware of the crushing burden now on his shoulders: to be a comforter, a teacher, a man of God and most powerfully, a leader of a church whose heart is heavy with the tragic loss of its senior pastor and eight members.

"Even in the midst of tragedy, we still must press forward, and move forward with the understanding that we can still make this world, this community, and our nation a better place to live by living out our faith, not sitting down on it," Goff said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The 65-year-old Goff was named interim leader of the historic church called "Mother Emanuel" at one of the lowest points in its nearly 200-year history. But the Georgetown, South Carolina, native said the church won't dwell on the past, although the slain included the church's senior minister, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One week after the massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, scores of Summervillians gathered in Hutchinson Square to pray together.

The Christian prayer vigil, organized by the Summerville branch of the NAACP, featured uplifting hymns such as “Amazing Grace” and “We Shall Overcome” and pastors from several local churches, including some who knew the victims.

“I started to decline (the invitation to speak) at first because I was so overwhelmed,” said Pastor Kenneth Gerald.

But then, he said, he remembered the Psalm that calls out for the Lord to lead the overwhelmed to a high rock.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted June 25, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Felecia Sanders doesn’t remember sliding under the round table in the fellowship hall in the basement of Emanuel AME Church. Nor does she remember pulling her 11-year-old granddaughter down with her.

“It was the hand of God that put me under the table,” she later told friends.

But Sanders remembers the blood on the floor, the whispers to her granddaughter to “be still.” She remembers watching her son, Tywanza, 26, bloodied and clinging to life, crawling toward his dying great “auntie,” Susie Jackson, 87. And she remembers Tywanza reaching out, his last act in this world, to stroke Jackson’s soft, gray hair.

Sanders was one of only three people to live through the massacre at the historic church in Charleston last Wednesday, along with her granddaughter and Polly Sheppard, 70, a church trustee. This week, as the trio prepared to bury nine friends and loved ones — including the church pastor — friends say they are struggling with both immeasurable grief and humility over their improbable survival.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicy

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Posted June 25, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The victims' families are struggling with the private business of their own grief, using the language of Christian grace. This starts with the belief that God can forgive all sins. In turn, believers should try to do the same for the sake of their own souls and their own desire to live in harmony with God.

What too many whites seem to demand from these families' statements, however, isn't really grace. As the journalist Jamelle Bouie pointed out, people like Santorum insist on what the German theologian and anti-Nazi freedom fighter Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace" — the "preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance" from those who have sinned. The forgiveness they want is so cheap that I can only call it "Wal-Mart grace": low-priced but shoddy, destructive of real community and built on exploitation.

Whatever faith you profess — or don't — grace isn't cheap. It's one thing for a survivor of trauma to tell a handcuffed and doomed perpetrator that you forgive him. It's another thing to forgive those who can still harm you. You don't do that without a good reason to believe that the person who harmed you has changed into someone who will not do so again.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 25, 2015 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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