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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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After much deliberation and discussion we agreed on the following decisions:
1. We discussed the importance of unity among us. We affirmed the importance of blessing and encouraging each other. We are committed to working together for the expansion of God’s Kingdom.
2. We were happy to receive a report from Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina, which receives Primatial oversight from the Global South. We praise the Lord for his faithful stance in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. We studied the letter of invitation from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the upcoming Primates meeting. We have agreed to attend the meeting, and welcome the invitation for the Primates to suggest the items of the agenda. We appreciate this very helpful approach, one that gives us a sense of ownership and responsibility to our meeting. We agreed on the agenda items which we will request.
4. We grieved one more time at the unilateral decisions taken by the last General Convention of the Episcopal Church (TEC) in the USA to redefine marriage and to accept same-‐sex marriages (Resolutions A036 and A054). We see these latest resolutions as a clear departure from not only the accepted traditional teaching of the Anglican Communion, but also from that of the one Holy, Universal, and Apostolic Church, which upholds the scriptural view of marriage between one man and one woman. (Lambeth Resolution 1:10, 1998.)
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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.
The first Anglican theological college in Ethiopia, named after Saint Frumentius, has been officially opened by the Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Mouneer Anis. Ethiopia is part of Archbishop Mouneer's diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa.
For many years, St Matthew's Church in Addis Ababa was the only Anglican congregation in Ethiopia. But that changed with the arrival of large numbers of refugees arriving in the country seeking sanctuary from the protracted civil war in Sudan from the mid-1970s.
"Many of these new refugees were Anglican and they began churches in the refugee camps," the college said. "Later, Anglican churches were established in the villages of the Gambella region, in the west of Ethiopia.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East * International News & Commentary Africa Ethiopia * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
Pope Francis prayed at a shrine honoring Ugandan martyrs who died rather than renounce their faith on Saturday, amid hopes that his presence might ease the unrest that has emerged as the country prepares for next year’s election.
On the fourth of the pontiff’s six-day African tour, he honored a group of Catholic and Anglican martyrs who were burned alive after refusing to renounce their faith in the late 19th century. Earlier in the day, he visited sanctuaries honoring the Catholic and Anglican martyrs in the city of Namugongo and celebrated Mass to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their canonization.
The martyrs’ stories show that “fidelity to God, honesty and integrity of life, and genuine concern for the good of others bring us that peace that the world cannot give,” the pope said.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Uganda * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Teens / Youth * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology
By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
How shall we sing the LORD's song in a foreign land?
At first the rise of charter schools—to 7,000 today from 1,900 in 2000—was thought to be the nail in the coffin for Catholic education, which had been in decline for decades. Charters offer many of the same strengths as Catholic schools: order, kindness, discipline, high expectations (ideas initially borrowed from parochial institutions). But because charters are publicly funded, families don’t have to pay tuition. How could Catholic schools possibly compete with that?
Within the past few years, however, the borrowing has begun to go in the other direction, as Catholic schools poach staff from charter networks, draw from the same donors, and model their operations on charter successes. America’s usual miracle-workers—competition, civil society, entrepreneurial wealth and philanthropy—have come to the rescue of religious education.
Consider the Partnership for Inner-city Education, a nonprofit formed in 2010 to take responsibility for six Catholic schools serving disadvantaged children in Harlem and the South Bronx. The chairman of the Partnership’s board is Russ Carson, an equity-capital pioneer who also helped build KIPP charter schools in New York. Mr. Carson and fellow donors put millions of dollars into upgrading the campuses of these six Catholic schools.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The American student loan crisis is often seen as a problem of profligacy and predation. Wasteful colleges raise tuition every year, we are told, even as middle-class wages stagnate and unscrupulous for-profit colleges bilk the unwary. The result is mounting unmanageable debt.
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There is much truth in this diagnosis. But it does not explain the plight of Liz Kelley, a Missouri high school teacher and mother of four who made a series of unremarkable decisions about college and borrowing. She now owes the federal government $410,000, and counting.
This is a staggering and unusual sum. The average undergraduate who borrows leaves school with about $30,000 in debt. But Ms. Kelley’s circumstances are not unique. Of the 43.3 million borrowers with outstanding federal student loans, 1.8 percent, or 779,000 people, owe $150,000 or more. And 346,000 owe more than $200,000.
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Something he is keen to stress is the cross-faith work going on around climate change – particularly in light of the Pope’s encyclical, which he says has had a “huge” impact. Holtam himself recently presented to the Jewish Board of Deputies with former Friends of the Earth Director Jonathon Porritt. “There is a sense that we really want to work across the faith communities,” he says – pointing to an “ecumenical convergence” on the issue. The force of events – an “existential crisis” – was pushing faiths together to find a common solution. Indeed, our meeting coincided with a visit to London by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, who insisted at an event with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby that global warming is a “moral crisis” requiring behavioural change.
“What we need to move to is a low carbon economy and therefore there needs to be a positive investment into renewable energy,” Holtam says. “There’s going to become a tipping point at which there are stranded assets and the question is, who’s going to spot when that comes? Because there’ll be a moment when you’re much better off investing in renewables than you are in fossil fuel.” Holtam doesn’t engage directly with corporate executives directly, but what would he say to the senior people at BP and Shell? “There’s a community of common interest,” he observes.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Fine for teachers, but it can be tough on parents' schedules and wallets.
In fact, the district says the schedule is so unpopular with families that it expects to loose several hundred students to other school systems.
"My best friend, she and her family, her two brothers, they moved to a private school because of the four-day school week," says fifth-grader Chloe Florence. And that's bad news for Apache Junction Unified, which is funded on a per-student basis.
Jennifer Florence says it just doesn't add up, but her family has decided to stick it out.
"In a philosophical sense we believe very strongly in public education. So we are trying to support the system. Abandoning a ship, it will sink."
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Education Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance Politics in General State Government * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Surely the righteous shall give thanks to thy name; the upright shall dwell in thy presence.
Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is seemly. The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars, he gives to all of them their names. Great is our LORD, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. The LORD lifts up the downtrodden, he casts the wicked to the ground. Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God upon the lyre! He covers the heavens with clouds, he prepares rain for the earth, he makes grass grow upon the hills. He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens which cry. His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man; but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your sons within you. He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat. He sends forth his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He gives snow like wool; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes. He casts forth his ice like morsels; who can stand before his cold? He sends forth his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow. He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and ordinances to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his ordinances. Praise the LORD!
The Church of England has overwhelmingly backed military intervention in Syria to establish safe routes for refugees. The general synod voted yesterday in favour of a motion that the Archbishop of Canterbury said committed the church to supporting the use of armed force. Justin Welby said that if the motion was passed the “implications are enormous”, adding that he supported it.
It comes as David Cameron today reveals his “comprehensive strategy” for taking on Islamic State in Syria, designed to allay fears that airstrikes alone will not solve the crisis.
The prime minister said there was no “perfect strategy” but added that the UK could not wait for the arrival of a stable government in Syria capable of tackling Isis. “There is a clear and present danger to the United Kingdom from [Isis], based in Iraq and Syria, planning attacks against our country,” he told MPs.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary England / UK Middle East Syria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation; for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
For it stands in scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and he who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe,
“The very stone which the builders rejected
has become the head of the corner,”
“A stone that will make men stumble,
a rock that will make them fall”;
for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.
--1 Peter 2:2-10
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.
The other [unusual request] involved a lady who came in and wanted to discuss a DIY funeral. After asking a few questions I enquired as to whom the funeral was for. ‘Me’, she said. Seeing the potential challenges of this I looked to establish if she had any children. ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘But they couldn’t face doing it.’ I pointed out the pitfall that if they couldn’t face it, then it would certainly be a tricky proposition with her no longer being around to help. There was a sudden look of comprehension as she said: ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve been such a fool – of course! But it’s been nice talking with you’.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * General Interest Humor / Trivia * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Eschatology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
I once found myself working closely, in a cathedral fundraising campaign, with a local millionaire. He was a self-made man. When I met him he was in his 60s, at the top of his game as a businessman, and was chairing our Board of Trustees. To me, coming from the academic world, he was a nightmare to work with.
He never thought in (what seemed to me) straight lines; he would leap from one conversation to another; he would suddenly break into a discussion and ask what seemed a totally unrelated question. But after a while I learned to say to myself: Well, it must work, or he wouldn’t be where he is. And that was right. We raised the money. We probably wouldn’t have done it if I’d been running the Trust my own way.
I have something of the same feeling on re-reading C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. I owe Lewis a great debt. In my late teens and early twenties I read everything of his I could get my hands on, and read some of his paperbacks and essays several times over. There are sentences, and some whole passages, I know pretty much by heart.
Millions around the world have been introduced to, and nurtured within, the Christian faith through his work where their own preachers and teachers were not giving them what they needed. That was certainly true of me.
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I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Every one there is filled full of what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world. No one's eyes can see very far beyond that: lots of people's eyes can see further than mine.--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Chapter 12 ("Faith"; emphasis mine) [Hat tip:JH]
You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused be wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.--C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy (Harcourt Brace, 1956), p.228
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!
“If ISIS is allowed to define the terms of this engagement then they’ve pretty much won the battle. We have to understand them and meet them where they’re coming from but not capitulate, not really surrender to the terror they’re trying to spread, because that’s the victory they are looking for,” says Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Media Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Europe France * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam * Theology
The disappearance of hell is not simply a curious episode in the evolution of Christianity. On the contrary it presupposes a profound disruption, a revolutionary restructuring. A Christianity without hell is something completely different than a Christianity with hell--Robert Joly, "Petite histoire de l'enfer," in Jean Préaux, ed., Problèmes d'histoire du Christianisme 2 (1970-1971) (Université Libre de Bruxelles, Institut d'Histoire du Christianisme), p. 27.
“For such an attack, involving so many people, it must have been decided near the highest level,” said Claude Moniquet, a former French intelligence official who heads the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center. The Islamic State’s military operation, whose senior leaders include numerous former military officials from Iraq, “would never let someone below them direct a strategic operation.”
The roots of the attacks — which struck France’s largest stadium, a crowded concert hall, and a series of restaurants and cafes — may be visible in the suspects’ path to radicalization.
While their stories vary — one had been a student, another a bus driver, another a bar owner — many came from Muslim families that were neither fundamentalist nor extreme. Their radicalization appears to have happened over just the past few years, or even a couple of months.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Europe France * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology
O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever!
In the five months since the horrific shooting at Emanuel AME Church left her mother dead, Nadine Collier hasn’t watched the news much, not given what’s on there so often.
But she heard about the shooting at a Paris concert hall. The nightmarish thoughts returned, fresh reminders of the loss of her mother, 70-year-old Ethel Lance.
“When I heard about it, I just prayed,” Collier said. “But I don’t want to be remembering back. I don’t ever want to go back.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * International News & Commentary Europe France * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the wickedness of its inhabitants. He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields, and plant vineyards, and get a fruitful yield. By his blessing they multiply greatly; and he does not let their cattle decrease. 39 When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, trouble, and sorrow, he pours contempt upon princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; but he raises up the needy out of affliction, and makes their families like flocks. The upright see it and are glad; and all wickedness stops its mouth. Whoever is wise, let him give heed to these things; let men consider the steadfast love of the LORD.
Some of the biggest issues facing humanity will form the basis of study at a new international institute to be based at the University of St Andrews.
The Logos Institute, which takes its name from the Greek meaning ‘word’ or ‘study’ but which is also used in John’s Gospel with reference to the incarnation, will be a centre for excellence in the study of analytic and exegetical theology.
The range of questions it will consider concern the existence and nature of God, God’s relationship to time, the nature of the person and the conceptual and social challenges confronting religious belief. The latter will include interdisciplinary analysis of the challenges of religious hostility, sectarianism and, indeed, terrorism.
The institute is being launched by a £1.6 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation which supports research relating to the major questions of human purpose and ultimate reality.
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At first it seems like a heartwarming partnership: Christians join with a prominent nonprofit that purports to save puppies and kittens. But this new movement, ostensibly aimed at reminding Christians of their duty to protect animals, is peddling a theologically questionable and overtly political agenda.
This fall appeared the initiative Every Living Thing, spearheaded by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a national group that doesn’t manage local pet shelters, despite public perceptions. More than 1,000 Christians have signed a statement invoking the Bible to note that animals are an “especially vulnerable subset of all God’s creatures” that “can be most subject to irresponsible and cruel treatment by humans.”
For centuries Christians have debated animal theology. Last year newspapers reported incorrectly that Pope Francis had assured an aching young boy whose pet had died that “we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ.” Christine Gutleben, director of faith outreach at HSUS, said the pope’s comments seemed to imply “that animals have a soul.” As it turned out, the media mangled the facts. Pope Francis never said such a thing, though in the 1970s Pope Paul VI alluded—pastorally, not as a matter of doctrine—to the idea that all dogs go to heaven.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources Politics in General * General Interest Animals * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Church of England is attempting to clarify its rights over church schools when the Education and Adoption Bill becomes law next year.
At present, there is uncertainty over the position of diocesan boards of education when, under a provision in the Bill, an inadequate school can be forcibly transferred to academy status under a different provider.
The Government has strongly resisted amendments to the Bill, which is intended to speed up the improvement of schools that are giving cause for concern. This will be achieved, the Government argues, by giving Ministers the right to force failing schools to become academies, and circumvent local consultation and objections that have hitherto delayed the process.
Instead of being secured in legislation, the Church’s position will be set out in a Memorandum of Understanding associated with the Bill.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Children Education Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
And what about the Christians from the Middle East? Are they part of a resettlement plan into Europe or the United States? Sadly, the Department of State does not support a “special” category to bring, for example, Assyrian Christians into the United States, even though private donors have offered complete funding for the airfare and the resettlement in the United States of Assyrian and other Iraqi Christians. It is a particularly absurd irony for U.S. government officials to say that Christian refugees from the Middle East will not be supported because of their religious affiliation, even though it is precisely their religious affiliation that makes them candidates for asylum based upon a credible fear of ISIS persecution.
To the consternation of the United States and European Union officials (and much of the mainstream media), several EU countries have said that they will admit refugees from the Middle East, but only those who are Christians, and no Moslems need apply. Slovakia is one such country, and I have been informed that intra-governmental task forces in at least two other European nations are contemplating similar action, though no official actions have been announced. However, EU Commission spokeswoman Annika Breithard has stressed that EU states are banned from “any form of discrimination.” Thus, Christians from the Middle East have been driven out of their homes by ISIS and other terrorists, but are given little protection or safe havens as refugees, notwithstanding international law. Yes, we should watch and pray, but we must also remember our obligation from Galatians 6:10, which reads, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Europe Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Even after the Paris atrocities, the West still isn’t joining up the dots. The free world was shocked by 9/11, shocked by the 7/7 London bombings, shocked by the 2008 onslaught in Mumbai, shocked by January’s Paris massacres at Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket.
Now it is shocked by Isis, which it presents as “nihilists”. So they just happen to be the same type of nihilists as al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Jaysh al-Islam and Boko Haram.
By an amazing coincidence, these all just happen to have the same aim: to spread Islam through holy war using the same tactics of shootings, stabbings, beheadings, disembowelling and human bomb attacks.
Theresa May fatuously said of the Paris attacks that they had “nothing to do with Islam”. David Cameron inched towards realism by saying on Monday night it was “not good enough” to “deny any connection between the religion of Islam and the extremist”. Yet on other occasions he says Islamic terror is a “perversion” of the religion.
Such contortions are an attempt to avoid lumping all Muslims together. But Islam is simply what Muslims practise.
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Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They will perish, but thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment. Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away; but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.
Most importantly, we shouldn’t allow our domestic controversy over refugees to cloud the larger issue of what is driving the refugee crisis in the first place—a death cult with aspirations of regional or global dominance. Christian communities that have been in the Middle East since literally the Book of Acts are in danger of extinction, as are those who are in need of hearing the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
We cannot love our neighbors at the same we’re standing aside and watching them be slaughtered. The Bible grants the state the power and mandate to use force to protect the innocent. That means both engaging ISIS with a strong military response and doing what is in our power to shield the innocent from terror. Anything less is not a sufficiently Christian response.
We cannot forget our brothers and sisters in peril. And we cannot seal ourselves off from our mission field. An entire generation of those fleeing genocide will be asking whether there is an alternative to the toxic religion they’ve seen.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Immigration Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East Syria * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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In targeting Abdelhamid Abaaoud in a raid, French authorities aimed to remove from Islamic State’s ranks a prominent figure who they said blended his battlefield experience in Syria with a network of associates in Europe to mastermind one of the bloodiest terror attacks in French history.
In Syria, the Belgian was a military commander, or “emir of war,” in eastern Deir Ezzour province, according to local activists and news reports, an unusually high rank for a fighter who hailed from Europe. Friends from his early life in Brussels, in the predominantly Muslim district of Molenbeek, recall a “nice guy” who played soccer.
In Paris, officials say the 28-year-old militant assembled a potent arsenal that he planned to deploy against multiple additional targets—including Paris’ La Defense business district—following the attacks that investigators say he coordinated against a stadium, concert hall and other locales, killing 129 people.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Europe Belgium France * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology
In other words, for most Evangelicals, Islam is the problem because it warrants the violence of jihadi groups. The claim is not without grounds. Contrary to repeated Muslim denials, key aspects of the ideology of radical violent Muslim groups are indeed rooted in Islamic texts and history. Al-Qaeda, IS, and Boko Haram have their origins mainly in Wahhabi and Salafi thought. These are traditions of fundamentalist Islamic interpretation that have widespread influence across the Muslim world. Founding leaders of jihadi groups have either been students of leading Wahhabi-Salafi scholars or were inspired by their works.
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O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually!
‘Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast that which is good; render to no one evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honour everyone; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.’ (from the service for Remembrance Sunday SPCK)
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Spirituality/Prayer * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * Theology
As de Gaulle stated in a 1962 press conference:
I do not believe that Europe can have any living reality if it does not include France and her Frenchmen, Germany and its Germans, Italy and its Italians, and so forth. Dante, Goethe, Chateaubriand belong to all Europe to the very extent that they were respectively and eminently Italian, German, and French. They would not have served Europe very well if they had been stateless, or if they had thought and written in some type of integrated Esperanto or Volapük.It is hard to imagine contemporary European politicians speaking like this today. That illustrates the extent to which many European leaders—political, economic, and religious—and a good number of Europe’s citizens have invested their hopes in the bloodless administrative structures that promote top-down technocratic solutions to problems that simply cannot be solved through such means. The problem is that without an animating, morally uplifting vision—be it a humanism informed by and rooted in Judeo-Christianity, de Gaulle’s Europe des Patries, a confidence that one belongs to a civilization with a unique character worth preserving, or some combination of these things—Europe’s moral and cultural hollowing-out will continue amidst an Indian summer of managed decline and self-loathing. This makes it vulnerable to agitation from within, whether it’s from hard nationalists of right and left, or those who wish that the siege of Vienna and the battle of Tours had turned out differently.
At the end of his life, de Gaulle was pessimistic about Europe’s long-term fate. He didn’t think it would succumb to the then very real Soviet threat. Communism, he believed, contradicted key aspects of human nature; hence, it couldn’t last. But the death of European self-belief, already well advanced among many of Western Europe’s intellectuals, according to de Gaulle, was a far more serious long-term threat to Europe.
Unfortunately, I fear, le général will be proven right.
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Faith-based groups, who play a key role in resettling refugees to the United States, say they are dismayed by the wave of anti-refugee fervor set off by the Paris terrorist attacks and are urging supporters to contact elected officials on behalf of victims of the Syrian civil war.
Evangelical Christians, as well as Christians more broadly, are a core group in the Republican electoral base and are among the most passionate advocates for aiding refugees.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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France, Russia and the U.S. moved beyond talk of cooperation and into the far more difficult realm of action, as the “grand and single coalition” French President François Hollande called for to combat Islamic State began coming into view.
President Barack Obama said Wednesday that if Russia shifts its military strategy in Syria to focus on Islamic State, the U.S. would welcome cooperation with Moscow on an intensified military campaign. He said he conveyed that message to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting in Turkey earlier this week.
“That is something that we very much want to see,” Mr. Obama said while in the Philippines for a summit of Asian nations.
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Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, and spoke to me, saying, "Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb." And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed; on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
We tried everything to help Matthew, from acceptance and enabling to tough love, but the trajectory was not a good one and its ending has scarred and devastated our lives forever. I cannot say with certainty that if we had been able to force treatment on Matthew, including anti-psychotic medications, that he would have survived. In addition to suffering from anosognosia, Matthew became very religious after his break, embracing his Judaism, keeping kosher, and he was convinced that taking medication was dishonorable and would offend God.
But I do know that for many, treatment saves lives. The true insanity is that our laws leave those who suffer to fend for themselves. But Congress is now ready to grapple with the issue in a bipartisan bill introduced by Tim Murphy, a Republican from Pennsylvania and the only clinical psychologist in the House, and Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Democrat from Texas who is a psychiatric nurse.
The bill is not perfect. But it does many things to improve the financing, treatment and delivery of services across the range of mental illnesses, and in particular it has provisions aimed directly at helping those like my son.
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Nods and exhalations of “uh-huh” from the crowd give the brief sense of a revival meeting, making it easy to forget that Hayhoe is, first and foremost, a scientist. The 43-year-old Ph.D. made her name building localized statistical models (“downscaling,” in the argot of her field), which governments from California to Massachusetts use to prepare for a future onslaught of drought, or unprecedented rainfall. She currently heads up the Climate Science Center of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and has contributed to reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Later this month, she’ll appear at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris on behalf of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a 46-year-old organization devoted to promoting a healthier, safer planet.
But here in the beating heart of Christian America, she’s an apostle of her discipline, faced with a daunting challenge. Of all U.S. religious groups, white evangelical Protestants are least likely to believe in human-caused planetary warming: Only 11 per cent accept the idea, compared to 46 per cent of the broader U.S. population. Yet no movement punches further above its political weight, bringing cash and votes to Republicans who voice their doubts and fears in Washington. If you belong to the 97 per cent of climate scientists who regard global warming as real, man-made and potentially catastrophic, this deep fracture in U.S. politics is an enormous problem.
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The truth is that the majority of Muslims are law abiding people who are horrified by the slaughter of innocents in Paris as much as anyone else. The truth though is also that all religions are not the same. We cannot separate Islam from the current crisis we face. We might like to think that it is possible to shoehorn all Islamic practice and theology into a culture of Judeo-Christian human rights, but it is not that simple. A poll earlier this year found that 3 in 10 Muslims think that their faith is incompatible with British values. Other surveys in recent years have found large minorities in favour of introducing Sharia law to the UK or that killing in the name of religion is justified. Our government is spending £40m a year on its Prevent strategy trying to stop the radicalisation of some of our Muslims in a way that our mosques are unable to do.
In an open and genuinely tolerant society, we should be able to ask the difficult questions of others with different views and beliefs and expect a productive dialogue that builds understanding and agreement. Instead we pussyfoot around too scared to criticise aspects of the Islamic faith in a way that we freely do with Christianity, for fear of being accused of Islamaphobia or racism or both.
Read it all and follow the links from the Archbishop Cranmer blog.
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Justice demands respect of the other. It plays on the collective memory of people who are in covenantal communities: Your people, too, were once vulnerable strangers in a strange land.
The command is not just to be empathetic toward strangers, which is fragile. The command is to pursue sanctification, which involves struggle and sometimes conquering your selfish instincts. Moreover, God frequently appears where he is least expected — in the voice of the stranger — reminding us that God transcends the particulars of our attachments.
The reconciliation between love and justice is not simple, but for believers the texts, read properly, point the way. Sacks’s great contribution is to point out that the answer to religious violence is probably going to be found within religion itself, among those who understand that religion gains influence when it renounces power.
It may seem strange that in this century of technology, peace will be found within these ancient texts. But as Sacks points out, Abraham had no empire, no miracles and no army — just a different example of how to believe, think and live.
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Xavier Nogueras, a defense lawyer in Paris, represents twenty French citizens accused of jihadism. A few of his clients are violent and dangerous, he said, but many went to Syria out of idealism, wanting to defend other Muslims against the Assad regime and build an Islamic state. He argued that such people pose no threat to France and that the state shouldn’t permanently embitter them with years of detention. Nogueras resisted tracing his clients’ motives to social conditions in the banlieues. Few have criminal backgrounds; some had well-paid jobs in large French companies. “The most surprising thing to me is their immense humanity,” Nogueras said. He finds jihadists more interesting than the drug dealers and robbers he’s represented. “They have more to say—many more ideas. Their sacred book demands the application of Sharia, which tells them to cover their wives, not to live in secularism. And we are in a country that inevitably stigmatizes them, because it’s secular. They don’t feel at home here.”
I found the lawyer’s distinction between jihadism at home and abroad less than reassuring. Coulibaly’s faith could have led him to kill people in Paris or in Syria; violence driven by ideology could happen anywhere. The “idealism” of clients motivated to make Sharia universal law is, in some ways, more worrying than simple thuggery: even if France dedicates itself urgently to making its Muslims full-fledged children of the republic, a small minority of them will remain, on principle, irreconcilable.
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The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are round about him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him, and burns up his adversaries round about. His lightnings lighten the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.
The hunt for those responsible for the Paris terrorist attacks escalated on Monday as French officials identified a 27-year-old Belgian who fought for the Islamic State in Syria as the chief architect of the assaults and the police in France and Belgium conducted extensive raids seeking other suspects.
Three days after the attacks, which killed 129 people, French and Belgian security services were focused on the role of the Belgian, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who is among the most prominent Islamic State fighters to have come out of Belgium and has been linked to a series of previous terrorist plots.
A French official briefed on the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss operational details, said Mr. Abaaoud had mentioned plans to attack “a concert hall” to a French citizen who returned from Syria.
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“The deductible, $3,000 a year, makes it impossible to actually go to the doctor,” said David R. Reines, 60, of Jefferson Township, N.J., a former hardware salesman with chronic knee pain. “We have insurance, but can’t afford to use it.”
In many states, more than half the plans offered for sale through HealthCare.gov, the federal online marketplace, have a deductible of $3,000 or more, a New York Times review has found. Those deductibles are causing concern among Democrats — and some Republican detractors of the health law, who once pushed high-deductible health plans in the belief that consumers would be more cost-conscious if they had more of a financial stake or skin in the game.
“We could not afford the deductible,” said Kevin Fanning, 59, who lives in North Texas, near Wichita Falls. “Basically I was paying for insurance I could not afford to use.”
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Once again, the world has been shocked by acts of unspeakable violence and brutality. Once again, the world mourns with the families and friends of victims of tragedy. Once again, the world searches for meaning and hope in the terrible wreckage left in the wake of such dehumanizing hatred, senseless bloodshed, and unparalleled loss.
In this time of grief, it is all too easy to see the path the world has laid out for us. It is the path of retributive justice, of reciprocate hatred, of fear and anger. This is the way the world moves; the way governments, militaries, and judicial systems function. But it is at this critical time that we must ask ourselves what our role must be in the aftermath of such tragedy.
The best we can possibly do is to look to the most enduring response to violence and death that there is. The death by crucifixion of Jesus Christ, some two thousand years ago. Unjust powers, motivated by anger and fear, murdered the very incarnation of God. What became of this greatest travesty? God forged it into the greatest triumph over evil that Creation has yet seen. And what of the one who became the victim in our place? “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
In the very darkest hour, Jesus called upon God for forgiveness. We see this message in his teachings, and then echoed in his living and his dying. Profound forgiveness. Profound mercy. Profound grace.
In 2006, an armed man entered a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He shot ten girls between 6 and 13 years old, five of whom died, and then committed suicide. The response of the Amish community was swift. Within hours of the shooting, an Amish neighbor had visited the family of the gunman and offered comfort and forgiveness. Standing by the body of his murdered granddaughter, a grandfather told several young boys “We must not think evil of this man”. Some 30 of the Amish community attended the funeral of the assailant, and one of the few outsiders permitted to the funeral of one of the Amish girls was the man’s widow.
I sometimes wonder at the capacity of humankind for such forgiveness, but then I realise that I am merely wondering at God’s grace. I look back to the earliest words of the Bible and find that in Genesis 1:27 we were created in the image of God and that in verse 31 God saw everything that had been made and “it was supremely good”.
And, even though much has happened since God set those mighty intentions into play, I hold God’s words close from 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” And in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength”.
Perhaps it is in the darkest hours that the light shines out the brightest, that the vision of the kingdom is clearest, no matter how distant. The path to that kingdom is never so clearly laid, but the vision is there. It is a vision of all nations streaming forward, all division cast aside, all conflict passed, Jew and Gentile together.
So today I mourn for all the victims of this unthinkable violence. I mourn for their family. And their family is this world. Every last person is their neighbor. Every last person is a victim of this tragedy—violence is indeed an evil which harms both victim and perpetrator. I pray for the citizens of Paris, for the country of France, for Europe, for every country the world over, as they bow their heads from the weight of death and useless violence as it continues to visit itself upon brother after brother, sister after sister. I pray for healing, for forgiveness, and for hope in the hearts of the affected families. Wrong has been done, and there is not one person on this world who is not a victim of it.
And I pray that through it all, the goodness of God will continue to shine through. The goodness that was there at the moment of creation, that was created anew in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and that continues to be created as the kingdom of heaven struggles forth in the darkest of times and places.
I pray for forgiveness. I pray for grace. I pray for peace.
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I will sing of thy steadfast love, O LORD, for ever; with my mouth I will proclaim thy faithfulness to all generations. For thy steadfast love was established for ever, thy faithfulness is firm as the heavens.
In a thoroughly researched and extensively updated classic called Money, Possessions, and Eternity, Randy Alcorn illustrates the necessity of rethinking our perspectives on money and possessions – Christians must view them as God's provision for our good, the good of others, and His glory.
Alcorn presents a biblical and comprehensive view of money and possessions, including the following:
• Why is money so important to God?
• Is prosperity theology right or wrong?
• How can we be liberated from materialism?
• What should we do about debt?
• How much does God want us to give?
• How can we best help the poor and reach the lost?
• What about gambling? investing? insurance? saving? retirement? inheritance?
• How can we leave our children a true heritage?
• How can we use money in ways that God rewards?
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“In the face of this brutality, the human family, all people of faith and of good will, must stand together to recommit to respecting and caring for one another, to protecting one another, and to preventing such violence."
“We cannot and do not accept that such a terrorist atrocity can ever be justified in the name of God or of any religion. Violence in the name of religion is violence against religion. We condemn, reject and denounce it. Let us confront it by holding firm to and upholding the democratic, intercultural and human rights values that this terrorism seeks to attack.”
Read it all and follow the links.
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Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.
--Psalm 66: 8-9
On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God.
But more important than any of these is the PR disaster for the Church of England that this case has already created. The public simply does not comprehend why the Church’s official bodies, as opposed to its members generally, are so set against same-sex marriage.
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It is lawful to reject a candidate for a bishopric because of his or her public statements about sexuality, newly published guidance from the Church of England states.
The document, which dates from March, but has only now been posted on the Church’s website, sets out what a Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) can take into account when considering a candidate for a vacant see. “The CNC can . . . lawfully take into account the content and manner of any public statements previously made by him or her about the Church’s traditional teaching on same-sex relations,” the guidance says.
But it also states that “The mere fact that a candidate had publicly questioned the Church of England’s teaching on human sexuality . . . would not be sufficient to raise any issue from this point of view: that is something that clergy are free to do.
“An issue could only arise as a result of the way in which that disagreement had been expressed.”
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Dost thou work wonders for the dead? Do the shades rise up to praise thee?...Is thy steadfast love declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in Abaddon? Are thy wonders known in the darkness, or thy saving help in the land of forgetfulness?
In this tomb, also, you may see, A pledge to us...Yes, verily, it is a pledge,
Of Christ's power to raise us to a spiritual life — The resurrection of Christ is set forth in the Scriptures as a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers; and by the very same power too, that effected that. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul draws the parallel with a minuteness and accuracy that are truly astonishing. He prays for them, that they may know what is the exceeding greatness of God's power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places." And then he says, concerning them, "God, who is rich in mercy, of his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us usi together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus^" Here, I say, you see Christ dead, quickened, raised, and seated in glory; and his believing people quickened from their death in sins, and raised with him, and seated too with him in the highest heavens. The same thing is stated also, and the same parallel is drawn in the Epistle to the Romans ; where it is said, "We are buried with Christ by baptism into death; that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." But can this be effected in us ? I answer, Behold the tomb ! Who raised the Lord Jesus? He himself said, " I have power to lay down my life, and power to take it up again...."
--"Horae homileticae, Sermon 1414
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The agency of Satan in the affairs of man cannot be doubted by any one who really believes the representations given us in this inspired volume. His great employment from the very first has been to seduce men to sin.
----Charles Simeon, Horae Homileticae MCCLXXVI
When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the LORD delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked; and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
For the next 30 days, Edwards was made to sit, lie and crawl unprotected across open fields while gaseous clouds floated down on him and the other men with little to no medical attention. When the trial ended, Edwards was told never to speak of what had happened to him or he’d face 40 years in prison. He readily agreed, knowing that his claustrophobia would make life in a cell unbearable.
[Rollins] Edwards had no idea what happened to the other men in the study group. He rejoined his unit and was sent overseas with the Army’s 1329th Engineers, seeing duty in Europe and in the Pacific. The decay of his skin, however, had just begun.
Decades later, Edwards’ involvement would finally be acknowledged in 1993, when declassified government documents were released proving that military leaders had deliberately used their own soldiers to test the effects of exposure to mustard gas and other agents. As many as 60,000 enlisted men were subjected to similar such experiments, later investigations showed, though it’s widely accepted they primarily targeted black GIs, along with Puerto Rican and Japanese-American minorities as well.
Edwards, though, is one of the few in the test who survive.
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And Nehemi′ah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.
The archbishops at the meeting support Lambeth I.10 – the resolution on human sexuality from the 1998 Lambeth Conference. The Grand Imam raised changes to traditional teaching on the subject by some Anglican churches, saying that the issue in the west was seen from the viewpoint of human rights rather than a moral and ethical issue. “I personally see this as an insult to [the teaching of] Jesus Christ by one of His own churches,” he said.
The issue was also discussed when the archbishops met the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II. “We need to stand firm and keep the Church traditions,” he told them. “If this issue is a human rights one, where is God the Creator’s right?”
In their discussions, the leaders welcomed the latest achievements of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission, and particularly the historic agreed statement on Christology.
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The theme of this first meeting has been ‘The Nature of Communion’ drawing on the New Testament word koinonia, being invoked today to describe the nature of the interrelationships between churches.
As part of its preliminary reflection on the nature of communion, there were presentations and discussion on the topic from the perspectives of the Old and New Testaments, and Church history. Seventeenth century English Reformed theology was put in dialogue with contemporary Orthodox theology. The African concept of Ubuntu was placed in dialogue with New Testament understandings of communion. The perspectives on communion from recent WCC document The Church: Towards A Common Vision played an important role in the conversation. Communion in relation to understandings of the nature of community and of Holy Communion proved a helpful part of the discussion.
The dialogue began with a celebration of Holy Communion using a liturgy of the United Reformed Church at which the Anglican Co-Chair preached, and closed with a celebration of Holy Communion according to the Scottish Episcopal liturgy, at which the Reformed Co-Chair preached. The members of the dialogue prayed together each morning and evening.
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I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders which he has wrought.
He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children;
that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments....
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The Ashley Madison hack may have faded from the headlines but one of its key revelations lingers on in our cultural conversations about sex.
It's present in more recent offerings like Rachel Hills's book The Sex Myth: The Gap Between Our Fantasies and Reality and the romantic comedy Sleeping with Other People, currently showing in cinemas.
That this theme should crop up so repeatedly suggests that we need to be constantly reminded of it - no great surprise, really, since sex is often something that can (if you pardon the phrase) screw with our thinking, feeling, and desiring.
What each of these sex stories reinforces, again and again, is that all of us have great sexpectations that remain, frequently, unfulfilled.
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At least 100 students at a high school in Cañon City traded naked pictures of themselves, the authorities said Friday, part of a large sexting ring.
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The revelation has left parents outraged, administrators searching for missed clues, and the police and the district attorney’s office debating whether to file child pornography charges — including felony charges — against some of the participants.
George Welsh, the superintendent of the Cañon City school system, said students at Cañon City High School had been circulating 300 to 400 nude photographs, including images of “certainly over 100 different kids,” on their cellphones. “This is a lot of kids involved,” he said, adding that the children in the pictures were believed to be students at the high school as well as eighth graders from the middle school.
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Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou who leadest Joseph like a flock! Thou who art enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth before E'phraim and Benjamin and Manas'seh! Stir up thy might, and come to save us!
First Presbyterian Church of San Antonio overwhelmingly voted Sunday to leave its denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), citing what supporters of the outcome called an increasingly progressive social justice agenda and a drift from the authority of Scripture.
Read it all and you can find the links to all the key documentation there.
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Losing cultural influence is a necessary corrective to conflating Christian witness with political and cultural dominance. Christian witness is never a guarantee of success.
But there is something missing in many descriptions of this “from below” moment. Evangelical Christians are not, and have never been, a monolith. Sweeping statements about past dominance and present dislocation show that, for many, evangelicals of color remain Ralph Ellison’s “invisible man.”
Many Hispanic, Asian, and African American evangelicals are not having a “Chicken Little” moment. Our sky is not falling, because we have lived under fallen skies for years. Conservative Christians have been disproportionately affected by racism, immigration, poverty, and denial of voting rights (to name a few issues) for decades and centuries. Why did lack of progress on these issues not arouse similar concerns long ago?
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Amid the stresses of the dot-com bust and the Great Recession, it was only white Americans who turned increasingly to drugs, liquor and quietus.
Why only them? One possible solution is suggested by a paper from 2012, whose co-authors include Andrew Cherlin and Brad Wilcox, leading left and right-leaning scholars, respectively, of marriage and family.
Noting that religious practice has fallen faster recently among less-educated whites than among less-educated blacks and Hispanics, their paper argues that white social institutions, blue-collar as well as white-collar, have long reflected a “bourgeois moral logic” that binds employment, churchgoing, the nuclear family and upward mobility.
But in an era of stagnating wages, family breakdown, and social dislocation, this logic no longer seems to make as much sense.
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Heroin is no longer only an inner-city problem.
Users are young, educated and often fighting an uphill battle to stay clean while deep in the clutches of a disease that is far from free of stigma.
And the highly addictive drug’s increased use and potency have led to overdose deaths rising dramatically in the nation, state and Lowcountry.
Reported opioid deaths across the state jumped 118 percent from 237 in 2013 to 516 in 2014, a trend mirrored in the tri-county area, according to data from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Read it all from the local paper.
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The current American landscape includes more liberal churches that are doing their best to join the sexual revolution and conservative churches that cannot follow. Simple honesty requires acknowledgment that it is the conservative churches that are teaching what Christianity has taught for two millennia.
We are told that holding to biblical authority and the historic Christian faith will lead to our marginalization.
Perhaps so, but it is the more liberal churches that have been hemorrhaging members by the millions for the last four decades and, even in a secularizing age, it is the most secularized denominations that have suffered the greatest membership losses.
We do understand what is at stake in terms of the human judgment of history, but we are far more concerned about the divine verdict of eternity.
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...the Church’s fundamental response to the Enlightenment Bible must be refusal: The Enlightenment Bible is not our Bible. Scripture has many authors, it makes use of many sources, and it is written—if we may be excused an unhelpful anachronism—in various genres. Academic scholarship has pointed all of this out, sometimes with insight, often to the point of tedium, and at times quite erroneously.
Yet Christians believe that the Bible is a unified book of books with theological and literary coherence. We believe that the Bible is such because the same God who spoke the world into existence spoke again and again through angels and prophets to Israel, and spoke again in the last days through his Son who is his eternal Word. This divine author did not grope from beginning to end, or vice versa, but knew the end at the beginning because he is the Lord who is, who was, and who comes.
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At the set time which I appoint I will judge with equity. When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars....
For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up; but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.
--Psalm 75: 2-3; 6-7
Q:Your article on homesickness was very thought-provoking. Many of my peers and I relocated in our sixties. Although we volunteer, attend houses of worship, have friends and travel, many of us are still lonely for home and sometimes depressed because of it. Has anyone studied this?
A:People of all ages can feel homesick, and longing for the security and comfort of a past home can increase with age, according to a few studies that have included healthy elderly participants.
People often look for new sources of identity as their relationship with career and past colleagues fade. A 2004 study by Norwegian researchers found that elderly Danes and Pakistanis who had settled in Norway decades earlier identified more strongly with their native countries as they grew older, bringing a feeling of homesickness. Connecting to their cultural heritage by decorating their homes with related artwork or talking about their memories supported self-esteem and helped make up for age-related losses in other areas, researchers found.
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In less than two weeks I will be delivering a paper in Atlanta at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Philosophical Society (EPS). It is a group in which I have held membership since 1988. It meets every year with the much larger academic alliance, the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). I was the 57th President of ETS before I resigned both my presidency and membership in May 2007, a week after I had been received back into the Catholic Church of my youth.
Since November 2007 I have participated in five EPS/ETS meetings. Some Catholic friends have expressed amazement (and dismay) that I still identify (with the appropriate caveats) as an Evangelical of a sort, even though I have, in many venues, offered critical assessments of aspects of the dominant streams of Evangelical theology that part ways with what the Catholic Church teaches.
So, for example, I have argued against the Reformers’ understanding of justification, for apostolic succession, the sacrament of penance, and transubstantiation, and for the permissibility of accepting theistic evolution (though, of course, rejecting philosophical naturalism). I explained in 2010 and 2011 how my own internal deliberations on the nature of the Reformation were instrumental in my return to the Catholic Church. And yet, I find myself back again at EPS/ETS among scholars, writers, and teachers who, with few exceptions, disagree with me on these matters. Why do I do it? There are two reasons.
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The old image of the “middle class” as an aspirational state of being – upward mobility coupled with a measure of financial stability – hasn’t disappeared. But it’s under stress as much as at any time in the postwar era. Fewer Americans these days call themselves middle class, and many who do use that label see it as a badge of struggle as much as a badge of opportunity.
The middle class is being redefined partly by demographics. In 1970, fully 40 percent of US households were married couples with at least one child under 18 years old. By 2012 that share had declined to 20 percent of US households – a shift that includes more single-parent breadwinners. It’s also being redefined by a changing job market – notably by the rising importance of education on résumés, as well as the disappearance of punch-the-timecard jobs in offices and factories that once produced comfortable lifestyles but were vulnerable to automation.
All this doesn’t mean that living standards for average middle-income families are languishing in a state of permanent deterioration. A good deal of evidence suggests that’s not the case. And while some deride the insecurity of the Gig Economy – the growing legions of people doing freelance, contract, temporary, or other independent work – the changing job market has a bright side for many Americans: greater flexibility, creativity, and self-determination for one’s career.
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Children and adults are being harmed by the widespread availability and use of pornography in society, the Bishop of Chester has warned.
The Rt Revd Peter Forster, leading a debate in the House of Lords on the impact of pornography on society, called for action in the face of evidence showing the damaging impact of pornograhy on adults as well as children and young people.
Speaking to peers, Bishop Peter highlighted the exposure of children to harmful sexualised content online.
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Women who were raped in churches are among the victims of mass atrocities perpetrated during South Sudan’s 22-month civil conflict, the long-awaited report of the African Union’s Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, published last week, shows.
The Commission documents acts of “extreme cruelty”, including brutal killings, the mutilation of bodies, and forced cannibalism.
The abuses were conducted “in a systematic manner and in most cases with extreme brutality”, it says. Witnesses in Juba reported sexual violence against women committed by both parties to the conflict, and “extreme cruelty exercised through mutilation of bodies, burning of bodies, draining human blood from people who had just been killed and forcing others from one ethnic community to drink the blood or eat burnt human flesh”.
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Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Queensland's proposal to reinstate civil partnerships for straight and same-sex couples has received support from Anglicans and Baptists, while other Christians continue to oppose the move.
Of the 30 submissions to the parliamentary committee, most were in support of the return to civil partnerships which were established in the dying days of the Bligh government, but changed into registered relationships in one of the first acts of the Newman government.
The Palaszczuk government legislation would alter the name and once again allow state-sanctioned ceremonies for same-sex and straight couples.
Read it all from the Brisbane Times.
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The Episcopal Church is hardly alone in seeking what Christin Taylor, writing for the liberal Christian magazine "Sojourners," called "The White Church's Second Chance." In the sudden intensification of racial social justice efforts following tragedies in Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore, Md., and many others, some traditionally white congregations see an opportunity to right wrongs that they say they have failed to address in the past.
Christianity has a decidedly mixed past, and possibly present, when it comes to racial justice: throughout the abolitionist movement, Civil War, and Reconstruction, for instance, pro- and anti-slavery Christians alike used Bible verses to support their positions.
Ms. Taylor shares her surprise, and pain, to realize that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail," describing the urgency of change for African Americans, was written from the Baptist minister to fellow men of faith.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, speaks of his experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit as a 19-year-old new Christian.
In this video message, which was filmed for the centenary celebrations of the Elim Pentecostal family of churches, and shown during their 100th anniversary event in London on Saturday 31 October, Justin Welby says that he was “overwhelmed by the love of God” as he read John 3:16 two weeks after becoming a Christian.
Read it all and enjoy the video.
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The decision not to issue a licence meant he was unable to take up a post as a bereavement manager for the Nottinghamshire-based Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust.
He had claimed the acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood. had discriminated against him because of his sexual orientation.
However, the bishop told the tribunal that same-sex marriage was against the church's beliefs.
The clergyman, who took his claims to a tribunal in Nottingham, expressed disappointment at the tribunal's ruling but thanked those who have supported the legal action.
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There is a larger point here—that materialism works with a misleading picture of the human beings it seeks to liberate. Central to that humanity, to our fundamental sense of who we are, are our primal identities that, in turn, regularly link us to another anchor in our world—namely, transcendence. People stand on the earth but their heads are in the sky, and so too there is a middle conceptual term between the primordial and the transcendent—between blood and God—and that is the civic, the public square. Indeed, the national liberationists of Walzer’s tale were all committed to creating states that would include citizens not part of the national group (Indian Muslims, Algerian Berbers, Israeli Arabs). As a result, he says,
it makes little sense to claim that religious zealotry in Israel today follows naturally from the nationalism of the Labor Zionists. It follows instead, as it does in India, from the democracy that the Labor Zionists created and then from their failure to produce a strong and coherent secular culture to go with that democracy. The zealots represent the return of what was incompletely ‘negated.’So democratic civic life, known only to liberal nationalisms, gives rise to the antithesis of the liberal founders. Why is that? Because, as Walzer has powerfully argued for years, the best and most efficacious moral and political arguments are ones that “derive from or connect with the inherited culture of the people who need to be convinced.”
This is what the liberationists never squared up. They were nationalists, but nationalists of such a progressive cast of mind that they “imagined that they were struggling toward a single universal vision, with minor variations reflecting national/cultural difference.” Yet, as Walzer shows, “Particular engagements with particular cultures and histories . . . produce particular visions of secularism and modernity.” This means that “modern, secular liberation is ‘negotiated’ in each nation, in each religious community” and “a highly differentiated universe is the necessary outcome. . . . Traditionalist worldviews can’t be negated, abolished or banned; they have to be engaged.” In short, liberal nationalist elites cannot launch a nation out of its own culture, no matter how deeply they believe in their own version of universalism.
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At the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew paid a formal visit to Lambeth Palace from November 2-4, 2015. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who is based in Istanbul, Turkey, is Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome, and occupies the First Throne of the Orthodox Christian Church worldwide. The occasion was in response to Archbishop Justin’s visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate last year.
The two leaders presided over ecumenical services filled with symbolic significance, participated in formal functions organized by the Nikaean Club and the Greek Community, and shared private conversations. A service was held at Lambeth Chapel, where the Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed His All-Holiness and congratulated him on the twenty-fourth anniversary of his enthronement.
The two leaders prayed for those affected by conflict, persecution, climate change and the refugee crisis. In light of this, they agreed to undertake the joint organization of an international conference in Istanbul next year on overcoming modern slavery and human trafficking.
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In thee, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! In thy righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline thy ear to me, and save me! Be thou to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for thou art my rock and my fortress.
The Ecumenical Patriarch His All Holiness Bartholomew has called for urgent action for climate justice ahead of the UN summit on climate change in Paris in December.
In a lecture held at Lambeth Palace as part of a two day visit, the 'green patriarch' spoke of the ethical and honourable obligation ahead of COP21:
"It is not too late to act, but we cannot afford to wait. We all agree on the necessity to protect the planet's natural resources …. and we are all in this together." The Patriarch urged cities, governments and individuals to voice opinions, make decisions and act to drive a new environmental ethos.
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A clergyman who was denied his permission to work with the Church of England after marrying his same sex partner was not discriminated against, a employment tribunal has ruled.
Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who was a member of the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, had his permission to officiate (PTO) revoked in June 2014, after marrying his partner Laurence Cunnington in April last year.
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The Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham statement on the matter reads as follows:
The Employment Tribunal that heard the case brought by Jeremy Pemberton against Bishop Richard Inwood has released its findings, dismissing all the claims brought against the Bishop.Please note that there is a link to the full ruling at the bottom of the statement.
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham said: “We are thankful to the tribunal for its work on this complex case and for its findings in favour of the former Acting Diocesan Bishop, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, on all the claims made against him.
“We recognise that it has been a long and difficult process for all concerned, and we continue to hold them in our thoughts and prayers.
“Churches across the diocese continue to offer a generous welcome to people from all backgrounds. We remain engaged in the on-going shared conversations across the wider Church of England that are exploring questions relating to human sexuality.”
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Check it out.
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Back in 1991, the proportion of US prime-age men who were neither in work nor looking for it was just 7 per cent. Thus the proportion of vanished would-be workers has risen by 5 percentage points since then. In the UK, the proportion of prime-aged men out of the labour force has risen only from 6 per cent to 8 per cent over this period. In France, it has gone from 5 to 7 per cent. So supposedly sclerotic French labour markets have done a better job of keeping prime-aged males in the labour force than flexible US ones. Moreover, male participation rates have been declining in the US since shortly after the second world war.
What has been happening to participation of prime-aged women is no less striking. In the US, female labour force participation rose strongly until 2000, when it was among the leaders. The US is the only G7 country to experience a sustained decline in the participation rate for prime-aged females since then. Japan, once far behind, has caught up....
The relentless decline in the proportion of prime-aged US adults in the labour market indicates a significant dysfunction. It deserves attention and analysis. But it also merits action.
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Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole earth! Amen and Amen!
--Psalm 72: 18,19
For the student at the center of the federal complaint and all other transgender students at the district's five high schools, the staff changes their names, genders and pronouns on school records. Transgender students also are allowed to use the bathrooms of their identified gender and play on the sports team of that gender, school officials said.
But officials drew the line at the locker room, citing the privacy rights of the other 12,000-plus students in the district. As a compromise, the district installed four privacy curtains in unused areas of the locker room and another one around the shower, but because the district would compel the student to use them, federal officials deemed the solution insufficient.
The dispute highlights a controversy that a growing number of school districts face as they struggle with an issue that few parents of today's teens encountered. The Department of Education has settled two similar allegations of discrimination of transgender students in California, with both districts eventually agreeing to allow the students to use female-designated facilities.
Read it allfrom the Chicago Tribune.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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A large segment of white middle-aged Americans has suffered a startling rise in its death rate since 1999, according to a review of statistics published Monday that shows a sharp reversal in decades of progress toward longer lives.
The mortality rate for white men and women ages 45-54 with less than a college education increased markedly between 1999 and 2013, most likely because of problems with legal and illegal drugs, alcohol and suicide, the researchers concluded. Before then, death rates for that group dropped steadily, and at a faster pace.
An increase in the mortality rate for any large demographic group in an advanced nation has been virtually unheard of in recent decades, with the exception of Russian men after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The rising death rate was accompanied by an increase in the rate of illness, the authors wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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But I am besides my purpose when I fall to bewail the cold affection which we bear towards that whereby we should be saved, my purpose being only to set down what the ground of salvation is. The doctrine of the Gospel proposeth salvation as the end, and doth it not teach the way of attaining thereunto? Yes, the damsel possessed with a spirit of divination spake the truth: "These men are the servants of the most high God who show unto us the way of salvation" [Acts 16:17] -- "a new and living way which Christ hath prepared for us through the veil, that is, his flesh," [Heb 10:20] salvation purchased by the death of Christ.
--Learned Discourse on Justification (my emphasis)
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