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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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Finally, TEC press releases have included, with some frequency, statements by legal counsel for TECSC claiming its willingness to discuss “settlement options”. This is disingenuous nonsense. We should remember the following at a minimum:
• We were in the middle of what we hoped could be “settlement” discussions when TEC attempted to remove Bp. Lawrence in 2012.
• In the 90+ instances of litigation that TEC has instigated around the country, none has concluded with a settlement -- just the opposite. When parishes in the Diocese of Virginia wishing to leave TEC actually reached an agreement with their bishop, that deal was scuttled by the Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor, who announced there was “a new sheriff in town”. Offers of settlement in other places have been likewise rejected. And even when the case has been definitively settled by the local courts, as in Illinois, TEC has refused to cease litigation, to the point of sanctions being imposed by the courts there.
• The fact is that TEC’s legal counsel was told as far back as 2013 that the Diocese would consider any proposals submitted to our counsel in writing. There have been none.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch History Media Religion & Culture * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Armen Keteyian: Describe your emotional state at that point in time.
Mike Pressler: Really pissed. Really shocked that they would have this party first and foremost. But anyway, I asked each one of 'em to their face, one at a time. The astonishment on their face. And when you know your people, I knew exactly from their reaction to the allegations this was absolutely untrue.
The problem was, few others did. This is how the late Ed Bradley described the media storm surrounding the Duke rape case here on "60 Minutes":
The district attorney, Mike Nifong, took to the airwaves giving dozens of interviews, expressing - with absolute certainty - that Duke lacrosse players had committed a horrific crime.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education History Law & Legal Issues Media Men Sexuality Sports Violence Women Young Adults * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
On bringing back certain moral vocabulary
There are certain words that have been passed down through the generations that we've sort of left behind. And some of them have quasi-religious connotations, but I don't think they need to. Those are words like grace — the idea that we're loved more than we deserve — redemption and sin. We now use the word sin in the context of fattening desserts, but it used to be central in the vocabulary, whether you're religious or not; an awareness that we all sin and we all have the same sins — selfishness, self-centeredness. And I think rediscovering that word is an important task because without that you're just too egotistical. You don't realize how broken we all are at some level.
On how writing and researching the book changed his religious life
I'm a believer. I don't talk about my religious life in public in part because it's so shifting and green and vulnerable. And so I've spent a lot of time in this book — and if you care about morality and inner life and character, you spend your time reading a lot of theology because over the last hundreds of years it was theologians who were writing about this. Whether you're a believer or not, I think these books are very helpful. It's amazing to read [The Confessions of St. Augustine, about] a guy who got successful as a rhetorician but felt hollow inside; a guy who had a mom, Monica, who was the helicopter mom to beat all helicopter moms, and how he dealt with the conflict with such a demanding mother. And so I read a lot of theology — whether it's C.S. Lewis or Joseph Soloveitchik, a rabbi — and it's produced a lot of religious upsurge in my heart. But it's also fragile and green [and] I don't really talk about it because I don't want to trample the fresh grass.
Read it all (or better) listen to it all (Hat tip: CM).
link is fixed
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books Children History Marriage & Family Media Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Exploitative, crap journalism is nothing new, and yet distinct lessons can be learned from this example of it. I do hope we can find a place between never questioning a woman when she says she was raped and questioning her way more than everyone else.
There are parallels between this disgraceful episode and the satanic-ritual-daycare-child-sex-abuse panic of the 1980s – often seen as a reaction to a societal shift wherein more women entered the work force, and thus more children attended daycare. The impetus for that alarm (much like the heightened discussion of the number of women pursuing higher education) seemed to be that the trend was somehow unnatural and a close-to-supernaturally-extracted price must be paid.
This is not to suggest that sexual abuse of children – the kind mostly committed by relations of the children and people we know, who rely on the shame of their victims to hide their crimes – is not very real, any more than it is to suggest that rape on campus is not committed and protected in the same manner; only that the problem needs to be addressed calmly and intelligently.
Read it all.
More to the point, the Paris attack struck close to home. The victims were journalists and journalists write the news. The terrorists hit a major Western city like the ones where the political leaders and opinion-makers live. The victims were aggressively secular. In marching for the victims, the famous and powerful were marching for themselves and their own.
Which does not apply to the victims in Nairobi and northern Nigeria. They were black Africans, not white Europeans; students, not journalists; living in the developing world, not Europe; and Christian, not modern and secular. No high official is going to fly to east Africa and march for them. The Kenyan and Nigerian victims are not their people.
They are ours. If someone could measure the amount of time American Christians spent reading about the three attacks, and the depth of of our emotional reaction, he would almost certainly find our time and emotional investment nearly as tilted to Paris as the secular Americans’. The more successful in the world, say in academia and publishing, the more this will be true. As a test, ask yourself what details of the Nigerian massacre you remember, compared with how much you remember of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. I remember a lot about the Nigerian massacre, but only because I read about it while writing this. Western journalists, even anti-Christian ones, are “our” people, Africa’s Christians a little less so.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Globalization Media Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary Africa Kenya Nigeria Europe France * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Other Faiths Islam * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Algorithms are everywhere, supposedly. We are living in an “algorithmic culture,” to use the author and communication scholar Ted Striphas’s name for it. Google’s search algorithms determine how we access information. Facebook’s News Feed algorithms determine how we socialize. Netflix’s and Amazon’s collaborative filtering algorithms choose products and media for us. You hear it everywhere. “Google announced a change to its algorithm,” a journalist reports. “We live in a world run by algorithms,” a TED talk exhorts. “Algorithms rule the world,” a news report threatens. Another upgrades rule to dominion: “The 10 Algorithms that Dominate Our World.”
Here’s an exercise: The next time you hear someone talking about algorithms, replace the term with “God” and ask yourself if the meaning changes. Our supposedly algorithmic culture is not a material phenomenon so much as a devotional one, a supplication made to the computers people have allowed to replace gods in their minds, even as they simultaneously claim that science has made us impervious to religion.
It’s part of a larger trend. The scientific revolution was meant to challenge tradition and faith, particularly a faith in religious superstition. But today, Enlightenment ideas like reason and science are beginning to flip into their opposites. Science and technology have become so pervasive and distorted, they have turned into a new type of theology.
Read it all.
The whole point of freedom of religion is that it protects an extraordinary gamut of differing, frequently conflicting cosmologies, spiritual disciplines, and moral codes. They may include refusing to fight in defense of the nation, rejecting certain foodstuffs or medical treatments, discouraging young people from secondary or higher education, honoring celibacy or condemning a variety of sexual practices, sacrificing animals, drinking alcohol, or ingesting hallucinogens for ritual purposes, prescribing certain head coverings or hairstyles despite school or occupational rules, insisting on distinct roles for men and women, withdrawing from friends and family for lives of silence and seclusion, marching in prayer through neighborhoods on holy days, preaching on street corners or otherwise trying to convert others to these persuasions.
A great many of these beliefs and practices I disagree with. Some I deplore. Religious freedom means I live with the fundamentalists who describe the pope as anti-Christ and my kind as hell-bound—and with the black nationalist sects who consider me a white devil. Religious freedom means that I don’t have to send my children to the state schools if I choose not to nor does my Darwin-phobic neighbor. It also means state schools or state events or state laws should not force people to participate in religious rituals or practices contrary to their consciences.
Religious freedom means that I may very well want to question, critique, refute, moderate or otherwise alter religious beliefs and practices that I find irrational or unhealthy or dehumanizing or, yes, bigoted; but knowing how deeply rooted and sincerely held these convictions are, and how much about the universe remains in fact mysterious, and how much about my own perceptions of reality could in fact be mistaken, and how much religions do in fact evolve over time, I accommodate myself in the meantime to peaceful coexistence and thoughtful engagement. In particular I refuse to coerce religiously sincere people into personal actions that violate their conscience. And I refuse to dismiss their resistance to such coercion as nothing but bigotry.
Read it all (my emphasis).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Media Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology
Praying? What kind of people are you?
Well, the kind of people who built our civilisation, founded our democracies, developed our modern ideas of rights and justice, ended slavery, established universal education and who are, even as I write, in the forefront of the fight against poverty, prejudice and ignorance. In a word, Christians.
But to call yourself a Christian in contemporary Britain is to invite pity, condescension or cool dismissal. In a culture that prizes sophistication, non-judgmentalism, irony and detachment, it is to declare yourself intolerant, naive, superstitious and backward.
It was almost 150 years ago that Matthew Arnold wrote of the Sea of Faith’s ‘melancholy, long, withdrawing roar’ and in our time that current has been replaced by an incoming tide of negativity towards Christianity.
Read it all.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Media * South Carolina * Theology
I found it hard--see how you do.
Users should note that the extent of the data is too large to provide online as a page–turnable pdf, but once they have identified an item of interest within a particular issue, it is possible to browse through the contents of that issue as each individual page appears as a thumbnail along the top of the search box.
The Gallipoli Campaign by the Allied forces began on Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula on 25 April 1915, (and would continue for over 8 months until 9 January 1916). Five days after it began, the Gazette edition for Friday 30 April 1915 was published. Its by now weekly column “The War Week by Week” (narrating the latest news on the war) carried an interesting analysis of the operation to attack German and Ottoman naval vessels at sea, and land British and French troops on both sides of the Dardanelles Straits (of vital strategic importance as the main sea route into the Russian Empire).
Wow-just wow. Read it all and follow the links.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Ireland * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Media Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland
Freedom and duty often go hand in hand, as Indiana legislators quickly learned last week. After the state approved a law reinforcing religious liberty, a national protest claimed the measure could be used by religious owners of small firms to refuse business to gays and lesbians. In fast retreat, top lawmakers said the new act would soon be amended to prevent such discrimination.
This national upheaval, coming after clashes over similar measures in other states, seems to pit civil rights against religious freedom. In recent years, nearly half the states have followed a federal law in setting strong protections for religious practices. The measures insist that courts find a compelling government interest before imposing a burdensome rule on a person in the exercise of his or her faith.
Whether religious-liberty laws end up violating other rights and interests largely remains to be seen. In at least two cases so far, state courts have ruled they cannot trump anti-discrimination regulations. Yet the rhetoric on both sides about potential harm can often be overhyped and overgeneralized. Each case must be judged on its merits with a calm eye for accommodation and context.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Media Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Once again, it is crucial to note that we are talking about legislation, then and now, built on the same template as that used by a bipartisan coalition that including a stunningly wide range of secular and religious groups.
Thus, the Times of 1993 noted:
President Clinton hailed the new law at the signing ceremony, saying that it held government "to a very high level of proof before it interferes with someone's free exercise of religion."Read it all.
J. Brent Walker, general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs called the new law "the most significant piece of legislation dealing with our religious liberty in a generation."
His sentiments were echoed by many other members of an unusual coalition of liberal, conservative and religious groups that had pressed for the new law. The coalition included the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Council of Churches, the American Jewish Congress, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Mormon Church, the Traditional Values Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Who (or what) is God?
Does prayer work?
Is there an afterlife?
Can you be spiritual and not religious?
These are just some of the questions TODAY is asking this week in the series "Do You Believe?" An in-depth look at faith and spirituality, this series will examine the many ways spirituality can be communicated and displayed, and feature real-life stories of survival and how faith played a role.
Read it all.
The notion that Facebook and other social networks will suffer most deeply when the bubble bursts sounds plausible because it rehashes the last tech boom and bust, when advertising revenue run-ups at huge web portals (remember those?) turned out to be funded mainly by venture capital investments. In 2001, revenue at Yahoo — the largest portal, and something like the Facebook of its time — plummeted by almost $400 million when start-ups stopped spending during the bust. Yahoo has never recovered its former glory. Could Facebook face the same fate?
Probably not — or not yet, at least. On closer inspection, the theory that Facebook’s growth depends on unsustainable venture capital is mostly overblown, another strain of Facebook Second Guessing Syndrome. It’s a story that misses important facts about Facebook’s advertising business. For one thing, as Facebook’s executives have repeatedly pointed out, ads from app companies make up a small percentage of the company’s overall business. Most of the social network’s revenue comes from video ads and ads for large brands.
Continue reading the main story
The theory also misses two other points. Not all these ads are coming from unproved start-ups. And the ads are set to be adopted more widely because they actually work.
According to several app makers and observers of the industry, the ads are tremendously effective at leading paying customers to new apps. It’s the effort to reach these paying customers — and not venture funding — that is often the reason for all the money pouring into ads for apps.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Media Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Radical Islamic groups are using high-quality videos to recruit young Muslims in the US and Europe to join their fight. Now, a Somali Muslim immigrant in Minnesota is fighting back with his own videos—an animated series called “Average Mohamed” that counters extremist ideas about Islam.
Read or watch it all.
For all its brutality, ISIS is often praised for its social media savvy and a passion among its members akin to that of a very famous Silicon Valley start-up, says one Muslim social media entrepreneur. The way to defeat the group’s extremism is by harnessing the creativity of entrepreneurs, he says.
Listen to it all (about 4 minutes).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Media Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology
One popular excuse for sinning I call the “Margaret Mead Method.” I was reminded of it when flipping through my files and finding an article titled “The Virtues of Promiscuity,” the kind of title that gets your attention.
According to a journalist named Sally Lehrman, writing in The San Francisco Chronicle, anthropologists have found that “‘Slutty’ behavior is good for the species. Women everywhere have been selflessly engaging in trysts outside of matrimony for a good long time and for excellent reasons. Anthropologists say female promiscuity binds communities closer together and improves the gene pool.”
Some primitive tribes, these anthropologists claim, assume that women having sex with more than one man will help them survive, and even thrive. At least twenty “accept the principle that a child could, and ideally ought to, have more than one father.”
Read it all.
In a recent interview in which she announced she had joined the Episcopal Church, Rachel Held Evans said,
Just about every denomination in the American church— including many evangelical denominations — is seeing a decline in numbers, so if it’s a competition, then we’re all losing, just at different rates.
Many Americans, both within and outside the church, share Evans perception of the decline of denominations. But is it true? Are most denominations truly seeing a decline in numbers?...
Mainliners may try to comfort themselves by claiming that every denomination is in decline, but it’s simply not true. While conservative churches aren’t growing as quickly as they once were, mainline churches are on a path toward extinction. The mainline churches are finding that as they move further away from Biblical Christianity, the closer they get to their inevitable demise.
Read it all.
Sometimes a news story drags on bit by bit, piece by piece, over the years and becomes so tedious that reporters miss the dramatic cumulative impact. It also doesn't help that long, slow-developing, nuanced religion stories have been known to turn secular editors into pillars of salt.
So it seems with the lawsuits against conservative congregations and regional dioceses that have been quitting the Episcopal Church, mostly to join the Anglican Church in North America, especially since consecration of the first openly partnered gay bishop in 2003.
The Religion Guy confesses he totally missed the eye-popping claim last year that the denomination has spent more than $40 million on lawsuits to win ownership of the dropouts’ buildings, properties, and liquid assets. If that’s anywhere near accurate it surely sets the all-time record for American schisms. And that doesn’t even count the millions come-outers have spent on lawyers.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Departing Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Media Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Read it all.
Saudi Arabia defended its human rights record on Saturday in its first public reaction to international criticism over last year's sentencing of liberal Saudi blogger Raif Badawi to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for "insulting Islam".
The first 50 of Badawi's lashes were carried out in January, prompting strong criticism of the kingdom's rights record in Western countries, including its laws on political and religious expression and the status of Saudi women.
"Saudi Arabia expresses its intense surprise and dismay at what is being reported by some media about the case of citizen Raif Badawi and his sentence," said a statement carried on state media and attributed to an unnamed "foreign ministry official".
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Globalization Law & Legal Issues Media Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
When Penny King told her university friends in Canterbury that she was moving to Manchester, they were horrified. “They said ‘you’ll get shot! You’ll get mugged! It’s depressing. It’s all grey and the weather’s awful’. ”
The perception that life is “grim up north” has greatly damaged the Church of England’s attempts to fill posts in the north, where some jobs for vicars, in both inner cities and rural outposts, have remained unfilled for some time.
King, a 28-year-old Church of England curate at St Elisabeth’s, Reddish, Machester, has become one of the poster girls for a CoE campaign to attract a young generation of male and female vicars to fill posts in deprived areas where Christian pastoral work is often most needed. She has no regrets about her move: “Manchester is no more dangerous than anywhere else,” she says. “I feel safer here living on my own as my neighbours look out for me. I’ve been welcomed with open arms.”
Her story appears on the website for Clergy North West, a campaign aimed at combating a hidden crisis in the Church of England.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Media Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology
This reference makes it sound as if the tradition of properties being controlled by the local diocese is a brand new concept, created by Iker and company in the very recent past. Did those ordinances "declare" this fact or affirm older traditions? Stop and think about it: Why was there such a bitter battle in Denver back in 1979 when the national church took the unusual step of creating and passing the Dennis Canon?
As always, I am not saying that journalists need to agree with Iker, or with High for that matter. The key is to understand the arguments being made by experts on both sides.
The bottom line: When dealing with Anglican controversies, it always helps to include specific dates in the timeline, while also remembering that these battles are being fought at the local, regional, national and global levels.
Read it all.
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Traditional or conservative Episcopalians living in my part of South Carolina sometimes feel cut off from their brothers in the lower half of the state. News of what our friends are up to is never, I repeat never discussed except perhaps in mocking terms overheard at coffee hour. The last time I heard a high ranking clergy person in Upper South Carolina try to say anything nice about the "lower diocese" it was with a slightly derogatory tone, "I'm from there, but I can't work there."
Unless an Episcopalian reads the blogs, they will remain clueless.
Whatever happened to the idea of engaging in a listening process, or to the idea of sitting down with someone and learning more about them? Isn't that what we have been told to do when faced with people holding different views on human sexuality and how it relates to the Church?
I guess the listening process is unidirectional.
As proof, I offer the following evidence: Each year, lay people, priests, bishops, and archbishops gather in Charleston South Carolina for a conference that goes by the benign sounding name of "Mere Anglicanism." These conferences offer lectures featuring guest speakers from around the world on topics which should be of interest to all concerned Anglicans, and I include all concerned Episcopalians in that group....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Media Religion & Culture * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
He was a bona fide and veteran foreign correspondent. I knew him at CBS, where I am now a contributor, a young man but already a person of stature, known for daring and judgment. He was different from the clichés of his job: He didn’t have movie-star looks or a polished baritone. But he had guts, flair, the mind of a reporter and a clear, clean writing style that, on inspection, was more than clear and clean.
All CBS, the next day, was in mourning. “Oh my God, this place just dissolved,” said his “60 Minutes” colleague Lesley Stahl. “Everybody here loved Bob Simon.” She had just come from a meeting of the show’s staff. “Everyone spoke, from the control room to reporters to editors to assistants, and everybody said basically the same thing, which is what he really wanted to be was a regular guy. . . . He didn’t want to be a big TV star, he didn’t want the trappings.” He wanted to walk the streets unrecognized.
“He was no-bull about people and things,” said John Reade, a former CBS News producer who worked with Simon for three decades. “His attitude toward news was ‘Get a load of this!’” It wasn’t indignation or “Are you kidding me?” It was, as Mr. Reade put it, “Get a load of this, it’s beautiful!”
Read it all.
Citizens of Bangor, Maine, lament the constant mispronunciation of their hometown in a musical parody of "We Are the World."
Watch it all.
Watch it all-just so well done.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Media Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * General Interest Animals
But there’s something else. When you watch these clips there’s a troubling ambiguity to them now. One frame around them is: Williams pays tribute to the troops who fought the war and protected him in the desert. He does a lot to make that message explicit, and this part of the performance requires expressions of humility. I’m no solider, I’m no war correspondent, I had no business being there, I’m so grateful for these brave men and women.
When you watch it now, though, you may wonder: Why does this story keep coming up? How is it getting in front of audiences repeatedly over the years?
Let’s take the Lettermen appearance in 2013. Did the show’s producers say, “Hey, it’s the tenth anniversary of Brian almost getting shot out of the sky in the helicopter, let’s have him on…”? Seems unlikely. Letterman says in the clip he either forgot or never knew about the episode. More likely: Williams wanted to talk about it, so they programmed it in. That’s not so modest.
Why is Madison Square Garden halting a hockey game and directing the attention of fans to Brian Williams and his military buddy being “reunited?” Because they knew about this story and thought it would be nice to revisit it 12 years later? Or because NBC promotion people alerted them and asked for the story to be re-told over the PA system?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Media Movies & Television Psychology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Middle East Iraq * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
This brings me to a second response to the question, “Have you given up hope?” On the contrary, calling oneself a “celibate gay Christian” may be a way of expressing , not giving up, hope—but expressing it in a way that doesn’t link that hope to orientation change. Claiming the label “celibate gay Christian” means, for me, recognizing my homosexual orientation as a kind of “thorn in the flesh.” When the apostle Paul used that phrase in his correspondence with the Corinthian church, he made clear that his “thorn” was indeed an unwelcome source of pain (2 Corinthians 12:7). But he also made clear that it had become the very occasion for his experience of the power of the risen Christ and, therefore, a paradoxical site of grace (2 Corinthians 12:8). Paul, I think, would have had no qualms about labeling himself a “thorn-pricked Christian”—not because he recognized his thorn as a good thing, in and of itself, but because it had become for him the means by which he encountered the power of Christ. Likewise, living with an unchanged homosexual orientation may be for many of us the means by which we discover new depths of grace, as well as new vocations of service to others .
Commenting on 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and the homosexual partnerships that some of Paul’s readers had been involved in prior to their baptism, J. I. Packer writes about Paul’s gospel :
With some of the Corinthian Christians, Paul was celebrating the moral empowering of the Holy Spirit in heterosexual terms; with others of the Corinthians, today’s homosexuals are called to prove, live out, and celebrate the moral empowering of the Holy Spirit in homosexual terms.
Finding the moral empowering—and the grace and consolation—of the Holy Spirit “in homosexual terms” is, it seems to me, what leads many of us to label ourselves “celibate gay Christians.”
Read it all.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is taking personal responsibility for his platform's chronic problems with harassment and abuse, telling employees that he is embarrassed for the company's failures and would soon be taking stronger action to eliminate trolls. He said problems with trolls are driving away the company's users. "We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years," Costolo wrote in an internal memo obtained by The Verge. "It's no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.
Costolo's comments came in response to a question on an internal forum about a recent story by Lindy West, a frequent target of harassment on Twitter. Among other things, West's tormentors created a Twitter account for her then recently deceased father and made cruel comments about her on the service; West recently shared her story on This American Life and The Guardian.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Law & Legal Issues Media Psychology Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Declarations of outrage swept the Middle East on Wednesday as a region already steeled to the brutality of the Islamic State expressed horror at the group’s killing of a Jordanian pilot by setting him on fire.
The region’s leaders have denounced the militant group on many occasions in the past, but the spectacle of an Arab pilot being burned alive in a cage triggered some of the harshest reactions yet.
Images of the grisly killing of Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh were broadcast on TV channels around the region, and the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat headlined its coverage with a single word: “Barbarity.”
“This killing really strikes at home for audiences across the region. Most of the people executed by [the Islamic State] have been foreigners, but this time it was an Arab-Muslim man,” said Labib Kamhawi, a political analyst based in the Jordanian capital, Amman. “That has had a bigger impact on people.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Media Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
It’s not an event unless it’s on video.
That appears to have been the case for terror suspect Amedy Coulibaly, who wore a camera on his body when he attacked a Jewish grocery store in Paris earlier this month, according to multiple news outlets.
The information, first released by CNN, supports an earlier report by French magazine L’Express that Coulibaly used a GoPro camera to record seven minutes of his raid. He then emailed a copy of the clip using a computer at the market before he was killed by police, according to L’Express reporter Eric Pelletier.
Read it all.
Most Americans who know about the deadly attack on the Paris headquarters of the satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine say it’s OK that the weekly featured cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
A new survey from the Pew Research Center shows 76 percent of Americans know of the Jan. 7 attack, and among this group 60 percent of Americans support the magazine’s right to publish these controversial images, while 28 percent disapprove.
However, one in four Americans overall offered no opinion because, they said, they had not heard about the violent attack where 10 artists and writers and two policemen were murdered.
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The BBC has been accused to treating religion as the “fag end” of its priorities at a time of massive global upheaval after announcing it is to scrap its high-profile position of head of religion to cut costs.
Aaqil Ahmed, the first Muslim to hold the post, and one of the most outspoken BBC executives, has been told his role in commissioning programmes is to be axed as part of a shake-up.
Religion is to make an unlikely alliance with science, business issues and history under the oversight of a new head of “factual” programming.
The Church of England has voiced alarm at the move, arguing that Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris illustrates starkly how it is impossible to understand world events without a grasp of religious motivation.
Read it all from the Telegraph.
It is understandable why the New York Times’s Editorial Board would conclude that Christians view sinners as inferior—the tragic history of Christianity, even within our own country, offers many examples of Christians who have used sin as an excuse to dehumanize, discriminate, and hate others. However, these abuses are not the proper consequence of Christianity, but a disgusting distortion of that faith.
Contrary to the Editorial Board’s portrayal of sin, the tradition Christian teaching is not that certain people are “inferior” or “second-class” because of sin.
According to most Christian traditions, all humans are subject to inherited sin, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” as St. Paul writes. What is true of Cochran and equally true of each of his subordinates is that they are sinners in need of God’s grace. St. Paul, one of the greatest figures in Christianity, gave the most powerful example of this by referring to himself as the “chief of sinners.” People, all people, are sinners, people who commit “vile,” “vulgar,” and “inappropriate” sins. This is reflected in Cochran’s book, where he actually includes having multiple sexual partners and sex outside of marriage as sins that are also vile, vulgar, and inappropriate. “Lustfulness” and “anything tending to foster sexual sin and lust” are condemned too, which undoubtedly includes every member of the Atlanta Fire Department, at one time or another. We are all sinners.
And yet what is equally true is that we are each made in the Image of God...
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As [Ralph] Abernathy tells it–and I believe he is right–he and King were first of all Christians, then Southerners, and then blacks living under an oppressive segregationist regime. King of course came from the black bourgeoisie of Atlanta in which his father, “Daddy King,” had succeeded in establishing himself as a king. Abernathy came from much more modest circumstances, but he was proud of his heritage and, as he writes, wanted nothing more than that whites would address his father as Mr. Abernathy. He and Martin loved the South, and envisioned its coming into its own once the sin of segregation had been expunged.
“Years later,” Abernathy writes that, “after the civil rights movement had peaked and I had taken over [after Martin’s death] as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,” he met with Governor George Wallace. “Governor Wallace, by then restricted to a wheel chair after having been paralyzed by a would-be assassin’s bullet, shook hands with me and welcomed me to the State of Alabama. I smiled, realizing that he had forgotten all about Montgomery and Birmingham, and particularly Selma. ‘This is not my first visit,’ I said. ‘I was born in Alabama–in Marengo County.’ ‘Good,’ said Governor Wallace, ‘then welcome back.’ I really believe he meant it. In his later years he had become one of the greatest friends the blacks had ever had in Montgomery. Where once he had stood in the doorway and barred federal marshals from entering, he now made certain that our people were first in line for jobs, new schools, and other benefits of state government.” Abernathy concludes, “It was a time for reconciliations.”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books History Media Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Instead of being watched by the state through telescreens, we carry our own screens—ones that put more information at our fingertips than an entire government department could have compiled in Orwell’s day. Big Brother has been defeated by capitalist technology.
But if, like most of his contemporaries, he was too gloomy, Orwell got one thing uncannily right. In an appendix to his dystopian novel, he discussed how an idea could be made literally unthinkable if there were no words to express it. The illustration he gave was the word “free.” In Newspeak, “free” could be used only in the sense of “this field is free from weeds” or “this dog is free from lice.” The concept of political or intellectual freedom had disappeared, because no one could put it into words.
What an eerily prescient example to have chosen. In recent years this is more or less what has happened to the word “free.” In 1948, “freedom” still had its traditional meaning of a guarantee against coercion: freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of worship. Since then, however, “freedom” has come to mean “entitlement,” as in “freedom to work,” “freedom from hunger,” “freedom from discrimination,” and so on. Thus, the notion that the state ought not to boss us around becomes harder to convey, and the politician who supports that notion is disadvantaged.
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In the first few days after Boko Haram’s recent attack in the remote village of Baga, most of the news coverage I saw about it concerned the lack of news. Why, the media wondered, was the media not more interested? As many as 2,000 people had been slaughtered, a figure that, if true, would dwarf the number killed in Paris around the same time.
A big reason the Boko Haram killings haven’t gotten much press is that there isn’t much press there. Baga is extremely remote, with little or no cell service, and it is, by all accounts, a war zone. Nor is the Nigerian government cooperative, or forthcoming, about what’s going on: The military claims no more than 150 people were killed, including militants. President Goodluck Jonathan, who is in the midst of a reelection campaign, hasn’t even publicly commented on the attack.
But even if the western media had been more present, I’m not convinced the western audience would have been more interested. Because, at bottom, there’s a pervading sense here that what happened in Paris was decidedly not normal, while what happened in Nigeria decidedly was.
And normal, unfortunately, doesn’t make the news.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
What are the key findings?
In the words of your researcher: “Of all Boko Haram assaults analyzed by Amnesty International, this is the largest and most destructive yet.”
The scale of the destruction suggests a much higher death toll than given by the Nigerian government of 150 people. Some reports claimed that up to 2,000 people might have been killed in last weeks attack.
Over 3,700 structures in the two neighboring towns Baga and Doron Baga were damaged or completely destroyed. The damage and destruction stems from fire.
The destruction is likely higher than visible in the current satellite images. It proved difficult to delineate and confirm individual structures in some densely packed areas and under tree canopies. Additionally, the current analysis only covered two towns—other towns and villages in the area might have been affected as well.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture Science & Technology Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Condemnation of the new edition of Charlie Hebdo was swift and often fierce Wednesday (Jan. 14) in many majority-Muslim nations after the cover featured a drawing of the Prophet Muhammad with a tear in his eye.
“You’re putting the lives of others at risk when you’re taunting bloodthirsty and mad terrorists,” said Hamad Alfarhan, 29, a Kuwaiti doctor. “I hope this doesn’t trigger more attacks. The world is already mourning the losses of many lives under the name of religion.”
Wednesday’s 16-page issue of the satirical publication featured a cartoon on its cover depicting the prophet holding a sign that says, “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) — the slogan adopted in support of the weekly after last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris. The headline above the prophet’s head reads, “All is forgiven.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Media Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary Europe France * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Supreme Court on Monday (Jan. 12) considered a tiny church’s curbside sign in a case that could raise the bar on government regulation of speech, and make it easier for houses of worship to advertise their services.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, the advocacy group that represents Pastor Clyde Reed and his Good News Community Church, bills the case, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, as a religious rights case. But their attorney mostly argued it on free speech grounds.
“The town code discriminates on its face by treating certain signs differently based solely on what they said,” attorney David A. Cortman told the justices. “The treatment we’re seeking is merely equal treatment under the First Amendment.”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Media Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
...what happens when elite news organizations, ones that already lean toward "Kellerism" doctrines when covering moral and religious issues, have to quote the views of traditional religious believers? The results are often not very pretty.
Here is the key: When reading a story about a debate between the cultural left and right, readers may want to look for signs that the mainstream reporters listened to the voices of real people on the left (interviews, speeches, sermons, etc.) and only consulted websites and public-relations documents on the right. I mean, why do you need to interview cultural infidels (thank you Bob Dylan) on these kinds of topics and give them credibility as sources?
But wait: What if reporters tried to talk to the traditional believers and they declined to be interviewed? What if the sources on that side are only willing to talk to advocacy reporters on their own side of the sanctuary aisle? I am sure that this is happening more and more and, frankly, it's a tragic side effect of the "Kellerism" trend.
Take, for example the latest New York Times story on the Atlanta case, the one in which Mayor Kasim Reed fired Fire Rescue Department Chief Kevin Cochran, a Southern Baptist, after he published a book in which he affirmed centuries of orthodox Christian doctrine on sex and marriage. Reed and Cochran are both African-Americans, which only complicates the political realities on the ground.
Read it all from Terry Mattingly at Get Religion.
Boko Haram is waging a ruthless war throughout northeast Nigeria, Africa's most populous country. On Wednesday, Boko Haram militants laid siege to Baga, a city that has resisted them, setting fire to buildings and killing residents indiscriminately. Hundreds of people fled into Lake Chad and attempted to swim to a nearby island. Many drowned along the way. Those who didn't are now marooned without food and shelter and have no defense against the island's swarm of malarial mosquitos. The death toll in Baga reportedly exceeds 2,000. Some 20,000 others are now displaced.
The New York Times story on this deadly siege appeared on page A6 of Saturday's print edition, while the paper's story of the suicide bombing landed on page A8.
How did the attacks in France so thoroughly bury the atrocities in Nigeria?
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria Europe France * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Britain’s fear of criticising Islam has led to a self-imposed ‘blasphemy law’, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has warned.
Lord Carey’s comments come days after the brutal slaughter of journalists at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine, which printed cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed.
He added that the Press should be encouraged to print controversial material, even if Muslims find it offensive.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Media Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
I would love to agree with this, but can’t quite. All iconoclasm is not alike. Reading Fraser’s essay I found myself remembering Mikhail Bakhtin’s great essay “From the Prehistory of Novelistic Discourse,” in which he compares ancient and medieval parody with its modern equivalent.
Ancient parody was free of any nihilistic denial. It was not, after all, the heroes who were parodied, nor the Trojan War and its participants; what was parodied was only its epic heroization; not Hercules and his exploits but their tragic heroization. The genre itself, the style, the language are all put in cheerfully irreverent quotation marks, and they are perceived against a backdrop of contradictory reality that cannot be confined within their narrow frames. The direct and serious word was revealed, in all its limitations and insufficiency, only after it had become the laughing image of that word — but it was by no means discredited in the process.
By contrast, “in modern times the functions of parody are narrow and unproductive. Parody has grown sickly, its place in modem literature is insignificant. We live, write and speak today in a world of free and democratized language: the complex and multi-leveled hierarchy of discourses, forms, images, styles that used to permeate the entire system of official language and linguistic consciousness was swept away by the linguistic revolution of the Renaissance.” Parody for us is too often merely iconoclastic, breaking images out of juvenile delight in breaking, not out of commitment to a reality too heteroglot (Bakhtin’s term) to fit within the confines of standardized religious practices. I think Charlie Hebdo is juvenile in this way.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Art History Media * Economics, Politics Terrorism * General Interest Humor / Trivia * International News & Commentary Europe France * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
This was by some estimates the worst terrorist attack in France since the Algerian war of independence. It followed exhortations from Islamic State in Syria to kill French civilians with any weapon available, but responsibility was claimed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. It is not clear what was behind the timing. Minutes before the gunmen struck, Charlie Hebdo had released a tweet mocking Islamic State’s leader, but this was mild next to the magazine’s earlier broadsides on everything that Islamists hold sacred. In past years it has reprinted the Danish cartoons of Muhammad that prompted riots on several continents. It has printed a spoof issue “guest edited” by the Prophet, and a cover cartoon of an Imam trying and failing to use the Koran to stop bullets.
“I don’t blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings,” Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief, Stéphane Charbonnier, once said. Neither did he apologise. “I live under French law . . . [not] Koranic law.”
Mr Charbonnier is now dead. While he lived he upheld a priceless tradition of broad and often brutal satire, no punches pulled, no prisoners taken. He and his colleagues were equal opportunity offenders. Islamists were often their targets precisely because of their unconscionable threats and spurious claim to special status. But so were Catholic clergy, cardinals, the Pope and, for what it’s worth, the British.
When President Hollande called Charlie Hebdo a “symbol of liberty”, it was no empty cliché....
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe France * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Stuart Scott, a longtime anchor at ESPN, died Sunday morning at the age of 49.
Among the features of the new ESPN studio in Bristol is a wall of catchphrases made famous by on-air talent over the years. An amazing nine of them belong to one man -- from his signature "Boo-Yah!" to "As cool as the other side of the pillow" to "He must be the bus driver cuz he was takin' him to school."
That man is Stuart Scott, and his contributions to the sports lexicon are writ large. But they are only one aspect of his legacy. When he passed away, he left behind so much more. He inspired his colleagues with his sheer talent, his work ethic and his devotion to his daughters, Taelor, 19, and Sydni, 15. He defied convention and criticism to help bring this network into a new century. He spoke to the very athletes he was talking about with a flair and a style that ESPN president John Skipper says, "changed everything."
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When written by journalists like Newsweek‘s former editor Jon Meacham or TIME reporters such as David Van Biema, the articles were often balanced and genuinely insightful. Meacham and Van Biema knew the difference between theological liberals and theological conservatives and they were determined to let both sides speak. I was interviewed several times by both writers, along with others from both magazines. I may not have liked the final version of the article in some cases, but I was treated fairly and with journalistic integrity.
So, when Newsweek, now back in print under new ownership, let loose its first issue of the New Year on the Bible, I held out the hope that the article would be fair, journalistically credible, and interesting, even if written from a more liberal perspective.
But Newsweek‘s cover story is nothing of the sort. It is an irresponsible screed of post-Christian invective leveled against the Bible and, even more to the point, against evangelical Christianity. It is one of the most irresponsible articles ever to appear in a journalistic guise.
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Has this church has gone from influential to afterthought, from elite to obscure, in record time? Yes and no.
It was always a small church but at least people knew it was an American Protestant denomination without being told. And they knew many of the Founding Fathers and 11 U.S. presidents prayed in Episcopal pews.
Now, when even the U.S. Supreme Court has no Protestant justices, that’s no longer common knowledge. Hence, the Post’s rare-bird-sighting treatment complete with taxonomy.
We have seen whole American religious landscape shift, denominational lines blur and points of religious distinction — theological and cultural — flatten out.
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It's Christmas, that joyous time of year when the Mainstream Media (MSM) goes in search of apostate scholars to re-assure them that the gospel is all a bunch of hooey. Here's a recent piece that appeared on MSNBC.com called "What is the Real Christmas Story?" It's a roundtable discussion featuring a number of biblical scholars that looks at the tale of the Nativity as told by Matthew and Luke....
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It was a year of mysteries. To list some of the more baffling ones:
A huge airliner simply vanished, and to this day nobody has any idea what happened to it, despite literally thousands of hours of intensive speculation on CNN.
Millions of Americans suddenly decided to make videos of themselves having ice water poured on their heads. Remember? There were rumors that this had something to do with charity, but for most of us, the connection was never clear. All we knew was that, for a while there, every time we turned on the TV, there was a local newscaster or Gwyneth Paltrow or Kermit the Frog or some random individual soaking wet and shivering. This mysterious phenomenon ended as suddenly as it started, but not before uncounted trillions of American brain cells died of frostbite.
An intruder jumped the White House fence and, inexplicably, managed to run into the White House through the unlocked front door. Most of us had assumed that anybody attempting this would instantly be converted to a bullet-ridden pile of smoking carbon by snipers, lasers, drones, ninjas, etc., but it turned out that, for some mysterious reason, the White House had effectively the same level of anti-penetration security as a Dunkin’ Donuts.
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Over the years I have enjoyed being a member of the Religion Newswriters Association. One of benefits I really enjoy this time of year is the announcement of the top stories in religion. I participate in the voting each year, and I usually am pretty good at picking choices that mirror the 300 or so journalists who take part in the voting. This year, not so much.
We are given a list of the top 25 stories in the field of religion, and are asked to vote for our top 10 selections. We also are asked to vote for the top religion newsmaker of the year, and this year I didn't come even close.
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Columbia, Mo.—The extremist Islamic State’s violent reign of terror in Iraq and Syria was voted the No. 1 Religion Story of 2014 by the world’s leading religion journalists. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision giving closely held companies the ability to claim religious objections to health care mandates was a close second.
For the second year in a row, Pope Francis was named the top Religion Newsmaker of the Year. He was selected overwhelmingly, receiving more than half of all the votes among a slate of 10 newsmakers.
The online ballot was conducted Friday, Dec. 5 through Wednesday, Dec. 10. Only RNA members, who comprise religion journalists in the U.S. and abroad, were eligible to vote. The Top 10 ballot items are listed here. Because of two ties, the list actually includes 12 stories
Read it all and see what you make of the list.
There we are: Evangelicals are hidebound and change-allergic, straining attempts at compromise. Never mind that Archbishop Welby – who, as the Times itself says, "backed the push for female bishops" – is himself widely known as an evangelical.
There's also a glitch in the Times saying that Libby Lane's appointment will test the compromise. If Thomas' concern is male oversight for conservative churches, why wouldn't he be satisfied with a female suffragan who draws her authority from a male bishop? He should have been asked, don’t you think?
Nor does the article's grasp of history sound much better. Not when the story says, "The tradition of all-male bishops dates to the Church of England’s break with Rome five centuries ago, in the days of King Henry VIII."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture Women * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
Comedian and actor Robin Williams, who died earlier this year, was the top search on Google during 2014.
The search engine has released its list of this year’s most searched for news events and top trending subjects. Williams’ death drew more attention than the World Cup (2nd), Ebola (3rd) or Malaysia Airlines (4th).
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Health & Medicine Media Movies & Television Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Terrorism * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
In the days that followed, many healthcare workers talked with Brown-Haithco about their vocations. These conversations often mirrored the tone she had set in her memo, neither ignoring the risks of treating Ebola patients nor succumbing to panic. A calling doesn’t exclude fear, she explained, but fear “does not prevent us from moving with compassion toward someone in need.”
Neither does fear encourage a dull news cycle. When the Ebola outbreak began, the American public heard from doctors, nurses, public health experts, and WHO officials. Once healthcare workers were diagnosed in Dallas, we heard about PPE procedures, CDC guidelines, and airport screenings. We heard about hospital employees in New York who faced discrimination for working near an infected patient, and about the exotic dancers who started a GoFundMe account to support their voluntarily quarantine. Most recently, we heard about the $27,000 the city of Dallas spent taking care of Bentley, the beloved dog of Dallas nurse and recovered Ebola patient, Nina Pham.
But during the initial frenzy of U.S. Ebola coverage, we didn’t hear much about hospital chaplains, the members of hospital teams tasked with providing spiritual and emotional support to patients, their families, and medical staff. According to university estimates, there were 42,410 stories mentioning Emory and Ebola published between July 31 and September 22; Brown-Haithco and her chaplain colleagues were interviewed four times, including a segment with Matt Lauer that never aired.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Media Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Africa * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Hours after five hostages escaped from the Lindt cafe, one of the remaining women switched off the lights inside.
Premier Mike Baird has asked Sydneysiders to go about their day as usual on Tuesday
There is an exclusion zone near the cafe, bordered by Pitt, Elizabeth, Hunter and King Streets.
NSW Police have activated Task Force Pioneer, which they use in terrorism related incidents.
A coalition of Muslim groups has expressed their shock and horror at the siege. They have urged calm.
Sydneysiders have united under the hashtag #illridewithyou offering company to Muslims wearing religious garments as they travel in the city.
Read it all and there are loads of links to follow.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
There’s only one problem: apparently none of it ever happened.
Yes, a version of that quotation was uttered by a pope, but it was said decades ago by Paul VI, who died in 1978. There is no evidence that Francis repeated the words during his public audience on Nov. 26, as has been widely reported, nor was there was a boy mourning his dead dog.
So how could such a fable so quickly become taken as fact?
Part of the answer may be the topic of the pope’s talk to the crowd that day, which centered on the End Times and the transformation of all creation into a “new heaven” and a “new earth.” Citing St. Paul in the New Testament, Francis said that is not “the annihilation of the cosmos and of everything around us, but the bringing of all things into the fullness of being.”
The trail of digital bread crumbs then appears to lead to an Italian news report that extended Francis’ discussion of a renewed creation to the question of whether animals too will go to heaven.
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It is not surprising that such remarks [from Pope Francis] would be ignored, given the media's high-priestly role within our "current Kingdom of Whatever," to use Brad Gregory's felicitous phrase, in which "men and women in larger numbers prioritize the fulfilment of their self-chosen, acquisitive, individual desires above any social (including familial) solidarities except those they also happen to choose, and only for as long as they happen to choose them." By warning that any society that mistakes rights for competing individual interests and freedom for mere licence will inevitability descend into resentment and violence, Francis was effectively storming the West's holy of holies, the sacred centre of liberalism as such. Far easier to grant blanket coverage the pope's off the cuff "Who am I to judge?" remark, which poses no challenge whatsoever to the effete sensibilities of liberal individualism, than to wrestle with a thoroughgoing challenge to the sustainability of liberalism itself.
Nor is it surprising that the media would be drawn to a broad-brush characterisation of an ageing, listless Europe, made by a pope who has graced the cover of Rolling Stone, no less! Once again, this says rather more about the media's slobbering servitude to "the new" - which cannot help but sneer at any tradition or institution or system of thought that does not melt away before the ineluctable demands of fashion and the fickle rule of individual choice - than it does about the pope's open-handed invitation to join together "in building a Europe which revolves not around the economy, but around the sacredness of the human person, around inalienable values ... a Europe which courageously embraces its past and confidently looks to its future in order fully to experience the hope of its present."
On both counts, the media conceals its ignorance, its arrogance and its incurious disregard for whatever does not fit within its unavowed agenda behind the threadbare alibi that it is simply reporting what is newsworthy - as if that were an objective category which the media is duty bound to serve, and which it itself has no role in shaping.
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Google is shutting down its Google News service in Spain next week in response to new legislation that requires the search giant to pay for content from Spanish news organizations.
Richard Gingras, the head of Google News, announced the decision on Google’s Europe blog Thursday. “With real sadness,” he wrote, Spanish publishers will be removed from the site on Dec. 16.
The change to Spain's copyright law, which goes into effect in January, allows Spanish newspapers and other publishers to charge Google each time their content appears on Google News. The so-called “Google tax” applies to all news aggregation sites, including Menéame, Google’s Spain-based rival.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Media * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Spain * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Is there a religion angle on this story? Of course. Kudos to Time for making that abundantly clear.
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...here is the thing: It is no longer true that the divorce rate is rising, or that half of all marriages end in divorce. It has not been for some time. Even though social scientists have tried to debunk those myths, somehow the conventional wisdom has held.
Despite hand-wringing about the institution of marriage, marriages in this country are stronger today than they have been in a long time. The divorce rate peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s and has been declining for the three decades since.
About 70 percent of marriages that began in the 1990s reached their 15th anniversary (excluding those in which a spouse died), up from about 65 percent of those that began in the 1970s and 1980s. Those who married in the 2000s are so far divorcing at even lower rates. If current trends continue, nearly two-thirds of marriages will never involve a divorce, according to data from Justin Wolfers, a University of Michigan economist (who also contributes to The Upshot).
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Watch it all (only 5 1/4 minutes) and see what you make of it.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Media Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
With public revulsion rising in response to snowballing accusations that Bill Cosby victimized women in serial fashion throughout his trailblazing career, the response from those in the know has been: What took so long?
What took so long is that those in the know kept it mostly to themselves. No one wanted to disturb the Natural Order of Things, which was that Mr. Cosby was beloved; that he was as generous and paternal as his public image; and that his approach to life and work represented a bracing corrective to the coarse, self-defeating urban black ethos.
Only the first of those things was actually true....
We all have our excuses, but in ignoring these claims, we let down the women who were brave enough to speak out publicly against a powerful entertainer.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Media Men Movies & Television Psychology Violence Women * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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Make new Friends… there are some great examples of Church Friends Groups in the diocese. They take a bit of effort to get going, but can typically double the number of people involved in supporting the heritage of the church and help with fund raising. National Churches Trust offers a useful guide – ask us for a copy.
Arrange an exhibition… this can be a great way to engage local people, especially if this can involve children. Is there a local history link that you could make? Don’t forget that the ‘Lindisfarne Legacy’ pop-up exhibition is still available for free use by churches to help complement local events.
Design a trail… what are the ten most interesting things about your church, churchyard or immediate surroundings? Why not create a short trail leaflet to encourage visitors to explore and appreciate the significance of your church? We can send you an advice sheet and a template you could use for this.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture * Theology
Russia plans to create its own "Wikipedia" to ensure its citizens have access to more "detailed and reliable" information about their country, the presidential library said on Friday.
Citing Western threats, the Kremlin has asserted more control over the Internet this year in what critics call moves to censor the web, and has introduced more pro-Kremlin content similar to closely controlled state media such as television.
Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia assembled and written by Internet users around the world, has pages dedicated to nearly every region or major city within Russia's 11 time zones, but the Kremlin library said this was not good enough.
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Aaqil Ahmed, beleaguered Head of Religion at the BBC, called me in for a cup of tea last September to ask what I meant by religious literacy. He’d got wind of an event I had run that had unpacked for journalists and opinion formers why the media were getting Egypt’s revolution so badly wrong. As usual the media had been siding with the political opposition, in true British fashion, assuming them to be the under-dog in a game of two sides. They had ignored the complicating third and fourth factors: the persecuted Copts, and browbeaten Sufis, either ignorant of their existence or embarrassed about siding with Christians or more esoteric religion. Almost no investigative work was being done on the plight of Coptic or Sufi minorities as Egypt went into revolutionary meltdown, beyond macho scenarios of Jeremy Bowen in Tahrir Square. There was a clear lack of contacts and channels into the Coptic world even though Copts are often fluent in English.
The Sunday Times took two weeks after the main mass arsons in August 2013 to file their report. Ignorant? – or suppressing the news of burning churches lest they appear ‘partisan’? What it betrayed was ignorance of the Coptic contribution to Egyptian civic life and worse, a cavalier attitude to the life-threatening nature of religiously illiterate reporting. Ignoring the Copts, vulnerable as a tiny minority despite their disproportionate economic and cultural clout, consigned them further to oblivion. This was religious illiteracy in the media at its worst – and it’s the consequences of this that a new Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, founded by the Woolf Institute in Cambridge, has an opportunity to examine and even change.
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[The] Rev Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, executive religion editor for the Huffington Post, moderated the panel discussions. The Christian voice was heard loudly along with other faiths, political experts and US journalists: Bishop Prince Singh from the Episcopal Church, noted that the forum had gathered on the Hindu festival of lights known as Diwali, and said that it was a spiritual discipline to resist the urge to demonize opponents and instead to strive to bring light rather than heat to conversations on potentially divisive issues. This was very much the theme of the forum.
In his day job Paul blogs and hosts a weekly Huff Post podcast dedicated to exploring how religious ideas and spiritual practice inform and shape our personal lives, our communities and our world. Huff Post has an openly liberal/left commentary but does not shy away from debate. They welcome comment but have banned anonymity.
In a moving podcast he recently investigated mental health interviewing Kay and Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, whose son lived with mental illness until his tragic suicide.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Episcopal Church (TEC) * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Media Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK
[Mark] Driscoll cannot take all the credit for his own downfall. For one thing, any faithful Christian would give Satan his due, for leading Mr. Driscoll astray. Then there is the role played by World, an evangelical Christian newsmagazine that broke one of the most damaging stories about Mr. Driscoll. In March, World reported that $210,000 in Mars Hill church funds had gone to a marketing firm that promised to get “Real Marriage,” a book written by Mr. Driscoll and his wife, on best-seller lists.
World was not the only outlet to take on Mr. Driscoll. The blogger Warren Throckmorton, in particular, persistently chronicled concerns about Mars Hill for the website Patheos. But the story about best-seller lists was also not the first scoop for World, and Mr. Driscoll was not the first conservative Christian leader that the magazine had taken on.
In October 2012, a World reporter, Warren Cole Smith, revealed that Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative author, filmmaker and activist, had attended a Christian conference with a woman not his wife — a woman he was introducing as his fiancée. Soon after, Mr. D’Souza resigned as president of King’s College in New York City.
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Here the bridal couple stood, facing the floral setting, and exchanged cows--Reader's Digest October 2014 page 47 LOL
Tom Magliozzi, one of public radio's most popular personalities, died on Monday of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 77 years old.
Tom and his brother, Ray, became famous as "Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers" on the weekly NPR show Car Talk. They bantered, told jokes, laughed and sometimes even gave pretty good advice to listeners who called in with their car troubles.
If there was one thing that defined Tom Magliozzi, it was his laugh. It was loud, it was constant, it was infectious.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Media Science & Technology Travel * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care Preaching / Homiletics Stewardship Youth Ministry * Culture-Watch Media * South Carolina * Theology
I wrote about poppies last year. You write about them at your peril....
This week I read a piece about an ITV newscaster who had opted not to wear a poppy on screen. It wasn't that she was against it: she did wear one when not in front of the camera. Her argument was that ITV didn't allow her to wear anything as a broadcaster that identified her as a supporter of other charities such as breast cancer awareness, mental health or child poverty (I've forgotten her actual examples). So why, she argued, should the poppy, paid for and worn in support of the Royal British Legion, be an exception to that rule?
I admire the logic and the ethics, but I'm afraid she is misreading the symbolism. She hasn't quite cottoned on to what the public mostly think they are doing when they wear the poppy. In social sciences-speak, she has got the semiotics wrong.
The poppy is far more than the logo of a particular veterans' charity. As the poppy field in the Tower of London moat demonstrates, it is not quite like most other symbols.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch History Media Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
I accept the doctors' conclusion -- mandatory quarantine is a bad idea -- but not the way they justify it. You don't have to be a cynic, a slanted term, to argue for "better safe than sorry." The calculus isn't simple, either. The crucial thing, though, is that the doctors' sensible conclusion doesn't rest solely on the science.
It requires a delicate judgment about many different risks and costs -- the risk of extra U.S. cases in the short run, the risk of discouraging health workers from traveling to West Africa so that the disease keeps spreading there, the cost in civil liberty of restricting people's movements, and so on. I agree with the doctors about where the balance lies, but the issue isn't easy and, in any event, it isn't just about the science of Ebola.
The doctors conclude, "We should be honoring, not quarantining, health care workers who put their lives at risk..." We should indeed be honoring them -- and, unless I'm mistaken, we are -- but that comment isn't science; it's pure politics. Forgive me for stating what should be obvious, but if the facts about the transmission of Ebola were different, one could imagine that mandatory quarantine would be justified; and if it were, the policy would imply no disrespect to the health professionals involved.
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As you can see from this archived version, ...[RNS] gave a bungled translation that had the pope denying God is a "divine being":
Francis said the beginning of the world was not “a work of chaos” but created from a principle of love. He said sometimes competing beliefs in creation and evolution could co-exist.Got that? Pope Francis, according to RNS, said, "God is not a divine being..."
"“God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life,” the pope said. “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”
The context makes it obvious that the pope is not intending by any stretch of the imagination to deny God is a "divine being." He is, rather, denying that God is a demiurge, i.e. lower-case "builder-god" who merely fashions creatures out of primordial stuff and then leaves them to their own devices. For RNS to not only put the words "God is not a divine being" in the pope's mouth but also refuse to correct its mistranslation would therefore be simply irresponsible.
But that is exactly what RNS did – for forty-eight hours, even as Mohler and others questioned its translation.
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I, a lay Anglican, am reassured by this. I want the clergy to be a bit more left-wing than me. It’s a sign that they are deeply involved in the lives of the poor, that they have a sense of solidarity with them and give those on welfare the benefit of the doubt. It is proper that a large sector of them should advocate a greater redistribution of wealth, and criticise capitalism. (There are plenty of other voices to cheer capitalism.) Ideally, they should do with great caution, rather than Guardian-leader self-righteousness. But it’s OK for a few to dabble in more radical campaigning – that’s part of the Christian tradition. Overall, the survey suggests to me that the Church is in pretty good shape.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
3. Technology Enables Discipleship
Our church has an app where people can actually access the sermon outline, and people use their phones or iPads to follow along and take notes. Technology enables members and attendees to enhance their discipleship experience at church.
During certain series, we have encouraged our people to tweet questions in the middle of services, and we try to answer them.
All of these are tools to enhance discipleship. Technology, though, is not the goal. The goal is to enable the church’s mission to make disciples of all people groups.
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Many of the people who read this article will do so because Greg Marra, 26, a Facebook engineer, calculated that it was the kind of thing they might enjoy.
Mr. Marra’s team designs the code that drives Facebook’s News Feed — the stream of updates, photographs, videos and stories that users see. He is also fast becoming one of the most influential people in the news business.
Facebook now has a fifth of the world — about 1.3 billion people — logging on at least monthly. It drives up to 20 percent of traffic to news sites, according to figures from the analytics company SimpleReach. On mobile devices, the fastest-growing source of readers, the percentage is even higher, SimpleReach says, and continues to increase.
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"The purpose of the lectures is to encourage persons recognized for scholarship, wisdom, and creativity to undertake serious thought and original writing on an issue of significance for the Christian church and to promote the sharing of such thoughts through a series of public lectures."
Is this what you would choose if you had to pick a topic? Read here for more information.
Google just announced a new app called “Inbox” that has the potential to transform the way we email. But it also looks like it’s going to seriously annoy advertisers as a result.
One of the key features of the Google Now-like app is “Bundles.” Basically, Inbox automatically bundles together certain kinds of messages like bank statements and purchase receipts so it’s easy to scan through them quickly.
Another feature likely to catch the eye of advertisers is “Highlights” which helps you find key information like flight itineraries and event info, but it also pulls in information from the web that wasn’t in the original email like the real-time status of your flight.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Media Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology
If the left does own popular culture, it's because they worked hard for it, employing the conservative values of perseverance and creativity. There is a chasm that separates the infrastructure that the left has erected over the last 50 years to celebrate and interpret popular culture and the tiny space that establishment conservatism allocates to popular culture. It is for this reason, more than any claim that American popular culture is irredeemably decadent and leftist, that the right seems lost in the world of movies, music, and bestsellers. Every month, if not every week, important works of popular culture go unnoticed by the right. These are often things that speak to people's souls -- films that wrestle with questions of honor, novels, like Le Guin's about the meaning of sex and politics, music that explores the limits of self-sacrificial love.
And the right has nothing to contribute to the conversation.
In 1967 a college student named Jann Wenner borrowed $7,500 and founded Rolling Stone magazine because he wanted to cover the music and culture that was providing poetry to his generation. Around the same time a student named Martin Scorsese was graduating from New York University's film school, and a young would-be novelist named Ursula Le Guin was having her first five novels rejected. In other words, these artists, and many others, laid the groundwork for what they would eventually become -- the liberal establishment. They played the long game. This is why if musician Mark Turner had been inspired by Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, a book that imagines a race that can change its gender, there would be an interview in the New York Times, play on the internet, a mention in Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, maybe even a spot on Letterman. The structure is in place so that when an artist reinforces dominant liberal values, he or she has an instant pipeline to the people.
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Ready? Here’s what was fake on the Internet this week:
1. The only people who contracted Ebola in America, as of this writing, are two nurses who treated a Liberian man in Dallas. That is it, full stop, there is no one else. We could devote an entire Friday debunking — nay, an entire series of Friday debunkings — to nothing but the false Ebola rumors flitting around locations as far-flung as Anchorage. Instead, let’s make this brief: Nobody in the United States currently has Ebola, except (a) Nina Pham, who is currently being treated in isolation at the National Institutes of Health and (b) Amber Vinson, who was recently transferred to Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital,,,.
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So the first wall is the wall of withdrawal. Many of my Christian friends perceive a growing difference between the secular world and the Christian world, the difference between Jay-Z and Hillsong and the Jesus culture. The difference between Quentin Tarantino and Eugene Peterson, Richard Dawkins and Henri Nouwen, Columbia College and Calvin College. Many of my friends fear they are being written out of polite society because they believe in the Gospel. With that comes a psychology of an embattled minority. With that comes a defensiveness and a withdrawal, a fear, and a withdrawal into sub-culture. I certainly have friends how live in a sub-culture, work in a sub-culture, Christian in the sub-culture, socialize in the sub-culture, and if you live in a broader society, that is governed by the spiritual longing that doesn’t know how to express itself, is withdrawing into your own separate sub-culture really the right thing to do.
I think that’s being governed by fear and not love.
The second wall is the wall of condescension. In a lot of the walls come from a unique psychology which I have observed. Which is a weird mixture of – this is going to sound a little rude – in the Christian culture a mixture of wanton intellectual inferiority complex combined with a spiritual superiority complex.
And the second wall is the wall of condescension. There is sometimes a belief among some people that those who have been with Christ a long time can adopt a paternal attitude toward those who have not been with Christ, or who have come to Christ recently. And this is a caring condescension. It’s people wanting to help. But it’s also a form of pride to know the route God has chosen for each of us. It’s a form of closed-mindedness. It’s off-putting. People who have come to Christ recently may not at all, may not have lived in the church for very long. But they have lived, and read and thought and they haven’t come back from these experiences with empty hands and they have as much to teach as to learn.
The third wall is the wall of bad listening.
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At least 17 Ebola cases have been treated outside of West Africa in the current outbreak, including two Dallas hospital workers who have tested positive for Ebola. Most of these involve health and aid workers who contracted Ebola in West Africa and were transported back to their home country for treatment. Four cases were diagnosed outside of West Africa: A Liberian man who began showing symptoms four days after arriving in Dallas, a Spanish nurse who became ill after treating a missionary in a Madrid hospital and the two Dallas hospital workers who were involved in the treatment of the Liberian man. These cases are compiled from reports by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders and other official agencies.
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In a state where legal marijuana seemingly is everywhere, Colorado public health officials have taken an unusual approach to warning teenagers about the dangers of the drug: likening young pot smokers to laboratory animals.
Concerned about a potential jump in youth marijuana use now that the state has legalized the drug for adults, Colorado is displaying three human-size cages in various communities with signs that bear provocative messages about the drug’s pitfalls, as part of its “Don’t Be A Lab Rat” campaign.
“Does Marijuana really cause schizophrenia in teenagers? Smoke and find out,” one sign says. “Subjects needed. Must be a teenager. Must smoke weed. Must have 8 IQ points to spare,” reads another.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Media Teens / Youth * Economics, Politics Politics in General State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
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Liberalism seems to have an irrational animus against Christianity. Consider these two stories highlighted in the last week by conservative Christian blogger Rod Dreher.
Item 1: In a widely discussed essay in Slate, author Brian Palmer writes about the prevalence of missionary doctors and nurses in Africa and their crucial role in treating those suffering from Ebola. Palmer tries to be fair-minded, but he nonetheless expresses "ambivalence," "suspicion," and "visceral discomfort" about the fact that these men and women are motivated to make "long-term commitments to address the health problems of poor Africans," to "risk their lives," and to accept poor compensation (and sometimes none at all) because of their Christian faith.
The question is why he considers this a problem.
Palmer mentions a lack of data and an absence of regulatory oversight. But he's honest enough to admit that these aren't the real reasons for his concern. The real reason is that he doesn't believe that missionaries are capable "of separating their religious work from their medical work," even when they vow not to proselytize their patients. And that, in his view, is unacceptable — apparently because he's an atheist and religion creeps him out. As he puts it, rather wanly, "It's great that these people are doing God's work, but do they have to talk about Him so much?"
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Missions * Culture-Watch Education Law & Legal Issues Media Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Having spent most of his career writing original music for TV and film scores, as well as orchestral-choral / filmic music for commercial release and live performance, Steven wanted to do some composing that would bring together his two vocations: composing music for media and being an ordained minister in the Anglican Church.
The result was the Psalms Project, a contemporary journey through the vivid landscape of the Psalms, told in the musical language of feature films.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch History Media Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Theology: Scripture
More than 300 Anglican priests, parishioners and other Christians have signed an open “love letter” to bishops in the Church of England who are secretly gay urging them to “come out” about their sexuality.
In one of the most unusual petitions ever addressed to the leadership of the established church, they have issued a direct plea to members of the episcopate who are gay or bisexual to have the “courage and conviction” to acknowledge it publicly.
The signatories, who include at least 160 priests and several members of the Church’s governing General Synod, pledge to “welcome and embrace” those bishops who decide to go public but strongly object to any attempt to involuntarily “out” anyone.
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The writing of this letter in itself, however, is not enough. The statement is ambiguous in crucial areas, which not only weaken its argument, but also question whether it is truly a rigorous and valid refutation of ISIS’s deeds and claims. In what follows, I will focus only on two of them: the concept of jihad and the restoration of the Muslim caliphate. While this letter claims to present the correct version of the Muslim teaching, its imprecise description of important areas makes it subject to different, and sometimes opposite, understandings, leaving the reader, especially the non-Muslim, puzzled regarding correct Islamic teaching.
First, concerning the concept of jihad, the letter reads: “The word ‘jihad’ is an Islamic term that cannot be applied to armed conflict against any other Muslim.” Okay, but what about non-Muslims? Can jihad be applied against them? The letter, though recommending jihad as a form of self-piety or a way to strive against one’s ego, does not specify against whom armed jihad should be applied. This leaves the door open for interpretation.
Moreover, it states that “All Muslims see the great virtue in jihad,” and does not explain what “the jihad against the enemy” really means. In fact, the letter applauds and praises the “intentions” of the members of ISIS, noting, “it is clear that you [Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi] and your fighters are fearless and are ready to sacrifice in your intent for jihad.” The approval sends mixed signals....
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(Blog readers are asked to note that "the newspaper is editorially independent of the Church of Ireland, the views expressed in the newspaper, including editorial comment, not necessarily reflecting official Church of Ireland policy.")--KSH.
ORDER & TIMING OF TOPICS
The Anglican Communion, 00:00-02:22;
Anglicans/Episcopalians in North America, 02:22-04.45;
The Lambeth Conference, 04:45-05:40;
Payday lenders & Wonga, 05:40-08:33;
The Media, 08:33-10:00;
European Court of Human Rights & Human Rights issues, 10:00-13:07;
ISIL & Iraq situation, 13:07-17:10;
Northern Ireland political situation, 17:10-18:47;
Doubt in the Christian life, 18:47-end.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of Ireland * Culture-Watch Media * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Theology Ecclesiology
Equally important to this book are [Andrew] Pettegree's observations about the history of news and the questions that they raise concerning the current age of information. For example, if, as Pettegree argues, "news is fresh to anyone who hears or reads it for the first time," then how important is expediency and immediacy to the reader? Furthermore, The Invention of News raises the question of what makes for trustworthy news. While modern audiences trust print and digital media, in "the early medieval tradition … word of mouth was more to be trusted than a written report." Finally, why do most people watch or read the news? Do they consume news because it is important to their lives or because it is "an accoutrement of a polite life"?
Pettegree does not seem too interested in uncovering answers to such questions. This is unfortunate for readers who are expecting a more opinionated study, but it is not unwarranted. By keeping these topics at arms' length, Pettegree avoids any sidetracks that would distract from plotting a clear, historical trajectory of news. This he does very well.
The Invention of News delivers a rich and compelling narrative, which picks away at several common presumptions about the history of news. While he gives leading newspapermen like John Wilkes their due, Pettegree complicates our understanding of the newspaper as an agent of "empowerment and emancipation." The Invention of News veers away from the sort of Whiggish triumphalism that would set up the newspaper as the pinnacle of democratic expression. This is particularly germane in our own day, as the newspaper continues to decline in popularity and other media compete for its place. As Pettegree explains, the newspaper—a latecomer and late-bloomer in the story of news—has always been one among many news outlets in the culture of Western media.
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