Posted by Kendall Harmon

In light of the grand jury decision handed down tonight in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, MO, I think it is of utmost importance that all Christians, but specifically white evangelicals, talk a little less and listen a little more.

Or, put another way, maybe some need to spend less time insisting that African Americans shouldn't be upset and spend more time asking why some are. Yes, this case reminds us again that the racial divide is clear, as a just released CNN poll demostrated.

I wasn't in the grand jury room, and I don't know the evidence, but many godly African American leaders are hurting and they are explaining why.

I think we should listen to them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 25, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It also needs to be kept in mind that apart from the pursuit of truth, each individual becomes the criterion for measuring himself and his own actions. The way is thus opened to a subjectivistic assertion of rights, so that the concept of human rights, which has an intrinsically universal import, is replaced by an individualistic conception of rights. This leads to an effective lack of concern for others and favours that globalization of indifference born of selfishness, the result of a conception of man incapable of embracing the truth and living an authentic social dimension.

This kind of individualism leads to human impoverishment and cultural aridity, since it effectively cuts off the nourishing roots on which the tree grows. Indifferent individualism leads to the cult of opulence reflected in the throwaway culture all around us. We have a surfeit of unnecessary things, but we no longer have the capacity to build authentic human relationships marked by truth and mutual respect. And so today we are presented with the image of a Europe which is hurt, not only by its many past ordeals, but also by present-day crises which it no longer seems capable of facing with its former vitality and energy; a Europe which is a bit tired and pessimistic, which feels besieged by events and winds of change coming from other continents.

To Europe we can put the question: “Where is your vigour? Where is that idealism which inspired and ennobled your history? Where is your spirit of curiosity and enterprise? Where is your thirst for truth, a thirst which hitherto you have passionately shared with the world?

The future of the continent will depend on the answer to these questions.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 25, 2014 at 9:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Europe weary with disorientation. And I don't want to be a pessimist, but let's tell the truth: after food, clothing, and medicine, what are the most important expenditures? Cosmetics, and I don't know how to say this in Italian, but the “mascotas,” the little animals. They don't have children, but their affection goes to the little cat, to the little dog. And this is the second expenditure after the three main ones. The third is the whole industry to promote sexual pleasure. So it’s food, medicine, clothing, cosmetics, little animals, and the life of pleasure. Our young people feel this, they see this, they live this.

I liked very much what His Eminence said, because this is truly the drama of Europe today. But it's not the end. I believe that Europe has many resources for going forward. It's like a sickness that Europe has today. A wound. And the greatest resource is the person of Jesus. Europe, return to Jesus! Return to that Jesus whom you have said was not in your roots! And this is the work of the pastors: to preach Jesus in the midst of these wounds. I have spoken of only a few, but there are tremendous wounds. To preach Jesus. And I ask you this: don't be ashamed to proclaim Jesus Christ risen who has redeemed us all. And for us too that the Lord may not rebuke us, as today in the Gospel of Luke he rebuked these two cities.

The Lord wants to save us. I believe this. This is our mission: to proclaim Jesus Christ, without shame. And he is ready to open the doors of his heart, because he manifests his omnipotence above all in mercy and forgiveness. Let's go forward with preaching. Let's not be ashamed. So many ways of preaching, but to mama Europe - or grandma Europe, or wounded Europe - only Jesus Christ can speak a word of salvation today. Only he can open a door of escape.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriology

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Posted November 24, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr. Basuki, a 48-year-old Protestant whose grandfather was a tin miner from Guangzhou, China, was sworn in Wednesday [of last week] at the State Palace by President Joko Widodo.

None of Jakarta’s previous governors have been Christian or of Chinese ancestry, except for one who served briefly as an appointee half a century ago (like Mr. Basuki, he was both). And despite Indonesia’s history of discrimination — and, at times, savage violence — against ethnic Chinese, Mr. Basuki says he considers neither his faith nor his ethnicity to be a political handicap.

“When people told me ‘the Chinese are a minority,’ my father would say to tell them that we are more patriotic,” Mr. Basuki said in a recent interview. “If one day Indonesia is occupied by a foreign country, my father said he would be in front of the front line to fight for our independence again.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaIndonesia* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 24, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Take the time to watch it all (about 16-19 minutes).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Barack Obama’s immigration plan offers “a word of mercy and a measure of justice,” said United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño, co-chair of the denomination’s interagency task force on immigration reform.

The plan means undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years and have children who are U.S. citizens or residents “can now come out of the shadows,” said Carcaño, episcopal leader for the California-Pacific Conference.

The United Methodist Council of Bishops has long supported immigration reform and encouraged local communities “to participate in ministries of mercy and justice,” said Bishop Julius C. Trimble, co-chair of the interagency task force on immigration reform and episcopal leader of the Iowa Conference.

Trimble said critics have attacked the president’s action before, saying reform is the responsibility of Congress.

Read it all

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted November 22, 2014 at 5:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In one of Ross’s most effective chapters, she argues that low-church evangelical liturgy has taken many of its cues from the Gospel of John, while more high-church traditions have tended to look toward the synoptics. She cites John’s emphasis on personal faith, de-emphasis of high offices, and prioritization of Christology as ways in which this particular gospel has deeply influenced low-church liturgical practices. Ross’s goal here, she tells us, is not to establish which reading or which liturgical practice ought to be favored. She seeks instead to highlight that the breadth of scripture suggests that a breadth of interpretations can be welcomed and affirmed by the Christian church. Ross writes, “Nonsacramental Christianity is one faithful way of embodying the shared confession of faith. My hope is that the discipline of liturgical studies is wide enough to embrace ‘both-and’ without mandating ‘either-or.’”

Yet for all the book’s strengths, it is one thing to demonstrate that a system of thought or group of practices are coherent; it is quite another to demonstrate that they are good. While any fair-minded high-church reader of Ross’s work should be able to finish this book with a greater understanding of evangelical liturgical practices, I am not sure that he will come away from this book feeling more sympathetic to low-church evangelicalism. It is possible, in fact, that greater theological clarity might bring about greater discomfort, as some high-church readers may see their worst fears being confirmed in these elucidating pages, particularly by phrases like “nonsacramental Christianity.” Furthermore, those already suspicious of the excesses of Finney and Whitefield are unlikely to be persuaded otherwise by Ross’s discussion of their role in the formation of evangelical liturgical practices.

Still, it is better to have an informed conversation than an uninformed one.

Read it all

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted November 22, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read them all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 21, 2014 at 4:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The celebration after the College of St. Scholastica won its fourth consecutive conference football championship resembled an extended family gathering this month. Oblivious to the numbing cold, players, coaches, family members and students lingered on the field, exchanging hugs and posing with the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference championship banner.

In the midst of it, Mike Lehmann, a beefy reserve offensive lineman, approached an assistant coach with a request. “Coach, my mom wants a picture,” he said.

So Lehmann wrapped an arm around the diminutive coach in the dark blue winter jacket and matching fleece headband, who is beloved around this little Catholic school for a quick smile and inspiring manner — Sister Lisa Maurer, the Benedictine nun who coaches kickers and punters for the 10-0 Saints.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureSportsYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted November 21, 2014 at 3:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the last few decades, there has been much talk about “Six Degrees of Separation,” which is the idea that any person in the world can be introduced to any other person in the world, by being introduced through our networks of friends. Statisticians have demonstrated that anyone in the US can be introduced to almost anyone else in the US by going through only two or three friends. But as often as we hear such things, it is still amazing when it happens “in real life.”

This week I received a private message on Facebook from a woman I never met. And that was the beginning (or possibly the end) of an unusual series of connections through my life and through social media. To understand the connections that led to this message, let me go back in time to high school.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 21, 2014 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On a Sunday morning this past October, some 1,500 preachers and ministers across the country joined in a nationwide protest they called Pulpit Freedom Sunday. They spoke defiantly from their pulpits about political campaigns and pending legislation. They even endorsed politicians, knowingly violating laws meant to prevent such mixing of church and state. Organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom, this group of evangelicals targeted the Johnson Amendment, which forbids tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates and getting involved in campaigns. By violating these rules in an act of civil disobedience, they hoped to trigger a court case to get the amendment overturned. The issue, as they see it, is too much involvement by the government in religious life. The government should not tell Christians how to run their businesses, how to teach their children, or—as the Pulpit Freedom Sunday protesters asserted—how to write their sermons.

These sermons of protest were part of a broader political mobilization among religious institutions in the United States in recent years. The number of “Nones”—those professing no religious affiliation—is on the rise, and a small but vocal group of atheists are challenging Christian displays in public spaces. And the Christian Right appears to be losing the battle on gay rights. In response, many of the leading conservative religious organizations are mobilizing politically while also shifting their strategy. Their new aim is to mark off a part of life that can remain Christian, to protect Christians as a minority that can stand apart from the demands of a national culture they see as being dominated by secularism. The Hobby Lobby case was only the most prominent example of this trend.

On the other hand, a broad swath of American Christians sees things entirely differently. Although they receive far less attention, members of the religious left do not feel besieged by their country. Instead, they are pushing law and politics in the very directions the religious right is resisting. The United Church of Christ filed suit in April 2014 to overturn the prohibition on gay marriage in North Carolina. In the same state, many ministers are participating in the “Moral Monday” campaigns, a movement that is saturated in religious language. And Jim Wallis and Cornel West were arrested last month for protesting police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri. Although the left differs with the right on cultural policy, both groups see political mobilization as being at the heart of religious thought and practice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 21, 2014 at 9:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I’m Nur. I’m 19. I’m an Arab, I’m a Muslim,” says a young man in a hoodie and grey sweats. “I’m a good person living in a bad area,” he pauses and looks up from his script. “Can someone listen while I speak?” Nur asks.

This is a rehearsal for Conflict of Silence, a radio play to be performed — and recorded — in Birmingham on November 17. The three stars, all unemployed, are different ages and of different ethnic backgrounds. What they share is religious faith: Derek, who reads his script straight, then in West Indian patois, is Christian. Nur and Hanna, a tall, leggy girl in a magenta hijab, are Muslim. And they could not be more different. “What I’ve learnt is the strong effect that different cultures have on Islam,” says Derek. Hanna is of Somali origin, Nur’s family are from Yemen. “We had a bit of a disagreement about women staying at home,” says Hanna lightly.

And that is the point. This is a project for InterFaith Week (which runs from tomorrow until next Satuday), and the aim is to air differences and have open debate. The audience will be invited to respond afterwards, ask questions, share thoughts. “The play is a question mark rather than a full stop,” says Steve, the Christian co-ordinating the play for Soul City Arts. The hope is to spark dialogue between polarised faith communities. He explains: “Our [faith] communities aren’t talking because we are afraid to challenge each other.” People remain polite, he adds, but, often in Muslim majority areas, community relations are perceived “as a question of them and us”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / Youth* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted November 20, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Prominent U.S. evangelicals Russell Moore and Rick Warren blasted the sexual revolution at a Vatican conference Tuesday (Nov. 18) and said it is destroying the institution of marriage.

Moore, the public face of the Southern Baptist Convention, said sexual liberation had created “a culture obsessed with sex” that had simply led to a “boredom of sex shorn of mystery.”

“Western culture now celebrates casual sexuality, cohabitation, no-fault divorce, family redefinition and abortion right as part of a sexual revolution that can tear down old patriarchal systems,” Moore told a global gathering of leaders from Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and other faiths as part of the “Complementarity of Man and Woman” conference convened by Pope Francis.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMenSexualityWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 19, 2014 at 1:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Check it out and note the speakers included--Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsJudaism

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Posted November 18, 2014 at 9:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What lessons were learned from the ERLC conference that might serve as a guide in the days ahead?

On homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the conference stands alone, at least from my perspective, as an earnest first attempt to move evangelicals in a deliberate direction toward more loving, thoughtful engagement on issues that are deeply visceral and deeply divisive. The conference also highlighted the ongoing attempt to rehabilitate the institution of marriage in a same-sex marriage world.

Simply being against same-sex marriage is an insufficient apologetic for rebuilding marriage as a cultural fixture. When deviations from marriage—such as cohabitation, divorce, and promiscuity—become routine, same-sex marriage can seem intelligible and acceptable. In attempts to halt the dictatorship of sexual relativism, the ERLC is dedicated to helping undo the foundations of the sexual revolution that have chipped away at marriage, not just fixing its symptoms.

The conference also revealed that evangelicals are taking a play out of the pro-life handbook.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsEvangelicalsRoman CatholicSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We know that today marriage and the family are in crisis. We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.

Evidence is mounting that the decline of the marriage culture is associated with increased poverty and a host of other social ills, disproportionately affecting women, children and the elderly. It is always they who suffer the most in this crisis.

The crisis in the family has produced an ecological crisis, for social environments, like natural environments, need protection. And although the human race has come to understand the need to address conditions that menace our natural environments, we have been slower to recognize that our fragile social environments are under threat as well, slower in our culture, and also in our Catholic Church. It is therefore essential that we foster a new human ecology.

It is necessary first to promote the fundamental pillars that govern a nation: its non-material goods. The family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted November 17, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Canon Andrew White is one of the bravest people I know. For nine years this former Middle East envoy for the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has played a key role in freeing hostages in the region, has been the vicar of St George’s church in Baghdad.

As such, he has been the emblem and body-armoured defender of Iraq’s Christian community, which has been under murderous assault in the wars that have engulfed Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

A few days ago, at a conference I chaired in Jerusalem, Canon White told me that the Archbishop of Canterbury has now forbidden him to return to his church in its heavily barricaded compound. Given the advance towards Baghdad of Islamic State (Isis) — which has now murdered a fifth hostage, the American Peter Kassig — it is simply too dangerous even for him.

More than 1,200 members of his congregation and several of his staff have been murdered in the past few years. His flock has dwindled from 6,500 to 1,000 today, including the six remaining Jews in Iraq, who have lived under his personal protection.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted November 17, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The archbishop who distributes charity on behalf of Pope Francis has announced that the public restrooms in St. Peter's Square will include showers where the homeless can wash.

The service will require volunteers and donations of soap, towels and clean underwear, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, told Catholic News Service Nov. 13. "We have to be evangelical, but intelligent, too."

Several people living on the streets of Rome or in tents say it is not difficult to find a parish or charity that will give them something to eat, but finding a place to wash is much more difficult.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePovertyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeItaly* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 16, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Latin America is home to more than 425 million Catholics – nearly 40% of the world’s total Catholic population – and the Roman Catholic Church now has a Latin American pope for the first time in its history. Yet identification with Catholicism has declined throughout the region, according to a major new Pew Research Center survey that examines religious affiliations, beliefs and practices in 18 countries and one U.S. territory (Puerto Rico) across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Historical data suggest that for most of the 20th century, from 1900 through the 1960s, at least 90% of Latin America’s population was Catholic (See History of Religious Change). Today, the Pew Research survey shows, 69% of adults across the region identify as Catholic. In nearly every country surveyed, the Catholic Church has experienced net losses from religious switching, as many Latin Americans have joined evangelical Protestant churches or rejected organized religion altogether. For example, roughly one-in-four Nicaraguans, one-in-five Brazilians and one-in-seven Venezuelans are former Catholics.

Overall, 84% of Latin American adults report that they were raised Catholic, 15 percentage points more than currently identify as Catholic. The pattern is reversed among Protestants and people who do not identify with any religion: While the Catholic Church has lost adherents through religious switching, both Protestant churches and the religiously unaffiliated population in the region have gained members. Just one-in-ten Latin Americans (9%) were raised in Protestant churches, but nearly one-in-five (19%) now describe themselves as Protestants. And while only 4% of Latin Americans were raised without a religious affiliation, twice as many (8%) are unaffiliated today.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryLatin America & CaribbeanSouth America* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted November 16, 2014 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Carlos Whittaker, a prominent evangelical writer and musician, was singing worship songs on stage in 2005 when he suddenly felt like he was having a heart attack and that he would soon die. An audience of 2,000 people watched, and the band played on, as Whittaker left the stage, not knowing that he was having a panic attack.

Though some people still tell Whittaker that his anxiety could be improved if he would just make his faith stronger and pray more, evangelical leaders and grassroots activists are orchestrating a shift in the way the community approaches mental health issues.

“This has nothing to with whether I believe in Jesus,” Whittaker told the Guardian. “This does not have anything to do with whether or not I am reading my Bible or how hard I am praying. I can pray 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and I’m still going to have to take that little white pill every single day.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineMusicPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When two global religious leaders embrace one another, someone is sure to turn the encounter into a photo opportunity.

The photo-op on Nov. 7 was symbolic and, for many, historic. The elder statesman was the Rev. Billy Graham, and rather than an evangelical superstar, the man who met with him at his North Carolina mountain home was Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev. This visit was linked to a Hilarion address to a Charlotte gathering of Protestant and Orthodox leaders, organized by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

After generations of work with organizations such as the Episcopal Church and the World Council of Churches, the archbishop said many Orthodox leaders now realize that -- on issues of sex, marriage, family life and moral theology -- some of their ecumenical partners will be found in evangelical pulpits and pews.

"In today's pluralistic world, the processes of liberalization have swept over some Christian communities. Many churches have diverted from biblical teaching ... even if this attitude is not endorsed by the majority of these communities' members," said Hilarion, who is the Moscow Patriarchate's chief ecumenical officer.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOrthodox Church* Theology

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Posted November 15, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis denounced the right to die movement on Saturday, saying that euthanasia is a sin against God and creation.

The Latin American pontiff said it was a “false sense of compassion” to consider euthanasia as an act of dignity.

Earlier this month, the Vatican’s top bioethics official condemned as “reprehensible” the death by assisted suicide of a 29-year-old American woman, Brittany Maynard, who was suffering terminal brain cancer and said she wanted to die with dignity.

“This woman (took her own life) thinking she would die with dignity, but this is the error,” said Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife Ethics* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 15, 2014 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The remarkable fall from grace of the evangelical preacher Mark Driscoll could provide case-study materials on public ministry for years to come. The Seattle pastor’s resignation from his megachurch on Oct. 14 and the subsequent dissolution of the church he built had nothing to do with the sort of sordid scandals that in the past brought down preachers such as Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. Mr. Driscoll’s downfall had a great deal to do with the online world that he had seemed to master, a world that made him famous but also exposed what he called in his resignation letter his “pride, anger and a domineering spirit.”

Boosted by live streaming, podcasts and social media, Mr. Driscoll harnessed the Internet to propel his nondenominational ministry beyond Mars Hill, his local congregation. He was known for his muscular, in-your-face style of preaching about Jesus, depicting Christ as more superhero than lamb of God, once declaring: “I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” This aggressive posture, visible online and off, paradoxically made the once “cussin’ pastor” famous but also helped bring down his ministry.

“The same rough edges that can land you in hot water are the very same things that attracted, in some cases, tens of thousands of people to you in the first place,” Mark DeMoss, whom Mars Hill hired to do public relations for six months before Mr. Driscoll’s resignation, told me.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 14, 2014 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Prominent author and pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay recently sat down for an honest and heartfelt discussion about how to fight for an awesome marriage in a society that continually pulls against it.

The couple, who have been married for 39 years, use four seasons to describe different stages of marriage and share tips on how to best draw closer to God and to one another during each seasons.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 13, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to a former editor of Marvel Comics, one reason why the graphic novel has nearly universally eschewed marriage is that it “kills a good story.” Whatever could be exciting about Clark Kent if he were to remain married to Lois Lane? Not much, apparently, because DC Comics erased the 1996 marriage from history, returning Superman to bachelorhood, the preferred state of our superheroes.

Exceptions exist, of course. Amour, The Incredibles, and In America, along with many Tyler Perry films, focus on and celebrate marriage. Recent movies, such as Drinking Buddies, also trace the relation between friendship and romance, and even between friendship and marriage, explored, for example, throughout the Harry Potter franchise.

One marvelous exception is the critically acclaimed television series Friday Night Lights (FNL), which aired from 2006 to 2011. It tells the story of ordinary people in a small Texas town and their impassioned love of football. But, as Basinger notes, FNL is not so much a show about football as it is “a show about how marriage works when it actually does work.” For critics and fans alike, there has arguably never been a more honest marriage portrayed on the screen than that of coach Eric and Tami Taylor.

Theirs, unfortunately, remains the exception. More common on the small and large screen is the sense that marriage, particularly traditional marriage, is dull and irrelevant as storytelling material. More usual is the view that, “as in the days of the judges,” each one does with marriage what seems right in his or her eyes, whether in “open,” “free,” or “transgressive” style.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 12, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He stood for many years alone—he was long opposed, ridiculed, shunned—his doctrines were misrepresented—his little peculiarities of voice and manner were satirized—disturbances were frequently raised in his church or he was a person not taken into account, nor considered in the light of a regular clergyman in the church.
--as quoted in William Carus, Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Charles Simeon (New York: Robert Carter, 1848), p.39

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted November 12, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O loving God, who orderest all things by thine unerring wisdom and unbounded love: Grant us in all things to see thy hand; that, following the example and teaching of thy servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve thee with a quiet and contented mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedSpirituality/Prayer* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted November 12, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Pasadena, the group visited Fuller Theological Seminary to hear a lecture from psychology professor Warren S. Brown about “Neuroscience and Theology.” The Denver group visited two labs at the Colorado School of Mines and heard a talk titled “Planet Earth Care: Does It Matter?” by Kennell J. Touryan, retired chief technology analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). In Atlanta, participants visited two biology labs at Georgia Tech and a local megachurch, and heard from Ravi Jayakaran about the work of the faith-based global health agency MAP International.

In all three locations, some evangelicals said that they had never been to a working science lab and, in Atlanta, several scientists likewise said that they had never visited a megachurch.

“Visiting the science labs and seeing the intriguing blend of intellectual virtuosity and painstaking drudgery that fills the scientists’ hours helped me to appreciate in a new way the noble calling of modern scientists,” said Galen Carey, vice president of government relations at the National Association of Evangelicals.

“I thought there might be disinterest, especially among scientists, for participating in a workshop of dialogue like this with evangelical leaders,” said Jennifer Wiseman, director of the DoSER program at AAAS. Instead, Wiseman was surprised by the eagerness of influential science leaders, including high-ranking research deans and academic department chairs, to participate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted November 10, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On November 8th, 2014 Archbishop Foley Beach met with Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, Chairman of the Department of External Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church.

The meeting, welcomed by Metropolitan Hilarion at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York, was an opportunity to meet Archbishop Beach, as well as continue the ecumenical dialogue between faithful Anglicans in North America and the Orthodox Churches.

Bishop Ray Sutton, Provincial Dean and Dean of Ecumenical Affairs was also present at the meeting, and was encouraged by the extension of ecumenical continuity, “Metropolitan Hilarion was with us when we met together for dialogue at Nashotah House in 2012, at which time he expressed a desire to continue Anglican/Orthodox dialogue through the Anglican Church in North America, and this meeting tonight with Archbishop Beach further encourages the strengthening of ties between the Anglican Church in North America and Orthodox churches in this part of the world.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

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Posted November 10, 2014 at 2:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you haven’t thought much about intersexuality, you’re not alone. Even though approximately 1 in 2,000 people are born with intersex (roughly the same amount as are born with cystic fibrosis or Down’s syndrome) it’s rarely discussed. One of the reasons for this is that doctors have employed a concealment-centered model focused on normalizing—through surgery and medication—the body and often even concealing intersexuality from the patient.

There is also striking lack of agreement among doctors about the precise definition of intersex....

While intersex activists have done an excellent job of re-educating the medical profession about the perils of across-the-board involuntary gender assignment, our cultural commitment to the male/female binary is about the reinforcement of majority rule, tradition, culture, and power. And a great deal of that tradition is about Christianity. According to Genesis, when God created humanity he created “humankind in his image” and “male and female he created them.” The idea that human beings are created in the image of God and divided into two complementary pairs has left a deep impression in our understanding of the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 8, 2014 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

..now another voice is being heard. The last pope is neither dead nor senile nor as silent as we thought he was going to be. In the last month Benedict XVI has written to the ex-Anglicans of the Ordinariate expressing delight that they now worship in the former Bavarian chapel in Warwick Street, London; to Rome’s Pontifical Urban University about the dangers of relativism; and, most significantly, to supporters of the old liturgy. ‘I am very glad that the usus antiquior [the traditional Latin Mass] now lives in full peace within the church, also among the young, supported and celebrated by great cardinals,’ he said. In fact, very few cardinals celebrate in the old rite. But one who does is Raymond Burke. ‘Benedict is well aware of that,’ says a Ratzinger loyalist. ‘He’s not under the illusion that he’s still pope, but he was appalled by the sight of Kasper trashing his legacy and he is making his displeasure clear.’

Where does this leave Francis? Looking a bit like ‘the Hamlet Pope’, Paul VI, whom he has beatified. He supports some sort of reform, but uncertainty is breaking the church into factions reminiscent of the Anglican Communion. Old enemies of Benedict XVI reckon they can persuade Francis to stack the college of cardinals in their favour. Meanwhile, Burke has emerged as leader of the hardline traditionalists. ‘He did not want this role but perhaps he sees himself as a St John Fisher figure,’ says one Vatican source, a comparison that casts the successor of Peter in the role of Henry VIII.

What should worry Francis is that moderate conservative Catholics are losing confidence in him...

Read it all

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis

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Posted November 7, 2014 at 8:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Billy Graham, born just days before the end of World War I, turns 96 on Friday.

This year, he’ll celebrate his birthday quietly with family at his mountaintop home in Montreat.

No big party is planned like last year’s, when 900 people – including a score of celebrities – gathered at Asheville’s Grove Park Inn.

But admirers of the Charlotte-born evangelist can listen to a new message from Graham in a 30-minute video called “Heaven” that was produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & Medicine* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

John Wesley, like him or love him, could not be accused of neglecting the biblical idiom. His sermons glow, or sometimes sag, with Scripture's peculiar phrasings. He famously called himself homo unius libri, "a man of one book." You got it — he means the Bible. Yet, as Randy Maddox notes, Wesley owned over 1,000 books, ranging from Christian history to medicine, politics, poetry, and beyond. The elegant harmony Wesley (like Hamann) saw between the thousands of books and the One Book is already inscribed in his bold self-moniker — do not let the humor pass you by — Wesley announces that he is homo unius libri in Latin. He is an Oxford Bible Moth, to be sure.

In Wesley, Wesleyans, and Reading Bible as Scripture (Green and Watson, ed.s.), Maddox observes how John Wesley himself read the Bible, with an eye to hinting at how we might follow Wesley's lead.

Wesley's practices which Maddox unpacks in his chapter are:

1. Reading the One Book comparatively in its many different versions
2. Reading comparatively the many books in the One Book
3. Reading comparatively in light of God's central purpose — our salvation
4. Reading the One Book in conference with the Holy Spirit
5. Reading the One Book in conference with other readers
6. Reading the One Book in conference with Christian tradition
7. Reading the One Book in conference with the Book of Nature

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 7, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Cardinals Donald Wuerl of the Washington Archdiocese and Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stopped by for a visit to the ordinariate community of St. Luke’s at Immaculate Conception Church in Washington, the cardinals and priests halted in the church on the way out to sing together the hymn Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy.

In a quiet way, it was a remarkable, unplanned scene: Fathers Mark Lewis and Richard Kramer, who had begun their ministries as Episcopal priests, singing a hymn to the Virgin Mary with two cardinals of the Catholic Church, Msgr. James Watkins, pastor of Immaculate Conception, and several priests from Rome, on the eve of the fifth anniversary of then-Pope Benedict XVI’s Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Issued Nov. 4, 2009, Anglicanorum Coetibus is an apostolic constitution that provided for personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. The document allows former Episcopalians and Anglicans to bring elements of their patrimony, including their distinctive liturgy, into the Catholic Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVIPope Francis * Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Vatican-sponsored gathering, on the "Complementarity of Man and Woman," will take place 17-19 November and feature more than 30 speakers representing 23 countries and various Christian churches, as well as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism and Sikhism.

The conference will aim to "examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society," according to organisers.

Speakers will include Lord Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of Great Britain, and Anglican Bishops N.T. Wright and Michael Nazir-Ali.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenWomen* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 4, 2014 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Your new book is entitled Hope Reborn. Give us some insight into the title and what you’re trying to accomplish overall with the book.

As I argued in a recent article, hope is a uniquely Christian attribute. Paul makes this very clear throughout 1 Corinthians 15 where he underlines that we have a hope that goes beyond the grave, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Our first goal with this book is to introduce people to this hope. And for those who are already Christians, we pray that their own hope will be renewed, so they are inspired and equipped to share their faith with others.

Peter tells us “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchBooks* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEschatology

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Posted November 4, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sporting an “I voted” sticker yet? On Tuesday, Nov. 4, many citizens across the United States will head to the polls. Others will stay at home, arguing, “My vote won’t make a difference.”

However, two young United Methodist pastors beg to differ.

The Rev. Elizabeth Murray, a provisional deacon in the South Carolina Conference, is director of Hispanic ministries at Mount Hebron United Methodist Church, West Columbia, South Carolina, and a Hispanic/Latino ministry consultant to the conference Office of Congregational Development.

“I vote,” she says, “because I know voting can make a difference in my community, nation and the lives of others. I vote, not only because it is my civic duty as a United States citizen, but also because I have vowed, as a Christian, to do no harm and to do good. I vote to protect the rights of — and promote equality for — women. I vote to make sure everyone has equal access to the right to vote. I vote for my voice to be heard on comprehensive immigration reform.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 4, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The coastal city of Wenzhou is sometimes called China’s Jerusalem. Ringed by mountains and far from the capital, Beijing, it has long been a haven for a religion that China’s Communist leaders view with deep unease: Christianity. Most cities of its size, with about 9m people, have no more than a dozen or so visibly Christian buildings. Until recently, in Wenzhou, hundreds of crosses decorated church roofs.

This year, however, more than 230 have been classed as “illegal structures” and removed. Videos posted on the internet show crowds of parishioners trying to form a human shield around their churches. Dozens have been injured. Other films show weeping believers defiantly singing hymns as huge red crosses are hoisted off the buildings. In April one of Wenzhou’s largest churches was completely demolished. Officials are untroubled by the clash between the city’s famously freewheeling capitalism and the Communist Party’s ideology, yet still see religion and its symbols as affronts to the party’s atheism.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Churches* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
the first two days of November are for all of us an intense moment of faith, prayer and reflection on the "last things" of life. In fact in celebrating all the saints and commemorating all the faithful departed, in the Liturgy the pilgrim Church on earth lives and expresses the spiritual bond which unites her to the Church in heaven. Today we praise God for the countless host of holy men and women of all ages: simple men and women, who sometimes were the "last" for the world, but "first" for God. At the same time we already remember our departed loved ones by visiting cemeteries: It is a source of great consolation to think that they are in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles, the martyrs and all the saints of Heaven!

Today's Solemnity thus helps us to consider a fundamental truth of the Christian faith that we profess in the "Creed": the communion of saints. It is the communion that comes from faith and unites all those who belong to Christ by Baptism. It is a spiritual union that is not broken by death, but continues in the next life. In fact there is an unbreakable bond between us living in this world and those who have crossed the threshold of death. We here on earth, along with those who have entered into eternity, form one great family.

This beautiful communion between heaven and earth takes place in the highest and most intense way in the Liturgy, and especially in the celebration of the Eucharist, which expresses and fulfills the deepest union between the members of the Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical Seasons* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologySacramental TheologyEucharistTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 1, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Historically, schisms have been rather public, bloody things. This was clearly the case when the church split between East and West. Even though some hope of reconciliation was on the table at various points, excommunications had been traded, Crusades had happened, and everybody knew the two or three theological disputes that needed settling. Roughly the same thing could be said of the split between Protestants and Roman Catholics. Following a number of bloody wars, mutual persecutions, and martyrdoms, the results were different communions, confessional documents, and other marks of separation.

In their recent book Deep Church Rising: The Third Schism and the Recovery of Christian Orthodoxy, Andrew Walker and Robin Parry argue that, unbeknownst to many, the Western church is in the midst of a third great schism. Unlike the last two, though, the split hasn't resulted in a clear line between new denominations and old ones, but runs right through the various churches of the West. On one side stand those who affirm a broadly supernaturalist Christian orthodoxy embodied in the Nicene and Chalcedonian Creeds. And on the other, you find those who can at best recite the creeds with their fingers crossed. Having embraced the various presuppositions of Enlightenment and postmodern thinking, they are skeptical of supernatural claims and often doubt the very idea of objective truth.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooks* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEcclesiology

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Posted November 1, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

"“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.”
Got that? Pope Francis, according to RNS, said, "God is not a divine being..."

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMediaReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * Theology

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Posted October 31, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If traditional Christian teaching produces despair it is likely that such teaching has somehow been pressed or malformed to obscure the gospel. Whether one identifies as homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual, the hope of the gospel is the same. In the words of Tim Keller, “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” The profound experience of grace in the gospel provides the onus to a life of faithful discipleship. The homosexual need not stop experiencing same sex attraction in order to “earn” salvation just as straight people need not stop experiencing opposite-sex attraction. What he must do is remain chaste, an ancient word with little currency in today’s culture.

There can be little doubt that traditional Christians often communicate to gays that they must somehow stop experiencing same sex attraction in order to make themselves acceptable to God. This is not the gospel. There is nothing than we can do to make ourselves acceptable to God. What the Bible asks of us is, however, to recognize that sexual relationships with people of the same sex violates God’s intention for human sexuality. The Christian tradition directs us in one of two equally valid directions: celibacy or heterosexual marriage.

Reasonable people ought to respect Gushee’s right to change his mind and to do so publicly. However, it’s important to note that Gushee’s capitulation is not the only possible response to the precipitous change in cultural attitudes toward sexuality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 31, 2014 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The church’s best days are still ahead,” said Cam­­eron Trimble. I shared a conspiratorial smile, as I often do when with her. She is executive director of the Cen­ter for Progressive Re­newal, where I am a consul­tant. She was telling me about Con­vergence, a network that she is dreaming up with a group of people, including authors Brian Mc­Laren and Diana Butler Bass.

As Trimble talked about Convergence, I imagined her standing in that long pattern of creation which reverberates through our ancient texts. God spoke into the chaos, and the words formed order as they gathered waters, brought forth vegetation, gave rise to animals, and molded humanity. The birth of Jesus Christ, the answer to longing prayers, is described as the Word made flesh.

We see creation in these grand narratives, and we also watch it unfold in our everyday lives. A 13-month-old toddler has not begun to speak, so she stands before the refrigerator, with her arm out and her tiny fist grabbing at air, and grunts. The guttural noises let her parents know that she wants. Eventually her “meh, meh, meh” will become “milk.” When her parents deliver the magical liquid, longing becomes word, and word becomes object.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistPresbyterian

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Posted October 31, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You talk about the crisis and the promise of following Jesus. In a nutshell, what’s the crisis?

The crisis we’re facing is that many people outside and inside the church don’t understand what it’s supposed to be about. It has become encrusted with so many cultural, historical, political, economic forms. As these get thicker and thicker, they distance us from the core affirmation of living as disciples of Jesus. If you look at the New Testament and ask “What is the church?” I think the primary answer is: people living their lives as an act of worship and response to Jesus Christ and seeking to live as daily disciples in community and for the sake of their world. The crisis is that Christians inside the church don’t seem to view this way of life as necessary. This leaves outsiders puzzled about the purpose of the church, because so little of it seems related to Jesus.

And what’s the promise?

The most illuminating moment of the “promise,” in cultural terms, is the shock of Pope Francis. The Catholic Church has been embroiled in scandal for many years. It has been seen as bureaucratic and unresponsive. Then, all of a sudden, there appears this authentic, living disciple. Here is someone who seems to live out of this deep spirit of humility—a Jesus follower who wants a life rooted in simple action.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted October 30, 2014 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A single friend who recently moved posted a note on her Facebook page: “Was trying out a new church on Sunday when the pastor announced that his November sermon series would be about marriage. ‘And what if you’re not married?’ he asked us. ‘Well, Scripture says “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled.”’

Not the most welcoming way of putting it. “Excuse me?” my friend responded. “In other words, singles, suck it up. Won’t be returning there.”

Most of the responses were supportive, as you’d expect from friends, but several dismissed her concerns or told her, in various ways, to suck it up and stop whining. Other single friends, including widows and single mothers who were single because their loutish husbands left them for Miss Suzy Cupcake, have told me they don’t talk about their struggles because the chances of being dismissed or patronized or even condemned are too high.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 30, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Senior theologians in Anglican Communion and Oriental Orthodox Churches recently made history by signing an agreement on their mutual understanding of Christ's incarnation.

This was not just a minor point of theology, rather it was a subject that divided the Church following the Council of Chalcedon* in 451 AD, leaving the Oriental Orthodox Churches separated from the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Church of Rome.

The work to reconcile these branches of the Christian family on the question of how the two natures, human and divine, were united in one human being: Jesus Christ began in earnest in the 1990s.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesOrthodox Church* TheologyChristology

16 Comments
Posted October 28, 2014 at 4:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hanging on by a wing and a prayer, the Lords Spiritual fight for their survival, writes David Maddox

For constitutional geeks the years 1871 and 1920 bear a special significance in terms of reform of that much debated body the House of Lords. The first date was the removal of the Irish Episcopalian bishops from the Upper Chamber, when it was finally accepted that Roman Catholicism and Presbyterian Protestantism were the churches of its peoples. The second was the removal of Welsh bishops, making the Lords Spiritual – as they are collectively known – an English-only body.

It is worth noting that there were never any Scottish bishops given seats in the House of Lords, because of the success of Scotland’s politicians in keeping the Church separate in their negotiations for the 1707 Act of Union.

So with this in mind, Archbishop Justin Welby’s appearance at the Press Gallery lunch yesterday was poignant at a time when political reform, devolution and English votes for English laws are so high on the agenda.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 28, 2014 at 11:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This week I've been enjoying the warm and friendly hospitality of THE Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. It's the biggest seminary in the world ever, with thousands of students. And it's well known that some of my best friends in the interdenominational Calvinist cohort are baptists.

The reason I've been in the USA for the first time (having previously only crossed the Atlantic to visit Texas) was the conference organised by the inimitable Michael Haykin to celebrate George Whitefield's 300th birthday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted October 28, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a ruling made public Oct. 27, the denomination’s top court upheld a June decision by a regional appeals committee to reinstate Schaefer’s ministerial credentials, modifying the penalty imposed upon the Pennsylvania pastor after he was found guilty last November of violating church law by performing a same-sex wedding for his son in 2007.

“The Judicial Council upon careful review of the decision of the Northeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals in the matter of the Rev. Frank Schaefer and the questions of law presented by the counsel for the church finds there are no errors in the application of the church law and judicial decisions,” said Decision 1270. “The penalty as modified by the Committee on Appeals stands.”

In its decision, Judicial Council also recognized the fact that “some within the church do not support this outcome today.”

The ruling came during the Judicial Council’s Oct. 22-25 fall meeting in Memphis, Tennessee, and followed an oral hearing on the case. The Rev. Christopher Fisher, who served as counsel for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference during Schaefer’s trial, appealed the decision of the committee on appeals to Judicial Council.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 27, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I can never agree with you that the Incarnation, or any truth, has to satisfy emotionally to be right (and I would not agree that for the natural man the Incarnation does not satisfy emotionally). It does not satisfy emotionally for the person brought up under many forms of false intellectual discipline such as 19th-century mechanism, for instance. Leaving the Incarnation aside, the very notion of God’s existence is not emotionally satisfactory anymore for great numbers of people, which does not mean that God ceases to exist. M. Sartre finds God emotionally unsatisfactory in the extreme, as do most of my friends of less stature than he. The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it emotionally. A higher paradox confounds emotion as well as reason and there are long periods in the lives of all of us, and of the saints, when the truth as revealed by faith is hideous, emotionally disturbing, downright repulsive. Witness the dark night of the soul in individual saints. Right now the whole world seems to be going through a dark night of the soul.

There is a question whether faith can or is supposed to be emotionally satisfying. I must say that the thought of everyone lolling about in an emotionally satisfying faith is repugnant to me. I believe that we are ultimately directed Godward but that this journey is often impeded by emotion. I don’t think you are a jellyfish. But I suspect you of being a Romantic. Which is not such an opprobrious thing as being a fascist. I do hope you will reconsider and relieve me of the burden of being a fascist. The only force I believe in is prayer, and it is a force I apply with more doggedness than attention.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

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Posted October 27, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They were among the final holdouts. Even as many of their neighbors fled the violence that engulfed Iraq after the American invasion, the three men stayed put, refusing to give up on their country or their centuries-old Christian community.

Maythim Najib, 37, stayed despite being kidnapped and stabbed 12 times in what he believed was a random attack. Radwan Shamra, 35, continued to hope he could survive the sectarian war between his Sunni and Shiite countrymen even after losing two friends shot by an unknown gunman who left their bodies sprawled in a Mosul street. And a 74-year-old too frightened to give his name said he remained despite the trauma of spending three anguished days in 2007 waiting to learn if his kidnapped 17-year-old son was dead or alive.

Now all three men from Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and its environs have fled with their families to Jordan, forced out by Islamic State fighters who left them little choice. After capturing the city in June, the Sunni militant group gave Christians a day to make up their minds: convert, pay a tax, or be killed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqJordan* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted October 27, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“But what sort of thing is God’s gift of wisdom? What effect does it have on a man?

Here many go wrong. We can make clear the nature of their mistake by an illustration.

If you stand at the end of a platform on York station, you can watch a constant succession of engine and train movements which, if you are a railway enthusiast, will greatly fascinate you. But you will only be able to form a very rough and general idea of the overall plan in terms of which all these movements are being determined (the operational pattern set out in the working time-table, modified if need be on a minute-to-minute basis according to the actual running of the trains). If, however, you are privileged enough to be taken by on the high-ups into the magnificent electrical signal-box that lies athwart platforms 7 and 8, you will see on the longest wall a diagram of the entire track layout for five miles on either side of the statio, with little glow-worm lights moving or stationary on the different tracks to show the signalmen at a glance exactly where every engine and train is. At once you will be able to look at the whole situation through the eyes of the men who control it: you will see from the diagram why it was that this train had to be signalled to a halt, and that one diverted from its normal running line, and that one parked temporarily in a siding. The why and the wherefore of all these movements becomes plain, once you can see the overall position.

Now, the mistake that is commonly made is to suppose that this is an illustration of what God does when He bestows wisdom: to suppose, in other words, that the gift of wisdom consists in a deepened insight into the providential meaning and purpose of events going on around us, an ability to see why God has done what He has done in a particular case, and what He is going to do next.

People feel that if they were really walking close to God, so that He could impart wisdom to them freely, then they would, so to speak, find themselves in the signal-box; they would discern the real purpose of everything that happened to them, and it would be clear to them every moment how God was making all things work together for good. Such people spend much time poring over the book of providence, wondering why God should have allowed this or that to take place, whether they should take it as a sign to stop doing one thing and start doing another, or what they should deduce from it. If they end up baffled, they put it down to their own lack of spirituality.

Christians suffering from depression, physical, mental, or spiritual (note, these are three different things!) may drive themselves almost crazy with this kind of futile enquiry. For it is futile: make no mistake about that. It is true that when God has given us guidance by application of principles He will on occasion confirm it to us by unusual providences, which we recognise at once as corroborative signes. But this is quite a different thing from trying to read a message about God’s secret purposes out of every unusual thing that happens to us. So far from the fidt of widsom consisting in the power to do this, the gift actually presupposes our conscious inability to do it; as we shall see in a moment.

We ask again: what does it mean for God to give us widsom? What kind of a gift is it?

If another transport illustration may be permitted, it is like being taught to drive. What matters in driving is the speed and appropriateness of your reactions to things, and the soundness of your judgment as to what scope a situation gives you. You do not ask yourself why the road should narrow or screw itself in a dog-leg wiggle just where it does, now why that van should be parked where it is, nor why the lady (or gentleman) in front should hug the crown of the road so lovingly; you simply try to see and do the right thing in the actual situation that presents itself. The effect of divine wisdom is to enable you and me to do just that in the actual situations of everyday life.

To drive well, you have to keep your eyes skinned to notice exactly what it is in front of you. To live wisely, you have to be clear-sighted and realistic – ruthlessly so – in looking at life as it is. Wisdom will not go with comforting illusions, false sentiment, or the use of rose-coloured spectacles. Most of us live in a dream world, with our heads in the clouds and our feet off the groun; we never see the world, and our lives in it, as they really are. This deep-seated, sin-bred unrealism is one reason why there is so much little wisdom among us – even the soundest and most orthodox of us....

--JI Packer, Knowing God, quoted in this morning's adult Sunday school class on Proverbs and the book of James

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

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Posted October 26, 2014 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Three things immediately strike a visitor to the tiny cathedral city of Vic in Catalonia: the smell of pigs that hangs in the air, the lovely arcaded square surfaced with raked sand, and the fog that envelopes the place for 100 days a year. The last may bring out the richness of the first.

Fog was used by the writer Miquel Llor (1894-1966) as a metaphor for the closed, hypocritical society that he portrayed in his novel Laura a la ciutat dels sants – Laura in the City of Saints. I don’t recommend it, except as an indicator of the way things seemed to middle-aged intellectuals in 1931, the year that the Republic was declared in Spain.

Vic was known as the City of the Saints because it produced saints at times that other Spanish towns did not. To acquire a new saint it is necessary first to supply holy men and women as candidates, but then to have people determined to persevere with the slow process of canonisation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted October 25, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Enjoy watching and listening to it all--KSH.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted October 25, 2014 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sufferers from of the Ebola virus in West Africa believe that "God has forsaken them", a Liberian Roman Catholic bishop, the Rt Revd Anthony Fallah Borwah, has said.

Bishop Borwah was prevented from attending Pope Francis's recent synod on the family because of the travel ban on countries affected by the virus.

He urged his fellow bishops, and the Church, to remember that it was the poor who are their priority, and said that whole families were being "decimated".

Speaking to the US Catholic News Service, he said: "We are losing our humanity in the face of Ebola. . . This disease makes impossible ordinary human kindnesses, such as putting your arm around someone who is crying."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* International News & CommentaryAfricaLiberia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 24, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The proportion of British people identifying themselves as Anglican has halved in the last 50 years, while the proportion of Roman Catholics has remained largely steady, according to new data.

The percentage of self-identified Anglicans in Britain has fallen by half since 1963, according to figures released this week by the British Election Study in the run-up to next year’s general election. This year 31.1 per cent of respondents were Anglican compared to 64.5 per cent in 1963.

A spokeswoman for the Church of England said that it was active across the country, carrying our weddings, baptisms and funerals, and was host to vital community activities.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted October 24, 2014 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Packer came from a lower middle-class background and a nominal Anglican family that went to St Catharine’s Church in Gloucester but never talked about the things of God or even prayed at meals. As a teenager Packer had read a couple of the new books coming out by C. S. Lewis (fellow and tutor in English literature at Oxford’s Magdalen College), including The Screwtape Letters (1942) and the three BBC talks turned pamphlets that would later become Mere Christianity (1942-44). During chess matches with a high school classmate—the son of a Unitarian minister—he had defended Christianity.

Packer thought of himself as a Christian. But the events of that evening would convince him otherwise.

On this cool autumn evening, he made his way west across Oxford, past Pembroke College, and into St Aldate’s Church, where the Christian Union occasionally held services. The lights in the building were dimmed so that the light emanating from the building would be no brighter than moonlight—a recent relaxation of England’s “blackout” regulations to avoid air-raid attacks in World War II.

He entered the doors of the church a dead man walking and was to leave later that night as a resurrected man, knowing himself to belong to Christ.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchEducationGlobalizationYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.CanadaEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted October 22, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

United Methodist Church leaders recently announced they are closing the Wilderness Retreat and Development Center, as well as three other camps the denomination operated in Missouri. Together, the camps served about 2,000 children this summer.

“I’ve wanted to get married at Wilderness since I was 11,” Dyer said. “I have a boyfriend I want to marry, and now they’re taking away my camp.”

The announcement by the church’s Camping and Retreat Board sparked an instant social media campaign — complete with hashtags, blogs, online petitions and more than 2,000 Facebook likes — in an effort to roll back the decision.

The discussion in the Kansas City area has been particularly lively because of its proximity to Wilderness, which hosted more than 600 children at summer camp this year, said D. Garrett Drake, a clergyman and conference staff member who advises the camping board.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardshipYouth Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist

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Posted October 22, 2014 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis will travel to Turkey next month, the Vatican said on Tuesday, his first visit to the predominantly Muslim country which has become a refuge for Christians fleeing persecution by Islamic State militants in neighboring Syria and in Iraq.

During his three-day visit, the pope will meet with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. He will also meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the Orthodox churches that make up the second-largest Christian church family after Roman Catholicism.

"The Holy Father will visit Ankara and Istanbul from Nov. 28 to 30," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted October 22, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Essentially, the “relatio” (or report) published today, at the close of the Synod, will serve as a starting point for future discussion. It was also presented with great transparency, including even sections that did not win the necessary votes for complete approval.

Before we look at five things the synod did, it’s important to understand the unique “form” of this unusual final document. Pope Francis asked to have all of the paragraphs presented in the “final” report, even those that failed to win the majority needed for full passage (a two-thirds majority). Two of those three dealt with LGBT Catholics, and one addressed divorced and remarried Catholics. What’s more, the Pope asked that the voting results be shown alongside all the paragraphs, which were voted on separately. Gerard O'Connell called this a break with 49 years of tradition.

In other words, if the final document was published with only the fully approved texts, those three paragraphs would not appear.

Why might the Pope have chosen to do this?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 20, 2014 at 4:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When he left England for India in 1793, the odds were stacked against him. Apart from a few years in a village school, he had no formal education. He was shy, introverted, and insular. He had no financial resources. And, even though he was an ordained pastor, the Baptist bigwigs who led his denomination in London had no confidence in the cobbler-pastor and refused to support his plans.

But Carey would not be deterred. Through his study of the Bible, he had become convinced that he and his fellow Christians were obliged to carry the message of Jesus Christ to those who had never heard it. Carey was a Calvinist but not a hyper-Calvinist. He believed that God wanted all people to hear the message of Christ and that he had ordained “the use of means” to carry out that purpose. Against others who argued that the missionary mandate had been fulfilled long ago in the apostolic age, Carey said that the Great Commission had no statute of limitations.

And so, on June 13, 1793, William Carey, his wife Dorothy, and their four children—including a nursing infant—sailed from Dover on a Danish ship headed for India. Carey never saw his homeland again. He would spend the rest of his life in India as a pastor, teacher, evangelist, linguist, agriculturalist, journalist, botanist, social activist, and correspondent with some of the world’s leading political and religious figures. His fame seemed not to have corrupted his soul. When he died in his seventy-third year, he requested that a couplet from one of his favorite hymns by Isaac Watts be inscribed in the stone slab that would mark his grave. Though the words have faded with time, their traces can still be seen today: “A wretched, poor, and helpless worm, on thy kind arms I fall.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissions* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted October 20, 2014 at 3:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I’ve always felt sympathetic to foreigners on holiday in England who come across a church advertising Mass and displaying crucifixes and statues inside. When they discover later that they have been at a service of the Church of England, not of the Roman Catholic Church, they are puzzled and confused.

So what would you think if you went into a church and heard the clergyman begin: “God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit…”?

If you said it was an early part of the Anglican service of Holy Communion, you’d be right. But I’ve just been looking at a new service booklet with the Order of Mass according to the Use of the Ordinariate. It begins with that prayer, yet it is a Roman Catholic liturgy. Instead of bells-and-smells Anglicans stealing the Catholics’ clothes, as it were, we have Catholics (Roman Catholics) cannibalising the Book of Common Prayer

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship--Book of Common Prayer* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

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Posted October 19, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Huntington’s sensitivity to religion-and-world-politics ought to have commended his analysis to the Vatican for thoughtful consideration and serious discussion. Instead, Huntington-the-straw-man-who-prophesied-endless-civilizational-war is dragged out whenever it’s deemed necessary for officials of the Holy See to say that “a war between Islam and ‘the rest’ is not inevitable” (true, if the civil war within Islam is resolved in favor of those Muslims who support religious tolerance and pluralism); or that Christian persecution and dislocation in the Middle East must be handled through the United Nations (ridiculous); or that the path to peace lies through dialogue, not confrontation (true, if there is a dialogue partner who is not given to beheading “the other”).

The Huntington proposal is not beyond criticism. But Huntington accurately described the Great Change that would take place in world politics after the wars of late modernity (the two 20th-century world wars and the Cold War); he accurately predicted what was likely to unfold along what he called Islam’s “bloody borders” if Islamists and jihadists went unchecked by their own fellow-Muslims; and he accurately identified the fact that religious conviction (or the lack thereof, as in Europe) would play an important role in shaping the 21st-century world. Thirteen years after 9/11, and in light of today’s headlines, is Huntington’s proposal really so implausible?

There is something very odd about a Holy See whose default positions include a ritualized deprecation of the Huntington thesis married to a will-to-believe about the U.N.’s capacity to be something more than an echo chamber.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaEngland / UKEuropeMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 19, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A struggling Presbyterian congregation with roots going back more than a century has decided to close its doors.

Beset by financial problems — brought on in part by a for-profit day care center it opened — New Life Presbyterian Church at 3410 W. Silver Spring Drive voted last month to dissolve itself. The church is the latest iteration of a Milwaukee congregation founded as Newminster Presbyterian in the late 1800s.

Now, the Presbytery of Milwaukee will take up the issue at a special meeting at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Greenfield Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1455 S. 97th St., in West Allis. The presbytery, which has contributed some $250,000 to New Life over the years, will spend an additional $60,000 to get its financial affairs in order.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

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Posted October 19, 2014 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Asia Bibi’s death sentence was upheld by the Lahore High Court in Pakistan on Thursday. Bibi, a Roman Catholic mother of five also known as Aasiya Noreen, was sentenced to die in 2010 after she was convicted of blasphemy. Bibi’s Muslim coworkers accused her of drinking the same water as them and verbally challenging their faith.

“I met Asia in prison a month ago. She’s fine and was hoping to hear good news, but, alas, our ordeal is not over yet,” Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, told Morning Star News after yesterday’s decision.

World Watch Monitor reports that Bibi’s attorney Naeem Shakir challenged the testimony of the women who feuded with Bibi, arguing to the appellate court that their testimony had been hearsay because the complainant in the case had not heards Bibi’s words himself. The judges ignored Sharkir’s critiques, suggesting he should have raised them the trial level.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 18, 2014 at 1:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...what if living a radical life isn’t what Christ desires for us? What if He’s far more interested in how we approach the mundane, the everydayness of life?

The ordinary?

That’s the premise of Michael Horton’s balancing new book Ordinary: Sustaining Faith in a Radical, Restless World. Horton believes we need to question “false values, expectations, and habits that we have absorbed, taken for granted, and even adopted with a veneer of piety.” (27)

Horton suggests we’ve got a problem, the problem of everydayness: “our lives are motivated by a constant expectation for The Next Big Thing.” (16) Instead of dedicating ourselves to ordinary, everyday callings and people we chase after the radical, the revolutionary, the dramatic. He insists that “Changing the world can be a way of actually avoiding the opportunities we have every day, right where God has placed us…” (16)

So how did we get here and where do we need to go? Horton argues the everyday became so yesterday starting with Boomers, and this has been perpetuated by their children and grandchildren. And the path beyond is a refocusing around God’s own focus...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted October 18, 2014 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In The Making of an Ordinary Saint: My Journey from Frustration to Joy with the Spiritual Disciplines (Baker Books), Nathan Foster handles his “I” with a good deal of grace. On the brink of an existential crisis, Foster (a social worker) forswears buying a red convertible, deciding instead to “go saint.” What he envisions as a yearlong experiment with the 12 spiritual disciplines introduced by his father, Richard Foster, in the classic 1978 book Celebration of Discipline, turns into four. In the process, his efforts at spiritual practice travel the distance from “frustration to joy.”

In the opening chapter, “Submission,” Foster introduces us to “drafting,” and it becomes an apt metaphor for the book. “Drafting,” he writes, “is when two or more cyclists ride inches behind each other, creating a sort of wind tunnel.” On a grueling 224-mile ride—when “Mother Nature brooded from every direction, wobbling my flimsy cycle back and forth”—Foster abandons his hesitations about riding so closely in a group and submits himself to the “boredom of the paceline.” Although he didn’t “expect to find a way to actively practice a spiritual discipline in the windy, scorched Ohio farmland,” spiritual practices keep finding Foster in unexpected places.

With the exception of having a famous father, Foster is as “ordinary” as the book’s title suggests, and readers draft behind him in recognizable winds: the challenges of marriage and parenting, career ambitions (and jealousies), self-doubt, accumulated regrets.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchBooks* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted October 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What is really happening at this synod is an earnest effort by pastors of the church to determine how best to encourage people to live the Catholic faith. This is no easy task. A move too far in the direction of merely repeating old formularies will not work. A move away from what constitutes the very definition of what it means to be Catholic will not only erode the church’s self-identity and betray her founder’s mandate, it will also insult and alienate many Catholics who strive to live by the church’s teachings. This is what we pastors call the art of pastoral practice.

The practice is best modeled by Jesus’ encounter with the woman “caught in the very act of adultery” (John 8: 1-11). His interlocutors somehow thought that they could drive a wedge between his allegiance to biblical law and mercy. So they cast the woman before him and demanded that he say whether she should be stoned, as the law stipulated. The tension built as Jesus doodled in the sand. Finally he replied, “Let you who is without sin cast the first stone.”

The story does not end there. Jesus turned to the woman at his feet and delivered gentle, memorable words—a message that makes the whole story an encounter of faithful mercy: “Go and sin no more.” If this model—finding the balance between justice and mercy, which are often in tension—weighs heavily on the minds of bishops gathered in Rome, that will be an achievement for the church and its pastoral model.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 17, 2014 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMediaPhilosophyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 17, 2014 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A leading Nigerian evangelical, Samuel Kunhiyop, author of African Christian Ethics,serves as general secretary of Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), a 5-million-member denomination in Nigeria. ECWA has been doing frontline evangelism in Nigeria since 1954. In recent years, this group has planted hundreds of congregations in Muslim areas of Nigeria. Kunhiyop spoke with Timothy C. Morgan, CT's senior editor for global journalism.

Is Nigeria as bad as we read in news headlines?

It’s even worse. Hundreds of churches have been destroyed, over 50 in Kano alone. One church and ministry has been built seven times and destroyed seven times. Another has been built three times and destroyed three times. Pastors have been murdered in their houses. Another was murdered in the church during a prayer service.

The situation is much worse further north in Yobe and Borno states, the headquarters of Boko Haram. People have fled residences where their forefathers lived for generations. Christians have been the victims.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 16, 2014 at 4:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here is a thesis: that the dynamic “x-factor,” the key to the upsurge of Anglican mission in the modern era, and its common feature still today, may be found in the lineage of Wesleyanism. Wesley’s ministry had a shape that has been repeated and reappropriated over and over again. In mission, we are all Methodists now, at least in our root assumptions and many of our strategies. To understand what I mean, we need to consider the particular pattern of Methodist mission and ministry. It was focused on inwardness, conversion, the heart, and yet it was lived out in small groups, “class meetings,” in which the converted held each other to account. In those groups members could confess their failings, be exhorted and encouraged by their peers, and pray for one another. The leaders and the impetus were lay.

The gospel has to be presented to all so as to be received freely in faith. It sounds simple, but with Wesley this reality came to the fore anew. Thus he felt impelled to go to those who had not heard. Shockingly for this time, he went to the openings of mines to preach to the miners at dawn. The sermons were in fact long, dry, and learned, and yet their effect was electric. His earnestness and willingness to go out to people were paramount.

Soon there were numerous converts, and as a result services were held in the open air, where they would sing. Methodism was in large measure a musical movement. Many of the hymns by the Wesley brothers were for devotions preparatory to Holy Communion, or as the congregation waited while the long lines went up for the sacrament. The movement was at once deeply evangelical and eucharistic. And it had spinoffs: lives of the converted changed, drinking was curtailed, family life improved, trades were learned, and money was saved. Social change and conversion were intertwined.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissions* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* Theology

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Posted October 16, 2014 at 11:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After nearly 20 years as lead pastor of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll has resigned. Driscoll, 44, had faced mounting criticism over church leadership and discipline within Mars Hill and how he wrote and promoted his popular books.

The decision came less than two months after Driscoll stepped down from leadership while the church investigated charges against him. Earlier in August, he had been removed from the church planting network he founded, Acts 29.

In a statement, the church's board of overseers accepted his resignation, but emphasized that they had not asked Driscoll to resign and were surprised to receive his letter.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 16, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Among the 253 participants in the Synod on the Family which will conclude here in the Vatican on Sunday are eight delegates from different Christian Churches who are sharing insights from their own communities and traditions. Among them is the Anglican Bishop of Durham Paul Butler who has specialised in children and family ministry within the Church of England. As a husband and father of four children, Bishop Butler also brought his own experience to the Synod and especially to those working in one of the English language groups this week.

Bishop Butler sat down with Philippa Hitchen to talk about his impressions of the two-week meeting and about the struggle within the Anglican world of reaching out to people in same-sex relationships while upholding the Church’s teaching on marriage and family life

Read and listen to it all (about 8 1/3 minutes).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 16, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Attalaf al Nour, a farmer who lives in Iraq’s Sunni heartland, long enjoyed a simple life that revolved around livestock, crops and trips to the city to sell his grain.

But since July, when Islamic State militants swept into Iraq, his world has been upended by new geographic and political borders that don’t yet appear on any map. They are fracturing Iraq’s fragile cohesion by forcing thousands of families to cross, at their peril, militant checkpoints to reach their markets, schools and jobs.

“Iraq is broken like never before, thanks to Daaesh,” said Mr. Nour, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State. “We are all divided and our lives are now upside down.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 15, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The midterm report, presented by Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo, was intended as a summary of the synod’s conversation to date, and has no standing as a statement of church teaching. It likely will be significantly modified before a final version is adopted by the bishops on Friday.

One cardinal taking part in the synod told reporters today that some media coverage distorted a proper understanding of the document, falsely suggesting that it contained firm conclusions of the whole body.

“We’re now working from a position that’s virtually irredeemable,” said Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of South Africa.

“The message has gone out that this is what synod is saying, that this is what the Catholic Church is saying,” he said. “Whatever we say hereafter will seem like we’re doing damage control.”

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 14, 2014 at 1:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some of the most interesting debates taking place in Catholicism these days on family and marriage issues revolve around the work of gay Catholics who are orthodox in their stance on church teachings, as articulated in the Catechism and elsewhere.

Yes, this is a complex crowd. There are important debates in these circles about the degree to which homosexual orientation itself should be seen as a unique gift from God and, by implication, a part of God's plan for creation. There are also debates here about the degree to which sexual orientation should be openly celebrated as a key source of a person's public identity. (Can orthodox Catholics use "gay" language in a way that is positive and helps the church?) I get all of that.

All I am saying is that the language used in these discussions is often very close to the language that news consumers are hearing from the Vatican – filtered through the political, not doctrinal, lens of the press. The "tone" of the discussions in this niche in Catholic thought, and some content, is very similar to the current Vatican language that we are reading.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 14, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For a Church that has historically linked the word “homosexual” with the word “sin,” the idea of welcoming gays in any capacity can appear to be a significant move. Headlines immediately spoke of a “dramatic shift” and a “more tolerant” stance from the church.

But before rushing to conclusions, everyone, on all sides, should calm down.

First, here’s what the document actually is:

The relatio is a mid-Synod snapshot of 200+ Catholic leaders’ conversations that happened in the Synod hall last week. It is a starting point for conversations as the Synod fathers start small group discussions this week.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 14, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

9 Comments
Posted October 13, 2014 at 11:56 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Using strikingly open language, an interim report of a Vatican synod on modern family life says the church needs to welcome and appreciate gays, and offers a solution for divorced and remarried Catholics who want to receive Communion.

At a press conference to present the report, Cardinal Tagle of the Philippines said the most discussed topics at the Synod so far were the impact of poverty, war and immigration on families.

But one veteran Vatican journalist called the newly proposed language on gays and civil marriages a “pastoral earthquake.”

“Regarding homosexuals, it went so far as to pose the question whether the church could accept and value their sexual orientation without compromising Catholic doctrine,” said John Thavis, a former Rome bureau chief for Catholic News Service.

Read it all.

Update: An AP article is here--read it all also.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 13, 2014 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One can contextualize the message of the Gospel well or poorly, and it is important to know not only the need for contextualization but also how to engage in the process appropriately. Paul Hiebert has helpfully suggested that there are four levels of contextualization: no contextualization, minimal contextualization, uncritical contextualization, and critical contextualization.[12] The no contextualization approach understands the Christian faith as something that is not a part of human culture; it rejects the notion that culture shapes how one receives and practices Christianity. The minimal contextualization approach acknowledges that differences exist between cultures, but it tries to limit cultural adaptation as much as possible. Under this model, missionaries might translate the Bible into a foreign language but will likely arrange new church plants in a fashion similar to the churches in their home country. Uncritical contextualization tends to prioritize culture over the Gospel. It minimizes the eternal truths found in Scripture in order to emphasize cultural convictions and practices.

Critical contextualization seeks a balanced approach. In the words of Hiebert, in critical contextualization the Bible is seen as divine revelation, not simply as humanly constructed beliefs. In contextualization the heart of the gospel must be kept as it is encoded in forms that are understood by the people, without making the gospel captive to the contexts. This is an ongoing process of embodying the gospel in an ever-changing world. Here cultures are seen as both good and evil, not simply as neutral vehicles for understanding the world. No culture is absolute or privileged. We are all relativized by the gospel....

Out of all of these approaches, contemporary Christians should prefer critical contextualization.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyApologetics

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Posted October 12, 2014 at 2:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is another way of putting it that the focus on divorced and remarried Catholics and on annulments risks overshadowing the bigger question, which is how to prevent marriages from breaking down in the first place?

Absolutely. The preventative approach is important. Of course, we never should be making a choice between helping people who are suffering and trying to prevent them from getting hurt in the first place. We have to do both.

What would be most useful to you as an American bishop out of this synod?

I think the most useful result would be a confirmation of the beauty of the Church’s teaching and a resolve on the part of the Church at all levels, not just the bishops, to support marriage and family.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted October 12, 2014 at 5:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With food and jobs scarce, and their savings depleted, Syrian Christians and their neighbors are struggling to provide for their families.

Despite their own trauma, many believers are choosing to stay in their beleaguered communities and reach out in love amid their neighbors' pain.

Christians in Syria have been able to distribute food with the help of Baptist Global Response, a Southern Baptist-related relief organization. Families also are receiving blankets and medical care. Children who have been out of school for years once again are being educated.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 11, 2014 at 1:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis has signalled his blessing to the breakaway traditionalist American church at the centre of the split which has divided the 80 million strong worldwide Anglican Communion over the issue of sexuality.

He sent a message offering his “prayers and support” to Archbishop Foley Beach, the new leader of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), the conservative movement which broke away from The Episcopal Church after the ordination of the first openly gay bishop.

His message underlines the pressure facing the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, as he attempts to avert a formal schism in worldwide Anglicanism.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis

0 Comments
Posted October 11, 2014 at 12:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After 16 years, Egypt has completed the restoration of a famous Cairo landmark — the St. Virgin Mary's Coptic Church, also known as the Hanging Church.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and the country's Coptic Christian pope, Tawadros II, attended the Saturday's ceremony marking the end of the $5.4 million restoration project.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic Church

2 Comments
Posted October 11, 2014 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite the elusiveness of a common good, we can and indeed are called to pursue creative work for the good of others. We can do that regardless of whether we find ourselves within the acceptable mainstream or at the margins of society. That is the example of Martin Luther King Jr., John Perkins, Dorothy Day, Fanny Crosby, Sojourner Truth, and countless others who have gone before us. It is also the example of Jesus.

Our laws and our culture are in a state of flux, and we do not yet know what the new normal will look like. But we can move forward without knowing how the story ends, because of our faith in how the Story ends.

I am encouraged by what I see in the ministry of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. The enforcement of the all-comers policy against groups like InterVarsity is a cultural marker that these groups are now outside of the mainstream of acceptability on the campuses that they serve. But InterVarsity has largely avoided the language of persecution. It has also worked for years to cross race and class lines, and to learn from those differences.

Read it all from CT.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

0 Comments
Posted October 11, 2014 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I happened to come across these this week, and I haven't seen them since 1990 when we first caught them on boxing Day in England (really). French with english subtitles, beautifully filmed, and, perhaps most notably, full of Christian themes--KSH.

Filed under: * By Kendall* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriology

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Posted October 11, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The renowned evangelical speaker the Rev Dr John Stott called for Christians to continue to strive for ‘Christ-likeness’ during his final major address before retiring from public ministry.

Speaking at the annual Keswick Convention, the 87-year-old former chaplain to the Queen told the audience that ‘Christ-likeness is the will of God for the people of God’.

He warned his audience that being Christ like in ‘patient endurance’ may become ‘increasingly relevant as persecution increases in many cultures’, and highlighted the importance of the incarnation for Christians.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

0 Comments
Posted October 11, 2014 at 8:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

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Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis has communicated his personal greetings and blessings for the new ministry of the Most Rev. Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America [ACNA].

Speaking to the congregation of over 1500 gathered at the Church of the Apostles in Atlanta on 9 Oct 2014 for the installation of Archbishop Beach as leader of the ACNA, the Anglican Bishop of Argentina, the Rt. Rev. Gregory Venables stated that he had received a telephone call last week from "Fr Jorge", the former Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Bergoglio -- now Pope Francis. Bishop Venables noted that he had long had a warm personal relationship with Pope Francis from his days as leader of the Argentine Catholic Church, and added Anglicans should rejoice in the current occupant of the chair of St Peter as he was a "Bible-believing, born again Christian."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * Theology

2 Comments
Posted October 10, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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?"

Read it all and make sure to read the Rod Dreher article and the Slate article mentioned.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissions* Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 9, 2014 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Detroit, a group of Catholics borrowed the idea of flash mobs for "Mass mobs" to help revitalize urban churches.

Every month, a group called Detroit Mass Mobs picks a church, spreads the word on Facebook — and just like that, it fills up and buzzes with the energy it once had.

St. Florian Catholic church is an eight-story, red-brick church built in 1908 by the Polish families who flocked here to work for Dodge, Ford and Packard. It seats 1,500 people, but normally only about 200 people attend noon Mass. On a recent Sunday, Thom Mann, an organizer with Detroit Mass Mob who's not a regular at St. Florian, had to get here early because, he says, "there'll be standing room only."

"People are upset that the churches are closing, but the simple reason is, people don't go," Mann says.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In what ways did St. Francis revolutionize and transform the Church?

Six—detailed in my book: through a high view of friendship, by embracing the other, through personal poverty, by developing a new spirituality, through gentleness and care for creatures, and by embracing death.

For many of us, a favorite image of St. Francis is that of him delivering a spirited sermon to the birds. Did that really happen, and why did that particular story become so central to his legacy?

Sure, it happened, but it wasn’t cute. Our iconography has made it seem just cute—you know? Instead, as with many of the iconic moments in his life, it happened at a time of personal crisis and uncertainty.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooks* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted October 9, 2014 at 1:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For many evangelicals, the Osteens are on the periphery of Christianity. They represent the “prosperity gospel”—a message that claims that God will bless the faithful with financial gain. Prosperity preachers often live extravagant lifestyles and point to their wealth as evidence of their message. They often quote biblical passages, taking them very literally, to further their claims that God’s desire is health and wealth.

Many evangelicals, however, assert that God doesn’t work in this way. Faithfulness to God doesn’t mean blessings from above, especially in such worldly pursuits. They try to distance themselves from the prosperity gospel, claiming that it doesn’t represent Christianity but a misunderstanding of it.

It is possible, however, that the Osteens represent not the margins but the center of evangelicalism. Considering the Osteens’ popularity, they garner a sizable audience that shouldn’t be ignored. Additionally, when one compares the Osteens to other popular evangelical authors such as Max Lucado and Rick Warren, several patterns emerge, suggesting that Osteens aren’t that far from what most evangelicals are looking for.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

2 Comments
Posted October 8, 2014 at 1:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A parish priest and a number of Christians have been kidnapped from a Syrian village near the border with Turkey, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said on Tuesday.

The Latin Patriarchate, which oversees Latin Church Catholics in Israel and neighbouring countries, said Father Hanna Jallouf had been kidnapped on the night of Oct. 5 in Knayeh, a small Christian village. It said his kidnappers were brigades linked to the Islamist Nusra Front.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

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Posted October 8, 2014 at 7:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He urged the Catholic Church not to “capitulate to culture” nor to succumb to a weakening of discipline that he said had “caused havoc” within the Anglican Church. He said that he had watched the growth of the ordinariate with close interest.

“Allowing Anglican patrimony to flourish should not just be taken as an exception, but it could be a charter for the future,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 8, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The prominent Anglican Bishop, Michael Nazir-Ali, formerly the Bishop of Rochester, has spoken of the overriding importance of the Catholic Church's global voice for the future of Christianity in a world threatened by Islamic militancy and secularism. He said the Catholic Church potentially had "a great future and a huge opportunity" in the emerging world order and that it now had allies in upholding orthodoxy, even in unexpected quarters. However, he said that how effective it would be depended on how Rome viewed its own position and on its willingness to address its approach to certain issues. He identified these as culture and language and discipline.

Bishop Nazir Ali, who has both a Christian and a Muslim family background and is now President of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue (OXTRAD), made his remarks to the clergy of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham - the structure set up by Pope Benedict to allow Anglicans to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church, bringing with them elements of their Anglican patrimony. He was speaking on the subject: "A Global Christianity in the Making" to the Ordinariate clergy's plenary session at St Patrick's Catholic Church in Soho Square, London

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

6 Comments
Posted October 7, 2014 at 7:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Peter Hong raises his voice to the congregation he pastors in Logan Square, a mixed-income neighborhood in Chicago. “Your entire debt is paid in full!” he shouts, as “Amen!” and “All right!” echo back from the pews. As he bounds across the stage, his red-checked shirt untucked over jeans, he exudes enough energy to fill the cavernous, high-ceilinged Seventh-day Adventist church that New Community Covenant rents on Sundays.

The pews are packed full, with a multiethnic, multigenerational gathering that includes more than Hong’s fellow Korean Americans. Hong is 44 but brims with youthfulness as he displays his own brand of impassioned preaching, a firebrand of grace. But then the tone of the service shifts as Hong jumps off the stage and confesses without pretense: He is bone-weary from more than 12 consecutive years of ministry. Congregants return the flow of grace, pouring down the aisles in droves to surround and pray for him.

One of the people who approaches Hong is Trinity Evangelical Divinity School professor Peter Cha, who has mentored countless Asian Americans as an educator, pastor, and former staff member with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Asia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted October 6, 2014 at 4:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The discussion preceding the synod of bishops on the family has ignored the most vulnerable party in divorces and remarriages: children. In so doing, it mirrors the discussion of sex and marriage in western culture more broadly, which focuses on the gratification of the desires of adults—however legitimate—while paying no attention to the needs of children.

For some children, no doubt, their parents’ divorce brings relief. For many, however, it leaves a wound that never fully heals. Children find themselves caught between two parties who each have a claim on them. They can frequently feel like pawns in a game, or like a piece of land fought over by conflicting nations. They have to grow up fast to take care of adults who, in their hurt, have begun to act like children.

Divorce ends the world that the child knows. It says that the foundation of her life, the structure that produced her and formed her is no more. This is captured well in the title of a book by a professor of youth ministry, Andrew Root: The Children of Divorce: The Loss of Family as the Loss of Being. The title is not an exaggeration.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Council has also had an enormous impact on Anglicanism, especially on the Anglican understanding of the Church, its liturgy, ministry, mission, and approach to Christian unity. By opening Rome to ecumenical dialogue it made the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) possible. With a few bumps along the road, ARCIC has achieved significant convergence in several areas that previously separated our two traditions: eucharistic theology, ministry and ordination, justification, ecclesiology, and authority. In the spirit of ARCIC, Anglicans and Roman Catholics have come together locally in many practical ways, and their bishops have held conversations in various parts of the world under the aegis of a parallel but more recent body, the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission. A debate about the legacy and significance of Vatican II that may appear at first sight to be a purely internal issue for Roman Catholics is actually vitally important to Anglicans.

So what resources will enable us to understand what Vatican II had to say and what we can learn from it? The texts that the Council produced are available in English, Latin, and many other languages at is.gd/VaticanII. There are several English translations of the documents published in book form, including those by Walter Abbott, SJ (1966) and the generally superior edition by Austin Flannery, OP (1975, with subsequent revisions). The standard, authoritative translation is now that edited by Norman Tanner, SJ, Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils (Georgetown University Press, 1990), in two volumes with Latin and English facing each other on each page. But most of us are grateful for some guidance in choosing and understanding what to read. Tanner’s Vatican II: The Essential Texts has interesting introductory essays by Benedict XVI and James Carroll, as well as brief prefaces to each document. It is a handy size for carrying around and dipping into, but it contains only six of the sixteen documents produced by the Council.

Much more helpful to someone wanting to get to grips with the riches of Vatican II is the well-named Keys to the Council: Unlocking the Teaching of Vatican II by Richard R. Gaillardetz and Catherine E. Clifford.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooks* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 6, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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