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

4 Comments
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

8 Comments
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

1 Comments
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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A basic general condition is this: to speak clearly. No one must say: “This can’t be said; he will think of me this way or that …” It is necessary to say everything that is felt with parrhesia. After the last Consistory (February 2014), in which there was talk of the family, a Cardinal wrote to me saying: too bad that some Cardinals didn’t have the courage to say some things out of respect for the Pope, thinking, perhaps, that the Pope thought something different. This is not good; this is not synodality, because it is necessary to say everything that in the Lord one feels should be said, with human respect, without fear. And, at the same time, one must listen with humility and receive with an open heart what the brothers say. Synodality will be exercised with these two attitudes.

Therefore, I ask you, please, for these attitudes of brothers in the Lord: to speak with parrhesia and to listen with humility.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis

5 Comments
Posted October 6, 2014 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you are a Christian who doesn’t smoke, abstains from sex outside your heterosexual marriage and can get your priest to vouch that you go to church at least three times a month, you may qualify for a new Catholic alternative to health insurance.

Taking a cue from evangelicals, a group of traditionalist Catholics on Thursday (Oct. 2) unveiled a cost-sharing network that they say honors their values and ensures that they are not even indirectly supporting health care services such as abortion that contradict their beliefs.

Christ Medicus Foundation CURO, as the group is called, will be financially integrated with Samaritan Ministries International, which was launched in 1991 by an evangelical home-schooling dad. The SMI network now serves 125,000 people and is exempt from the Affordable Care Act.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted October 6, 2014 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ECKSTROM: Well, the argument is really about, most immediately about communion for divorced Catholics. So under church law right now, if you are divorced and get remarried outside of the church, you can't get communion. And so what they're arguing about is whether or not they should change that rule and allow those divorced Catholics access to communion.

ABERNETHY: Now there's no voting, no decision-making, no change in this synod. But next year there's going to be another synod next October about the family again, and then, Kim—

KIM LAWTON, managing editor: Well, then there could be some change. I mean, nothing's ever guaranteed, especially when you're talking about the Catholic Church, but this is supposed to be the time for just discussing and debating some of these issues. And then decisions would come later, down the road. And on this issue of divorce and remarriage, you know, the church doctrine is that sacramental marriage is forever. It cannot be dissolved. And so therefore they don't recognize divorce, and therefore if you are divorced and you get remarried, in the church's eyes you're living in adultery, and that's why you cannot take communion and other sacraments. And so what the cardinals are arguing about is does it affect the doctrine that marriage is not able to be dissolved if you change how you treat people who are in those situations? And I think some of the conservatives are worried if you start tinkering around with that, what other issues and areas of teaching can be tinkered around with?

ABERNETHY: But there's a lot more that they could be discussing and probably will be discussing.

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & Family* International News & CommentaryEuropeItaly* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis has summoned bishops from all over the world to Rome to discuss issues concerning families – including hot-button issues like artificial contraception and gay civil unions.

The meeting, called a synod, opened on Sunday and is seen as a test of Francis' vision of a more merciful Church.

Not since the landmark Second Vatican Council half a century ago has a church meeting raised so much hope among progressive Catholics — and so much apprehension among conservatives.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeItaly* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 5, 2014 at 12:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the most Catholic country in Asia, The Philippines, the Church has played a significant role for centuries.

Recently the Catholic Church lost a long battle in a bid to prevent a family planning bill which aims to provide contraceptives to those who need it most.

Read it all and see what you make of the video. Please note that this is part of a series, there are also reports for example from Brazil and Ireland and Ghana.

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

0 Comments
Posted October 3, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new list published in Outreach Magazine names Andy Stanley's North Point Ministries as the largest church in America. As exciting as this designation may be, Stanley is already focused on the next best thing, fostering the next generation of church leaders.

In an essay for Outreach Magazine, Stanley explained "One of my favorite quotes that sits on my shelf in my office is from Al Ries in a marketing book called Focus. He says, 'The next -generation product never comes from the previous generation.' His point is, whatever's next is going to be created by the next generation."

Stanley says he is on a hunt for future leaders. "Our job now is to continue to invest in the 30-something men and women who are the age we were when we started. We need to keep our ear to the ground, and we need to look at who's messing with the rules around the edges and invest in them."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsEvangelicals

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Equally important to this book are [Andrew] Pettegree's observations about the history of news and the questions that they raise concerning the current age of information. For example, if, as Pettegree argues, "news is fresh to anyone who hears or reads it for the first time," then how important is expediency and immediacy to the reader? Furthermore, The Invention of News raises the question of what makes for trustworthy news. While modern audiences trust print and digital media, in "the early medieval tradition … word of mouth was more to be trusted than a written report." Finally, why do most people watch or read the news? Do they consume news because it is important to their lives or because it is "an accoutrement of a polite life"?

Pettegree does not seem too interested in uncovering answers to such questions. This is unfortunate for readers who are expecting a more opinionated study, but it is not unwarranted. By keeping these topics at arms' length, Pettegree avoids any sidetracks that would distract from plotting a clear, historical trajectory of news. This he does very well.

The Invention of News delivers a rich and compelling narrative, which picks away at several common presumptions about the history of news. While he gives leading newspapermen like John Wilkes their due, Pettegree complicates our understanding of the newspaper as an agent of "empowerment and emancipation." The Invention of News veers away from the sort of Whiggish triumphalism that would set up the newspaper as the pinnacle of democratic expression. This is particularly germane in our own day, as the newspaper continues to decline in popularity and other media compete for its place. As Pettegree explains, the newspaper—a latecomer and late-bloomer in the story of news—has always been one among many news outlets in the culture of Western media.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted October 2, 2014 at 5:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Monday the Telegraph reported that the husband of a woman who earlier this year allegedly stayed for “at least three nights” at the house of Kieran Conry, until recently Roman Catholic Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, is threatening to sue the Roman Catholic Church. Bishop Conry stood down at the weekend after admitting he had broken his vows of celibacy; and the anonymous husband, who has filed for divorce, is claiming that the bishop’s penchant for women was well-known among the Roman Catholic hierarchy and that its failure to take action led directly to the break-up of his marriage. His solicitor, Ms Clare Kirby of Kirby and Co, said that he was considering an action against the Church, although the case was “in its infancy”:

“My client was trying to deal with this confidentially and went to the bishop for help in reconciling his marriage after he became aware that the bishop was the third person in his marriage. I first wrote to the bishop on behalf of my client some months ago, asking him to respond, but heard nothing back. I wrote again, but all we got was a menacing letter from the bishop’s lawyers indicating the possibility of defamation proceedings.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 2, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As a coalition of Western and Arab countries continues military action to try to defeat Islamic State (IS), it’s timely to hear how the region’s largest Christian minority - in Egypt - is helping to provide humanitarian relief in Northern Iraq.

Coptic Christians themselves faced an onslaught from Islamic extremists only a year ago, but are now providing much-needed practical and psychological support to other Arab speakers in ways that Westerners cannot.

One of the biggest churches in the Arab world, Kasr el-Dobara church in Cairo, is delivering aid alongside agencies such as the UNHCR, Caritas and many others, thanks to its relatively well-paid and well-connected membership.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic Church* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 2, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious leaders agree the Islamic State — also known as ISIL or ISIS — must be stopped. Their struggle is how best to do it.

“As mainstream religious leaders of different faiths get together, it strengthens the voice of moderation,” said Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group.

A group of mainstream Muslim scholars sought to strip the Iraqi and Syrian militants of any legitimacy under the cover of Islam in an open letter in Arabic issued Wednesday.​​

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 29, 2014 at 12:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This Synod is an opportunity to express timeless truths about marriage. Why do those truths matter? How do they represent true love, not “exclusion” or “prejudice,” or any of the other charges brought against marriage today? Men and women need desperately to hear the truth about why they should get married in the first place. And, once married, why Christ and the Church desire that they should remain faithful to each other throughout their lives on this earth. That, when marriage gets tough (as it does for most couples), the Church will be a source of support, not just for individual spouses, but for the marriage itself.

You have written so powerfully, Holy Father, of the importance of a new evangelization within the Church: “An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others.”

May we humbly suggest that in the context of marriage and family life your words are a call to personal responsibility, not only for our own spouses and children, but for the marriages of those God has put by our side: our relatives and friends, those in our churches and in our schools.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 29, 2014 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1) What is an archangel?

The word “archangel” (Greek, archangelos) means “high-ranking angel”—the same way that “archbishop” means a high-ranking bishop.

Only St. Michael is described as an archangel in Scripture (Jude 9), but it is common to honor St.s Gabriel and Raphael as archangels also.

2) Why are they called “saints” if they’re angels rather than humans?

The word “saint” (Greek, hagios) means “holy one.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical Seasons* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 29, 2014 at 4:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What is the point of this world synod of Catholic bishops on the family that is starting in Rome on October 5, a week tomorrow?

Most talk in the papers and in the crabbed and febrile world of the internet has been about whether divorced people who remarry should receive Holy Communion. This matters, because Communion is the symbol and channel of a Christian’s spiritual relations with God. And yet Pope Francis, who, we have learnt, is no friend of laws as a substitute for ideals, says that this is not the point of the synod at all.

The Pope often speaks openly when he shares an aeroplane with journalists, and, on the way back from his pilgrimage to the Holy Land earlier this year, he said: “I have not been happy that so many people – even church people, priests – have said: 'Ah, the synod will be about giving Communion to the divorced’.” His difficulty was that he “felt everything was being reduced to casuistry”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Morningstar Youth and Family Life Center, a 13,000-square-foot facility and a $5.7 million project, is expected to open in a year. As speaker after speaker pointed out at the ceremony, the project is a real-life lesson to never abandon a dream.

Miles, pastor of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, is 69. How old was he when first began work to assemble property for the center?

"About 44," Miles said, smiling.

Plans are for the center to serve about 200 people a day, including youths and seniors, with a wide range of programs and services including math, science and computer tutoring; jobs skills training; food and clothing programs; counseling; and sports programs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 28, 2014 at 2:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

LAWTON: Butler says she wants to develop a church setting where she and her congregation members can wrestle together with difficult questions.

BUTLER: What does the Bible mean in our day and age? Does it mean anything? Or does God exist? Questions like that that people are wondering. And then to get to a personal level: I am in pain, my child is sick, where is God in all of this? I need to ask those questions, and I need to have a safe place where I can just say I don’t know the answers.

LAWTON: She’s open about her own struggles, including a painful divorce and the challenges of being a single mother to three children, ages 20, 17, and 16.

BUTLER: I want to be in a community of people who see me as a real person who is asking these questions, who is living through points of pain and fear and questioning just like they are.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in the Nineveh region of northern Iraq are unable to celebrate communion for the first time in two millennia, after Islamic State militants captured the area and took over the churches.

Canon Andrew White, vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq, told the Telegraph that Isil have set up offices in the churches and have replaced crosses with the militant group's black flag.

"Last week there was no communion in Nineveh for the first time in 2,000 years," he said. "All [the churches] are closed, all their people have run away. It is so sad."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted September 27, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Commission discussed at length the draft of an agreed statement on the theological presuppositions of the Christian understanding of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God. At its next meeting it intends to consider the practical implications and the ethical questions, of pressing concern in today’s world, that follow from these presuppositions.

As in previous meetings, daily prayer and worship strengthened and grounded the work of the Commission, both in the Anglican Cathedral of St George, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

An ecumenical reception hosted by Bishop Suheil provided an opportunity for fellowship with local Christian leaders. The Commission visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and met members of the Christian community, with whom it prayed for peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land and in the whole world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Primary Source-- Reports & Communiques* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesOrthodox Church* Theology

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Posted September 27, 2014 at 2:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Colin Powell famously told President George W. Bush before the Iraq invasion, "If you break it, you own it." Well, it's safe to say we broke Iraq.

That's the story I heard last week from two people who live there. I met with the Rev. Canon Andrew White — "The Vicar of Baghdad" — who serves as the chaplain to St. George's Anglican Church in the heart of Baghdad. We were joined by Sarah Ahmed, a director at White's Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. Ahmed was born and raised in Iraq. White has lived there for 15 years.

"I was in favor of the U.S. invasion," White told me. "But we are literally 5,000 times worse than before. If you look at it, you can see it was wrong. We have gained nothing. Literally nothing. We may have had an evil dictator, but now we have total terrorism. We used to have one Saddam. Now we have thousands."

Read it all from USA Today.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted September 27, 2014 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A California charter school has decided to pull Corrie ten Boom’s Holocaust memoir, The Hiding Place, from its library because the content was deemed too religious. Where to begin? It’s impossible to separate remembrance of the Holocaust from matters of faith; only a modern educator would try.

According to the report of a parent at the school, library staff were told to “remove Christian books, books by Christian authors, and books from Christian publishers.”

When the Pacific Justice Institute, a Christian legal defense group, sent a cease-and-desist notice, the school superintendent responded, “We . . . do not allow sectarian materials on our state-authorized lending shelves.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHistoryPhilosophyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Europe* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsJudaismSecularism* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For better or worse, change is not coming next month. This year's synod is supposed to prepare the agenda for another, larger synod in October next year. That second gathering will then make recommendations to the pope, with whom the final decision on any change will lie.

Pope Francis could choose to leave the work of mercy in this area to a commission he established last month for the purpose of simplifying and streamlining the marriage-annulment process. The pope has suggested that as many as half of all Catholic marriages are actually invalid, "because people get married lacking maturity, they get married without realizing that it is a lifelong commitment, they get married because society tells them they have to get married."

Focusing on reform of the annulment process could be appealing to a leader who, for all his innovations, has declared himself a "son of the church" on moral teaching. As the pope has said regarding contraception, "the question is not whether to change the doctrine, but to go deeper and make sure that pastoral care takes account of situations and of what each person is able to do."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologyEucharistTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 26, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an article in this week’s The Tablet, Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme, half of whose diocese in northern Adamawa state is now under the control of Boko Haram, spoke of the appalling conditions for those Catholics who remained.

“We have our members who have been killed, those who have been abducted, among whom are men and women as well as children. There are those who are forced into marrying Boko Haram members, some have no houses to lay their heads. Also many have no food to eat nor do they have clothes to wear,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 26, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The growing trend of former church buildings being turned into mosques and Islamic centers has reached Kentucky’s largest city where even some once-thriving Southern Baptist facilities are now occupied by Muslims.

“On a trip to England a few years ago, I recall seeing dozens of churches that had become mosques and wondering how it could happen there; now it’s happening here,” said Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

Todd Robertson, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Louisville, said the religious makeup of the Bible Belt is rapidly changing with declining membership in many Christian congregations and growing participation in Islam and other religions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsOther FaithsIslam

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Posted September 25, 2014 at 6:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the church upholds this kind of decision, it is endorsing cruelty, discrimination and exclusion. Pope Francis’ view is that this is exactly the kind of thing that requires the church to exercise mercy not rigidity. But allowing a married gay couple to sing in the choir as an act of “mercy” would merely further expose the fragility of the church’s thirteenth century views of human sexuality. It would put the lie to the otherness of gay people; to the notion that it is essential or even possible for a tiny minority to live entirely without intimacy or love or commitment. It also reveals that gay men have long been a part of the church – and tolerated, as long as they lied about their lives and gave others plausible deniability with respect to their sexual orientation. It is an endorsement of dishonesty.

None of this is compatible with the core moral teachings of the church – about fairness, truth, compassion, forgiveness, mercy and inclusion. And this is clear to large numbers of Catholics – especially the younger generation who will rightly view this kind of decision as barbaric and inhuman. There is only so much inhumanity that a church can be seen to represent before its own members lose faith in it. I recall the feelings of my own niece and nephew who lost a huge amount of respect for the church when they heard a homily denouncing the civil marriage of their own uncle. I notice the outcry among Catholic high school students when a teacher was fired for the very same reason. When a church responds to an act of love and commitment not by celebration but by ostracism, it is not just attacking a couple’s human dignity; it is also attacking itself.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMediaPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted September 25, 2014 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What prompted you to write this book?

I went to a basketball game a couple years ago, and the crowd was screaming, “Overrated! Overrated!” at the other team. It’s not that I’ve heard people scream that when I’m preaching, but the possibility of being “overrated” myself is something I’ve sensed throughout my life.

For example, I’ve been speaking, writing, blogging, and preaching about justice. It’s easy to fall in love with the idea. But something gets lost in the actual practice and application. When I started sensing this, I personally felt exposed and began to see the problem in the larger church....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPovertyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

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Posted September 24, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The centenary celebration Sept. 24 of what is now known as the Montreal School of Theology will probably pass almost unnoticed, at a time when religion is often a topic of strife. But in its quiet way, the anniversary is also a reminder that religious strife and debate in Montreal, Quebec and the rest of Canada have been around for a while.

The three theological seminaries on the McGill University campus — Presbyterian, United Church and Anglican — will be celebrating 100 years of what is now known as ecumenism, a word hardly anyone used in that sense a century ago.

The celebration will be a modest affair....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther Churches* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted September 23, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The partnership between the church and the seminary pairs two theologically aligned institutions that are interested in influencing the broader evangelical movement. Although Redeemer is a PCA church, many of its church plants are not affiliated with the denomination, and RTS is a nondenominational seminary. About two-thirds of RTS students affiliate with the Presbyterian or Dutch Reformed traditions, while the remaining third align with Baptist, Anglican and Methodist traditions.

More megachurches are partnering with seminaries to provide local, affordable theological training, according to “Beyond Megachurch Myths” by Scott Thumma and Dave Travis. Churches offering theological degrees now include Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church in Bellevue, Wash., and John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.

Historically, seminaries have grown out of a particular theological vision.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 23, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis called Sunday for Muslims and all religious leaders to condemn Islamic extremists who "pervert" religion to justify violence, as he visited Albania and held up the Balkan nation as a model for interfaith harmony for the rest of the world.

"To kill in the name of God is a grave sacrilege. To discriminate in the name of God is inhuman," Francis told representatives of Albania's Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic communities during a half-day visit to Tirana in which he recalled the brutal persecution people of all faiths suffered under communism.

Francis wept when he heard the testimony of one priest, the Rev. Ernest Troshani, 84, who for 28 years was imprisoned, tortured and sentenced to forced labor for refusing to speak out against the Catholic Church as his captors wanted.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEuropeAlbania* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Folks still speak of “the blogosphere,” but it no longer is one sphere (if it ever was). Many readers have feeds of their favorite blogs, and that’s true of the religious realms as well. The 1994 document “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” is now 20 years old, but in blogging, evangelicals and Catholics tend to be far apart.

And so, as a public service, I hereby introduce evangelicals to the best-written Catholic blog I’ve seen: The Anchoress. It comes from the mind and heart of Elizabeth Scalia (not one of the justice’s nine children), and it’s not only counter-conventional regarding the world at large but sometimes regarding Roman Catholicism as well. One of her articles asked, “Is the world making an idol of Pope Francis?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

2 Comments
Posted September 21, 2014 at 12:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A few years ago, I was caught up in a big research project about contemporary hymns (or “hymnody,” as they say in the trade). I listened to hundreds of hymns on Spotify; I interviewed a bunch of hymn experts. What, I asked them, was the most successful contemporary hymn—the modern successor to “Morning Has Broken” or “Amazing Grace”? Some cited recently written traditional church hymns; others mentioned songs by popular Christian musicians. But one scholar pointed in a different direction: “If you’re willing to construe the term ‘hymn’ liberally, then the most heard, most successful hymn of the last few decades could be ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,’ by U2.”

Most people think of U2 as a wildly popular rock band. Actually, they’re a wildly popular, semi-secretly Christian rock band. In some ways, this seems obvious: a song on one recent album was called “Yahweh,” and where else would the streets have no name? But even critics and fans who say that they know about U2’s Christianity often underestimate how important it is to the band’s music, and to the U2 phenomenon. The result has been a divide that’s unusual in pop culture. While secular listeners tend to think of U2’s religiosity as preachy window dressing, religious listeners see faith as central to the band’s identity. To some people, Bono’s lyrics are treacly platitudes, verging on nonsense; to others, they’re thoughtful, searching, and profound meditations on faith.

Christianity Today regularly covers U2, not just as another Christian rock band but as one of special significance. In 2004, the magazine ran an article about Bono’s “thin ecclesiology”—his unwillingness to affiliate himself with a church—that sparked a debate about the health of organized religion. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, addressed the issue of Bono’s belief in a fascinating 2008 lecture about the place of organized faith in secular society.

Read it all (and consider following the links also).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryMusic* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On more serious matters, [Bishop Blase] Cupich was asked about reports that he had moderate leanings.

He response was that he was “no saint.”

“Labels are hard for anyone to live up to. ... It's not my agenda, it's not what I feel,” he said. “I'm going to try to be attentive to what The Lord wants.”

He pressed for immigration reform, saying it was desperately needed and “every day we delay is a day too long,” he said.

He said he did not think Pope Francis was sending a message to U.S. Catholics with his appointment. “I think his priority is not to send a message but to send a bishop. ... I think he sent a pastor, not a message,” Cupich said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * Theology

2 Comments
Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That the majority of ISIL’s victims are Muslim does not exclude it from being a religiously motivated movement. For ISIL is part of the group within Islam whose motivation is religious - namely, the removal of apostasy.

We should take our opponents self-identity seriously. They are waging war in the name of Islam and in accordance with their Islamic beliefs. They wish to create the Caliphate. Their commitment is more than a power grab for land – it is a religious zeal and if we ignore it, we will seriously underestimate them.

We must not try to conform Islam to Christian ideals of religion. Jesus and Mohammed were very different in their life as well as in their teaching. Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey to be executed, a week later, for our sins. Mohammed arrived at Mecca in front of an army of 10,000 soldiers to take the city by force. In countries where Christianity has dominated, mosques can be built, the Qur’an can be read and studied and preached in the streets, and citizens can change religion without fear of persecution, let alone execution. None of these corresponding freedoms are available for Christians in countries where Islam holds sway.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"As Scots now consider what kind of nation will now emerge from this campaign, the church must lead – and be allowed to lead – the way to ensure the new Scotland is one that reflects God's values in the economy, the family, our communities and our environment. As Christians we passionately believe that these values will shape our nation for good. There has been an exceptionally high level of engagement and this must not wane. The passion must continue.

"We recognise that while many are celebrating this morning there are also many in Scotland who are devastated at this result. It is now time to show grace and kindness to those on the other side and move quickly to bring reconciliation where it is needed in our land. I know it will be a difficult thing for some people to do but we must love our neighbour. We are all Scots and Scots at heart together. If we put God’s love at the heart of what we do, healing will be much faster, genuine and long-lasting.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of Scotland's most senior cleric has urged unionists and pro-independence campaigners to respect the outcome of the referendum and work together towards a stronger future.

In the hours after the result both sides must publicly declare that the matter has been democratically settled, the Moderator of the Kirk's General Assembly said.

The Rt Rev John Chalmers also suggested replacing posters and badges from the Yes and No campaigns with a "One Scotland" image, while opposing voters should pose together for selfies and share them on social media.

Read it all and please note there is a Service of Reconciliation at St Giles planned for this Sunday.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* Theology

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Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

None of that makes the religious heritage of Europe sound very appealing. But it is essential to remember that in Europe, with the Reformation, Enlightenment, Emancipation, we’ve moved on. Those of us who still practise a faith – Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or Jew – preserve a sense of sanctity without killing each other over it. Crucially, we’re no longer theocrats: the C of E may tell me adultery is sinful, but the state won’t stone me to death over it. But in moving on too fast, we’ve also lost the religious literacy that tells us why people look to priests and saints for guidance in the first place. There will always be those for whom the post-modern world just seems a bit too fractured, a bit too liberal, frankly, in all its dazzling, confusing choices, a bit too frightening. If we want to keep young Muslims from religious violence, the answer is not secularism, but religious alternatives. The violent history of Christianity shouldn’t be a reason to discredit our religious impulse, but to demonstrate the impossibility of repressing it completely.

And to despite the State Department’s best efforts, we can’t build the moral case against Isil simply by pointing out the cruelties it inflicts upon its enemies. As Professor Ian Robertson points out, that’s not how out-group/in-group dynamics work. Religious fanatics have always slaughtered their enemies – and for radical Sunnis, that includes the Shia. Instead, it is the mundane misery of Isil’s ideal state that should horrify the world. Amira Karroum isn’t scared of being beheaded, because she doesn’t think of herself as an infidel. But once the glamour of war is gone, does she really want to live in an eternal shroud, forbidden from leaving the house, denied an education? Do young British men – one of whom notoriously asked “Do the mujahideen play footy and that?” – understand that a state ruled by blasphemy laws is a state where a wise crack at the local cleric could cost you your life? Many states are forged in war – not all of them then ban music, art and history in peace time.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I look no further than the disciples of Jesus; a group of disparate, argumentative and fickle individuals. We have Matthew a tax gatherer, who worked for the Roman army of occupation and alongside him Simon the Zealot sworn to obliterate them by whatever means possible. They were divided in their politics and divided on how Jesus could achieve his mission. Yet with God’s guidance and a common purpose they took his message of love to the ends of the earth.

May we also find a new common purpose beyond the vote.

Read (or listen to) it all (from BBC Thought for the Day).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 18, 2014 at 7:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian minorities are in danger of being eradicated in the Middle East, leaders of evangelical and Protestant denominations in Syria and Lebanon said in a joint statement Aug. 29.

Leaders of the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon, the highest representative body of all the Evangelical and Protestant denominations in the two countries, issued a “state of emergency” to preserve “what remains of the Christian and moderate non-Christian presence” in the region “and to circumvent its complete demise.”

“The issue of Christian presence in the Middle East has gone beyond the stage of calling for equal rights and protection from persecution,” the statement said. “It has become a cry of warning before further events cause the annihilation of Christian presence in the Middle East.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastLebanonSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A briefing by Amnesty International, Ethnic cleansing on historic scale: the Islamic State’s systematic targeting of minorities in northern Iraq, calls the ISIS offensive a genocide, citing several examples of mass killings along with a wave of abductions.

"The massacres and abductions being carried out by the Islamic State provide harrowing new evidence that a wave of ethnic cleansing against minorities is sweeping across northern Iraq," says Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser. "The Islamic State is carrying out despicable crimes and has transformed rural areas of Sinjar into blood-soaked killing fields in its brutal campaign to obliterate all trace of non-Arabs and non-Sunni Muslims."

In more than 20 interviews conducted during three days by a World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation that visited northern Iraq at the end of August, few people could imagine the possibility of returning to their homes. A fourteen-year-old Christian girl from a village on the Nineveh Plain, Iraq, when asked what she thought about the future, replies, "There is no future. Da'ish (ISIS) destroyed our future. We are scared to go back."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther Churches* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

United in the suffering of their people, five Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs from the Middle East urged Westerners to take action to help ensure that Christians and other minorities can remain in the Middle East.

“Christians are not (just) looking for humanitarian aid. They are looking for humanitarian action, to save Christianity in the Middle East,” said Catholicos Aram of Cilicia, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

The Armenian patriarch said a comprehensive strategy is needed to defeat Islamic State extremism that “threatens the very survival of Christianity” in places like Iraq and Syria. He said it was essential to promote human rights, pluralism and religious freedom.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 11:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian fathers told to convert to Islam or watch their children lose their heads.

Christians fleeing their communities shot, their dead bodies lined up on the ground, then rolled over by a bulldozer as their loved ones watch.

These are just some of the stories Canon Andrew White and Dr. Sarah Ahmed shared at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Monday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop T.D. Jakes, the founding pastor of the 30,000-member The Potter's House megachurch in Dallas, Texas, is making a weekly program based on his latest book as well as a daily talk show for national syndication in 2015 or 2016.

Jakes' weekly program will be based on his book, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive, and his daily talk show is also being developed, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Both shows will be produced through his TDJ Enterprises, a for-profit company, and its partners 44 Blue Productions and Enlight Entertainment. The shows will be targeted for national syndication in 2015 or 2016.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 2:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash were deeply religious people whose personal and professional lives were imbued with a sense of spiritual struggle and religious engagement. The 2005 biopic Walk the Line was very good at depicting the sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll aspect of Cash’s life and art, but, like almost all Hollywood movies, it steers clear of religion in general and of evangelical Protestant religion in particular. Also left out the film was the story of Johnny and June Carter Cash’s passionate engagement with Israel, an engagement that grew out of their religious beliefs. John’s interest in Israel started with a wish to visit the Christian holy sites and “walk where Jesus walked.” Cash’s initial visit to the Israel in 1966 was followed by a trip with June in 1968 and developed into a lifelong project to serve as advocates for the State of Israel, even when such advocacy was unfashionable among American performing artists.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMusicReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 12:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Synthesis and radical: The two words don’t seem to go together. Synthesis often means bland middle-of-the road. Radical often means far out, extreme, fringe, crazy.

And yet, this is precisely where John Wesley was radical. He was a genius at the balance and interplay of experience, structure, and doctrine. Digging into Scripture, studying history and the created order, and reflecting on his own experience, Wesley held together in creative tension key truths that tend to fly apart in most periods of church history.

Wesley’s genius, under God, lay in developing and nurturing a synthesis in doctrine and practice that kept biblical paradoxes paired and powerful. He held together faith and works, doctrine and experience, the personal and the social, the concerns of time and eternity. His synthesis speaks profoundly to the church today.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Between 1900 and 2010, the total number of Christians in the region – including Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories – grew from 1.6 million to 7.5 million. But while the Christian population in the Middle East more than quadrupled in that period, the non-Christian population increased ten-fold. As a result, the Christian share of the overall population in the region decreased from 10% in 1900 to 5% in 2010. In recent decades, Christians in the region have tended to be older, have fewer children and be more likely to leave the area compared with Muslims.

Since 2010, there has been considerable population change in the region due to war in Iraq and Syria, hostilities in other countries and related migration, but there is little reliable data to measure overall regional shifts in the last few years. Many Christians have left Iraq in recent years, though many stayed in the Middle East, fleeing to neighboring countries such as Jordan.

Pew Research has found rising social hostilities related to religion in the region since 2007. Christians faced religious harassment in a greater share of countries in the Middle East and North Africa than in any other region in 2012 (the most recent year for which data are available).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureSociologyViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are three reasons for this invisibility. The political left in the West associates Christian faith with dead white male imperialism and does not come naturally to the recognition that Christianity is now the globe’s most persecuted religion. And in the Middle East the Israel-Palestine question, with its colonial overtones, has been the left’s great obsession, whereas the less ideologically convenient plight of Christians under Islamic rule is often left untouched.

To America’s strategic class, meanwhile, the Middle East’s Christians simply don’t have the kind of influence required to matter. A minority like the Kurds, geographically concentrated and well-armed, can be a player in the great game, a potential United States ally. But except in Lebanon, the region’s Christians are too scattered and impotent to offer much quid for the superpower’s quo. So whether we’re pursuing stability by backing the anti-Christian Saudis or pursuing transformation by toppling Saddam Hussein (and unleashing the furies on Iraq’s religious minorities), our policy makers have rarely given Christian interests any kind of due.

Then, finally, there is the American right, where one would expect those interests to find a greater hearing. But the ancient churches of the Middle East (Eastern Orthodox, Chaldean, Maronites, Copt, Assyrian) are theologically and culturally alien to many American Catholics and evangelicals. And the great cause of many conservative Christians in the United States is the state of Israel, toward which many Arab Christians harbor feelings that range from the complicated to the hostile.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralSenateTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 14, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Were these publications justified in rejecting this advertisement?

The simple answer is “yes.” And it has nothing to do with the truthfulness of the ad’s message or the lack thereof. Rather, these are independent evangelical publications who hold to a particular view of marriage. They have audiences with expectations about what is and isn’t consistent with a Christian worldview. And they should be free to only publish content that is consistent with both....

We’re now facing a perennial issue where activists on both sides of this debate expect to be invited to every party and demand to be heard in whatever forum they choose. I’m sorry, but a conservative publication should not be shamed for rejecting an ad that flies in the face of their convictions and beliefs. And, similarly, a liberal organization committed to marriage equality should be free to rescind a speaker’s invitation when they learn the speaker holds to a divergent position.

Have we finally arrived at a moment where Christians of mutual goodwill attack their brothers and sisters not only for disagreeing with their position on sexuality, but also for not advertising it for them?


Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMediaReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

3 Comments
Posted September 13, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A recent meeting of representatives from ecumenical, Catholic, Evangelical and Pentecostal churches in Strasbourg, France has promised to address more effectively discrimination, persecution and violence faced by Christians around the world. This theme will be explored in depth through an international consultation to be held in 2015.

The meeting in Strasbourg was convened by the Global Christian Forum (GCF) with participation from the representatives of the Vatican, the World Council of Churches (WCC), the World Evangelical Alliance and the Pentecostal World Fellowship. The meeting was held from 8 to 9 September.

The planned 2015 consultation will address the theme “Christian discrimination, persecution and martyrdom”. The event will bring together representatives of the churches and Christian communities who have faced discrimination and persecution in their local contexts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther Churches

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Posted September 13, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why was there such a wave of opposition? In part because Americans had no confidence their leaders understood the complications, history and realities of Syria or the Mideast. The previous 12 years had left them distrusting the American foreign-policy establishment. Americans felt the U.S. itself needed more care and attention. By 2013 there was a new depth of disbelief in Mr. Obama's leadership.

But there was another, powerful aspect to the opposition.

Evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics who would normally back strong military action were relatively silent in 2013. Why? I think because they were becoming broadly aware, for the first time, of what was happening to Christians in the Middle East. They were being murdered, tortured, abused for their faith and run out of the region. And for all his crimes and failings, Syria's justly maligned Assad was not attempting to crush his country's Christians. His enemies were—the jihadists, including those who became the Islamic State.

In the year since, the brutality against Middle Eastern Christians, and Islamic State's ferocious anti-Christian agenda, has left many Christians deeply alarmed. Jihadists are de-Christianizing the Mideast, where Christianity began.Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted September 13, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Both [Cardinal Walter] Kasper in his address to the consistory and the ITC refer to John Henry Newman’s essay “On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine.” Even today, Newman’s bold analysis and brilliant exposition have not lost their capacity to shock. Focusing on the fourth-century Arian heresy, probably the most dangerous the church ever faced, Newman asserts that during this period the divine tradition committed to the infallible church was proclaimed and maintained far more by the faithful than by the episcopate; that the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission, while the body of the laity was faithful to its baptism; and that it was the Christian people who supported great solitary confessors such as Athanasius, who would have failed without them.

[John Henry] Newman’s controversial essay, which put him under a cloud in Rome (“the most dangerous man in England,” said Msgr. George Talbot), is given full credit in the ITC study. Newman demonstrated, the commission says, that the faithful, as distinct from their pastors, have their own active role to play in conserving and transmitting the faith. For Newman, the commission notes, there is something in the shared life (conspiratio) of pastors and faithful “which is not in the pastors alone.” And the commission draws attention also to the often neglected role of the laity in developing “the moral teaching of the church.”

What if the faithful experience “difficulty” in receiving the teaching of the authorities and show “resistance” to it? Then there is an impasse. It can only be broken if both sides realize they have to think again. The authorities need to “reflect on the teaching that has been given and consider whether it needs clarification or reformulation in order to communicate more effectively the essential message.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted September 12, 2014 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is an underlying assumption here, shared by religious conservatives and their progressive antagonists (they just differ on what to do about it), and indeed (still) widespread both in academic and popular assessments of the contemporary world: that modernity means a decline of religion and its concomitant morality. Without dissecting this concept any further, this is what is meant by the concept of secularization; for our purposes here we can mean by secularism the idea that secularization is not just a fact, but one to be applauded and promoted. But is it a basic fact of our age? It is certainly a fact; but is it the fact by which our age is to be defined? I think it is not. It is not equally dispersed globally–strongly so in Europe, not at all in Nepal, somewhere in between in Texas. However, what is much more universally dispersed is a fact mentioned by John Paul II in his address to the Latin American bishops: that “faith is no longer taken for granted”. Rather, faith must be based on an individual decision.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 12, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the great themes of the Hebrew Scriptures is that God identifies with the suffering. There are all these great texts that say things like this: If you oppress the poor, you oppress to me. I am a husband to the widow. I am father to the fatherless. I think the texts are saying God binds up his heart so closely with suffering people that he interprets any move against them as a move against him. This is powerful stuff! But Christianity says he goes even beyond that. Christians believe that in Jesus, God’s son, divinity became vulnerable to and involved in - suffering and death! He didn’t come as a general or emperor. He came as a carpenter. He was born in a manger, no room in the inn.

But it is on the Cross that we see the ultimate wonder. On the cross we sufferers finally see, to our shock that God now knows too what it is to lose a loved one in an unjust attack. And so you see what this means? John Stott puts it this way. John Stott wrote: “I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the Cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?” Do you see what this means? Yes, we don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, but we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us! It can’t be that he doesn’t care. God so loved us and hates suffering that he was willing to come down and get involved in it. And therefore the Cross is an incredibly empowering hint. Ok, it’s only a hint, but if you grasp it, it can transform you. It can give you strength.

And lastly, we have to grasp an empowering hope for the future. In both the Hebrew Scriptures and even more explicitly in the Christian Scriptures we have the promise of resurrection....

Read it carefully (noting especially the original setting as described) and read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 1:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rick Warren, founder and pastor of Saddleback Church in California, described Cathy "was a giant of a man in so many ways: a godly man, a wise husband and father, a business genius, a creative innovator, a humble... servant of Jesus Christ with rock-ribbed integrity, a generous philanthropist, and one who loved greatly, cared deeply for the poor, especially disadvantaged kids, and used his life and work to benefit others." - See more at: http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/52468/20140908/rick-warren-remembers-truett-cathy-godly-man-business-genius-humble-servant-jesus-christ.htm#sthash.bNjEq40B.dpuf

"Truett was a man truly who lived his faith, welcoming the homeless into his own home, improving the lives of thousands of disadvantaged kids, and giving them help and hope. Even after becoming a billionaire CEO, Truett continued to teach his weekly Sunday School class for 50 years. One of the five books he wrote summed up his attitude toward helping young boys in trouble: "It's Better To Build Boys Than Mend Men." Warren wrote on his Facebook page.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A toned and sunburned 32-year-old Australian with the letters F-A-I-T-H tattooed onto his biceps strode onto the stage of a former burlesque theater here and shouted across a sea of upstretched hands and uplifted smartphones: “Let’s win this city together!”

The crowd did not need much urging. Young, diverse and devoted to Jesus, the listeners had come to the Belasco Theater from around the city, and from across the country, eager to help an Australian Pentecostal megachurch that is spreading worldwide establish its first outpost on America’s West Coast.

The church, Hillsong, has become a phenomenon, capitalizing on, and in some cases shaping, trends not only in evangelicalism but also in Christian youth culture. Its success would be rare enough at a time when religion is struggling in a secularizing Europe and North America. But Hillsong is even more remarkable because its target is young Christians in big cities, where faith seems out of fashion but where its services are packing them in.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMusicUrban/City Life and IssuesYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 10, 2014 at 4:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

These are just remarkable--take the time to look at them all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryEuropeItaly* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

1 Comments
Posted September 9, 2014 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The diocese of Baton Rouge has asked the US Supreme Court to reverse a Louisiana Supreme Court decision that a priest may be compelled to testify as to what he heard in the confessional in 2008 concerning an abuse case.

The legal step is the latest in a case involving Father Jeffrey Bayhi, pastor of St John the Baptist Church in Zachary, Louisiana, and the sanctity of the seal of confession.

The petition to the US Supreme Court comes after a Louisiana Supreme Court ruling in May outlining arguments that priests are subject to mandatory reporting laws regarding abuse of minors if the person who made the confession waives confidentiality. The state Supreme Court opened the door for a hearing in which the priest would testify about what he heard in the confessional.

Under canon law, the seal of confession is sacred under the penalty of excommunication.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On her 27th day of living in a tiny room at a Tucson church known for pioneering the popular immigrant sanctuary movement in the 1980s, Rosa Robles Loreto swept a courtyard, prayed with a group of parishioners and greeted her uniformed son fresh off his baseball practice.

Robles Loreto is a 41-year-old immigrant who lacks legal status and is facing deportation after getting pulled over for a traffic infraction four years ago. She has vowed to remain in Southside Presbyterian Church until federal immigration authorities grant her leniency.

Robles Loreto is the third immigrant to take sanctuary in a church this year in Arizona, reviving a popular movement from the 1980s that sought to help Central American migrants fleeing civil wars stay in the U.S. by letting them live inside churches, where immigration officials generally do not arrest people.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 9, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Greece’s government has caved in to demands by the Orthodox Church, affording tax breaks to monks, monasteries and members of the clergy despite crippling austerity measures hitting much of the rest of the country.

Under the surprise provision, retired monks earning annual pensions of up to €9,500 will be cleared of their obligation to file taxes while hundreds of monasteries, controlling priceless plots and ancient treasures, will be exempt from declaring their assets to the state.

For a nation still reeling from four years of brutal budget cuts, plus a new land levy that hikes taxation by as much as 75 per cent for Greece’s five million property holders, the freebie has enraged taxpayers and stoked social tension even further.

Read it all (requires subscription).


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGreece* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

‘On behalf of the people of the Church of Ireland I ask God’s blessing and every happiness for Cardinal Seán Brady in his forthcoming retirement. He has been a good friend to successive Archbishops of Armagh and to the wider Church of Ireland throughout his archiepiscopate, and we are grateful to him for this unaffected generosity of spirit. And, on a personal note, I wish to thank Seán for real kindness and warm friendship over many years. We all hope that he will enjoy both true fulfilment and good health in the years ahead.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Ireland* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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




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