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(Psephizo) Andrew Goddard–PLF: Prayers of Love and Faith? Or Persistent Leadership Failure?

Reviewing the development of Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF) reveals that it demonstrates an even more serious ‘PLF’ problem, one that is evident in other areas of church life as well: Persistent Leadership Failure. It first traces this failure back to the rushed origins of PLF in late 2022 and early 2023.

These resulted in further failures leading to an instability and incoherence which is traced from early 2023 to the present in relation to repeated changes in:

  • For whom the prayers are being proposed;
  • The theological and legal basis of the prayers;
  • The relationship to the church’s supposedly unchanged doctrine where, contrary to the February 2023 Synod motion and the bishops’ original plan, PLF are now acknowledged to be “indicative of a departure from the Church’s doctrine”; and
  • The canonical route by which the original proposed PLF are to be introduced. Here nine different stages favouring multiple different paths are summarised culminating in the latest reported “emerging proposal” to introduce standalone services by commending them for use for an experimental period under Canon B5.

This latest proposal has a certain logic as the prohibition on standalone services was an abuse of the House’s power and did not make canonical sense once the substance of the prayers were commended by the bishops for use under Canon B5.

However, there are ten problems with this route, some new but some previously recognised and given as reasons to reject commendation….

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England, CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Economist) Why paying women to have more babies won’t work

As birth rates plunge, many politicians want to pour money into policies that might lead women to have more babies. Donald Trump has vowed to dish out bonuses if he returns to the White House. In France, where the state already spends 3.5-4% of gdp on family policies each year, Emmanuel Macron wants to “demographically rearm” his country. South Korea is contemplating handouts worth a staggering $70,000 for each baby. Yet all these attempts are likely to fail, because they are built on a misapprehension.

Governments’ concern is understandable. Fertility rates are falling nearly everywhere and the rich world faces a severe shortage of babies. At prevailing birth rates, the average woman in a high-income country today will have just 1.6 children over her lifetime. Every rich country except Israel has a fertility rate beneath the replacement level of 2.1, at which a population is stable without immigration. The decline over the past decade has been faster than demographers expected.

Doomsayers such as Elon Musk warn that these shifts threaten civilisation itself. That is ridiculous, but they will bring profound social and economic changes. A fertility rate of 1.6 means that, without immigration, each generation will be a quarter smaller than the one before it. In 2000 rich countries had 26 over-65-year-olds for every 100 people aged 25-64. By 2050 that is likely to have doubled. The worst-affected places will see even more dramatic change. In South Korea, where the fertility rate is 0.7, the population is projected to fall by 60% by the end of the century.

Read it all (registration or subscription).
Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Politics in General

(Bloomberg) Sudan’s Army Deepens Ties With Russia, Iran as Civil War Rages

Sudan’s army said it’s poised to get weapons from Russia in return for letting Moscow establish a military fueling station on the Red Sea coast, a blow for the US as its opponents gain influence in the African country torn apart by civil war.

A military delegation will travel to Russia within a few days to conclude the deal, assistant commander-in-chief Yasser Al-Atta told the Gulf-based Al-Hadath TV channel on Saturday. Authorities will get “vital weapons and munitions,” he said, describing the planned Russian outpost as “not exactly a military base.”

Moscow has long coveted a foothold on Sudan’s 530-mile (853 kilometer) coastline, and a final agreement would stoke Western concerns over the country’s growing influence in Africa.

The announcement comes as Sudan’s army strives to regain swathes of territory lost to the Rapid Support Forces militia in a war that erupted in April 2023 and may have killed as many as 150,000 people.

Read it all.
Posted in Foreign Relations, Iran, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Sudan

(Washington Post) Mexico City and millions of its residents could run out of water in weeks

Raquel Campos’ water issues started in January, when her condo building’s manager sent residents a message saying that the city hadn’t delivered water to its cistern. Four days later, taps in the upscale residence went dry.

Campos has lived in the wealthy Polanco neighborhood for 18 years and said she has never experienced water issues like this. Her husband paid to shower at a nearby hotel and she called water delivery companies that were overwhelmed with a sudden deluge of requests from the neighborhood. The water in Campos’ building came back within a few days, but with much lower pressure. Water is now delivered about every two weeks. Each unit has paid to cover the cost, increasing their monthly condo expenses by 30 percent.

Water scarcity has long been an issue in Mexico City, with the brunt of the shortages happening in lower-income neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city center. But recently, residents in some of the city’s wealthier neighborhoods have also been running out of water as hot temperatures, low rainfall and poor infrastructure have converged to create a crisis across the sprawling metropolis.

Read it all.
Posted in Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Mexico, Urban/City Life and Issues

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the First Book of Common Prayer

Almighty and everliving God, whose servant Thomas Cranmer, with others, did restore the language of the people in the prayers of thy Church: Make us always thankful for this heritage; and help us so to pray in the Spirit and with the understanding, that we may worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Trinity from the Church of England

Holy God,
faithful and unchanging:
enlarge our minds with the knowledge of your truth,
and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love,
that we may truly worship you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Holy Trinity by Andrei Rublev.

— Christian Culture (@Christian8Pics) February 13, 2019

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest, but he finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and brings with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. So shall it be also with this evil generation.”

While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

–Matthew 12:43-50

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Independent agency appointed to investigate racist incidents in the Church of England

An independent agency, Race Equality First, has been commissioned to investigate racist incidents in the Church of England.

The C of E’s director of racial justice, the Revd Guy Hewitt, said on Thursday: “Sadly, anecdotal evidence suggested that such occurrences are more common than appreciated.”

“For our GMH/UKME communities [Global Majority Heritage/UK Minoritised Ethnic], being stereotyped, overlooked, or excluded, or facing harassment, hostile comments or microaggression are an all-too-common experience. Leaving such behaviours unchallenged or brushed under the carpet is seriously damaging both to individuals and our faith community.”

The report of the Archbishops’ anti-racism task force From Lament To Action (News, 22 April 2021) recommended the setting up of a robust, independent system for handling complaints.

Read it all.
Posted in Anthropology, Church of England, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

Tuesday food for Thought from Alister McGrath for Trinity Sunday week

‘For many people, the doctrine of the trinity is one of the most baffling areas of Christian theology. How can we think of God as “three persons”? There are many who suspect that this is simply an attempt by theologians to make their subject in accessible to outsiders. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), third President of United States of America was severely critical of what he termed, the “incomprehensible jargon of the Trinitarian arithmetic.” Why on earth do we need to speak of God in this convoluted and puzzling way? Might it suggest that theology is thoroughly irrational?

More recently, Christians have become aware of the Islamic critique of the doctrine, which holds that it compromises the unity of God. Many Christians neglected the notion, partly because it was seen as obscure. Karl Rahner remarked that the modern Christians were “almost mere monotheists,” paying lip service to the Trinity in theory, but ignoring it in practice. “We must be willing to admit,” he remarked, “that, should the doctrine of the Trinity have to be dropped as false the major part of religious literature could well remain virtually unchanged.”

—-Alister McGrath, Theology: The Basics (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 2012), p.116, quoted by yours truly in the later Sunday sermon

Posted in Books, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

(NYT) OpenAI Says It Has Begun Training a New Flagship A.I. Model

OpenAI said on Tuesday that it had begun training a new flagship artificial intelligence model that would succeed the GPT-4 technology that drives its popular online chatbot, ChatGPT.

The San Francisco start-up, which is one of the world’s leading A.I. companies, said in a blog post that it expected the new model to bring “the next level of capabilities” as it strove to build “artificial general intelligence,” or A.G.I., a machine that can do anything the human brain can do. The new model would be an engine for A.I. products including chatbots, digital assistants akin to Apple’s Siri, search engines and image generators.

OpenAI also said it was creating a new Safety and Security Committee to explore how it should handle the risks posed by the new model and future technologies.

“While we are proud to build and release models that are industry-leading on both capabilities and safety, we welcome a robust debate at this important moment,” the company said.

Read it all.
Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Science & Technology

Food for Thought from John Calvin on his Feast Day—-Do We see The Truth About Ourselves?

For (such is our innate pride) we always seem to ourselves just, and upright, and wise, and holy, until we are convinced, by clear evidence, of our injustice, vileness, folly, and impurity. Convinced, however, we are not, if we look to ourselves only, and not to the Lord also—He being the only standard by the application of which this conviction can be produced. For, since we are all naturally prone to hypocrisy, any empty semblance of righteousness is quite enough to satisfy us instead of righteousness itself….

So long as we do not look beyond the earth, we are quite pleased with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue; we address ourselves in the most flattering terms, and seem only less than demigods. But should we once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and reflect what kind of Being he is, and how absolute the perfection of that righteousness, and wisdom, and virtue, to which, as a standard, we are bound to be conformed, what formerly delighted us by its false show of righteousness will become polluted with the greatest iniquity; what strangely imposed upon us under the name of wisdom will disgust by its extreme folly; and what presented the appearance of virtuous energy will be condemned as the most miserable impotence. So far are those qualities in us, which seem most perfect, from corresponding to the divine purity.

–John Calvin, Institutes I.1.2

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Theology, Uncategorized

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Calvin

Sovereign and holy God, who didst bring John Calvin from a study of legal systems to understand the godliness of thy divine laws as revealed in Scripture: Fill us with a like zeal to teach and preach thy Word, that the whole world may come to know thy Son Jesus Christ, the true Word and Wisdom; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, ever one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

John Stott’s regular morning prayer for the week of Holy Trinity Sunday

Almighty and everlasting God,
Creator and Sustainer of the universe,
I worship you.

Lord Jesus Christ,
Savior and Lord of the world,
I worship you.

Holy Spirit,
Sanctifier of the people of God,
I worship you.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.

Holy Spirit, I pray that this day your fruit will ripen my life:

Love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control.

Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity,
Three persons in one God,
have mercy upon me. Amen.

–Ted Schroder, John Stott: A summary of his teaching (Manchester: Piquant Publishing, 2021) pp.7-8

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord
than great treasure and trouble with it.

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is
than a fatted ox and hatred with it.

–Proverbs 15:16-17

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Theology: Scripture

Still More Poetry for Memorial Day–Patterns

I walk down the garden-paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jeweled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden-paths.
My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.
And the splashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover.
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon–
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.

Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke.
“Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
Died in action Thursday se’nnight.”
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
“Any answer, Madam,” said my footman.
“No,” I told him.
“See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
No, no answer.”
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
Each one.
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.

In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, “It shall be as you have said.”
Now he is dead.

In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down
In my gown.
Gorgeously arrayed,
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?

–Amy Lowell (1874–1925)

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature, Uncategorized

More Music for Memorial Day–Eternal Father, Strong to Save (The Navy Hymn)

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Music, Uncategorized

More Poetry for Memorial Day: Tomas Tranströmer’s The Half-Finished Heaven

From here:

Despondency breaks off its course.
Anguish breaks off its course.
The vulture breaks off its flight.

The eager light streams out,
even the ghosts take a draught.

And our paintings see daylight,
our red beasts of the ice-age studios.
Everything begins to look around.
We walk in the sun in hundreds.

Each man is a half-open door
leading to a room for everyone.

The endless ground under us.

The water is shining among the trees.

The lake is a window into the earth.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature, Uncategorized

Music For Memorial Day: If You’re Reading This by Tim McGraw

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Music

More Poetry for Memorial Day–Theodore O’Hara’s “Bivouac of the Dead”

The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat
The soldier’s last tattoo;
No more on life’s parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame’s eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.

No rumor of the foe’s advance
Now swells upon the wind;
Nor troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind;
No vision of the morrow’s strife
The warrior’s dream alarms;
No braying horn nor screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.

Their shriveled swords are red with rust,
Their plumed heads are bowed,
Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,
Is now their martial shroud.
And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow,
And the proud forms, by battle gashed
Are free from anguish now.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, History, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

You owe it to your country and to them to take the time to listen and watch this today

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Music

More Poetry for Memorial Day–Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

In Flanders Fields for Memorial Day

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

–Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

In thanksgiving for all those who gave their lives for this country in years past, and for those who continue to serve; KSH.

P.S. The circumstances which led to this remarkable poem are well worth remembering:

It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915 and to the war in general. McCrea had spent seventeen days treating injured men — Canadians, British, French, and Germans in the Ypres salient. McCrae later wrote: “I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days… Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done.” The next day McCrae witnessed the burial of a good friend, Lieut. Alexis Helmer. Later that day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the field dressing station, McCrea composed the poem. A young NCO, delivering mail, watched him write it. When McCrae finished writing, he took his mail from the soldier and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the Sergeant-major. Cyril Allinson was moved by what he read: “The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene.” Colonel McCrae was dissatisfied with the poem, and tossed it away. A fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on 8 December 1915. For his contributions as a surgeon, the main street in Wimereaux is named “Rue McCrae”.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, History, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature, Uncategorized

A Prayer for Memorial Day

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead: We give thee thanks for all thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence; and give us such a lively sense of thy righteous will, that the work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Queen Bertha and King Ethelbert

God our ruler and guide, we honor thee for Queen Bertha and King Ethelbert of Kent who, gently persuaded by the truth of thy Gospel, encouraged others by their godly example to follow freely the path of discipleship; and we pray that we, like them, may show the goodness of thy Word not only by our words but in our lives; through Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Another Prayer for Trinity Sunday from the Church of England

Almighty and eternal God, you have revealed yourself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and live and reign in the perfect unity of love: hold us firm in this faith, that we may know you and all your ways and evermore rejoice, and your eternal glory, who are three persons and one God now and forever. Amen.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

From the Morning Scripture Readings

To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in thee I trust,
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
for thou art the God of my salvation;
for thee I wait all the day long.

–Psalm 25:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for Trinity Sunday from the Church of England

Almighty and everlasting God,

you have given us your servants grace,

by the confession of a true faith,

to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity

and in the power of the divine majesty to worship the Unity:

keep us steadfast in this faith,

that we may evermore be defended from all adversities;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This day

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

A Trinity Sunday Doxology

To God the Father, who first loved us, and made us accepted in the Beloved; to God the Son, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood; to God the Holy Ghost, who sheddeth the love of God abroad in our hearts: to the one true God be all love and all glory for time and for eternity.

–Thomas Ken (1637-1711)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ”˜After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ”˜He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

–John 1:29-34

Posted in Theology: Scripture