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(NY Times) Bruno Fernandes and the Long Game

Perhaps he learned that in those years he spent among the game’s lesser lights: one at Novara, three at Udinese, one at Sampdoria. By the summer of 2017, when he returned to Portugal — as the second-most-expensive signing in Sporting’s history — he had still not received a call-up to Portugal’s national team (though he had captained its under-21 side). His arrival was not heralded as a coup. “Most of the big teams had not seen much of him,” Martelinho said.

And yet, within just a few months, it was obvious what Portugal had been missing. “The Portuguese league is not as strong as England, Spain or Germany,” Martelinho said. “But it is maybe the fifth- or sixth-best league in Europe. It is not easy. Bruno made it look easy.”

His impact in England has been no less swift. It is not yet 12 full months since he arrived at Old Trafford, yet he has already been voted into one Premier League team of the season, and, with his team emerging as contenders to end a seven-year wait for a championship, he would rank among the leading candidates to win this campaign’s player of the year award.

And yet if his rise seems rapid, it is anything but. Fernandes has had to wait for this moment. Not through any fault of his own, but through a flaw in soccer’s structure, through its inability to look for talent in unexpected places. This was the player he always was, and always could be. It just took the game a while to notice, and all because he needed to take a bus, all those years ago.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Portugal, Sports

((JE) Episcopal Seminaries “Exploring Partnership Options”

Two historic Episcopal Church seminaries announced this week that they “have begun the process of exploring partnership options.”

While the language of the announcement offers no detail, it appears that both New York’s General Theological Seminary (GTS) and Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) of Alexandria, Virginia are now on a trajectory to eventually consolidate.

“Purposefully walking together in as many ways as possible is our goal going forward” wrote the chairs of both boards, Dr. David Charlton (VTS) and Diocese of Atlanta Bishop Robert Wright (GTS).

Episcopal seminaries including Episcopal Divinity School, Bexley Hall Seminary, and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, each announced similar language before “federating” or being subsumed into a larger institution. A fourth seminary, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, was acquired by the endowed parish of Trinity Wall Street in 2019. Each points to an ongoing trend of consolidation among institutions as the Episcopal Church contracts in membership and attendance numbers.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education

(WSJ) Yahya Cholil Staquf–How to Make the Islamic World Less Radical

The world isn’t going to banish Islam, but it can and must banish the scourge of Islamic extremism. This will require Muslims and non-Muslims to work together, drawing on peaceful aspects of Islamic teaching to encourage respect for religious pluralism and the fundamental dignity of every human being.

The most enduring way to address an extremist religious ideology is to recontextualize its teachings and reform it from within. Four centuries ago, Catholics and Protestants routinely killed each other; now they coexist. I believe the same type of change can occur within Islam in one or two generations. What’s needed is a credible alternative that is consistent with Islamic orthodoxy and developed and promulgated by those with religious and political authority in the Muslim world.

Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest independent Muslim organization, for which I serve as general secretary, is promoting such an alternative. Positioned firmly within the spiritual, intellectual and legal traditions of orthodox Sunni Islam, we recognize that much of the fiqh constitutes not the unchanging, spiritual essence of religion, known as thawabit, but rather its historically contingent expressions, or mutaghayyirat. These latter expressions of Islam may be changed.

Countless Indonesian Muslims have taken up this task of reform in recent decades. Starting in the 1980s, prominent heirs to this tradition led Nahdlatul Ulama officially to sanction collective ijtihad: the application of independent reason to renew temporal elements of fiqh and ensure that Islamic teaching and practice embody universal love and compassion, the primary message of Islam.

Read it all.

Posted in Indonesia, Islam, Religion & Culture

Bp Mark Lawrence of South Carolina writes the Diocese

From there:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

With division and strife intensifying in our nation, the National Mall in Washington, D.C. closed, and thousands of National Guard Troops assembled in our nation’s capital from credible threats of violence, and with concern for state capitals across the country growing, I am joining with our Archbishop Foley Beach and other ACNA Bishops calling our clergy in the diocese to join me in genuine intercessory prayer for our nation.

Please spend some time with your leadership considering how you and your congregation can together pray for our nation, our elected officials, and for peace in our land, not only this coming Sunday, but throughout this next week. There is of course the Great Litany as well as multiple prayers in the Book of Common Prayer for our nation, government, and civic leaders.

Thirdly, just last week I visited the Billy Graham Library outside of Charlotte. The various exhibits reminded me of how a Christian leader who has a Kingdom focus can span across political divides (Dr. Graham was a confidante to every single U.S. President from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush regardless of his political party), as well as international boundaries and cultures with the Gospel message and witness. He sought to be God’s man first and therein tempered his political speech or language accordingly. This of course may not be your calling or ministry but it did remind me and I hope reminds you, to remember who we are in Christ and whose we are. May our passion for God’s Kingdom shape how we speak in the pulpit, in written communication, and on social media.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence
The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina
Anglican Church in North America

Posted in * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Spirituality/Prayer

(Church Times) Funeral directors speak of physical and mental exhaustion

Funeral directors in the UK have spoken of the “heartbreak” of watching hundreds of mourners grieve alone, and of their own physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion under an unprecedented workload, as deaths from the coronavirus continue to rise at catastrophic rates.

The Assistant Curate of St Peter’s, Stockton-on-Tees, and St John’s, Elton, in Durham diocese, the Revd Daniel Ackerley, has experienced all sides of the crisis. He has just been through a family bereavement. He is also the principal funeral director at John Duckworth Funeral Directors, in Sunderland.

“The last months have been the toughest and most challenging yet in my ten years as a funeral director,” he said. “Throughout the pandemic, funeral workers have gone about their vital work supporting the bereaved and taking care of those who have died, often with very little recognition.”

He, like many of his colleagues, had undertaken “record numbers of funerals” over the past nine months, all under the strain of meeting strict government limitations.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture

(Local Paper front page) To ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations, South Carolina expands who can give the shots

South Carolina is expanding who’s allowed to give COVID-19 vaccines in an effort to get shots into arms faster amid escalating frustrations with the state’s slow rollout.

A pair of major hospitals say they could vaccinate up to 10,000 people a day — three times more than their current capacity — with added help to administer shots as shipments ramp up.

Meanwhile, the state’s public health agency is giving up on contact tracing of those infected after becoming overwhelmed with a sharp rise in COVID cases.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, State Government

A Prayer for the Feast of the Epiphany from the Church of South India

Almighty God, who hast manifested thy Son Jesus Christ to be a light to mankind: Grant that we thy people, being nourished by thy word and sacraments, may be strengthened to show forth to all men the unsearchable riches of Christ, so that he may be known, adored and obeyed, to the ends of the earth; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

Posted in Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles– assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 that is, how the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confidence of access through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

–Ephesians 3:1-13

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Gary Saul Morson–Fyodor Dostoevsky: philosopher of freedom

On December 22, 1849, a group of political radicals were taken from their prison cells in Petersburg’s Peter and Paul Fortress, where they had been interrogated for eight months. Led to the Semenovsky Square, they heard a sentence of death by firing squad. They were given long white peasant blouses and nightcaps—their funeral shrouds—and offered last rites. The first three prisoners were seized by the arms and tied to the stake. One prisoner refused a blindfold and stared defiantly into the guns trained on them. At the last possible moment, the guns were lowered as a courier galloped up with an imperial decree reducing death sentences to imprisonment in a Siberian prison camp followed by service as a private in the army. The last-minute rescue was in fact planned in advance as part of the punishment, an aspect of social life that Russians understand especially well.

Accounts affirm: of the young men who endured this terrible ordeal, one had his hair turn white; a second went mad and never recovered his sanity; a third, whose two-hundredth birthday we celebrate in 2021, went on to write Crime and Punishment.

The mock-execution and the years in Siberian prison—thinly fictionalized in his novel Notes from the House of the Dead (1860)—changed Dostoevsky forever. His naive, hopeful romanticism disappeared. His religious faith deepened. The sadism of both prisoners and guards taught him that the sunny view of human nature presumed by utilitarianism, liberalism, and socialism were preposterous. Real human beings differed fundamentally from what these philosophies presumed.

People do not live by bread—or, what philosophers called the maximalization of “advantage”—alone. All utopian ideologies presuppose that human nature is fundamentally good and simple: evil and apparent complexity result from a corrupt social order. Eliminate want and you eliminate crime. For many intellectuals, science itself had proven these contentions and indicated the way to the best of all possible worlds. Dostoevsky rejected all these ideas as pernicious nonsense. “It is clear and intelligible to the point of obviousness,” he wrote in a review of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, “that evil lies deeper in human beings than our social-physicians suppose; that no social structure will eliminate evil; that the human soul will remain as it always has been . . . and, finally, that the laws of the human soul are still so little known, so obscure to science, so undefined, and so mysterious, that there are not and cannot be either physicians or final judges” except God Himself.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Russia

Bari Weiss–The Great Unraveling The old order is dead. What comes next?

Tears rolled down my face as he spoke these lines, as they do now as I re-read them:

“Do not smile at the visionary who anticipates the same revolution in the realm of the visible as has taken place in the spiritual. Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder. German thunder is of true Germanic character; it is not very nimble, but rumbles along ponderously. Yet, it will come and when you hear a crashing such as never before has been heard in the world’s history, then you know that the German thunderbolt has fallen at last. At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead, and lions in the remotest deserts of Africa will hide in their royal dens. A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll.”

How did Heine see it? How, a hundred years before Hitler, did he possess the terrible vision that “a play would be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll”?

He understood, first, that the “talisman” was fragile, that the veneer of civilization was so much thinner than most people understood. And he understood that if it was torn “the ancient stony gods,” who never really died, could be awakened from their sleep once again.

Second, Heine saw with total clarity that revolutions in the street begin as revolutions in sense-making. “Do not laugh at one who foresees in the region of the visible the revolution that has already occurred in the invisible domain of the spirit. Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder.”

The invisible revolutions of the 21st century — revolutions that began with word games and lies — are increasingly apparent in the “region of the visible.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A.

(Local Paper) South Carolina human trafficking annual report released

The South Carolina Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force released new numbers from 2020 showing the scourge is not going away and COVID-19 has only made things worse, as traffickers prey on the most vulnerable.

Traffickers look for vulnerabilities and exploit them. Fresh data from the report on how victims become ensnared by traffickers shows most of the time it starts with an ad for a job. Other times the trafficker is familiar with the victim– an intimate partner or the victim becomes indebted by receiving a loan. Soon the victim is coerced, manipulated and trapped.

“It presents a public health and a public safety issue that violates basic human rights,” said Attorney General Alan Wilson at a press conference from the Statehouse on Jan. 11.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Sexuality, Violence

(AJ) Anglican Church of Canada Council of General Synod hears of ‘transformative change’ across church

A first round of strategic planning consultation sessions with Canadian Anglicans has revealed a sense of profound change at hand in the church, the Council of General Synod (CoGS) heard at an online meeting Nov. 6-8.

The Strategic Planning Working Group (SPWG) was formed in the fall of 2019 to put together a new long-term plan for the church. Since the summer— with the assistance of Janet Marshall, director of congregational development for the diocese of Toronto—it has been holding “listening groups” to invite thought on the church’s future and strategic direction, and hear how Anglicans are coping with the unusual times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. On Nov. 6, Marshall and members of the working group presented some of the themes that had emerged from the first round of 11 of these listening groups.

The coronavirus pandemic, Marshall told CoGS, appears to be revealing the church’s values but also its areas of weakness, “helping us see the ways that we’re fragile in new and different ways.” One theme that had emerged, she said, is the sense of a “seismic shift” underway—a perception that the Anglican Church of Canada is “increasingly seeing the inevitability of large, transformative change, Pentecost change, on every level and in every way.”

The sense of change does not seem to equate with crisis, she added; there was an understanding that the change could be for the better.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Religion & Culture

An Announcement from Saint John’s, Johns Island about how they are proceeding given the Covid19 situation in South Carolina

A message from Fr. Greg. Please watch.

Posted by St. John's Parish Church on Saturday, January 9, 2021

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry

(Bloomberg) USA Covid Hospitalizations on Cusp of First Decline in Months

The number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients was roughly flat in the U.S. this week, and likely will begin declining for the first time since September.

The numbers are now dropping compared with a week earlier in both the Northeast and Midwest, according to the Covid Tracking Project. In the West, they were up 0.8%, the least since Oct. 1 on a percentage basis. The South has the most alarming momentum, with an increase of 4.2% from seven days earlier.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Richard Meux Benson and Charles Gore

Gracious God, who hast inspired a rich variety of ministries in thy Church: We offer thanks for Richard Meux Benson and Charles Gore, instruments in the revival of Anglican monasticism. Grant that we, following their example, may call for perennial renewal in thy Church through conscious union with Christ, witnessing to the social justice that is a mark of the reign of our Savior Jesus, who is the light of the world; and who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast of the Epiphany based on the Mozarabic Sacramentary

Lord Jesus, our Master, go with us while we travel to the heavenly country; that, following thy star, we may not wander in the darkness of this world’s night, while thou, who art our Way, and Truth, and Life dost shine within us to our journey’s end; for thy mercy’s sake.

Posted in Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

And when he returned to Caper′na-um after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your pallet and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

–Mark 2:1-12

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(FT) Boom in private companies offering disinformation-for-hire

Politicians are increasingly hiring private companies to spread disinformation online, according to researchers who found campaigns run by third-party contractors targeting 48 different countries over the past year.

The Oxford Internet Institute said the “disinformation-for-hire” market is booming, with advertising, marketing and public relations companies offering to manipulate online opinion for political parties and governments.

The OII said private contractors help to identify which groups to target with messages, and then “prompt the trending of certain political messages” either through fake accounts or with armies of bots, or automated accounts.

Researchers said they had found evidence of at least $60m of spending on such campaigns since 2009, although the real total may be far higher.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Politics in General, Science & Technology

The Bishop of Durham supports protections for children in covert intelligence bill

The Church of England’s Lead Bishop for Children and Families is supporting moves in the House of Lords today to introduce legal protections for children from being used in undercover operations by police and other authorities.

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, is backing cross-party amendments to the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill which is currently before the Lords for report stage.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(NC Register) Re-Reading Father Richard Neuhaus’ ‘American Babylon’ in Light of U.S. Capitol Attack

Father Richard’s engagement in political activism never led him to messianic politics. He died after Barack Obama’s election but before his inauguration, and long before the current president came down the escalator at Trump Tower. He was suspicious of the messianic dimension of Obama’s candidacy and would have been troubled by those who regarded Donald Trump as having some kind of messianic anointing.

Father Richard would have been dismayed at the apocalyptic tone of politics today. The future of the republic does not hang on a presidential election, let alone a senate election in Georgia. Elections have consequences, sometimes, grave consequences, but electoral politics does not heal a corrupt culture.

“Moral progress is far from being self-evident,” Father Richard wrote. “We should at least be open to the possibility that we are today witnessing not moral progress but a dramatic moral regression.”

That possibility was the risk of freedom, and Father Richard knew well that the great American experiment in ordered liberty was just that, an experiment, which would be tested. His commitment to the pro-life cause made him all too aware that that test could be failed….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

(AJ) Edmonton church avoids COVID-19 outbreak after presence of infected person at service

The person contacted the church as soon as they found out they had tested positive. They also provided to AHS a complete account of where they had been and who they had been near, after which AHS contacted the church and investigated the person’s potential contacts there—speaking with people, going through the worship service step-by-step and asking questions about the configuration of the chancel and nave and other details pertinent to the service.

As per instructions given to the church by AHS, Key, the church’s musical director and five choristers all self-isolated for 14 days, and then got tested for COVID-19. The person who had tested positive also followed all AHS’s protocols. By Oct. 27, all the tests had come back negative.

“This is wonderful news and is perhaps one of the only times we ALL wanted to FAIL a test (though we are all still required to isolate until November 2nd),” Key wrote in her Facebook update.

AHS had advised the church, Key added, that no one besides these people were considered to have been in close contact with the person who tested positive, so that there was no need for the rest of the congregation to self-isolate.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry

Hilary on his Feast Day–False teachers make Christ a second order God, or not a God at all

We have clearly fallen on the evil times prophesied by the Apostle; for nowadays teachers are sought after who preach not God but a creature And men are more zealous for what they themselves desire, than for what the sound faith teaches. So far have their itching ears stirred them to listen to what they desire, that for the moment that preaching alone rules among their crowd of doctors which estranges the Only-begotten God from the power and nature of God the Father, and makes Him in our faith either a God of the second order, or not a God at all; in either case a damning profession of impiety, whether one profess two Gods by making different grades of divinity; or else deny divinity altogether to Him Who drew His nature by birth from God. Such doctrines please those whose ears are estranged from the hearing of the truth and turned to fables, while the hearing of this our sound faith is not endured, and is driven bodily into exile with its preachers.

But though many may heap up teachers according to their desires, and banish sound doctrine, yet from the company of the Saints the preaching of truth can never be exiled. From our exile we shall speak by these our writings, and the Word of God which cannot be bound will run unhindered, warning us of this time which the Apostle prophesied. For when men shew themselves impatient of the true message, and heap up teachers according to their own human desires, we can no longer doubt about the times, but know that while the preachers of sound doctrine are banished truth is banished too. We do not complain of the times: we rejoice rather, that iniquity has revealed itself in this our exile, when, unable to endure the truth, it banishes the preachers of sound doctrine, that it may heap up for itself teachers after its own desires. We glory in our exile, and rejoice in the Lord that in our person the Apostle’s prophecy should be fulfilled.

–Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, X

Posted in Church History, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hilary of Poitiers

O Lord our God, who didst raise up thy servant Hilary to be a champion of the catholic faith: Keep us steadfast in that true faith which we professed at our baptism, that we may rejoice in having thee for our Father, and may abide in thy Son, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit; thou who livest and reignest for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, France, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for Epiphany from Robert Nelson

O God, who didst manifest thy only begotten Son to the Gentiles, and hast commanded thy Church to preach the gospel to every creature: Bless all thy servants who are labouring for thee in distant lands. Have compassion upon the heathen and upon all who know thee not, and lead them by thy Holy Spirit to him who is the light of the world, even the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And immediately he left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them.

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered together about the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him pursued him, and they found him and said to him, “Every one is searching for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

–Mark 1:29-45

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CT) Where Is the Gospel in God’s Judgments on the Nations?

The hardest parts of Scripture, in my experience, are not the bits you don’t understand. Failing to understand can be good; it can prompt thought, investigation, and discovery. No, the real trouble comes when you know exactly what is going on, and it doesn’t look good, true, or beautiful. Think, for instance, of the prophetic oracles of judgment against the nations, which run for page after terrifying page, with (apparently) no hope, no contemporary application, and no end in sight.

The last seven chapters of Jeremiah are a case in point. How can a book containing such glorious promises have such a depressing ending? There are nine oracles of judgment against the nations—Egypt, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar and Hazor, Elam, and Babylon—followed by Jerusalem’s destruction. The judgments are severe and sometimes graphic. Four nations receive a one-verse promise of future mercy (46:26; 48:47; 49:6; 49:39), but these are just four droplets of hope in a seven-chapter desert of disaster. How do we find goodness, joy, and gospel in these passages? As happens so often in the Old Testament, we find an answer in the exodus story.

The final chapters of Jeremiah contain ten divine judgments: nine against foreign nations, and the last upon Judah itself. Ezekiel 25–33 runs through an equivalent sequence: nine oracles against nations and their kings, followed by Jerusalem’s destruction. And a similar pattern occurs in Isaiah 13–23. That is unlikely to be a coincidence.

Read it all.

Posted in Eschatology, Theology: Scripture

(CC) Miroslav Volf–Joy is for Epiphany, too

Everybody knows that Christmas is a season of joy. For one, it has at its heart a birth story. A new and healthy child came into the world, and his family rejoiced. Every birth is a new beginning, a fresh hope. Christmas joy overlaps with the most common of humanity’s great joys.

We tend not to associate joy with Epi­phany. In Epiphany, Christians re­member the visit that the sages from the East made to Bethlehem to honor the newborn Jesus, an act of gentile recognition of Christ’s divinity and mission (Matt. 2:1–12). In this season we also commemorate the first miracle Jesus performed—at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, when Jesus revealed his glory and his disciples believed in him (John 2:1–11). Each of these seemingly unrelated events highlights a crucial aspect of joy.

Read it all.

Posted in Epiphany, Theology

More Music for Epiphany 2019–Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning [Thrupp]

Words: Bishop Reginald Heber
Tune: ‘Epiphany’ – Joseph Thrupp

Posted in Epiphany, Liturgy, Music, Worship

(NYT) Tribal Elders Are Dying From the Pandemic, Causing a Cultural Crisis for American Indians

The virus took Grandma Delores first, silencing an 86-year-old voice that rang with Lakota songs and stories. Then it came for Uncle Ralph, a stoic Vietnam veteran. And just after Christmas, two more elders of the Taken Alive family were buried on the frozen North Dakota prairie: Jesse and Cheryl, husband and wife, who died a month apart.

“It takes your breath away,” said Ira Taken Alive, the couple’s oldest son. “The amount of knowledge they held, and connection to our past.”

One by one, those connections are being severed as the coronavirus tears through ranks of Native American elders, inflicting an incalculable toll on bonds of language and tradition that flow from older generations to the young.

“It’s like we’re having a cultural book-burning,” said Jason Salsman, a spokesman for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in eastern Oklahoma, whose grandparents contracted the virus but survived. “We’re losing a historical record, encyclopedias. One day soon, there won’t be anybody to pass this knowledge down.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine

(C of E) Chaplain mobilises churches and community to identify more than 1,000 over 80s for Covid-19 vaccination

The Revd Andy Dovey, Lead for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust in south London, reached out to churches and faith groups in the area to raise awareness of the availability of the vaccine.

It came as NHS teams across the country booked appointments for the most vulnerable people in our society, including those over 80 who were already coming in to hospital for outpatient appointments,

“The response has been amazing,” he said.

“I am really grateful to the community of churches that have pulled together to support our congregations in these difficult times.”

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture