Daily Archives: July 22, 2007

The Taleban holding Korean missionaries in Afghanistan have been located and isolated

The South Korean hostages were abducted from a bus travelling from Kandahar to Kabul on Thursday.

They are reportedly Christians on an evangelical and aid mission. At least 15 are said to be women. A Taleban spokesman said on Sunday that they were in good health.

The Taleban say they want to swap the 23 men and women for jailed fighters and are also demanding that South Korean forces leave Afghanistan.

Earlier, Gen Mohammad Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for the Afghan defence ministry, told the BBC: “We have surrounded the area. We haven’t launched an attack right now and we are assessing the situation.”

A spokesman for Nato forces said it was unaware of an operation but was ready to help the Afghan and South Korean governments if asked.

The seizure is the largest-scale abduction of foreigners since the fall of the Taleban regime in 2001.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Religion & Culture

Women fight for religious authority

More women are graduating from seminaries, but in most faiths few are senior or solo clergy.

“If you have a senior rabbi who is a man, and the congregation is looking for an associate rabbi, they will look for a man or a woman,” Shanks said. “But if the senior rabbi is a woman, they will say ‘We already have a Advertisement woman.’ So that’s another piece we’re looking at.”

The June 28 “State of Women in Baptist Life” survey shows Baptist congregations led by women are increasing — but slowly.

“Women are inching up, but we still have a long, long way to go,” said Karen Massey, religion professor at Mercer University in Atlanta and a member of the group that commissioned the study. “The more mainline churches are years ahead of us.”

Nationwide, about 600 women ordained in moderate and liberal Baptist denominations serve as senior or solo pastors. In California, of a total of 10 female pastors, three women head congregations.

What clergywomen in other faiths call “the stained-glass ceiling” is more like a skylight in Miller’s Unitarian Universalist faith. Women hold forth each Sunday on more than half of the denomination’s pulpits.

She was the first female minister to bear a child during her tenure. Now, fertile leaders have formed a support group: They are the “Reverend Mothers.”

“If the senior ministers of large churches tend to be male, (that is) because they are toward the end of their careers,” said Unitarian Universalist Association spokeswoman Janet Hayes.

In the mainstream Presbyterian faith, women make up close to half the clergy.

But in most faiths, female clergy — especially senior clergy — are in the minority.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

Notable and Quotable II

“Urgency engulfs the manager; yet the most urgent task is not always the most important. The tyranny of the urgent lies in its distortion of priorities. One of the measures of a manager is the ability to distinguish the important from the urgent, to refuse to be tyrannize–d by the urgent, to refuse to manage by crisis.”

–R. Alec Mackenzie, also from this morning’s sermon

Posted in * General Interest, Notable & Quotable

Notable and Quotable

“He that is everywhere is nowhere.” ”” Thomas Fuller, 17th century historian, scholar, and author, also quoted in this morning’s sermon

Posted in * General Interest, Notable & Quotable


Writer Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days. He got nervous and tense about it. “I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day,” he recalled in his book Stress Fractures. “Before long, things around our home started reflecting the patter of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable.
“I distinctly remember after supper one evening, the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, ‘Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin’ and I’ll tell you really fast.’
“Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, ‘Honey, you can tell me — and you don’t have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly.” “I’ll never forget her answer: ‘Then listen slowly.'”

–From Bits & Pieces, June 24, 1993, and quoted in this morning’s sermon

Posted in * General Interest, Notable & Quotable

N.B.A. Referee Is the Focus of a Federal Inquiry

Law enforcement officials are investigating allegations that the veteran N.B.A. referee Tim Donaghy influenced the outcome of professional basketball games on which he or associates of his had wagered, several people familiar with the inquiry said yesterday.

According to a person with direct knowledge of the matter, federal officials are investigating whether Donaghy bet on N.B.A. games during the past two seasons, and whether since December 2006 he made calls that affected any game’s margin of victory while being coerced by members of organized crime.

A federal grand jury in Brooklyn is reviewing the case, which has been going on for several months and is expected to be concluded within a few weeks.

Donaghy, 40, who completed his 13th season in the N.B.A., could not be reached for comment. People involved with the situation said he was aware of the investigation, had resigned from his N.B.A. position about 10 days ago, and would surrender to law enforcement officials if charges were brought against him.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sports, Theology

Scott Simon: Calling Cruelty a 'Cultural Trait' Doesn't Excuse It

Listen to it all from NPR.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sports, Theology

Poverty is key theme for Democrats in '08

The knee-deep potholes on Cotton Street were filled just hours before Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards arrived this week. Residents had waited years for them to be fixed in a city so overwhelmed by poverty it once moved the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to tears.

At a smoked-ribs barbecue, Edwards invoked the legacy of King, calling it an honor to walk in the same places the civil rights leader did and to bring fresh attention to the poor and disenfranchised.

“But we still have work to do,” Edwards said Monday to the dozens gathered on the first day of his three-day tour through poor communities in the United States.

From the underpaid poultry workers in the Mississippi Delta to the uninsured coal miners in Appalachia, Edwards’s “Road to One America” tour was designed to showcase what he calls the “other America” of boarded-up factories and foreclosed homes. It was also part of an effort to develop a defining theme for his campaign. But he is not the only Democrat to highlight the 37 million Americans living in poverty as a focal point of the 2008 presidential election.

After decades of promoting economic growth as the best cure for poverty, Democrats are trying to woo voters with promises of direct financial aid and to reach out to people who have seen their lives worsen over the last eight years. Democrats are now embracing such solutions to combat entrenched poverty, and in the process taking on Republicans on issues beyond the war in Iraq.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

When It Comes to Fashion, Teen Girls Are Moving From Trashy to Classy

From ABC News:

Girls who’ve just barely become women ”” teen idols like Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton ”” are also, very often and publicly, barely dressed.

These young stars have tremendous influence over the fashion fantasies of young women and girls.

“It’s just fashion,” said one teen about today’s revealing styles. “Like, we have to fit in.”

Another teen girl said she almost couldn’t avoid dressing immodestly.

“That’s what they see these days,” she said.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Teens / Youth

From AP: Wrestling with How to Bring Faith and the Courtroom Together

John Becknell enters the courtroom and finds his usual spot in the front row, just behind the prosecutor’s table.

Becknell _ a devout Christian known to many as “Brother John” _ pulls out a pen and an inch-thick docket, mostly of drug and alcohol cases. For the next three hours, he takes diligent notes on the judge’s actions, the attendance of police officers, repeat offenders making another appearance, and so on.

The purpose? To make sure drug offenders in eastern Kentucky are getting what they deserve.

Frustrated with widespread drug abuse _ especially of easily accessible prescription painkillers _ a handful of mountain churches are moving away from their traditional role as a refuge for the poor and addicted. Now they’re more interested in law enforcement.

The Community Church of Manchester is leading the way through “Court Watch,” a program in which volunteers attend court hearings to monitor judges overseeing drug-related cases.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

The city of God that was built on pizza

In the town of Ave Maria, parents need not worry about which school their children will attend. The town has been built for Roman Catholics and all the schools guarantee a traditional Catholic upbringing.

The daily school run through this newly established enclave, funded by a Catholic billionaire and built on a slice of rural Florida that used to be a tomato farm, takes mums and dads along roads with names such as Anthem Parkway and Annunciation Street.

In Ave Maria, which opens its gates to the public today, there are morals to be upheld and souls to be saved, and the biggest secular temptation will probably prove to be the local ice-cream parlour.

Students at the town’s schools and its Catholic university, the first to be built in the US for more than 40 years, will be housed in single-sex halls of residence and encouraged to partake in more wholesome extracurricular activities than the usual late-night binge drinking and dormitory trysts ”“ such as visiting the chapels attached to every block.

The roads will supposedly be clean and safe, the schools graffiti-free and disciplined, and the residents kind and sharing. “It is to be a true community, where neighbours care about neighbours, friendships span generations, and a sense of pride is felt by every resident, student and worker,” the sugary marketing spiel promises.

Visitors are meant to feel God’s presence in the design. The town’s focal point is a spectacular church that will ultimately house the nation’s biggest crucifix, 65 feet (20m) tall, complete with an image of the bleeding Christ in stained glass. Faith, worship and clean living are at the town’s family-friendly core.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Another Movie Recommendation

The Lives of Others. Elizabeth and I both caught it on the way back from London recently. It is a must see–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television

Gregory D. Stover: Pastoral Leadership and Church Membership

John Wesley had only one condition previously required for those who wished to be admitted to the United Societies (small groups) of Methodism: “A desire to flee from the wrath to come, a desire to be saved from their sins.” Yet, Wesley quickly added that “wherever this is really fixed in the soul it will be shown by its fruits.” Repentance is one variety of those fruits. Further, Wesley required that those seeking membership respond to a series of probing questions including: “Have you the forgiveness of your sins?

Has no sin, inward or outward, dominion over you?” This is language of justifying grace. If clear lack of repentance and faith was apparent, admission was denied. If members failed to progress in sanctifying grace they were disciplined, and even expelled, from the societies.

In similar fashion, our United Methodist vows of membership place repentance in the first position. Persons to be received into membership in a local United Methodist congregation covenant together with God and the members of the local church to keep the vows, including the first: To renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of the world, and repent of their sin.

In the circumstance that generated Judicial Council Decision 1032, the man who presented himself for membership was a practicing homosexual. The United Methodist Book of Discipline is clear in stating that while “homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth” and “all persons need the ministry and guidance of the church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self,” yet “the United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Consistent with Wesley’s offering of the means of grace to all, the elder in charge welcomed the man to the worship, sacraments, fellowship, and programs of the church. However, in light of our Methodist heritage and the clear statement of the Discipline, the pastor recognized that examination of readiness for assuming the vows of membership was needed if the church was to be both a redeemed and redeeming fellowship. To offer grace without repentance is to reduce grace to mere acceptance without the power of the Holy Spirit to produce holiness of heart and life.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Methodist, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Roger Mugisha: Being born-again does not make you Christian

From the Monitor:

What is the problem in the church today? Simple. Too many converts who are not ‘discipled’ (the word originates from discipline). After staying in the church for long, but without growth, many start to feel that the long stay translates into an automatic qualification to positions of leadership! And bingo: one such fellow will start to refer to himself or herself as a ”pastor’ — without any preparation or authority above them to oversee his or her activities.

The cycle continues. And before we realise what is going on, the expansion becomes massive and runs out of control! Those who are successful are emulated. And in copying, counterfeits are created. The leadership and expansion model, which Jesus gave to his disciples was not a hierarchy of the military chain of command; from top to bottom. In fact it is the exact opposite; it is from bottom to top. Jesus says that whoever wants to be greater than others has to be the servant (Mathew 20:26-27). So in the corporate world, a janitor is greater than the CEO.

In the church, the homeless and jobless guy with a Shs500 coin ought to get the VIP seat. The expansion model of the church was also designed to multiply — the way living cells multiply; starting off with the smallest cell of two or three people (Mathew 18:20).
It ought to be horizontal growth — i.e. we all have complementary roles: a singer, prophet, teacher, pastor or evangelist should all co-exist in one fellowship (read church). Paul puts it this way: we are all different parts of the same body with Christ as the head of the church (I Corinthians 12:12). From this model it is easy to identify the counterfeit churches.

Yes, there are many born-again in Uganda today: from about 10,000 folks in 1986 to an estimated 6.5million converts today. One would expect corruption to be history. But instead, the con artists have increased in number! This means that the tree is not bearing good fruit (Mathew7:16-20).

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

Membership of the Anglican Communion

Interesting to see Uganda is now claiming 9.6 million members.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Data