Daily Archives: August 15, 2008

David Skeel: Après C.S. Lewis

Recently a friend assured me that a book by a well-known evangelical Christian was the new “Mere Christianity.” For an evangelical this possibly cryptic statement needs no explanation. As evangelicals, we are called to evangelize — to share the good news about Jesus Christ. Most of us also are surrounded by friends and co-workers who may be curious about our beliefs. And for over 55 years, Christians have turned to C.S. Lewis’s little book “Mere Christianity” for both of these reasons.

Of course, C.S. Lewis was an Irish-born Anglican and was committed to a mode of worship and a tradition far removed from those of American evangelicals. But he was also an adept Christian apologist who used his literary gifts — his fluent prose style, his powers of description, his engaging narrative voice, his way with metaphor — to explain the basic tenets of Christianity: what it meant to believe in Jesus Christ and to live according to Christian principles. More than that: He was at pains to capture, in prose, what it meant to discover Christianity as something worthy of belief. On the page, he thought his own faith through, trying to make sense of it for himself and others. There is always something ecumenical and instructive to Lewis’s religious writings, and “Mere Christianity” — which has sold several million copies since it was first published in 1952 after its original incarnation as a series of radio broadcasts — is the nonfiction book by which American Christians, not least American evangelicals, know Lewis best.

But much has changed in the last half-century.

Read it all

Posted in Apologetics, Theology

Bob Ross and, yes, the Silly Shellfish Argument Again

The issue concerns the authority of scripture. What is the Bible? That is the question that is being worked out here at Lambeth.

What concerns me is that the conservatives in our church want to pick and choose which lines of scripture are meant to be taken literally and which are more metaphoric.

Of course, it says that a man lying with a man is an abomination, but it also says that eating shellfish is the same. Do we storm the Lobster Pot restaurant and brand all inside as sinners?

I find that the issue of divorce to be a good marker for this discussion.

In the Bible, Jesus is emphatic, divorce is not permissible, no debate, no back-sliding. And this is Jesus, not Leviticus or St Paul; this is the founder of our faith.

Read it all and then take the time to read this old blog thread and the comments and linked material.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Email Bag

Firstly, accept my thanks for your wonderful website. I check it daily for the news and the frequently insightful comments. Although I am not an Anglican (I’m a Roman Catholic), I am deeply grieved by what is happening to the Anglican Communion. It must be bewildering to the faithful.

I have frequently visualized you at your desk assembling the daily blog. It must take a considerable amount of time, more than I probably realize. I know that I, and I’m sure many others, would be very interested to learn how you compile the stories, how much time it takes, how do you get permission to reproduce the entries, do you have any help, any problems, do you need funding, etc. etc.

This is a dire time for your church and you have much more important things to occupy your time than to respond to such a request. But, if you ever find the time, it would certainly interest me at least. Thanks.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

A BBC Northern Ireland Sunday Sequence Audio Interview with Tom Sine and his Wife Christine

The comments from both at their home in the Pacific Northwest are very worthwhile (almost 7 minutes along). If you do not know Tom Sine’s Mustard Seed Conspiracy book, it needs to be on your list.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Church Rejects Donation from Lottery Winner

After Robert Powell hit the Florida Lottery jackpot last month and took home more than $6 million, he thought of his church.

And he offered to drop his tithe, around $600,000, in the collection plate of First Baptist Orange Park.

But the church and Pastor David Tarkington politely declined and told Powell they will not accept the lottery winnings.

Many churches do not approve of the lottery and gambling but on the other hand Pastor Dr. Lorenzo Hall of the El-Beth-El Divine Holiness Church says $600,000 can do a lot of good.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

More on Gene Robinson and Sydney

The original article on which the article posted yesterday was based is here. (Hat tip: BM)

I will post comments on that article here so as to prevent confusion between the two threads. I will also consider posting additional comments on this fuller article submitted first by email to Kendall’s E-mail: KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Uncategorized

Visits by McCain, Obama to Orange County church underscore Pastor Rick Warren's prominence

When John McCain and Barack Obama appear on the same stage Saturday at the sprawling religious campus of Orange County’s Saddleback Church, their presence will vividly underline the reach that has made Pastor Rick Warren among the most significant evangelists of his generation.

But the joint appearance — one of Warren’s highest-profile endeavors — will also underscore a tension that is central to his role.

Warren has been called perhaps “America’s most influential pastor,” an evangelical megastar who leads the nation’s fourth-largest church, reaches thousands of ministers through the Internet and crusades against poverty and AIDS.

That globe-trotting work — and his phenomenally successful book, “The Purpose Driven Life” — have propelled him into the vanguard of a movement that inspires young and socially conscious Christians.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Other Churches, US Presidential Election 2008

Kendall Harmon: Can We Not Give One Hour to Adult Education?

How can the Episcopal Church claim to be the thinking people’s church when so few parishes devote sufficient time to adult education on Sunday mornings?

It is a question worthy of much pondering. I think we should where at all possible give one hour to adult spiritual formation on the Lord’s day ”” but if you study how parishes actually function, the number who use this standard is precious few.

In some parishes there is little or no adult education to speak of on Sunday mornings, whereas there are such offerings for children. But following Christ is a life long call, and this approach won’t do.

Thankfully in the last two to three decades more and more parishes are offering adult education on the Sabbath day. But how much time do they give them?

I have here a parish newsletter from one of the largest parishes in the country, and on their Sunday morning schedule they offer several classes for 35 minutes.

You know how this works in practice. People come out of worship, people have struggles finding a parking spot, people need to use the rest room, and before you know it, 35 minutes becomes 25 or less in practice. But this is much less time than a typical college class, or an average session in a business seminar. Does this communicate a priority on adult education?

Other parishes do better and actually give 45 minutes. But again, one has to go beneath the surface in the parish to see how this actually functions in a number of instances. One quite vibrant parish comes to mind that has 45 minute classes, but in this parish the choir members leave after 30 minutes for Sunday morning choir practice. What does this communicate about priorities, never mind the distraction to other class members?

I believe one hour needs to be devoted to adult education, because even then with all the distractions on most Sunday mornings the time actually spent on the material is less, but it at least allows substantive engagement. Yes, parishes should use every considerable resource. By all means we should use different formats that taken into account the fact that adults learn in different ways than children do.

I realize, too, that some parishes have physical space constraints that make this amount of time impossible without unduly damaging the chance to worship.

But if we do not give it sufficient time, we communicate in our actions that it really isn’t a priority.

It is time for the church that claims to be the thinking person’s church to live into its own claims and devote a whole hour on the Sunday morning schedule to adult education of real quality and variety.

Imagine that””a church that claims to be for thinking people giving people real time to think on Sunday morning about what it means to Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. If it is really important to us can we do any less?

— The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall S. Harmon is convenor of this blog

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Theology

Telegraph: 'Substantial number' of clergy will leave over plans for women bishops

A group of 14 traditionalist bishops claim that there are “irreconcilable differences” over historic reforms that would introduce women as bishops without giving proper concessions to oponents of the move.

In a letter to 1,400 clergy who have indicated that they are considering defecting from the Church of England, they are highly critical of a decision by the General Synod – the Church’s parliament – to ignore proposals for a compromise over the divisive issue.

The Anglo-Catholic bishops have vowed to support clergy who feel unable to remain in the Church, but have pledged to fight for a better deal for traditionalists who do not believe women should be consecrated.

Signed by three senior bishops – the Rt Rev John Hind, Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Rev Nicholas Reade, Bishop of Blackburn and the Rt Rev Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop in Europe – the letter will serve as a reminder to Dr Rowan Williams that there is still a battle ahead over making women bishops.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

US accuses Russia of campaign of scorched earth in Georgia

The United States accused Russia yesterday of waging a campaign to cripple Georgia’s ability to defend itself in the future.

As American military transport aircraft landed in Tbilisi to strong complaints from Moscow, the Russian Army undertook search-and-destroy missions on Georgian soil, defying the ceasefire agreement brokered by President Sarkozy of France.

Tanks and soldiers continued to occupy Gori despite promising to leave by yesterday. A Georgian military base in the city was destroyed and the Georgian Ambassador to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe accused the Russians of laying mines before a withdrawal.

The Pentagon vented its anger with Moscow by cancelling two joint naval exercises involving Russian ships. In a clear sign that the Georgia crisis was escalating into a broader superpower conflict, the US reached agreement with Poland last night over the controversial missile defence shield.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Politics in General, Russia

Notable and Quotable (I)

The oil-price shocks of 1973 and 1979 motivated Japan, in particular, to become more energy-efficient. In 1980, when U.S. consumers were griping about $1.25-a-gallon gas — $3.30 in today’s prices — their counterparts in Japan were paying roughly twice as much. They started using a lot less. In 1983, Japan consumed about 25% less oil per person than it had in 1973. Last year, Japan used 14 barrels per person, and the countries in the euro zone consumed 17. The U.S. used 25 barrels per person.

From a recent Wall Street Journal article entitled “U.S. Retools Economy, Curbing Thirst for Oil”

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources

Deborah Pitt: Why I leaked the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letters

As for why I decided to offer his letters to the public arena, I have written to Dr [Tom] Wright at length, but suffice it to say that as events moved from GAFCon to Lambeth I became almost sure for various reasons that the liberals knew far more about Dr Williams’s personal views than the traditionalists did and, if so, the balance should be redressed.

Read it all from her letter in tomorrow’s Times.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Philip Hersh: Michael Phelps is not the greatest Olympic athlete in history

Could everyone please stop hyperventilating about Michael Phelps?

Yes, he now has won more gold medals than anyone in Olympic history.

No, that does not make him the greatest Olympic athlete in history.

In fact, he doesn’t even make my top five.

Read it all. All I can say is I am really enjoying the olympics!

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Kristen Scharold: Are you Ready?

Before many Christians are ready for the rapture, they apparently have a lot of baggage to unpack. Lucky for them, Daniel Radosh has taken it upon himself to shake out all their dirty laundry.

In his recently published book, Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture, Radosh bravely ventures into Christian music festivals, Holy Land theme park, Christian comedy clubs, and even Christian pro-wrestling matches to dig out the hairy secrets buried in the kitschy recesses of pop evangelicalism. And he lives to tell about it. And tell about it he does, spilling the embarrassing facts of this $7 billion industry.

But why? In an interview with Christianity Today, Radosh, a humanistic Jew, explains: “Honestly, I did it because a lot of it is quite funny.” But Radosh, who is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker and a contributing editor at The Week magazine, was not on a mission to mock or shock. He goes on to explain: “We think about pop culture as something ephemeral and superficial, and I wanted to try to understand how that could be combined with something like faith, which is eternal and deep.”

In working on this unusual project, Radosh had the earnest desire to look beyond the tacky bumper stickers, tasteless “Testamint” breath fresheners, and humdrum rock and roll in order to discover what is behind many of the strange phenomena that comprise this misunderstood segment of American society. In the end, what he offers is not a scathing review but a brief history and fair-minded analysis of the commercialization of Christianity. And more interestingly, he offers Christians the rare opportunity to be a fly on the wall.

Read it all, and in case you are wondering, that sound you hear is the blog host sighing about all the poor eschatology in the church these days. Agghh!

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Eschatology, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Theology

South Carolina Hispanic population continues to be fastest-growing in the nation

South Carolina continues to have the country’s fastest-growing Latino populations, despite a slowing economy and a tougher crackdown on illegal immigrants.

According to Census data from 2006-07 released this week, South Carolina ranked first among states in per capita growth, North Carolina was third, with Tennessee between them.

The new arrivals come not only from Mexico, Central and South America, but also New York, New Jersey and California, where U.S. economic problems has taken a greater toll, immigrants and advocates say. Latinos continue to see the Carolinas as having more jobs, cheaper housing and a better climate.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina