Daily Archives: August 6, 2009

St. Andrew's – Restoring Theology

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The Independent–Evangelical Christianity: It's Glastonbury for God

Rich Nathan is just about to wrap up his evening sermon when a loud and piercing shriek erupts from the back of his congregation. A woman in the crowd of 3,000 worshippers is shaking uncontrollably and wailing. “Jesus!” she cries. “Jesus I feel you!” Nearer the front of the stage, a small and equally exuberant group of faithful is receiving the Holy Spirit in other ways. Some rock from side to side, others simply mutter in hushed tones or raise their hands skywards.

It could be a scene from the American Mid-West ”“ Pastor Nathan is, after all, a prominent Jewish-born convert to Christianity who leads a church in Ohio. But today’s energetic act of mass worship is taking place in the rolling countryside of Somerset, just to the south of the picturesque town of Shepton Mallet.

As the leaders of Britain’s more mainstream denominations scratch their heads and debate how to revitalise their congregations, evangelical Christianity in Britain is going from strength to strength. The number of evangelical churches in Britain has risen from 2047 to 2,719 since 1998 and their followers now make up 34 per cent of Anglicans, figures show.

Read the whole piece.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

Pittsburgh fitness club gunman telegraphed his intent on Web log

The shooting occurred just after 8 p.m. Tuesday, when the gunman walked into LA Fitness Center in Collier with a duffel bag, turned out the lights in a room where a dance class was going on, then opened fire on the women in the room. Three were dead and at least nine wounded before he turned the gun on himself.

The log kept by Sodini shows he planned the shooting for months, and backed out several times. Sodini, a systems analyst at K and L Gates since 1999, entered the club with loaded guns on Jan. 6 but didn’t go through with it. “It is 8:45PM: I chickened out!” he wrote. “I brought the loaded guns, everything. Hell!”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Violence

For Today’s Graduate, Just One Word: Statistics

At Harvard, Carrie Grimes majored in anthropology and archaeology and ventured to places like Honduras, where she studied Mayan settlement patterns by mapping where artifacts were found. But she was drawn to what she calls “all the computer and math stuff” that was part of the job.

“People think of field archaeology as Indiana Jones, but much of what you really do is data analysis,” she said.

Now Ms. Grimes does a different kind of digging. She works at Google, where she uses statistical analysis of mounds of data to come up with ways to improve its search engine.

Ms. Grimes is an Internet-age statistician, one of many who are changing the image of the profession as a place for dronish number nerds. They are finding themselves increasingly in demand ”” and even cool.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Education, Science & Technology

Psychologists dismiss gay-to-straight therapy

There is no firm evidence that sexual orientation can be changed through therapy, so mental health professionals should not tell conflicted gay clients that they can become heterosexual with such treatments, the American Psychological Association declared today.

In adopting a resolution, the APA’s governing council said some research suggests such “reparative therapy” could induce depression or suicidal tendencies.

A task force recommended that mental health professionals “avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts when providing assistance to people distressed about their own or others’ sexual orientation,” usually as a result of religious doctrine.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology, Sexuality

WSJ: A New Therapy on Faith and Sexual Identity

The men who seek help from evangelical counselor Warren Throckmorton often are deeply distressed. They have prayed, read Scripture, even married, but they haven’t been able to shake sexual attractions to other men — impulses they believe to be immoral.

Dr. Throckmorton is a psychology professor at a Christian college in Pennsylvania and past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. He specializes in working with clients conflicted about their sexual identity.

The first thing he tells them is this: Your attractions aren’t a sign of mental illness or a punishment for insufficient faith. He tells them that he cannot turn them straight.

But he also tells them they don’t have to be gay.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology, Sexuality

Notable and Quotable

So now we come to the big and final issue…How will Christianity as a whole fare in the world of the twenty-first century–and beyond?

The big issue is pluralism. Call it diversity, the one and the many, inclusion versus exclusion. This is the future of Christianity. It is also the world’s task.

–Paul F.M.Zahl, The Christianity Primer (Birmingham: Palladium Press, 2005), page 299

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Globalization, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Faiths, Theology

Religious Intelligence: Liberals question Archbishop on gay response

The liberal backlash has begun against the statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, criticising the Episcopal Church’s move to consecrate more partnered gay Bishops and bless same-sex unions.

The English liberal groups have put on a united front in allegiance with the Episcopal Church to face the axis of traditionalists seeking to expel them from the Communion.

In Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future, Dr Williams relegated liberal Churches like the Episcopal Church to an inferior position in a two-tier Communion.

An alliance of 13 liberal Church groups have now asked: “Whether the voices of those within the Church of England who are or who walk alongside lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people have been adequately heard within the recent discussions.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

John Waters: Manson Family Member Should Be Free

[Leslie] Van Houten, who was 19 at the time of the murders, refused to comment for Waters’ article. She said she had no interest in being in a magazine for what she had done, and that she was greatly ashamed by it. Nonetheless, she and the director struck up a friendship.

“[Van Houten is] well read. She’s smart. She cares about people,” Waters says of the woman who has spent the past 40 years in prison for the murders of Rosemary and Leno LaBianca.

Waters says he was so inspired by Van Houten’s patience ”” she has been denied parole 16 times ”” and her intelligence and remorse that he devoted a chapter to her in his upcoming book, Role Models. He recently posted an excerpt of the book in which he argues for Van Houten’s release on the Huffington Post.

This is a must-listen-to (there is much more on the audio than the small text summary). I caught it on the way home last night after an all day meeting and it still haunts me. A very profound illustration of the consequences of one sinful act. Did (could) she contemplate at the time that she would be living with the incredibly serious results of her decisions more than four decades later–KSH?

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Movies & Television, Violence

David Frum: Canada's got the stimulus plan right

Like the United States, Canada adopted a stimulus plan. But while the U.S. plan amounted to 5 percent of GDP over three years, Canada’s plan gave a jolt of 2.5 percent, in only a little more than one year. So Canada got more bang for less buck. If both country’s projections prove accurate, Canadians in 2015 will shoulder only about one-third as much debt per person as Americans.

More and more, the $800 billion stimulus plan is looking like a great mistake — too much long-term debt for too little immediate benefit, all of it too closely tied to the Democratic party’s political imperatives in the 2010 election cycle.

The result: an unemployment rate in the United States fully one point higher than in Canada. To paraphrase a television commercial familiar to Canadians of a certain age, “Only in Canada? What a pity.”

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Canada, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

A Story of a Doctor and People Generously Giving Away one Kidney and Changing the World

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

This is a wonderful piece! Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

USA Today: Outdoor baptisms dwindling

The Rev. Michael Owens says nothing compares with dunking someone toward salvation.

Owens, the pastor at New Hope Baptist Church in this small church-crowded hamlet in northeast Louisiana, recently joined a dozen other pastors in leading outdoor baptisms in Lake Providence. They baptized 40 white-robed children, ages 4 to 15, plus three adults who waded in unannounced.

“Spirit’s in that water,” Owens said after the ceremony, his white robe still drenched from the waist down.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Graham Kings: Federation isn't enough

In response to the decisions taken at general convention, The Archbishop of Canterbury, has outlined a “two track” future for provinces in the Anglican communion, with a choice of covenantal or associate status. One track is for those who are willing to intensify their relationships of interdependence in the communion, through signing the proposed Anglican covenant, and the other is for those who prefer federal automony, not signing the covenant.

The Anglican communion is involved in “intensifying” its current relationships and those who do not wish to continue on that “intensifying” trajectory may remain where they are, which will become track two, while the centre of the Communion moves on with glacial gravity into track one. Not exclusion, but intensification: not force, but choice.

Who cares? God does: for communion mirrors the love of the trinity better than a loose federation ”“ the federation of the holy trinity? Hardly. Who cares? Those in the precarious positions of Tutu and Gitari, in Pakistan and Sudan today, and all those who support them in solidarity, such as the 36-year interweavings of the Episcopal church of Sudan with the diocese of Salisbury, in which I now serve.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Identity, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, Theology

California Episcopal priest in same sex partnership running for bishop

“Coming so soon after the slate announced by the Diocese of Minnesota,” said Integrity President Reverend Susan Russell in a written statement, “today’s announcement by the Diocese of Los Angeles is another sign that the ‘season of fasting’ at the expense of the vocations of gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church is at an end.”

Reached by phone, Russell added, “for Minnesota and California to move so quickly after our convention, what they are doing is signaling that the resolution that we passed in Anaheim is not just a resolution but reality. The Episcopal Church is in a place where it is able to be broadly inclusive. That is good news not only for the diocese, but also the whole church.”

Integrity is an Episcopalian LGBT advocacy group.

Meanwhile, what can be said of the three candidates?

“He’s a great pastor and we’ll be sorry to lose him,” said Sarah Lawton, senior warden, a St. John’s lay leadership position, referring to Kirkley.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

Albert Mohler: An Anglican House Divided?

Note carefully what this proposal represents. Dr. William’s strategy would produce a communion of churches that includes, on the one hand, a majority of churches that are firm in understanding the sinfulness of all homosexual behavior and, on the other hand, a minority of churches that are firm in believing that homosexuality is not only not a sin, but that it is also morally insignificant. According to Dr. Williams plan, these two groups of churches would continue to exist in some sort of formal communion. As he sees it, this would avoid “apocalyptic terms of schism and excommunication.”

Without doubt, churches and denominations can remain healthy even as they experience disagreement over any number of non-fundamental issues. Nevertheless, when an issue as fundamental as the sinfulness of homosexuality becomes the fulcrum of division, no church or denomination can maintain a divided mind. Given the Bible’s clear statements regarding homosexuality, those who honor the authority of Scripture must see a division on this question as a test of their church’s commitment to the Scriptures as the Word of God.

While in this case it is the Episcopal Church that provides the object lesson, similar issues and questions of ecclesial integrity can and will arise within every church and denomination. In this light, these recent developments in the Episcopal Church demand the careful attention of every committed Christian.

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