Daily Archives: October 12, 2009

Tom Krattenmaker on Faith and Sports

America’s pastime (baseball) enters its sprint toward the World Series, and the sport that is America’s pastime in more than just name (football) has fans transfixed from coast to coast.

Anyone who watches pro and college football or follows the drama of the baseball playoffs can’t help but notice something else that often competes for our attention amid the passes, pitches and home runs: religion.

Players point skyward to the Almighty after reaching the end zone or home plate, star athletes voice thanks and praise to their savior after a big win, and sports heroes use their media spotlight to promote the Christian message. (See University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and his eye-black, touting Scripture.)These are the outward signs of a faith surge that has made big-time sports one of the most outwardly religious sectors of American culture.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Sports

Debra Wagner–Episcopal Church is clear: Marriage is between a man and a woman

…in Augusta the leadership of Maine casually ignored their own policy when they enacted same-sex marriage. They pretended that the state had no historic interest to protect marriage as an essential institution which preserves the important roles that men and women each play in marriage and the raising of children.

Bishop Robinson of New Hampshire is much like those legislators. He pretends that the Episcopal Church’s teaching on marriage is no longer important. As a partnered homosexual living in a same-sex union, he is outside the church’s official position on sexual relationships.

He is a schismatic ringleader of a recent majority of the Episcopal Church’s leadership, which openly defies the church’s own teaching on sexual relationships. You would think that the way Bishop Robinson and some Maine Episcopal clergy act that the official teaching of the church is to equate same-sex unions to marriage in the eyes of God and the church.


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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Marriage & Family, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Washington Times: Lutherans leave over vote on new Sexual Ethic

The Lutherans aren’t sitting around for three years like the Episcopalians did. For them, the writing clearly is on the wall.

“One of the messages we heard loud and clear from the Episcopalians is that by waiting several years, they lost some of their best and brightest lay people,” Mr. [Ryan] Schwarz told me. “We intend to have our plans in place a lot faster.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

(Florida) Times-Union: How religious traditions choose their spiritual leaders

You can tell a lot about a person’s spiritual outlook based on the administrative structure of the congregation or denomination, church expert Bill Swatos says.

Members of traditions with strong hierarchies, such as the Catholic or Episcopal churches, are likely to view spirituality as a group experience, said Swatos, an Episcopal priest and director of the Association for the Sociology of Religion.

Those in evangelical and congregational churches, such as Baptists and many non-denominational traditions, express faith as a personal experience, he said.

You can also tell a lot by how a given tradition selects spiritual leaders for its congregations.

Swatos and five First Coast ministers discuss how that process evolves in their traditions and what it says about their take on religious life, according to Swatos.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Parish Ministry

'Frasier' star lends hand to hometown Episcopal Church

David Hyde Pierce, the comedic actor best known for his role on the sitcom “Frasier,” presented one of his lesser known talents Sunday afternoon to a capacity congregation at the Bethesda Episcopal Church.

Pierce performed two works on the restored 1921 Skinner organ, which he and his three siblings donated the funds to rebuild. The organ has been renamed the Pierce Memorial Gallery Organ in honor of their parents, George and Laura Pierce.

“I hadn’t played organ in awhile,” Pierce said before the ceremony while standing next to the instrument, which is located upstairs in the gallery of the church. “But I live in New York City, so I practiced in some churches there to bone up.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Music, TEC Parishes

Parishioners say goodbye to St. John the Evangelist in the Diocese of Pennsylvania

The parish was founded in 1881 by the Rev. N.F. Robinson in the neighboring Fernwood section of Upper Darby and relocated to its Lansdowne site for the first worship service in 1900.

Lack of parishioners and mounting expenses evidenced by the buckets in the side aisle to collect water from the leaking roof, estimated to cost $500,000, are the causes for its closure.

“We usually don’t have this many people,” Joseph Hypolite, senior warden of the church vestry, said of the estimated 100 persons in attendance versus the usual 30 to 40 people worshipping at Sunday services.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

Faith and Belief: Richard Dawkins evolves his arguments

Richard Dawkins, best known as the author of “The Selfish Gene” (1976) and “The God Delusion” (2006), is at the Atheist Alliance International Convention in Burbank to discuss his new book, “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution” (Free Press: 470 pp., $30), but he can’t get from one banquet hall to the next without someone asking to take a picture with him.

Modest and professorial, Dawkins is mobbed, celebrity-style, no matter which audience he tells there is no God. As for Mother Nature, he adds, she doesn’t care either — natural selection is not a good-natured process, but one that favors mutant efforts to get ahead. The evidence for evolution, he concludes, is irrefutable; all living things evolved from a common ancestor, so grow up and stop whining. There is no master plan. We (our genes, that is) are on our own.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

At St. Luke's Anglican a final sermon boosts spirits before parish relocates

The marquee outside St. Luke’s Anglican Church in La Crescenta was a bit sardonic in its scripture from the Book of Hebrews: “You joyfully accepted confiscation of your property.”

That was the message delivered Sunday by the Rev. Rob Holman, in his last sermon at the Foothill Boulevard church that has been entangled in a legal dispute with the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

“Next Sunday, as many of you know, we will be worshiping in a different building,” Holman said. “All because we have chosen to stand for the gospel and the authority of God’s word over our lives.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, TEC Departing Parishes

AP: Obamas attend Episcopal church near White House

President Barack Obama and his family attended Sunday services at St. John’s Church, an Episcopal church on Lafayette Square just across the street from the White House.

Obama, first lady Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia listened to a sermon about how Christianity has consequences.

Mike Angell, a seminarian of the church, told the parishioners that the consequences vary, whether it’s making a hard decision at work or deciding to give more time to God.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Episcopal Church (TEC), Office of the President, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes

Notable and Quotable (II)

Nowhere, over the field of Christian doctrine, is the gulf between the biblical viewpoint and the outlook of modern secularism so yawning as in the matter of eschatology.

–J.A.T. Robinson, In The End, God (London: Collins, 2nd Edition, 1968), p. 15.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Eschatology, Other Faiths, Secularism, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Notable and Quotable (I)

You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused be wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.

–C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy (Harcourt Brace, 1956), p.228, quoted by yours truly in yesterday’s Adult Sunday school

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, History, Parish Ministry, Theology

Monday Morning Blog Open Thread: What Book(s) are you Reading Right now?

The more specific you can be about the work, the more readers can benefit. Thanks.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books

From the Morning Scripture Readings

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.

So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

–1 Corinthians 13: 11-13

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

NY Times Beliefs Column: A Look at Christianity, Through a Buddhist Lens

However much he tried, Mr. [Paul] Knitter found that certain longstanding Christian formulations of faith “just didn’t make sense”: God as a person separate from creation and intervening in it as an external agent; individualized life after death for all and eternal punishment for some; Jesus as God’s “only Son” and the only savior of humankind; prayers that ask God to favor some people over others.

Mr. Knitter’s response, based on his long interaction with Buddhist teachers, was to “pass over” to Buddhism’s approach to each of these problems and then “pass back” to Christian tradition to see if he could retrieve or re-imagine aspects of it with this “Buddhist flashlight.”

He was not asserting, as some people have, that religions like Christianity and Buddhism are merely superficially different expressions of one underlying faith.

On the contrary, he insists they differ profoundly. Yet “Buddhism has helped me take another and deeper look at what I believe as a Christian,” he writes. “Many of the words that I had repeated or read throughout my life started to glow with new meaning.”

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Buddhism, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Theology

Make Sure you Didn't Miss a Great recent Blog Thread on the Parables

If by any chance you didn’t catch it, this is an excellent discussion.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Adult Education, Christology, Parish Ministry, Theology