Daily Archives: January 2, 2010
We have been through a hard 10 years. They were not, as some have argued, the worst ever, or even the worst of the past century. The ’30s started with the Great Depression, featured the rise of Hitler and Stalin, and ended with World War II. That’s a bad decade for you. In the ’60s we saw our leaders assassinated, our great cities hit by riots, a war tear our country apart.
But the ‘OOs were hard, starting with a disputed presidential election, moving on to the shocked pain of 9/11, marked by an effort to absorb the fact that we had entered the age of terror, and ending with a historic, world-shaking economic crash.
Maybe the most worrying trend the past 10 years can be found in this phrase: “They forgot the mission.” So many great American institutions””institutions that every day help hold us together””acted as if they had forgotten their mission, forgotten what they were about, what their role and purpose was, what they existed to do. You, as you read, can probably think of an institution that has forgotten its reason for being. Maybe it’s the one you’re part of.
In an article published in the FT this week, Arvind Subramanian of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, argues that economics has redeemed itself by rescuing the world economy from the crisis. I agree, but only up to a point. Many economists argued that the measures were unnecessary, or even harmful. Moreover, these extraordinary interventions have not returned the patient to health. They have merely prevented him from dying. We now must heal five chronic conditions, instead of survive last year’s brutal heart attack.
First, we have the ongoing force of the balance-sheet recession in the US, UK and a number of other significant high-income countries. It is overwhelmingly likely that the highly indebted parts of the private sectors of these countries will seek to lower their indebtedness and raise savings over an extended period.
Second, we have, quite rightly, substituted public sector borrowing for private sector borrowing, on an unprecedented scale, for peacetime. This can continue for some time, but not forever, as the US and UK come to look like Italy, but without Italy’s healthier private sector finances.
The Mayo Clinic, praised by President Barack Obama as a national model for efficient health care, will stop accepting Medicare patients as of tomorrow at one of its primary-care clinics in Arizona, saying the U.S. government pays too little.
More than 3,000 patients eligible for Medicare, the government’s largest health-insurance program, will be forced to pay cash if they want to continue seeing their doctors at a Mayo family clinic in Glendale, northwest of Phoenix, said Michael Yardley, a Mayo spokesman. The decision, which Yardley called a two-year pilot project, won’t affect other Mayo facilities in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota.
Obama in June cited the nonprofit Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio for offering “the highest quality care at costs well below the national norm.” Mayo’s move to drop Medicare patients may be copied by family doctors, some of whom have stopped accepting new patients from the program, said Lori Heim, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, in a telephone interview yesterday.
A federal appeals court has rejected the claims of families who wanted the unidentified remains of relatives killed in the 9/11 attacks to be given a proper burial according to their religious beliefs.
A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday (Dec. 23) against a group called World Trade Center Families for a Proper Burial, which sued New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city officials.
The families had sought the burial of the residue from the debris of the World Trade Center, located at the city’s Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, in a cemetery.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.
One Sunday last fall, Bill Hybels, founder and senior pastor at the Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago’s northwest suburbs, was preaching on the logic and power of Jesus’ words “Love thine enemy.” As is his custom, Hybels was working a small semicircle of easels arrayed behind his lectern, reinforcing key phrases. Hybels’ preaching is economical, precise of tone and gesture. Again by custom, he was dressed in black, which accentuated his pale complexion, blue eyes and hair, once Dutch-boy blond but now white. Indeed, if there is a whiter preacher currently running a megachurch, that man must glow.
Yet neither Hybels’ sermon, nor his 23,400-person congregation, is as white as he is. Along with Jesus, he invoked Martin Luther King Jr. Then he introduced Shawn Christopher, a former backup singer for Chaka Khan, who offered a powerhouse rendition of “We Shall Overcome.” As the music swelled, Larry and Renetta Butler, an African-American couple in their usual section in the 7,800-seat sanctuary, exchanged glances. Since Hybels decided 10 years ago to aggressively welcome minorities to his lily-white congregation, Renetta says, few sermons pass without a cue that he is still at it. “He always throws in something,” she says. She’s been around long enough to recall when this wasn’t the case.
In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. famously declared that “11 o’clock Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week … And the Sunday school is still the most segregated school.” That largely remains true today. Despite the growing desegregation of most key American institutions, churches are still a glaring exception. Surveys from 2007 show that fewer than 8% of American congregations have a significant racial mix.
The Anglican Bishop of Kumasi, the Right Reverend Dr Daniel Yinkah Sarfo, has asked Ghanaians to grow spiritually, mentally, socially and physically as they progress in life.
Delivering a New Year Message he said Christians should express hope and make right choices and decisions, confess their wrong doings to God for forgiveness and pray hard towards the goal of salvation. Rev. Sarfo prayed that God would lead the nation into a prosperous and peaceful year full of progress, unity and growth.
There has been general shock at the attempted downing of Northwest Airlines flight 253 over Detroit. It isn’t just that yet another aeroplane terrorist atrocity was averted only by luck and courage after US and British intelligence were caught with their pants down once again. Nor is it just the lax airport security.
No, the real amazement has been that the perpetrator, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is a Nigerian who apparently got his orders from al-Qa’eda in Yemen; that the genesis of the pants bomber’s radical journey lies not in Iraq or Afghanistan, nor in Israel/Palestine, but in Africa.
It was while at school in Togo that Abdulmutallab reportedly adopted the most belligerent version of Islam. As a fully fledged Islamic extremist, he was naturally received with open arms in Londonistan, where he was further radicalised to terrorism before being kitted out in Yemen with the latest accessories of mass murder.
He is first and foremost a religious fanatic ”” and the crucial context for his extremism is Africa.
Rick Warren is the conservative evangelical minister who somehow has become a trusted friend to both Republicans and Democrats. Obama came to his Saddleback Church during the campaign, and then Warren spoke at his inauguration.
But the bad economy is taking its toll on his empire, and yesterday he sent out an emergency fundraising appeal to the church’s members.
Theme 1: Increasingly, Americans are more interested in faith and spirituality than in Christianity.
“Faith remains a hot topic in America these days,” George Barna commented, expanding on the theme. “Politicians, athletes, cultural philosophers, teachers, entertainers, musicians ”“ nearly everyone has something to say about faith, religion, spirituality, morality, and belief these days. But as the fundamental values and assumptions of our nation continue to shift, so do our ideas about faith and spirituality. Many of our basic assumptions are no longer firm or predictable.
“One of those assumptions relates to how we develop our faith. These days,” he continued, “the faith arena is a marketplace from which we get ideas, beliefs, relationships, habits, rituals and traditions that make immediate sense to us, and with which we are comfortable. The notion of associating with a particular faith ”“ whether it is Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or some other strain ”“ still has appeal because that connection provides a discernible identity and facilitates the possibility of belonging to something meaningful. But the actual components of what we choose to belong to are driven by our momentary needs and perceptions.
As we prepare for conversations about sexuality at General Synod it is very clear that people favour conversation and discernment over resolution and debate. Many hope that our discussions will be marked by a capacity to hear one another’s perspective and to appreciate the diversity of settings in which the pastoral and sacramental ministry of the Church is desired. My own hope is that we will emerge from the Synod with an honest statement of where we are in our continuing discernment.
Personally I am both challenged and heartened by a comment made by the Pastoral Visitors in their report to the Archbishop of Canterbury, “General Synod will, indeed, be a watershed, both for the Anglican Church in Canada, and for its wider relations within the Anglican Communion. At its worst it could lead to internal anarchy. At its best it could help us all to appreciate and practise a properly Christian style of inclusiveness. … Our distinct impression was that if the Anglican Church of Canada could find a way through this current impasse, it could well become a vibrant model of the kind of renewed Christian community that has much to teach the wider Church.”
In the service of God’s mission I believe the Holy Spirit is blowing through the churches and calling us to deeper partnership.
Apparently, coming to a bus near you is a Tasmanian version of the UK bus ads, ”˜There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy life.’
While Christians are enjoying life and celebrating Christmas precisely because there is a loving God [the Christmas message is ”˜Emmanuel, God with us’]; some atheists are worrying that there is probably no God.
This is sad.
It’s sad because life is to be enjoyed. How do we know this? Jesus Christ of Christmas fame told us, ”˜I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance ”“ to the full, till it overflows.’
The story of `God with usÂ´ is better understood when we go through the pages of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. The story of the Lectio Divina (the Bible) is not just another reading, desensitized to the sacred, but the savouring of the text lingering leisurely in the divine revelation. (Thomas Keating: Intimacy with God). The liberal theology tends to forget this. The Bible is not just a primary source of Christian theology; it is the Word of God – Lectio Divina, as we have said. The remarkable thing, as Keating puts it, reading about JesusÂ´ story develops into friendship with him. Like the people of God in ages past, we walk with God in a personal relationship as he challenges our moral life and takes it to an upper level of godly character and integrity.
As this literal historical message of Scripture challenges us to a level of good morality, then we are taken to new levels of our faith beyond the moral sense, into the allegorical sense of the Holy Writ. As we grow in the grace of God in our spiritual life, a character of godly life is built in us `to make us a kingdom of priestsÂ´ who stand and serve before our God. (APB: canticle 15/ Rev.5). It is at this higher spiritual inter action with God that we begin not only `to hear, read, mark, learn but inwardly digest themÂ´, but to allow ourselves to be wholly immersed in Scripture. They are no longer historical documents anymore, but stories of closer walk with God in obedience and trust in our spiritual journey since the day we first believed and were baptised. Once this takes place, the unitive level of our experience of Scripture takes place. This is called anagogical. The Word wells up from us as a continuing revelation to influence others and our life situation.
This is how we look at Scripture. What ever kind of behaviour or thinking we encounter, we test it against the moral demands of the Holy Writ (Article XX). In our diocese therefore, we align ourselves with all Bible believing Christians in informing our theological thinking. Reason cannot just be for its sake since we are all fallen human beings, and have come short of the glory of God (Rom.3:23). Together with the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FOCA) we up hold the authority of Scripture as an integral part of our fellowship with all the children of God. We affirm the reality of Incarnation and the mighty glorious Resurrection of Jesus Christ as true essential occurrences forming integral part of our faith, and never just a “myth”. The historical Jesus remains “unique” from the ages past into the unknown future. He is with us `always, even to the end of the age.Â´