Daily Archives: January 26, 2010

Nicholas Kristof: What Could You Live Without?

“What do you want to do?” her mom responded. “Sell our house?”

Warning! Never suggest a grand gesture to an idealistic teenager. Hannah seized upon the idea of selling the luxurious family home and donating half the proceeds to charity, while using the other half to buy a more modest replacement home.

Eventually, that’s what the family did. The project ”” crazy, impetuous and utterly inspiring ”” is chronicled in a book by father and daughter scheduled to be published next month: “The Power of Half.” It’s a book that, frankly, I’d be nervous about leaving around where my own teenage kids might find it. An impressionable child reads this, and the next thing you know your whole family is out on the street.

At a time of enormous needs in Haiti and elsewhere, when so many Americans are trying to help Haitians by sending everything from text messages to shoes, the Salwens offer an example of a family that came together to make a difference ”” for themselves as much as the people they were trying to help.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Stewardship, Teens / Youth

Bishop Alan Wilson: The British Media's trouble with religion

The future of religious broadcasting, a topic that will be discussed at synod in a few weeks time, is something that affects more than just the BBC. Attending “religion in the media” dos it becomes plain that pretty much all religious voices feel poorly represented by what they call the media. I want to take that perception with a huge pinch of salt, because in an open society it isn’t the function of professional journos to represent any religious leader’s point of view accurately so they won’t have to, but to report on what’s going on clearly and accurately. In a media environment with no middle men, religious leaders should learn to speak up clearly for themselves, and take the consequences. They shouldn’t expect the BBC to do this for them, because it can’t and shouldn’t. Yet, the fact that a whole range of religious leaders representing every major tradition in the UK feel chronically misunderstood must mean something. No smoke without fire.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

AP: As federal abstinence funds dry up, faith groups take the lead

Jeiel Ballard and his girlfriend, both 16, are dressed up in their best attire, ready for a night of dancing and fun.

But there will be no close embraces or risque moves to test chaperones on the dance floor. The “purity ball” sponsored by their Seventh-day Adventist Church will feature a vow to abstain from sex until marriage and offer tips on “appropriate” touching between the sexes.

“It’s tough, but when you have sex at an early age it can become addictive,” Ballard said. “And when you get addicted … it can lead you down the wrong path.”

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology

The Archbishop of York speaks out on Equality Bill

The Archbishop…[said]: “There are, I know, those who struggle with the concept of allowing any exemptions provision for religious organisations in relation to discrimination in the field of employment. But the argument is a very simple one: religious organisations, like all organisations, need to be able to impose genuine occupational requirements in relation to those who serve them.

“Successive legislation over the past 35 years has always recognised the principle that religious organisations need the freedom to impose requirements in relation to belief and conduct which go beyond what a secular employer should be able to require.

“Noble Lords may believe that the Roman Catholic Church should allow priests to be married, they may think that the Church of England should hurry up with allowing women to become bishops. They may feel that many Churches and other religious organisations are wrong on matters of sexual ethics. But, if religious freedom means anything it must mean that those are matters for the churches and other religious organisations to determine for themselves in accordance with their own convictions. They are not matters for the law to impose. Start down that road and you will put law and conscience into inevitable collision. That way lies ruin.

“As Edmund Burke said: ‘Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.’ The onus is on Her Majesty’s Government to demonstrate why any narrowing of the provisions in existing legislation under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Sexual Orientation Regulations 2003 needs to be made. There is absolutely no doubt that paragraph 2 of Schedule 9 to the Bill as introduced would constitute a significant narrowing of the present law for the reasons that I set out at the Second Reading. The Government’s Amendment 99A goes some way but does not go far enough to meeting these objections.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

The Transcript of Archbishop Sentamu's Interview With Radio York

[Interviewer]This is an appalling tragedy, the UN are saying that it may well be the biggest natural disaster in history. How do we reconcile our faith with this terrible tragedy on this scale?

ABY: I think it is not an easy thing to reconcile, the heart of it because it is just so so awful and the people suffering terribly. We tend to look for answers actually where there are sometimes no answers.

I think the reconciliation for me comes in my understanding of God as I see him in Jesus Christ. A God who is almighty and powerful is born like a little baby, grows up and is crucified, doing for us that which we can not do for ourselves. On the cross you hear him say “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” But that’s not the end. He rises from death, conquering evil and death and pointing out to us that actually in the end it is life in God which matters. So a God who has becomes like one of us, dies, rises, sends his Spirit, that we may be forgiven for the wrongs we have done in the past, and given new life in the present and hope for the future.

That kind of a God is neither to be seen as the sort of grand puppet master who just pulls pulleys nor is he a Dr Who, or a Wonderwoman or Superman but actually a God who is there with us. Rabbi Hugo Gryn was a survivor of the Holocaust and was asked the same question “Where was God when the Jews were being gassed? Why did he allow it to happen?” and Rabbi Hugo Gryn said “God in those gas chambers was being violated and blasphemed”. That God is always around us, with us, suffering with us and giving us the hope that in tragedy and death and things we can’t explain – in the end these things are not the end.

Read the whole thing (or use the audio link at the bottom).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Caribbean, Church of England (CoE), Haiti, Theodicy, Theology

John Richardson: What future for the Anglican clergy?

A short while ago, I had a conversation with a friend who is going through ”˜Continuing Ministerial Education’ ””what use to be called Post-Ordination Training, or ”˜Potty’ by some wit. He had phoned me to express his concern at what seemed to be the message coming from diocesan management about the future of Anglican ministry, which envisaged significant changes in the nature and deployment of clergy.

That conversation has left me musing on what the church might look like in a decade or two, but also on the whole approach of the church’s ”˜managers’ ””its leaders and policy makers ””to issues which affect ministry at the ”˜grass roots’.

Behind this current thinking is a recent diocesan report which confronts the declining numbers of stipendiary clergy with proposals for a decreasing deployment of full-time clergy in the parishes. (This, of course, is not being driven by money ””it is simply a lack of people coming forward, let the reader understand.)

The clergyperson of the future will thus need to be, above all, a team leader, since he or she will be in no position to do personally the work that used to be presumed of clergy in the past. Only such team players will be affordable as stipendiary clergy. The individual ”˜specialists’, apparently, will have to work on a self-supporting basis.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Online Archive Opens the Reformers' Works

Some surprises started unfolding when a team of Calvin Theological Seminary professors and graduate students recently launched the Post-Reformation Digital Library.

Chief eye-openers included successfully tracking down rare Reformed theologians’ manuscripts once thought lost.

Another revelation: 16th-18th century theologians and philosophers were brutally honest about their doctrinal positions and emotions, including the well-known Reformer John Calvin, who pushed the boundaries of good taste in a sermon about rowdy adolescents.

“We’ve got things coming out of the woodwork that (were) lost for centuries,” said Todd Rester, a doctoral student who served on the project’s six-member editorial board.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Church History, Other Churches, Reformed

From the Morning Scripture Readings

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

–Hebrews 9: 11,12

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Timothy, Titus and Silas

Just and merciful God, who in every generation hast raised up prophets, teachers and witnesses to summon the world to honor and praise thy holy Name: We give thanks for the calling of Timothy, Titus and Silas, whose gifts built up thy Church in the power of the Holy Spirit. Grant that we, too, may be living stones built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

South Carolina Anglican Conference Discusses Sex and Theology

Robert Gagnon, an associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice, addressed the argument that St. Paul condemned only exploitative or pederastic homosexual behavior and he knew nothing of homosexual orientation or partnerships among peers. Dr. Gagnon argued that both were well- known in ancient Greece and Rome, and ”” while tolerated ”” were often condemned even by pagan writers.

Edith Humphrey, the William F. Orr professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, critiqued the writings of three theologians: Carter Heyward, Sarah Coakley and Eugene F. Rogers, Jr. Dr. Humphrey was especially critical of Dr. Rogers’ comparing human sexual intimacy to the relationship among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Rev. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, recently retired bishop of the Church of England’s Diocese of Rochester, spoke on theological differences between Christianity and Islam. The bishop cited Yale scholar Lamin Sanneh, a convert from Islam, who argues that the Bible, in contrast to the Quran, has an innate “translatability,” and therefore impels believers to shape their own cultures. The Bible’s very plasticity invites engagement with each new culture rather than retreat.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Latest News, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Theology

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Haiti: One Church’s Response

Watch it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Episcopal Church (TEC), Haiti, Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

Tim Drake in NCR: Will 2010 See Mass Exodus to Rome?

Yet, many Anglicans will not be embracing the offer.

“The Episcopal Church will be only mildly impacted,” said Father Douglas Grandon, a former Anglican pastor who was ordained a Catholic priest in May 2008 and serves as associate pastor at Sacred Heart in Moline, Ill. “Most of those clergy and bishops have already left who had any Catholic sense. In the U.S., the primary ones who will consider this would be the Anglo-Catholics.”

Some Episcopal pastors and parishes upset with the direction of the national Episcopal Church (it has elected two bishops who are openly homosexual and has given the nod to blessing same-sex unions) have placed themselves under the leadership of more conservative bishops in the U.S., Africa or the Americas. For example, approximately 20 Episcopal parishes in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas and Canada have left the Episcopal Church to join the Southern Cone of the Americas, an Anglican province in South America.

For those seeking to accept the Vatican’s offer, examples do exist of communities that have already done something similar. Since the implementation of the Pastoral Provision in 1980 ”” which allowed for the Catholic ordination of married Episcopal priests and authorized the establishment of personal Catholic parishes that retained certain Anglican liturgical elements ”” several Anglican-use communities have been created in the United States.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Lillian Daniel: Clergy gathering rituals

I was speaking at a Methodist clergy gathering when a pastor told me that at first the hotel had not been excited about hosting the group, since its members weren’t going to run up any kind of bar bill. But then the hotel manager noted that they had more than made that up in how much was spent on dessert. The Methodists were welcome there anytime.

In my own denomination, the United Church of Christ, the clergy do their best not to leave those poor bartenders disappointed. It’s not that we like to drink, of course. It’s an economic justice issue. And we order dessert, too. Anything for the Lord.

Someone once said that when the Baptists come to town, the bars are empty but the liquor stores do very well. When the Episcopalians come to town, I suspect they’re both happy. Though maybe not the dessert makers: Episcopal clergy seem to be skinnier than the rest of us, and much better dressed in their clergy shirts and clerical collars. Plus, black is slimming….

Read it all.

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

George W. Rutler on Austin Farrer, Haiti and Earthquakes

It was a blessing for me to encounter the theologian Austin Farrer a year before his sudden death. With him, I was one handshake away from his friends Tolkien, Lewis, and Sayers. In reflecting on natural disasters and God’s action in the world, he said with stark realism that in an earthquake, God’s will is that the elements of the Earth’s crust should behave in accordance with their nature. He was speaking of the Lisbon earthquake in 1755, which killed about the same number of people counted so far in devastated Haiti. Most were killed in churches on All Saints Day, which gave license to rationalists of the “Enlightenment” to mock the doctrine of a good God. Atheists can suddenly pretend to be theologians puzzled by the contradictory behavior of a benevolent God. On the other extreme, doltish TV evangelists summon a half-baked Calvinism to say that people who get hit hard deserve it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Caribbean, Church of England (CoE), Haiti, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Theodicy, Theology

Obama Unveils Tax Initiatives to Help Middle Class

Faced with continuing double-digit unemployment and public unease over his handling of the economy, Mr. Obama is expected to zero in on economic issues during Wednesday’s State of the Union and ahead of November’s midterm congressional elections. The proposals he unveiled Monday will be included in the administration’s fiscal 2011 budget proposal, set for release in a week.

“Joe and I are going to keep on fighting for what matters to middle-class families,” Mr. Obama said at the White House. “None of these steps alone will solve all the challenges facing the middle class… but hopefully some of these steps will reestablish some of the security that’s slipped away in recent years.”

Under its proposal, the White House says all eligible families making under $115,000 a year would see a bigger dependent-care-tax credit. Families could claim up to $3,000 in expenses for one child or $6,000 for two children. Families making less than $80,000 annually could claim a maximum credit of $2,100, up $900 from current law.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--