Daily Archives: February 5, 2010

Sarah Bailey: Sports journalists are reluctant to tackle faith on the field

Tim Tebow may steal the Super Bowl spotlight by appearing in an antiabortion TV commercial with his mother, Pam, on Sunday night, but his faith is kept on the sidelines. Most reporters writing about the ad neglected to say that his mother’s faith was the reason she did not abort him when doctors warned he could be born severely disabled in 1987. Perhaps the sportswriters assumed that most people know about the family’s Christian beliefs. The former quarterback for the Florida Gators paints Bible verses under his eyes and is vocal about saving himself for marriage. Or perhaps writers, for a variety of reasons, are just uncomfortable exploring religion’s impact on an athlete.

Peter King, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, admits his own skepticism when players bring up their faith after a game. “I’ve seen enough examples of players who claim to be very religious and then they get divorced three times or get in trouble with the law,” Mr. King said earlier this week. “I’m not sure that the public is crying out for us to discover the religious beliefs of the athletes we’re writing about.”

Faith is the belief in things unseen. Sportswriters are trained to write about the observable. “One of the problems that we have is determining the veracity of a person’s claim that he has just won this game for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” Mr. King said.

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

The Bishop of Newark's Diocesan Convention Address

While preparing for this Convention, and specifically for this Convention address, I felt a bit anxious by all the hydraulics of scarcity we have faced in the past year ”“ as a culture and as a church; and how to respond to them. So I went and read from the wisdom of the two bishops who presided over this diocese during the Great Depression ”“ Wilson Stearly, who served as Diocesan Bishop from 1927-1935; and Benjamin Washburn, who led the diocese from 1935-1958. On one level, scarcity was disarmingly real. Giving from the 158 congregations to the diocese went from $252k in 1929 to $151k in 1933 ”“ a decrease of 40% in 4 years. Giving to the national church went from $136k in 1930 to $40k in 1936 ”“ a 67% decline in six years. The Bishop’s Church Extension Fund (BCEF), then 25 years old, which solicits contributions from people across the diocese to meet needs identified by the bishop, was deployed almost exclusively to help churches with mortgage payments. The hydraulics of scarcity were everywhere ”“ and they caused Bishop Stearly to reflect in his 1932 address: “there is no question about carrying on the work of church although the economic conditions may enforce upon us radical changes of organization and method such perhaps as we had not in former days thought feasible.”

There was, running through eight years of bishops’ addresses, some gentle carping about falling church attendance ”“ and an observation that people were rather unwilling to live fully into their faith; which led to a challenge to live with greater spiritual discipline. Not to mention some advice as to how to cope with the new prayer book.

The scarcity was real, but so was the commitment to abundance ”“ and the willingness to cast out nets again. In 1932, Bishop Stearly proposed what he called a teaching mission in each of the 158 congregations ”“ that would run from Saturday afternoon until Tuesday evening — “to participate in a fresh vision and new understanding of the relationship of the church to the need of the world”. Two years later, over 100 congregations had participated.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC)

Notable and Quotable

Don’t get confused by the size of the numbers at stake. Pay attention to the ratio of cumulative debt to the size of the national economy. That will tell you how easily we can manage the debt.

The debt-to-GDP ratio right now is close to 53%””still in the manageable zone. But after the boomers hit retirement, it will soar. One of the most telling figures in the president’s budget document is the Congressional Budget Office’s projection that by 2020 the debt-to-GDP ratio will be 77%, assuming no entitlement reforms. That’s bad news. The ratio is moving in the wrong direction. At some point, the dollar could tank and interest rates explode.

Robert Reich in today’s Wall Street Journal

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Credit Markets, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

L. Gregory Jones: You're lonely, I'm lonely

Could loneliness be as contagious as the H1N1 virus? Is loneliness dangerous to the public’s health? Usually we think of “infection” or “contagion” only in relation to medical viruses and define lonely people as those who keep their feelings to themselves.

Yet in a ten-year study researchers have found that loneliness is contagious and that it spreads through social networks. A lonely person can affect people as many as three degrees of separation away. If someone directly connected to me is seriously lonely, for example, I am 52 percent more likely to be lonely. A second degree of separation leads to a 25 percent increase; a third degree, 15 percent. I may be affected by the emotional reactions of my co-worker’s spouse’s brother.

Joseph Cacioppo, one of the researchers of the study, argues in his book Loneliness that people who are lonely tend to view things as more threatening than they really are. Apparently the part of the brain that processes feelings of loneliness also processes physical pain. So those who are feeling lonely can easily convey to others feelings of fear or threat as well as feelings of pain.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

Billy Graham Tops List of Most Influential Preachers

The Rev. Billy Graham was named by U.S. pastors as the country’s most influential living preacher, according to a recent survey by LifeWay Research.

The study, conducted last November, interviewed more than 1,000 Protestant pastors by telephone. The participants were asked to “name the top three living Christian preachers that most influence you.”

Graham was cited as most influential by 21 percent of clergy, followed by pastor and author Charles Swindoll, at 8 percent. Charles Stanley, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Atlanta, and Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., followed closely behind Swindoll with 7 percent of the vote each.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture

Church Times–Accuracy of briefing paper on ACNA challenged

A Senior cleric of the Anglican Church of Canada has identified inaccuracies in Lorna Ashworth’s briefing paper for her private member’s motion, which will come before the General Synod next Wednesday. Similar concerns are coming from the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Mrs Ashworth’s motion will urge the Synod to “express the desire that the Church of England be in com­munion with the Anglican Church in North America [ACNA]”. Canon Alan Perry, a lecturer in ecclesiastical polity and former Prolocutor of the Province of Canada, rebuts allegations on clergy and property in her paper.

The Revd Brian Lewis, a Synod member from Chelmsford diocese, circulated the note to all members on Monday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC)

NPR–'Let The West Get Used To A Tough China'

China has halted its military cooperation with the U.S. and threatened this week to sanction American companies involved in selling arms to Taiwan.

Beijing’s sharp reaction came after Washington announced a $6.4 billion weapons deal to Taiwan. It is something of a role reversal.

Usually, it has been the U.S. sanctioning China. But now, China is pushing back on a raft of contentious issues, from Washington’s efforts to seek sanctions against Iran to President Obama’s plan to meet Tibet’s exiled religious leader the Dalai Lama.

“Let The West Get Used To A Tough China,” was the headline this week in the Global Times, a jingoistic Chinese tabloid.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations

The Archbishop of Canterbury receives honorary doctorate from St. Vladimir’s

Dr. Rowan Williams began his New York City tour this past week with duties related to his role as Archbishop of Canterbury, but ended it by demonstrating his academic acumen and continued interest in the Orthodox Christian faith. On Saturday, January 30, 2010, the Anglican archbishop delivered the 27th annual Father Alexander Schmemann Memorial Lecture”” this year titled “Theology and the Contemplative Calling: The Image of Humanity in the Philokalia””” and received an honorary doctoral degree from St. Vladimir’s Seminary.

During his visit, Dr. Williams also attended Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Three Hierarchs in the seminary chapel, and had a cordial and frank discussion with St. Vladimir’s theological faculty at a private brunch. After the Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Jonah, primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), and the Anglican archbishop both publically expressed their desire for a deeper personal friendship and their hope for deeper understanding and cooperation between their respective communions. Additionally, Dr. Williams thanked the seminary community for its “overwhelming warm and generous welcome,” which he stated, surpassed even his first visit to St. Vladimir’s in 1974, and which was all that he “had hoped and prayed for.”

The Anglican archbishop received the invitation to be this year’s Schmemann Lecturer for his pioneering work in Russian Orthodox studies and his long-standing interest in Eastern Christian studies. His doctoral work at Oxford University focused on Vladimir N. Lossky, the famous mid-twentieth-century Orthodox theologian; and his first book, Wound of Knowledge, was a study of spirituality from apostolic times to the sixteenth century.

Read it carefully and read it all, noting especially the section toward the end about some audience members.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Archbishop of Canterbury, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Hugo Rifkind–The Cherie Blair case makes me dislike the National Secular Society

I’m transfixed, in a mind-melty sort of way, by the allegation that Cherie Booth ”” in her lofty judge capacity, rather than her slightly-chippy-former- PM’s-wife capacity ”” gave a more lenient sentence to a man convicted of assault because he was religious. Shamso Miah was on his way home from his mosque when he joined the queue at a cash dispenser. After a disagreement about who was in front of whom, he punched somebody else in the face, breaking his jaw. Judge Cherie, the story goes, suspended his sentence, on the basis that he was a religious man, and already beating himself up about it. Albeit not literally. Presumably.

Now the National Secular Society has complained to the Judicial Complaints Office that this sort of thing is unfair to atheists, on the basis that, if Miah had been one, he’d have been off to chokey. It’s got everything, this story. Creepy religious Blairs? Check. Out-of-touch judges? Check. A slightly scary Muslim? Check. They’re probably knocking out a BBC Four docudrama about it as I type. But the nub of the matter, I think, is the old chestnut about the bearing, if any, that religious belief should have on abstract morality.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

The Exhibition on the Archbishops' Zimbabwe Appeal opens at Southwark Cathedral Today

You may find information about it here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Art, Church of England (CoE), Zimbabwe

NY Times–The National Prayer Breakfast draws controversy

For more than 50 years, the National Prayer Breakfast has served as a prime networking event in Washington, bringing together the president, members of Congress, foreign diplomats and thousands of religious, business and military leaders for scrambled eggs and supplication.

Usually, the annual event passes with little notice. But this year, an ethics group in Washington has asked President Obama and Congressional leaders to stay away from the breakfast, on Thursday. Religious and gay rights groups have organized competing prayer events in 17 cities, and protesters are picketing in Washington and Boston.

The objections are focused on the sponsor of the breakfast, a secretive evangelical Christian network called The Fellowship, also known as The Family, and accusations that it has ties to legislation in Uganda that calls for the imprisonment and execution of homosexuals.

The Family has always stayed intentionally in the background, according to those who have written about it. In the last year, however, it was identified as the sponsor of a residence on Capitol Hill that has served as a dormitory and meeting place for a cluster of politicians who ran into ethics problems, including Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada, and Gov. Mark Sanford, Republican of South Carolina, both of whom have admitted to adultery.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Senate, Spirituality/Prayer

France denies citizenship to man with veiled wife

French authorities have denied citizenship to a man who forced his French wife to wear a face-covering veil, saying he had rejected national values of secularism and gender equality.

The government has been speaking out strongly against head-to-toe veils, and is moving toward banning them in public after a long public debate over French national identity in the age of globalization.

Critics call the face-covering veil a gateway to extremism, but the move to ban it has drawn fierce criticism from some of France’s five million Muslims, who say such restrictions are based in fear and intolerance of Islam.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, France, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

RNS: Clergy Coalition Blasts Supreme Court Ruling on Election Spending

A coalition of religious leaders from a variety of faiths on Wednesday (Feb. 3) blasted the Supreme Court’s ruling that allows large corporations unlimited financial support of candidates during elections.

The group of more than 200 leaders, many affiliated with the National Council of Churches, also pledged to support legislation to limit the ruling’s impact by empowering voters, not special interest groups.

The letter was organized by Common Cause, a public-interest advocacy group whose president is Bob Edgar, a United Methodist minister and former general secretary of the NCC.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

CHE: Private Giving to Colleges Dropped Sharply in 2009

With a battered economy and volatile financial markets taking their tolls on donors’ pocketbooks, private giving to American colleges dropped sharply in 2009, according to findings of the annual Voluntary Support of Education survey, which were released on Wednesday. Donations were down $3.75-billion from the previous year””a decline of 11.9 percent, the steepest in the survey’s 50-year history.

Colleges brought in an estimated $27.85-billion in gifts in the 2009 fiscal year, according to the survey, which included 1,027 institutions and was conducted by the Council for Aid to Education. The year before, colleges raised $31.6-billion, which was the highest total ever reported in the survey. In 2009, alumni participation dropped to a record low, and the size of the average alumni gift was down, too.

The survey’s findings were grim but not unexpected. During the period of the survey””July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009””college fund raisers had reported “hitting a wall” with donors who had either lost significant portions of their wealth or were nervous that they would.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Stewardship, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Christian Post–Anglican Archbishop Anis Calls for New Executive Leadership

The Anglican Communion should reshuffle its executive leadership, said a conservative archbishop who has resigned from the body citing its failure to challenge liberal developments in two Western national churches.

He pointed out that Western churches have been smothering opposition to their acceptance of homosexuality from churches they are financially supporting by threatening to withdraw that aid.

“The current ACC and SCAC (the executive body of the Anglican Communion) should resign,” said The Most Reverend Dr Mouneer H Anis, who leads the physically largest and most diverse Anglican province.

He said: “It is incomprehensible to think of dioceses (an administrative territorial unit administered by a bishop) or provinces (mostly national or regional churches but also city or subnational churches) that have not committed themselves to covenantal relationship to participate in the decision making processes that affect the life of those dioceses or provinces that have adopted and signed the Covenant. A new Anglican Consultative Council and SCAC, or at the very least an ad hoc Standing Committee, must be formed.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Instruments of Unity, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East