Daily Archives: April 19, 2010

Philip Jenkins–Any faith can become violent

…reading Christian history suggests just how wrong just an analysis would be. Out-of-control clergy, religious demagogues with their consecrated militias, religious parties usurping the functions of the state ”” these were the common currency of the Christian world just a few decades after the Roman Empire made Christianity its official religion. Whatever he might have thought of his theology, Cyril the Christian bishop would immediately have a strong fellow-feeling for al-Sadr the Islamic mullah. Like al-Sadr, Cyril, too, disciplined his followers with pronouncements that cast deviants beyond the protection of the church and the law: Christians then called them “anathemas”; Muslims today call them “fatwas.”

In retelling the story of Christian atrocities, I’m not trying to blacken the reputation of the church but rather to suggest that, given the appropriate social and political circumstances, given a sufficiently weak state mechanism, any religion can be used to justify savagery and extremism. None of the violence or intolerance commonly seen in modern-day Islam is, so to speak, in the DNA of that religion, any more than of Christianity. Change the circumstances, and any religion, too, can become the basis of a sane and peaceful society.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, History, Religion & Culture, Violence

Oklahome City 15 Years Later– Murrah bombing remains painful memory

Sisters Peggy Clark and Susan Winchester saw each other about every day.

Clark and husband David Spencer had three daughters ”” Rosslyn, Blayne, and Chelsea.

Winchester was the “car pool service” for the girls. She picked everyone up after school, and kept everyone at her house until Peggy returned from work. Lots of week nights, they would all have dinner together, as well.

On April 19, 1995, as soon as Winchester heard of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, she dialed her sister’s phone number to check on her.

Clark was interning 15 years ago as a veterinary medical officer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the Murrah Building at the time of the bombing. The 42-year-old Clark did not survive.

God bless them all–and read the whole thing.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Parish Ministry, Terrorism

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial: Big Ben's betrayal requires a tough, swift response

What Ben Roethlisberger’s disgrace has made clear is that the term Steeler Nation doesn’t explain the half of it. It describes only the extent of fan affection for Pittsburgh’s favorite team. It doesn’t convey how personal the relationship is, how much the Steelers embody the region’s values.

Steeler Nation should really be called Steeler Family, a clan of shared pain repulsed by the gross behavior of the Steelers quarterback, the region’s erstwhile favorite adopted son.

Pittsburghers take the sting of betrayal personally. The investigative documents released Thursday in Milledgeville, Ga., make it clear that the values of Mr. Roethlisberger’s employers — and the everyday Pittsburghers who cheered him on — have been seriously mocked.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sports, Theology

Vincent Twomey (Irish Times)–Despite media smears, world and faithful have warmed to Benedict

Vatican correspondent John L Allen jnr, who coined the phrase “Enforcer of the Faith”, asserts the opposite [of Hans Kung]: “For those who have followed the church’s response to the crisis, Ratzinger’s 2001 letter is . . . seen as a long overdue assumption of responsibility by the Vatican, and the beginning of a far more aggressive response. Whether that response is sufficient is, of course, a matter for fair debate, but to construe Ratzinger’s 2001 letter as no more than the last gasp of old attempts at denial and cover-up misreads the record.”

Pope Benedict’s response to the publication of the Ryan and Murphy reports was swift and decisive, though this is not always appreciated. He took the unprecedented step of summoning the Irish bishops to Rome to account before him and some of his major co-workers for their actions (or rather inaction). He wrote an unprecedented letter to the Catholics of Ireland calling for a spiritual renewal and promising an “Apostolic Visitation” that, presumably, will deal with more concrete matters.

Future generations, however, will probably remember Benedict’s reign not primarily for any of his official documents or actions, however significant, but for his teaching. Of special note are his Wednesday audiences devoted to St Paul, the man and his theology, and especially his book Jesus of Nazareth , the second volume of which is due to be published later this year. He is conscious that the greatest challenge to the church in the future will centre on the person of Jesus Christ, true God and true man. That is the foundation on which all else rests.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

GSE4 Thematic Address 1: “The Gospel of Jesus Christ” – Abp Nicholas Okoh

In concluding, I wish to make two points:

a) The absolute necessity for economic empowerment in the Global South and

b) The treachery of another Gospel which is afraid of and denies the deity of Christ.

The first point: We in the Global South must realise that God has not cheated us in the area of natural and human resources. It is God’s will that we grow economically, to provide for our needs for the work of God and give to those in need. It is not God’s will that we remain perpetually dependent on the handouts from the sacrifice and self-denial offerings of other people. More so, when sometimes these handouts are given with strong strings attached to buy loyalty or compromise on critical issues of faith. We should dig deep wherever we are, and educate our members of the grave danger of living on other people’s resources. We must work together on equal partnership in the fellowship of the gospel with those who are sincere, and who live according to the truth of the Gospel. Grants, donations, gifts and any form of assistance given rather patronizingly should be rejected. We must relate and negotiate from the point of strength rather than a beggarly position.

In Being Faithful13, this idea is captured this way:

“…but there are ways of providing support and showing concern that are ultimately irresponsible, even if well-intended. We think, for instance, of the way that support to the poverty-stricken, both within individual nations and between nations, has sometimes helped create a demeaning culture of dependency and perpetuated problems of vulnerability and indignity rather than solving them”.

The LORD also gave us some talents (Mt. 25:14 ”“ 30). We must not condemn ourselves by sheer lack of enterprise. Secondly, the deity of Christ is increasingly becoming offensive in some quarters in our communion. For others the uniqueness of Christ cannot be taught in our pluralistic society. But pluralism was there, in the first …[century]. The Jewish religion was there, so were the Greek Philosophies and religions, hence it was said that the cross was foolishness to the Greeks, and a stumbling block to the Jews. The creeds, the 39 articles (see 2, 3, 4) and the Holy Scriptures, all uphold the deity and uniqueness of Jesus, the Christ. To deny these fundamentals is to abandon the way; it is apostasy; it is “another gospel”, which is condemned in scripture.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Global South Churches & Primates, Global South to South Encounter 4 in Singapore April 2010

Cheryl Wetzel on GSE 4–The Bishops and Archbishops gather

… Tea has begun and the Bishops and Archbishops are gathering in the side yard of St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Singapore under the big white tent. The first press briefing has closed and we were informed that seven people may not arrive, most due to the Iceland volcano debacle in London. So far, Mrs. Susan Grayson, London, Church of England; the Venerable Michael Lawson, Church of England, Diocese of London, Archdeacon of Hampstead; the Rt. Rev. David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, Church of England. Archbishop Henry Orombi, Uganda is still trying to make arrangements to arrive. Please keep praying that God will find and provide a way.

The Bishop of Malaita, Solomon Islands, The Right Reverend Sam Sahu sent regrets as well as the Rt. Rev. Mike Murphy from the United States, Anglican Mission in America. The Archbishop of Canterbury was invited, but declined due to a full “diary.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Global South Churches & Primates

GSE4–Welcome Address from the Chairman, Archbishop Peter Akinola

The conference aims were described by our founding fathers as follows:

1. To meet, to know and to encourage one another in our faith and mission as Christians of the ‘South’.
2. To listen to God and to listen to one another.
3. To share our stories, our needs, our resources, our vision.
4. To explore and encourage ways of offering ourselves and our unique gifts as Christians of the South for the enrichment of the whole Church and for world mission.
5. To discover our unique identity as Anglican Christians of the non-western world.
6. To encourage qualitative and relevant leadership development for our rapidly growing churches so as to secure the future of the Church in the South and worldwide. To enable partnership, both South to South and South to North on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
7. To explore ways of being authentically Christian in our cultural milieu while remaining universally connected to the global Anglican Communion.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Global South Churches & Primates

GSE4–A Welcome Address from the Conference Host, Archbishop John Chew

In our time together, we will begin each day by gathering in communion with the Lord and one another around the Lord’s Table and His Word before the business of the day. Then there will be the daily Thematic Addresses expounding on the Gospel, the Covenant, the Light for the Nations and explicated by the Plenary Presentations on Global South Structures, Missions and Ministry, and Economic Empowerment through Capacity Building.

Even as we do so, we are keenly aware of the current issues and deepening crisis and challenges facing our Communion. There is no denying that these issues will inevitably be of great concerns in our minds, prayers and conversations. We have the challenge of how we will respond to the Anglican Covenant. It is important that we can share our respective views, even if we differ.

Whatever the responses, it is imperative that the Global South stays on course in what the Lord has called us to since the mid 80s. This movement has evolved by the grace of God in many amazing ways. In recent years, our orthodox Western associates have also grown closer in fellowship and partnership with us. We need to see clearly all that the Lord is seeking to do through this movement. We need to be discerning, staying focused on the key tasks before us. We need to faithfully and collegially grow our unity on the basis of mutual trust and respect. From that position, we will be able to exercise our God-given stewardship of the historic faith and order, and other related issues in and for our Communion and His Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Global South Churches & Primates, The Anglican Church in South East Asia

All’s Clear for the Start of the Fourth Encounter – GSE4 Prayer Report pre-Conference

Most of the 130 primates, bishops, clergy, senior lay leaders, associates and observers have arrived in for the 5-day Encounter which starts today, Monday 19th April. Yesterday, some have preached or worshipped at the Cathedral and parishes across the island. This morning, some are being welcomed at the Trinity Theological College and taken on a tour of her work.

A few have been stranded or delayed due to last week’s global “ash-ed Wednesday”. One key Primate who has been delayed is Abp Henry Orombi, along with some other UK participants. We are saddened by their absence and will contnue to pray for the travel chaos to be resolved. What has not been ashed out is a short video message from the Archbishop of Canterbury, which had arrived through the Net. This will be screened on Tuesday morning.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Global South Churches & Primates

AP: Facing doctor shortage, 28 states may expand nurse practitioners' role

A nurse may soon be your doctor. With a looming shortage of primary care doctors, 28 states are considering expanding the authority of nurse practitioners. These nurses with advanced degrees want the right to practice without a doctor’s watchful eye and to prescribe narcotics. And if they hold a doctorate, they want to be called “Doctor.”

For years, nurse practitioners have been playing a bigger role in the nation’s health care, especially in regions with few doctors. With 32 million more Americans gaining health insurance within a few years, the health care overhaul is putting more money into nurse-managed clinics.

Those newly insured patients will be looking for doctors and may find nurses instead.

The medical establishment is fighting to protect turf.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

Anglican TV Interviews Stephen Noll

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Global South Churches & Primates

CSM–Do university rules discriminate against student faith groups?

A group of Christian students is asking the US Supreme Court to strike down as unconstitutional a school anti-discrimination policy that forces them to accept as voting members and potential leaders classmates who do not share their core religious beliefs.

A lawyer for the Christian Legal Society is set to argue on Monday that the school’s policy violates the Christian students’ First Amendment right to freely associate with like-minded individuals who share a common faith.

At issue is a non-discrimination policy that applies to all student groups at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. The policy bars student groups from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, sex, or sexual orientation.

Hastings officials refused to recognize the Christian Legal Society (CLS) as a registered student organization because they said the group’s faith-based by-laws reflected intent to discriminate against gay and lesbian students and others who do not embrace the group’s religious beliefs. Under the school policy, student groups must agree to accept any student as a voting member.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

NY Times Magazine–Is Marriage Good for Your Health?

With so much evidence establishing a link between marital stress and health, a new generation of research is set to explore the ways in which couples can mitigate the damaging effects of relationship stress. The Glasers are now conducting studies testing whether regular supplements of fish oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, can mitigate some of the physical symptoms of stress on the immune system.

The couple are also embarking on a new study looking at the interplay between nutrition and marital stress. Earlier research at Ohio State showed that when study subjects were given intravenous fat injections during times of stress, it took longer for triglycerides, fats that are associated with heart disease, to leave the bloodstream. But Kiecolt-Glaser is more interested in the real-world equivalent of the study: What happens to the body’s ability to cope with fats when couples fight at dinnertime? To find out, she’s planning to feed married couples two types of meals ”” one relatively healthful meal and one high-fat meal equivalent to fast food. During the meal the couples will be asked to discuss topics of high stress, and a blood analysis will offer a glimpse of the effect that mealtime conflict has on the body’s ability to metabolize fats. “It’s an ideal way,” Kiecolt-Glaser says, “to look at what happens to couples in the real world, where so many family conflicts happen over a meal.”

For the Glasers, their nearly 30 years of professional collaboration have not only given them new insights into the role of stress and health but have also helped them in their own marriage. Like every married couple, they have their disagreements, Glaser told me. But years of watching married couples interact and measuring the subsequent physical toll that conflict takes on their bodies has taught the Glasers the importance of taking time off together and making sure their disagreements don’t degenerate into personal attacks. “Don’t fight dirty,” he advised. “You never go far enough down the road where you hurt each other. We know enough to avoid those kinds of arguments.”

Kiecolt-Glaser added that the couple’s research shows that some level of relationship stress is inevitable in even the happiest marriages. The important thing, she said, is to use those moments of stress as an opportunity to repair the relationship rather than to damage it. “It can be so uncomfortable, even in the best marriages, to have an ongoing disagreement,” she said. “It’s the pit-in-your-stomach kind of thing. But when your marital relationship is the key relationship in your life, a disagreement is really a signal to try to fix something.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology

Thomas Friedman on the Vital Role Small Innovative Companies are Playing in today's world

The clinical trials for EndoStim are being conducted in India and Chile. “What they have in common,” said Hogg, “is superb surgeons with high levels of skill, enthusiasm for the project, an interest in research and reasonable costs.” This is also part of the new model, said Hogg: Invented and financed in the West, further developed and tested in the East and rolled out in both markets.

What’s in it for America? As long as the venture money, core innovation and the key management comes from here ”” a lot. If EndoStim works out, its tiny headquarters in St. Louis will grow much larger. St. Louis is where the best jobs ”” top management, marketing, design ”” and shareholders will be, said Hogg. Where innovation is sparked and capital is raised still matters.

You don’t hear much about companies like this. Our national debate today is dominated by the ignorant ramblings of Sarah Palin, talk-show lunatics, tea parties and politics as sports ”” not ESPN but PSPN. Fortunately, though, we still have risk-takers who are not paying attention to any of this nonsense, who know what world they’re living in ”” and are just doing it. Thank goodness!

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

Bono–Africa Reboots

Over long days and nights, I asked Africans about the course of international activism. Should we just pack it up and go home, I asked? There were a few nods. But many more noes. Because most Africans we met seemed to feel the pressing need for new kinds of partnerships, not just among governments, but among citizens, businesses, the rest of us. I sense the end of the usual donor-recipient relationship.

Aid, it’s clear, is still part of the picture. It’s crucial, if you have H.I.V. and are fighting for your life, or if you are a mother wondering why you can’t protect your child against killers with unpronounceable names or if you are a farmer who knows that new seed varietals will mean you have produce that you can take to market in drought or flood. But not the old, dumb, only-game-in-town aid ”” smart aid that aims to put itself out of business in a generation or two. “Make aid history” is the objective. It always was. Because when we end aid, it’ll mean that extreme poverty is history. But until that glorious day, smart aid can be a reforming tool, demanding accountability and transparency, rewarding measurable results, reinforcing the rule of law, but never imagining for a second that it’s a substitute for trade, investment or self-determination.

I for one want to live to see Mo Ibrahim’s throw-down prediction about Ghana come true. “Yes, guys,” he said, “Ghana needs support in the coming years, but in the not-too-distant future it can be giving aid, not receiving it; and you, Mr. Bono, can just go there on your holidays.”

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Africa