Daily Archives: April 27, 2010

Online missionaries spread Gospel in cyberspace

For 2,000 years, Christian missionaries have traveled to foreign lands to spread the Gospel.

Today, there are thousands of missionaries preaching around the world without leaving home. Sometimes even while wearing pajamas.

Global Media Outreach, a branch of Campus Crusade for Christ, held a Webinar, or online seminar, this week to raise awareness and to motivate people to participate in online missions.

With tomorrow being designated Internet Evangelism Day (by the Internet Evangelism Coalition), Michelle Diedrich of GMO said she wants “to change the way we think” about the Internet.

Read it all.

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

Future Pope’s Role in Austria Abuse Case Was Complex

As Pope Benedict XVI has come under scrutiny for his handling of sexual abuse cases, both his supporters and his critics have paid fresh attention to the way he responded to a sexual abuse scandal in Austria in the 1990s, one of the most damaging to confront the church in Europe.

Defenders of Benedict cite his role in dealing with Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër of Vienna as evidence that he moved assertively, if quietly, against abusers. They point to the fact that Cardinal Groër left office six months after accusations against him of molesting boys first appeared in the Austrian news media in 1995. The future pope, they say, favored a full canonical investigation, only to be blocked by other ranking officials in the Vatican.

A detailed look at the rise and fall of the clergyman, who died in 2003, and the involvement of Benedict, a Bavarian theologian with many connections to German-speaking Austria, paints a more complex picture.

Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, had the ear of Pope John Paul II and was able to block a favored candidate for archbishop of Vienna, clearing the way for Father Groër to assume the post in 1986, say senior church officials and priests with knowledge of the process. His critics question how this influence failed him nine years later in seeking a fuller investigation into the case.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

CNA–Papal visit to UK unaffected by ”˜disrespectful’ Foreign Office memo

The British Foreign Office has apologized over a leaked memo which suggested Pope Benedict XVI bless a same-sex “marriage” or open an abortion clinic during an “ideal visit.” A Vatican spokesman said the incident would not affect the upcoming papal visit to England and Scotland.

The Sunday Telegraph obtained a copy of the memo, which said it should not be shared externally.

“The ‘ideal visit’ paper in particular was the product of a brainstorm session which took into account even the most far-fetched of ideas,” said the memo, which according to the BBC was authored by a junior civil servants.

Other passages of the memo suggested the Pope launch his own brand of condoms, start a helpline for abused children, sack “dodgy” bishops, apologize for the Spanish Armada and sing a song with the Queen.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

RNS–British Apologize to Pope for 'Foolish' Memo

The British government was forced to publicly apologize to Pope Benedict XVI over a “foolish” internal memo that suggested, among other things, that the pope launch his own line of condoms during a September visit to Britain.

The document, described as a product of a “blue skies thinking” session at the Foreign Office, suggested among other ideas that the pope might use the tour to launch a line of “Benedict” condoms, bless a gay marriage and sing a duet with Queen Elizabeth II.

The band of government civil servants who authored the paper also suggested Benedict apologize for the 16th-century Spanish armada that fought the English navy, and that he reverse his ban on women priests.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Christian Post: Key Anglican Leaders Sad Yet Hopeful About Future

As a watching world wonders if Anglicanism is falling apart, major players in the Anglican Communion are assured of unity. But it is an assurance that is mingled with a deep sorrow.

These were recurrent themes in conversations The Christian Post had with most of the Global South archbishops and representatives. This paper had met them at a significant summit held last week at St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

For the Global South archbishops, there is no question about whether there will be a split in the largest Protestant communion.

“There is really only one Anglican Communion,” said the Most Revd. Henri Kahwa Isingoma of Congo. “It is the North American Churches that have gone far from the roots of our common faith.”

Read the whole article.

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

Christian Post–at GSE4 New Power Brokers Discuss Future of Anglicanism

Thanks to the spiritual leadership of Churches in the southern hemisphere and Asia, the Anglican Communion looks set for more change. The next major milestone for the Communion appears to be the Anglican Covenant, a document leaders hope would clearly articulate the Anglican faith, and a real system of authority.

In this exclusive survey of the views of Anglican Global South archbishops and representatives, The Christian Post learns of their concerns and hopes as they eagerly draw the curtains to their collective future.

The following are full-length transcripts of interviews conducted with most of the archbishops and their representatives gathered at a summit held last week at St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

Read it all (15 pages).

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

Gerald. Seib (Wall Street Journal): Washington Must Admit Its Deficit Addiction

With that as the backdrop, it would amount to progress if both parties, via the debt commission, agreed that two big steps can’t be avoided:

”¢ The tax system has to be changed. The U.S. doesn’t have a system that can fund the government the country wants. The Tax Foundation says the levies paid by the top 1% of taxpayers now exceed those paid by all of those in the bottom 95%. And the Tax Policy Institute says almost half of all filers will pay no 2009 income taxes at all, because of various exclusions and credits””up, by some estimates, from a quarter in 1990.

This may be great for those who like soak-the-rich rhetoric, but it’s no way to finance a country. More than that, it’s a bit of a hoax on middle- and lower-middle-class Americans. They certainly pay payroll taxes, and the more they are excused from the income tax-system, the more likely it is that they will be hit with sneakier and less-progressive taxes. Tax reform””a flatter tax system, a value-added tax, something””is needed.

”¢ Americans have to change how they think about retirement. When the economy recovers and costs for recession-related bailouts, stimulus spending and unemployment benefits are resolved, we’ll still be left unable to really afford our Social Security, Medicare and long-term-care commitments. When the easier stuff is done, this is the hard reality, requiring a new and nonpoliticized national discussion.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Budget, Credit Markets, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Mark Galli (Christianity Today): The End of Christianity as We Know It

A major motive for being a Christian and participating in its rituals and disciplines is about to collapse. This is going to make a lot of Christians panic, but I believe the recent development will be all to the good.

The development is the discovery that hallucinogenic drugs can give people an experience seemingly identical to powerful religious experiences. A recent New York Times article by John Tierney describes the experience of retired clinical psychologist Clark Martin. Martin had been treated for depression for years, but counseling and antidepressants did nothing to help. At age 65, he enrolled in an experiment at Johns Hopkins medical school that gave people psilocybin, a psychoactive ingredient found in some mushrooms.

When Martin was administered the drug, he says, “All of a sudden, everything familiar started evaporating ”¦ . Imagine you fall off a boat out in the open ocean, and you turn around, and the boat is gone. And then the water’s gone. And then you’re gone….”

His experience, writes Tierney, is not all that unusual, and he says, “Scientists are especially intrigued by the similarities between hallucinogenic experiences and the life-changing revelations reported throughout history by religious mystics and those who meditate.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Evangelism and Church Growth, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Bishop Tom Wright to Leave the Diocese of Durham and return to academic Life

The Bishop of Durham, Dr N. T. Wright, has announced that he will be retiring from the See of Durham on August 31.

Dr Wright, who will be 62 this autumn, is returning to the academic world, in which he spent the first twenty years of his career, and will take up a new appointment as Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

Announcing his move, Bishop Tom said, ”˜This has been the hardest decision of my life. It has been an indescribable privilege to be Bishop of the ancient Diocese of Durham, to work with a superb team of colleagues, to take part in the work of God’s kingdom here in the north-east, and to represent the region and its churches in the House of Lords and in General Synod. I have loved the people, the place, the heritage and the work. But my continuing vocation to be a writer, teacher and broadcaster, for the benefit (I hope) of the wider world and church, has been increasingly difficult to combine with the complex demands and duties of a diocesan bishop. I am very sad about this, but the choice has become increasingly clear.’

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Education, England / UK, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Anglican Down Under–The Heart of What Tim Harris (New Zealand) Said at GSE4

We need leaders who know God’s word, not guessing what God might be doing, offering opinions on this or that gospel truth, but going deep into God’s word as a means of grace to shape how we enter the mind of Christ. The crisis we face as a Communion is theological at heart, and needs to be addressed with theological depth.

This is the painful lesson in New Zealand: how damaging it is when the theological education of men and women in ministry brings doubt and confusion, especially in matters where the word of Scripture is clear. And the impact on our churches after more than a generation of such theological education has been devastating.

I read the report to the House Of Bishops in TEC regarding questions of same sex relationships and sexual expression. To be perfectly honest, and speaking personally from an academic perspective, the case put forward to justify same sex blessings and marriage is extraordinary in its treatment of various scriptures. Passages that are actually quite clear are made to say the opposite of their plain meaning. The logic and reasoning is strained and at key points quite incoherent.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Global South Churches & Primates, Global South to South Encounter 4 in Singapore April 2010

St. George’s Episcopal (Anglican) Church in the Virgin Islands celebrates 265 years

I thought this was a nice photo.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Provinces, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, West Indies

A NPR Story about a young Girl Incapable of Fearing Others

The drama class had just gotten out, and everybody was standing around talking when Jessica noticed her 9-year-old, Isabelle, making her way over to an elderly woman Jessica had never seen. The woman was neatly dressed, most likely just a well-meaning suburban grandmother who had come to retrieve a grandchild on behalf of an over-extended parent, most likely a perfectly harmless person.

Isabelle, as she usually did, exchanged hellos and struck up a conversation. It was the usual post-drama-class conversation until about two minutes in. Then Isabelle dropped the bomb.

“Will you take me? Can I go home with you?” Jessica heard Isabelle plead.

Jessica’s daughter, Isabelle, has Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder with a number of symptoms. Children with Williams are often physically small and frequently have developmental delays. But also, kids and adults with Williams love people, and they are literally pathologically trusting. They have no social fear. Researchers theorize that this is probably because of a problem in their limbic system, the part of the brain that regulates emotion. There appears to be a disregulation in one of the chemicals (oxytocin) that signals when to trust and when to distrust.

This means that it is essentially biologically impossible for kids like Isabelle to distrust.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

Pope Benedict Blesses the Internet, But Warns of its Ills

Pope Benedict XVI isn’t the world’s most prolific celebrity blogger. In fact, he’s not on Twitter and his Facebook profile is more empty than St. Peter’s Basilica on a Monday. But His Holiness isn’t as out of the Internet loop as you might think (The Vatican does have its own YouTube channel). On Saturday, the Pope took to the airwaves to discuss the spiritual advantages (and shortcomings) of the Internet, and to inspire Internet users to be more conscious of how we connect.

It’s our responsibility to preserve the “quality of human contact, guaranteeing attention to people,” Pope Benedict said at “Digital Witness,” a panel organized by the Italian Episcopal Community.

“The dangers of homologation and control, of intellectual and moral relativism are also increasing, as already recognizable in the decline of critical spirit, in truth reduced to a game of opinions, in the many forms of degradation and humiliation of the intimacy of the person.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

V.I. Anglican Bishop Calls on Church Members to Play More Pivotal Role in the Community

Bishop Gumbs called on the members to be responsible for turning the crime corners in Road Town upside down just by their presence.

“Take the name of Jesus with you there and pray about the situation in those areas, and you will find after a time with you calling on the name of God there, whatever may be in that place is goning to move”, Bishop Gumbs explained.

“When we leave here, we have to go out to do ministry”, he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Parish Ministry, West Indies

From the Morning Bible Readings

For we know, brethren beloved by God, that he has chosen you; for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.

–1 Thessalonians 1:4,5a

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture