Daily Archives: May 7, 2010
The Scriptures tell believers that “God loves a cheerful giver.” Even so, some of history’s greatest preachers struggled to explain the importance of Christian charity to believers. When the followers of the 4th century church father Chrysostom expressed astonishment that others tithed, he shamed his flock by pointing out the dutiful giving of Old Testament Jews. This approach, that forefathers gave more, has been a theme in centuries of sermons.
Modern defenders of the practice include religion journalist Douglas LeBlanc, whose new book “Tithing: Test Me in This,” approaches the topic with a series of biographical vignettes. All of his subjects, ranging from a Seventh-day Adventist to an Orthodox rabbi, have been spiritually enriched by following the ancient spiritual discipline of tithing. Many of them began tithing when they were living in poverty, including one couple who could barely stretch their weekly food budget to afford a container of yogurt.
Many of those in the book describe tithing as a practice that shapes their lives, rather than being obligation that weighs on them. Mr. LeBlanc speaks with Randy Alcorn, a Christian author who describes tithing as “training wheels toward learning how to live fully in the kingdom.” Mr. Alcorn says he wasn’t guilted into tithing but began the discipline after a particularly compelling sermon.
“As a New Testament follower of Christ, in the most affluent society in human history, there’s no way I could ever justify giving less than 10% when God had required that, really, of the poorest Israelite,” Mr. Alcorn explains.
At each stop, Episcopalians from the region interviewed the clerics, probing them on such questions as how they resolve conflicts, whether they would support the diocese’s practice of blessing same-sex unions and ordaining gay priests, and how they would reach out to the disenfranchised inside and outside the church.
Delegates and clergy will elect the new bishop at a special May 22 convention in Salt Lake City’s St. Mark’s Cathedral. He or she will replace the Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, who is retiring in the fall.
“It will be hard because each has clear gifts,” said the Rev. Trace Browning, chaplain at Rowland Hall-St. Mark’s School after Tuesday’s walkabout interviews. “I don’t think it will go on the first ballot.”
If you see Joseph Laubinger on your doorstep, start packing. His courtly presence means you have exhausted all excuses, arguments and options for keeping your house.
“It’s like I’m a doctor,” said Mr. Laubinger, an agent here for big lenders. “People ask me how much time they have left.”
Hardly any. Legally, they have already lost ownership. If they do not respond to the carrot the lenders offer ”” as much as $5,000 in cash in exchange for leaving the house in good order ”” he employs the stick: the county sheriff, who evicts them.
Mr. Laubinger is having a busy spring.
Well, you could make a case that, though our moral “progress” to date has been driven largely by self-interest, with only a smidgen of true enlightenment, the role of enlightenment will have to grow if we are to venture beyond our solar system a century from now.
After all, to do that venturing, we first have to survive the intervening 100 years in good shape. And that job is complicated by various technologies, notably weapons that could blow up the world.
More to the point: these weapons are now embedded in a particularly dicey context: a world where shadowy “nonstate actors” are the looming threat, a world featuring a “war on terror” that, if mishandled, could pull us into a simmering chaos that ultimately engulfs the whole planet. And maybe “winning” that war ”” averting global chaos ”” would entail authentic and considerable moral progress.
That, at least, is a claim I make in my most recent book, “The Evolution of God.” I argue in the penultimate chapter that if we don’t radically develop our “moral imagination” ”” get much better at putting ourselves in the shoes of people very different from ourselves, even the shoes of our enemies ”” then the planet could be in big trouble.
For generations, Time and Newsweek fought to define the national news agenda every Monday on the newsstand. Before the Internet, before cable news, before People magazine, what the newsweeklies put on their covers mattered.
As the American conversation has become harder to sum up in a single cover, that era seems to be ending. The Washington Post Company announced Wednesday that it would sell Newsweek, raising questions about the future of the newsweekly, first published 77 years ago, Stephanie Clifford reports in The New York Times.
Donald E. Graham, chairman and chief executive of the Washington Post Company, said in an interview that the decision was purely economic.
“I did not want to do this, but it is a business,” he said. The magazine would lose money in 2010, he said, and “we don’t see a sustained path to profitability for Newsweek.”
Three Church of England bishops went to Rome last week to meet Vatican officials. One of them, the Bishop of Richborough, the Rt Revd Keith Newton, is said to have been asking Anglican priests to join him in an Ordinariate in the RC Church.
The Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Revd John Broadhurst, and two Provincial Episcopal Visitors, the Bishop of Richborough, the Rt Revd Keith Newton, and the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Revd Andrew Burnham, met members of the ConÂgregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome last week.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that the Bishops had told senior Vatican officals that they were “keen to defect to Rome”. Bishop Newton said on Tuesday that the visit had been a “fact-finding” mission to “exÂplore issues”, and that it had been “over-hyped” in the press.
He offered “No comment” when he was asked whether Dr Williams had warned him that he would have to resign if he sought to “actively recruit”. On Wednesday, Lambeth Palace had not responded to a request to confirm or deny whether this warning had been given.
The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast has launched a webpage of job openings, emergency tips and prayers in response to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The site includes phone numbers for residents to call if they see oil along shorelines, or wildlife affected by oil.
The Rev. Canon Beverly Findley Gibson, subdean of Christ Church Cathedral in Mobile, Ala., composed a prayer addressing the specific crises of this oil spill….
As a believer in free markets, I think it is both useless and harmful to constrict computerized trading. But on days like today, it really puts that belief to the test.
The purpose of a stock market is to provide an orderly and efficient market for the free exchange of equity securities. At the core of the market, there must be a belief that the market is trustworthy, that it can match buyers and sellers, bids and asks.
Today’s market was neither orderly nor efficient nor trustworthy. It was just a bunch of computers making ugly, messy love with each other . And your money hung in the balance.
A Christian street preacher in Britain will stand trial for telling a passerby — in earshot of a policewoman — that God views homosexuality as a sin.
Police arrested Dale McAlpine, a 42-year-old Baptist, under Britain’s Public Order Act 1986, which forbids “using threatening, abusive or insulting words … tending to and causing harassment, alarm or distress.”
McAlpine told The Daily Telegraph newspaper that he was arrested after a part-time police officer said she heard him reciting a list of “sins” against God, including blasphemy, drunkenness and same-sex relationships.
The preacher denied mentioning homosexuality, but he did concede he had told a passing shopper that it was a sin in the eyes of God.
New signs will go up on the Episcopal Church on Highway 17 in Pawleys Island this summer: Christ the King, Waccamaw.
The church was formerly All Saints Waccamaw, but a settlement in a long-running lawsuit earlier this year led the Episcopal parish to give up the name.
“All Saints is such a dear name to many, a great name with meaning to a lot of people,” said Rick Bruce, senior warden of the Episcopal church vestry. “We wanted a name that would be meaningful in a different way.”
A gay Atlanta pastor and his partner who have been at the center of a battle over the treatment of gay clergy by the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination are being reinstated to the denomination’s clergy roster, church officials announced Tuesday.
The Rev. Bradley Schmeling and his partner, the Rev. Darin Easler, have been approved for reinstatement, the Chicago-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America said in a news release. The approval came roughly eight months after the denomination voted to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy, and just weeks after the ELCA’s church council officially revised the church’s policy on gay ministers.
Schmeling, who serves as pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Atlanta, was removed from the church’s clergy roster in 2007 for being in a same-sex relationship with Easler. A disciplinary committee ruled that Schmeling was violating an ELCA policy regarding the sexual conduct of pastors.
“I’m grateful that this journey has come full circle and that the church has changed its policy,” Schmeling said Tuesday.
The Roman Catholic Church is weathering another sex scandal, but it is impossible to tell here, where the faint image of a bearded man on a yellowing linen sheet provides the moment, if brief, for pilgrims to declare and reaffirm their faith. For some, it does not matter if the Shroud of Turin is authentic. It is the shared spiritual experience that counts most.
“You can counteract with gestures what’s happening in the church,” said Davide Donato, 23, an architecture student who took an overnight train from Reggio Calabria in southern Italy to see the shroud on Thursday. That night he was taking an overnight train back. “These gestures affirm what you believe in, what that basis of faith is.”
Ten years after the shroud last went on display, nearly two million people have made reservations for a timed glimpse of the religious object (five minutes on weekdays, three on weekends, depending on the bookings, though the labyrinthine line can take well over an hour).
With more than 500 general election results in out of 650, the BBC is predicting a hung Parliament with the Tories as the largest party.
Labour cannot now win a majority, but it is not clear which party will be in a position to form a government.
Tory leader David Cameron said it was “clear that the Labour government has lost its mandate to govern”.
Gordon Brown may start coalition talks with the Lib Dems, who, Nick Clegg admitted, had a “disappointing night” .
“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!