Daily Archives: May 9, 2010

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: The Priest and the People

REV. PATRICK LEE: It’s like being a parent to be a pastor. You never give up on your children, but you keep holding the ideal and explaining the ideal and hoping people will strive for it, but not condemning them when they fall short.

[JUDY] VALENTE: With so many Catholics going their own way these days, the role of pastor is perhaps more complicated than ever.
Rev. Patrick Lee

REV. LEE: When I was growing up, the church was the ideal we tried to change ourselves to match. Now people want to change the church.

VALENTE: Father Lee is the pastor of two parishes in Chicago. Most of his parishioners are highly educated, and they represent a diversity of views about church teaching.

REV. LEE: All authority is being questioned in our times. Some of it selfishly, some of it enlightened. I think Americans are more comfortable in an educated democracy now, and so they want to spread that democracy to the church, which has never really been a democratic organization. I think we have to be open to a dialogue of understanding what the church teaches and really hearing it and not dismissing it instantly. On the other hand, I think the church has to open itself to the wisdom of its laity.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

Tell-All Generation Learns to Keep Things Offline

Min Liu, a 21-year-old liberal arts student at the New School in New York City, got a Facebook account at 17 and chronicled her college life in detail, from rooftop drinks with friends to dancing at a downtown club. Recently, though, she has had second thoughts.

Concerned about her career prospects, she asked a friend to take down a photograph of her drinking and wearing a tight dress. When the woman overseeing her internship asked to join her Facebook circle, Ms. Liu agreed, but limited access to her Facebook page. “I want people to take me seriously,” she said.

The conventional wisdom suggests that everyone under 30 is comfortable revealing every facet of their lives online, from their favorite pizza to most frequent sexual partners. But many members of the tell-all generation are rethinking what it means to live out loud.

While participation in social networks is still strong, a survey released last month by the University of California, Berkeley, found that more than half the young adults questioned had become more concerned about privacy than they were five years ago ”” mirroring the number of people their parent’s age or older with that worry.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Young Adults

Kevin Martin: Reversing the Episcopal Church’s Decline

Develop younger lay and ordained leaders with an emphasis on reaching younger generations of unchurched people. In the 10 years since Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold announced this as a priority, the average age of seminarians has risen by nearly 10 years. We clearly need to do a better job of identifying and developing younger leaders who have hearts to reach their generations for Christ and for the Episcopal Church. A key tool would be to create a Mission Training Center for these leaders and recruit our most successful, innovative, and creative leaders to provide the training.

Start new congregations using proven innovative methods to reach newer and younger communities for the Church.New church planting continues to be the singularly most proven method for reaching the unchurched in North America. If we could learn from other churches how to move away from our Episcopal obsession with buildings, property, and parochial boundaries, we could liberate those new leaders to seek the lost ”” or those lost to the Church. The Church of England is doing very creative work in this area through Fresh Expressions, much of which can be translated into the North American scene.

Intentionally identify 10 to 20 percent of congregations that demonstrate a readiness for revitalization and give them the leadership and tools to accomplish this.The key word here is readiness….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

Harold Bloom reviews Anthony Julius' "A History of Anti-Semitism in England"

At his frequent best, Julius refreshes by a mordant tonality, as when he catalogs the types of English anti-Semites. The height of his argument comes where his book will be most controversial: his comprehensive account of the newest English anti-Semitism.

To protest the policies of the Israeli government actually can be regarded as true philo-Semitism, but to disallow the existence of the Jewish state is another matter. Of the nearly 200 recognized nation-states in the world today, something like at least half are more reprehensible than even the worst aspects of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians. A curious blindness informs the shifting standards of current English anti-Zionism.

I admire Julius for the level tone with which he discusses this sanctimonious intelligentsia, who really will not rest until Israel is destroyed.

I end by wondering at the extraordinary moral strength of Anthony Julius. He concludes by observing: “Anti-Semitism is a sewer.” As he has shown, the genteel and self-righteous “new anti-Semitism” of so many English academic and literary contemporaries emanates from that immemorial stench.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, History, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

David Smith–Can anyone survive the deficit poisoned chalice?

In reality, however, the first budget has to include tax rises, both to show the new government means business and to buy time before the spending review that will detail the cuts. Put simply, tax hikes are straightforward and visible, while spending cuts become real only when delivered.

On this, all roads lead to Vat. An increase to 20%, introduced on January 1 next year (it could be phased, but retailers and businesses would probably prefer to get it out of the way) would press most of the right buttons. Those who fear it would derail recovery should remember the economy grew through the reimposition of Vat at 17.5% at the start of the year, a 2.5-point rise from its temporary level of 15%. Retail sales were hit in January, when snow also affected sales, but bounced back in February and March.

How damaging would a Vat rise be politically, when the Tories and Lib Dems spent most of the campaign talking about tax cuts? Voters are not as dumb as they sometimes look, and know something has to be done. A Vat hike at the time of a scrapped NI rise would at least fit in with the Tory philosophy of taxing spending not income.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, Politics in General, Taxes

Geoffrey Rowell–Encountering divine love in the desert and in Norwich

Today, May 8, the Church remembers a most remarkable woman. We know her as Mother Julian ”” or the Lady Julian ”” of Norwich. Born in 1342 she lived in Norwich, where she died in the 1420s. From about 1375 she lived as an “anchorite”, withdrawn from the world and living a solitary life of prayer in a cell attached to St Julian’s Church, which today is a shrine and place of pilgrimage. …

In her vision of the crucified Christ crowned with thorns and bleeding, she discovered the God whose very being is love: “Suddenly the Trinity filled my heart with the utmost joy.” In one of her most celebrated images she tells us that God showed her “a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, which seemed to lie in the palm of my hand”. She asks what it is, and is given the reply: “It is all that is made” and she knows that that making comes from the overflowing love of God. All is held in being by the Divine Love, and that Divine Love is seen in the sacrifice and self-emptying of the crucified Christ, and it is that same longing love ”” compassion, a suffering with which Julian longs to share. She learns that Christ is the ground of her beseeching, the foundation of her praying. Intercession becomes adoration. Like her nameless contemporary who wrote The Cloud of Unknowing she smites on the dark cloud with the dart of her longing love, and finds an answering love. It is the joy of that love which brings her to her great affirmation of hope, “that all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well,” because indeed she learnt “that love is our Lord’s meaning. And I saw full surely in this, and in all, that before God made us, He loved us. Which love was never slaked, nor ever shall be.”

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

An Imam’s Path From Condemning Terror to Preaching Jihad

There are two conventional narratives of Mr. Awlaki’s path to jihad. The first is his own: He was a nonviolent moderate until the United States attacked Muslims openly in Afghanistan and Iraq, covertly in Pakistan and Yemen, and even at home, by making targets of Muslims for raids and arrests. He merely followed the religious obligation to defend his faith, he said.

“What am I accused of?” he asks in a recent video bearing the imprint of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. “Of calling for the truth? Of calling for jihad for the sake of Allah? Of calling to defend the causes of the Islamic nation?”

A contrasting version of Mr. [Anwar al-]Awlaki’s story, explored though never confirmed by the national Sept. 11 commission, maintains that he was a secret agent of Al Qaeda starting well before the attacks, when three of the hijackers turned up at his mosques. By this account, all that has changed since then is that Mr. Awlaki has stopped hiding his true views.

The tale that emerges from visits to his mosques, and interviews with two dozen people who knew him, is more complex and elusive….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Islam, Other Faiths, Terrorism

Greek Debt Woes Ripple Outward, From Asia to U.S.

The fear that began in Athens, raced through Europe and finally shook the stock market in the United States is now affecting the broader global economy, from the ability of Asian corporations to raise money to the outlook for money-market funds where American savers park their cash.

What was once a local worry about the debt burden of one of Europe’s smallest economies has quickly gone global. Already, jittery investors have forced Brazil to scale back bond sales as interest rates soared and caused currencies in Asia like the Korean won to weaken. Ten companies around the world that had planned to issue stock delayed their offerings, the most in a single week since October 2008.

The increased global anxiety threatens to slow the recovery in the United States, where job growth has finally picked up after the deepest recession since the Great Depression. It could also inhibit consumer spending as stock portfolios shrink and loans are harder to come by.

“It’s not just a European problem, it’s the U.S., Japan and the U.K. right now,” said Ian Kelson, a bond fund manager in London with T. Rowe Price. “It’s across the board.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, England / UK, Europe, Globalization, Greece, Japan, Politics in General, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

U.S. Urges Swift Action in Pakistan After Failed Bombing

The Obama administration has delivered new and stiff warnings to Pakistan after the failed Times Square car bombing that it must urgently move against the nexus of Islamic militancy in the country’s lawless tribal regions, American and Pakistani officials said.

The American military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, met with the Pakistani military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, at his headquarters here on Friday and urged Pakistan to move more quickly in beginning a military offensive against the Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in North Waziristan, Americans and Pakistanis familiar with the visit said. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of continuing diplomatic efforts here.

The Pakistani-American man who admitted to the Times Square attack, Faisal Shahzad, 30, told American investigators that he had received training in North Waziristan, the main base for the Pakistani Taliban, Al Qaeda and other militant groups.

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Posted in Uncategorized

In South Africa Archbishop enters High Court fray

ANGLICAN Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has joined the fray to retain the seat of the High Court in Grahamstown. Makgoba, who was formerly the Bishop of Grahamstown, this week wrote dozens of letters to powerful religious, political, and business leaders imploring them to assist in preventing the passing of the Superior Courts Bill in its current form.

The letters have been written on behalf of the Grahamstown High Court Action Committee, which consists of dozens of organisations, businesses, schools, Rhodes University, churches, NGOs and foundations.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces, Law & Legal Issues

The Archbishop of Armagh's Presidential Address at General Synod 2010 in Dublin

The context of serial re-evangelization will take account of the peculiar circumstances of the present day and in Ireland we minister in circumstances uniquely our own:

* circumstances of political and social division: therefore we must be apostles of peace and justice;

* circumstances of denominational and religious diversity: therefore we must be apostles of respectful restraint and gracious dialogue;

* circumstances of recession, fear, rising unemployment and renewed poverty: therefore we must be apostles of generous care and a socially responsible morality.

* We minister among highly educated and sophisticated people: therefore we must be the apostles of learned simplicity but never of the simplistic.

* We minister in an environment, partly of our own making, in which religion is seen as discredited and irrelevant, faith is dismissed, worship is ignored and religious culture is no longer thrilling: therefore we must be apostles of joy and fulfillment, not by turning worship into entertainment but with the recognition that by worshipping and serving with integrity we may be serving angels, for God writes off no one.

These are our circumstances. The challenge to us is not to lament our circumstances but to transform them. Evangelization is the work of transformation. The role of the Church, in good times and in bad, is to stand alongside those who are finding it hardest to cope, whatever their circumstances; to exhibit in practical and personal ways the loving concern of God for all people but especially for the vulnerable; and to be a beacon of hope to the living, for nothing is more spiritually, socially and physically restorative than love and hope. We have to shape our life and institutions at all levels to reflect these priorities. We need to be less concerned about defending the institution and more concerned about enhancing the lives of people.

In the parishes, evangelization and thus transformation is rooted in, but not confined to pastoral care: clergy having time and spending time with their people and others who come to them for help; clergy enabling liturgical worship to be attractive and accessible; clergy standing beside the people of their communities in life’s difficulties. But let us not fall into the trap of assuming that all pastoral, ministerial and missional endeavour is reserved to the clergy. It is the whole People of God, the Body of Christ, present in every parish, which is called through baptism to share in the mission of God.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland

Evangelicals Spread the Love in Canada

[Stan] Fowler [, New Testament professor and academic dean at Heritage Seminary], credits Brian Stiller, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada from 1983 to 1997, for much of Canadian evangelicals’ willingness to engage the broader society.

Stiller brought together the realms of evangelism and social concerns, Fowler said. He also expanded the fellowship’s reach by regularly expressing a variety of evangelicals’ concerns to politicians.

In 2005, the fellowship launched a nation-wide program inviting evangelical congregations to perform charitable acts within their communities.

It was a campaign that directly inspired the creation of Love K-W.

In Cambridge four years ago, Forward Baptist Church launched a program dubbed “Love Cambridge.”

The program was partly designed to “bless” the community, said Jennifer Pent, a staff member at the church.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Canada, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture