Daily Archives: May 23, 2010

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: Gossip

ERIN ROY: One day I came home from class, walked in my house, and my housemates were huddled around the computer, and they said that they had heard of and found this Web site. So I went over, checked it out and just saw terrible, terrible things written. Initially it definitely affected a lot of girls I know. I think they were just devastated, embarrassed, upset. Marist is a very small school, so one person hears something, and it spreads like wildfire even if it holds no truth.

[BETTY] ROLLIN: The Web site that was spreading the malicious gossip at Marist and 500 other colleges and universities was called JuicyCampus. Incredibly, the students had no way to stop it since the messages were all anonymously written, and the Web site was under no legal obligation to remove it.

ROY: Some of them definitely, probably were written by men who maybe left off on the wrong foot with a girl. Maybe something happened, and you know he didn’t think of her in the highest regards, and for girls””jealousy. They know this site is anonymous, so they are just so willing to jump on their computer and write comments about people, because they know they will never be caught….

Read it all.

Follow up: There is more on this important subject there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Young Adults

John Stott on Pentecost

Without the Holy Spirit, Christian discipleship would be inconceivable, even impossible. There can be no life without the life-giver, no understanding without the Spirit of truth, no fellowship without the unity of the Spirit, no Christ-likeness of character apart from his fruit, and no effective witness without his power. As a body without breath is a corpse, so the church without the Spirit is dead.

–The Acts of the Apostles, A Commentary by John Stott

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Pentecost, Theology, Theology: Scripture

John Calvin on Pentecost

[At Pentecost Peter] intendeth to prove…that the Church can be repaired by no other means, saving only by the giving of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, forasmuch as they did all hope that the restoring drew near, he accuseth them of sluggishness, because they do not once think upon the way and means thereof. And when the prophet saith, “I will pour out,” it is, without all question, that he meant by this word to note the great abundance of the Spirit….when God will briefly promise salvation to his people, he affirmeth that he will give them his Spirit. Hereupon it followeth that we can obtain no good things until we have the Spirit given us.

–Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Pentecost, Theology, Theology: Scripture

William Loader–Other Faiths: A New Testament Perspective

Luke portrays Peter standing before Cornelius and his friends and declaring that he has learned that “that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (10:34b-35). This was good Judaism and good Christianity. Peter does not stop there. It inspires him to go on to talk about Jesus, a healthy sequence. Similarly in Acts 17:28 Luke pictures Paul citing Aratus a pagan poet, that all human beings are God’s children, recognising thereby that God has been speaking also through Greek culture. Paul then goes on to speak about Jesus, including that Jesus will be the judge of all people in the end. So the inclusivity and recognition goes with an exclusive claim, an exclusive criterion.

What can we do with this in our very different situation? Until I am persuaded otherwise I make Jesus the “criterion” for assessing what goes on both in Christianity and in other religions. What I mean by “Jesus” needs a separate paper. It includes values related to love which affirm all people as of worth and that this love is at the heart of God, and Jesus embodied it. I may see the light I recognise in Jesus in other parts of Christianity, in other religions and beyond them, labelled or not. Light does not wear labels! Negatively, it means that I recognise injustice, violence, abuse, etc. as not light. If John 14:6 meant: only through faith in Jesus do we have the way to God, I would say: only the way of Jesus, labelled as such or not, is the way to God or the manifestation of God in the world. So I can be honest about my Christian claims, but generous about where else the spirit might move.

As Christians I think our role is to lay our table as richly and accessibly as possible, to tell the Jesus story. It is not to overturn the tables of others. My ignorance about others requires my constant openness while I own the riches I know in Christ. It helps me recognise salvation (= transformed people/communities living goodness and love; not individuals ticketed for heaven) wherever “good news” happens.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Surveillance Suspected as Spacecraft’s Main Role

A team of amateur sky watchers has pierced the veil of secrecy surrounding the debut flight of the nation’s first robotic spaceplane, finding clues that suggest the military craft is engaged in the development of spy satellites rather than space weapons, which some experts have suspected but the Pentagon strongly denies.

Last month, the unmanned successor to the space shuttle blasted off from Florida on its debut mission but attracted little public notice because no one knew where it was going or what it was doing. The spaceship, known as the X-37B, was shrouded in operational secrecy, even as civilian specialists reported that it might go on mysterious errands for as long as nine months before zooming back to earth and touching down on a California runway.

In interviews and statements, Pentagon leaders strongly denied that the winged plane had anything to do with space weapons, even while conceding that its ultimate goal was to aid terrestrial war fighters with a variety of ancillary missions.

The secretive effort seeks “no offensive capabilities,” Gary E. Payton, under secretary of the Air Force for space programs, emphasized on Friday. “The program supports technology risk reduction, experimentation and operational concept development.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Science & Technology

Sunday Open Thread–What Happened at Your Parish this Pentecost

The more specific you can be the more enjoyable it will be for the rest of us.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Parish Ministry, Pentecost

Another Prayer for Pentecost

O Thou whose eye is over all the children of men, and who hast called them into a kingdom not of this world: Send forth thy Holy Spirit into all the dark places of life. Let him still the noise of our strife and the tumult of the people, carry faith to the doubting, hope to the fearful, strength to the weak, light to the mourners, and more and more increase the pure in heart who see their God; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Pentecost, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

–John 4:21-24

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for Pentecost

O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who after his ascension didst send upon the first disciples thy promised gift of the Holy Spirit: Regard, we pray thee, the present need of thy Church, and grant us by the same Spirit to be endued with power from on high, that we may bear effectual witness to the truth of thy holy gospel; so that they who serve thee may be strengthened and encouraged, and they who serve thee not may be convicted and converted; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Pentecost, Spirituality/Prayer

ENS–Utah diocese elects Scott B. Hayashi as bishop

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Roman Catholic Church in Malta–Cohabiting couples cannot receive Communion

Reacting to questions raised recently in the media, the bishops said the Church loved such couples in the same way as it loved all its members. It would continue to offer them spiritual help and it encouraged them to go to Mass and participate in the life of the Church.

“However, the Catholic Church insists that couples who live together without being married should not receive Holy Communion.

“The Church does not impose this as a punishment, but because the way of life of such people goes against the sacrament of marriage,” the bishops said.

Furthermore, the bishops said, such behaviour went against Church teaching that those who received the Eucharist had to be one in unity with Christ and the Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Eucharist, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Kamal Ahmed–Government should snap up 'the sage banker'

The news today that Mr [Stephen] Green is planning his departure as chairman of HSBC gives us an opportunity to pause and consider the record of the man who, after meeting his wife while working as a volunteer at a hostel for alcoholics, has carved out a career where he has tried to match morals and Mammon.

Mr Green is a devout Christian and an ordained Anglican priest. Last year he wrote Good Value – Reflections On Money, Morality And An Uncertain World, about how shareholder value should mean more than simple monetary reward. The dividend and the bottom line was only one way to judge the performance of a company – what about its social role or environmental impact?

Mr Green said at the time that the system had suffered “a massive breakdown of trust: trust in the financial system, trust in bankers, trust in business, trust in business leaders, trust in politicians, trust in the whole process of globalisation”. The author Giles Foden, reviewing the book, described him as “the sage banker”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

Gabor Steingart: It Takes a Crisis to Make a Continent

Birthdays are fun; a birth itself is not. There’s a lot of screaming and groaning, and even in the easiest deliveries, there’s always the fear that something will go wrong.

The birth of a state is no less difficult. Indeed, what pessimists ”” including many here in Germany ”” see as an existential crisis for the continent is really just the latest stage in the birth pangs of a new country. While we should of course worry about Greek debt, we should also have hope that we are witnessing the end of the euro zone as an abstraction and the birth of the United States of Europe.

Europe’s movement toward unification has always been the product of crises.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Euro, European Central Bank, History, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

The Economist Leader–Artificial life, the stuff of dreams and nightmares, has arrived

Craig Venter and Hamilton Smith, the two American biologists who unravelled the first DNA sequence of a living organism (a bacterium) in 1995, have made a bacterium that has an artificial genome””creating a living creature with no ancestor… Pedants may quibble that only the DNA of the new beast was actually manufactured in a laboratory; the researchers had to use the shell of an existing bug to get that DNA to do its stuff. Nevertheless, a Rubicon has been crossed. It is now possible to conceive of a world in which new bacteria (and eventually, new animals and plants) are designed on a computer and then grown to order.

That ability would prove mankind’s mastery over nature in a way more profound than even the detonation of the first atomic bomb. The bomb, however justified in the context of the second world war, was purely destructive. Biology is about nurturing and growth. Synthetic biology, as the technology that this and myriad less eye-catching advances are ushering in has been dubbed, promises much. In the short term it promises better drugs, less thirsty crops (see article), greener fuels and even a rejuvenated chemical industry. In the longer term who knows what marvels could be designed and grown?

On the face of it, then, artificial life looks like a wonderful thing. Yet that is not how many will view the announcement. For them, a better word than “creation” is “tampering”. Have scientists got too big for their boots? Will their hubris bring Nemesis in due course? What horrors will come creeping out of the flask on the laboratory bench?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Science & Technology, Theology

Christian Post–Faith, Medication Helped Man Recover from Schizophrenia

Stricken with schizophrenia 30 years ago, [Mr Harris] Ng recovered from the illness and overcame its stigma by a combination of medication and faith.

“Medication alone can only help us to stabilise,” he said. “We need the strength to carry on to be financially independent and to reintegrate back into society, to lift up our face, smile at people, and not to feel the stigma that we are a mental case.”

For Ng, believing in a God of love gives him strength, confidence and purpose.

It was his Christian faith that helped him come to terms with his mental illness.

Feeling very shameful about his condition, Ng would once deny that he was mentally ill and reject medication.

The turning point came when he went for counselling over 20 years ago with the Singapore Anglican Community Services, then known as the Anglican Welfare Services.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, The Anglican Church in South East Asia, Theology