Daily Archives: September 5, 2010

Ottawa Pub refuses Anglican movie night because of Christopher Hitchens film

An Ottawa pub has refused to host an Anglican church group’s film night, fearing the movie’s debate over the existence of God may offend religious pub-goers.

The Heart & Crown pub says it decided to pull the plug on St. Alban’s Anglican Church’s showing this week of the movie Collision ”” a documentary featuring well-known atheist Christopher Hitchens and evangelical theologian Douglas Wilson ”” after seeing a pamphlet advertising the film.

“We made the decision to cancel the reservation because, bottom line is, we just think that our business isn’t the forum or the environment for that type of movie,” said Heart & Crown Pubs spokesman Alex Munroe, who admitted he hadn’t actually watched the film.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Atheism, Canada, Movies & Television, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(The Ever Infuriating) Christopher Hitchens in Vanity Fair–Unanswerable Prayers

Dr. Francis Collins is one of the greatest living Americans. He is the man who brought the Human Genome Project to completion, ahead of time and under budget, and who now directs the National Institutes of Health. In his work on the genetic origins of disorder, he helped decode the “misprints” that cause such calamities as cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease. He is working now on the amazing healing properties that are latent in stem cells and in “targeted” gene-based treatments. This great humanitarian is also a devotee of the work of C. S. Lewis and in his book The Language of God has set out the case for making science compatible with faith. (This small volume contains an admirably terse chapter informing fundamentalists that the argument about evolution is over, mainly because there is no argument.) I know Francis, too, from various public and private debates over religion. He has been kind enough to visit me in his own time and to discuss all sorts of novel treatments, only recently even imaginable, that might apply to my case. And let me put it this way: he hasn’t suggested prayer, and I in turn haven’t teased him about The Screwtape Letters. So those who want me to die in agony are really praying that the efforts of our most selfless Christian physician be thwarted.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Health & Medicine, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

Earthquake Damage closes Timaru churches in New Zealand

It took less than a minute for years of restoration work on St Mary’s Church in Timaru to be damaged, with the region’s places of worship taking a big hit in Saturday’s earthquake.

Four churches around South Canterbury were damaged in the 7.1 shake and remain closed, with services held at alternative venues yesterday.

St Mary’s Church tower took the brunt of the quake with one of the four pinnacles on the top of the tower crashing to the ground.

St Mary’s Church restoration trust chairman Ray Bennett said he was alerted to the damage after the fire service called and said the three other pinnacles would have to come down because they were not stable.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Parish Ministry

Martin Rubin (WSJ) review's Tony Blair's new Memoir

Mr. Blair has a pleasing capacity to take us with him into privileged places, whether it’s upstairs at the White House (where, over dinner, he finds Mr. Bush “unbelievably, almost preternaturally calm” before his major speech to Congress after 9/11) or to Balmoral itself, where he must dash down long corridors to the toilet facilities, which are both remote and old-fashioned”” Victorian water closets. He gives a frank account of how hard it was, in his early years as prime minister, to get on with Queen Elizabeth, who treated him with “hauteur.”

Not surprisingly, Mr. Blair offers a robust defense of his role in taking Britain into the Iraq war, though he agonizes over the invasion’s violent aftermath. To this day he sees the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as the one true course for his country (and ours). More surprisingly, he notes that his close relations with the U.S., despite the war’s unpopularity, gave him increased stature with other world leaders, who assumed that he had Mr. Bush’s ear.

As for the joint U.S.-British decision to seek (in vain) United Nations approval for the Iraq invasion, Mr. Blair has no apologies. He reveals that although Vice President Dick Cheney was adamantly opposed to involving the U.N., Mr. Bush did not take much persuading. In any case, the U.N. declined to authorize the use of military force, and the invasion went ahead anyway. Clearly, for Mr. Blair, it was better to have tried multilaterally and lost than never to have tried at all.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Iraq War, Politics in General

Episcopalians consecrate new Alaska bishop

For nearly three years, the Episcopal Diocese of Alaska was without a bishop — but on Saturday, many church members celebrated the long-awaited consecration of a new bishop to lead the diocese.

At the First United Methodist Church in Anchorage, hundreds of people gathered to witness a historical moment for the diocese, as The Rev. Mark Lattime was installed in his new post.

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

'Undie Sunday' idea a success at church

At first, the concept of “Undie Sunday” unsettled some members of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.

Tighty-whiteys and the Lord’s house, after all, are not a natural fit.

“Some of the older people were saying, ‘How can you talk about underwear in church?’ — but once they realized there was such a need, everyone got around it,” church member and collection organizer Lelia Druzdis said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Poverty, TEC Parishes

George Weigel (Standpoint)–Britain Can Benefit from Benedict

The Catholic Church, Benedict XVI believes, can be one of those “creative minorities” in 21st- century Europe and indeed throughout the West. To be that, the Church must regain a clear sense of its own identity, primarily through a resacralisation of its worship. It must recover a firm grasp on the truths it proposes, putting behind it the “liberalism” in religion that John Henry Newman deplored. It must raise up a generation of bishops and priests who are persuasive evangelists and witnesses, according to the model established by John Paul II. It must demonstrate, not so much by argument as by sanctity and beauty, that it offers the men and women of today a path on which they can encounter “that which holds the world together.”

And to do all of that, the Church must purge itself of its corruptions, a point on which Pope Benedict has been insistent for years, most recently in regard to the appalling defaults of Irish Catholicism. This will take some time, given the density of clerical culture and the fact that popes are not, pace media distortions, absolute monarchs who can effect massive institutional change at the click of a finger. It will probably take more time than Anglophone cultures will like, given the still-languid, Italianate ways of the Vatican. No one should doubt, however, that Benedict XVI understands that, for the Church to become the “creative minority” of his imagination, it must be a credible minority that lives the truths it proclaims and deals decisively with those in its midst who betray the trust given them.

Benedict’s vision of the Church in Europe’s future has nothing to do with the rebuilding of a mythical ancien régime. He has shown himself sympathetic to the desire of some Catholics to worship according to the old ways, but he has no truck with the restorationist political fantasies that are at the root of the Lefebvrist movement. As he sees the Catholic future, in Britain and elsewhere, the public task of the Church is to form alliances with those who understand that the democratic project requires a far more secure moral cultural foundation than that offered by pragmatism or utilitarianism. And in the Pope’s mind, those alliances should be built in a genuinely intercultural and pluralistic way, formed around the truths we can know to be true as a result of putting various religious and philosophical traditions into vigorous conversation.

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

Donald G. Bloesch RIP (1928-2010)

Chad Owen Brand writes of him:

His historical analyses were often brilliant, his exegesis was often sparse, and his knowledge of the literature was generally impressive. It is a rare theologian who really likes Irenaeus, Augustine, Anselm, Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Bavinck, Herrmann, Barth, Ellul, and Rahner all at the same time. If you want to position him at all, it is somewhere between Kierkegaard and Kuyper, somewhere between Henry and Herrmann.

Bloesch made no large bold moves, hence there are no Bloeschites (or only a small group of them), but he made many small bold moves. He opposed what he called Carl Henry’s evangelical rationalism, but he anathematized feminism’s tendency to rename God into a feminine deity””he thought Henry compromised, but he considered Sallie McFague’s theology to be idolatry.

Thank God for Donald Bloesch. He will be missed, but his legacy is still here for us to learn from.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Theology, United Church of Christ

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Thou who sendest forth the light, createst the morning, makest the sun to rise on the good and on the evil: enlighten the blindness of our minds with the knowledge of the truth: lift Thou up the light of thy countenance upon us, that in thy light we may see light, and, at the last, in the light of grace the light of glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Lancelot Andrews (1555–1626)

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Then I looked, and lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; the voice I heard was like the sound of harpers playing on their harps, and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth.

–Revelation 14:1-3

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Aerial footage of Christchurch earthquake damage in New Zealand

This includes an example of some of what has occurred to church structures–watch it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ

James K.A. Smith: In thanksgiving for the Life and Ministry of Clark Pinnock, 1937-2010

I was especially encouraged that he was willing to follow the Spirit into foreign territory, and as I was making my pilgrimage to the pentecostal tradition, I remember hearing reports of Pinnock’s visits to the renewal happening at Toronto’s Airport Vineyard–a sure sign to other theologians that Pinnock had gone over the edge. But the fruit of his pilgrimage was Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit–a book that quite simply gave me hope.

While Pinnock and I would disagree on all sorts of matters, I’m grateful for his model of courageous, faithful curiosity in the service of Christ.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Theology

Meghan Daum (LA Times)–The Housing market is still hairy

We knew the housing market news was grim when the National Assn. of Realtors released numbers last week showing that existing home sales dropped 27.2% from June to July, a 15-year low. We knew things were even grimmer when Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said recently that despite low interest rates and lower prices, the glut of foreclosed properties and difficulties getting mortgages were “likely to continue to weigh on the pace of residential investment for some time yet.” Oh, and then there’s the figure of “25% of mortgages are underwater” that’s been floating around. As far as stats go, that’s almost as scary as nearly 20% of Americans thinking the president is Muslim.

But my real scare happened a few weeks ago when, amid my daily surfing of Internet real estate sites, I happened upon a particularly gruesome scene. Included among the photographs for a listing of a four-bedroom, four-bath house in a relatively desirable area was a close-up of an open toilet choked with what appeared to be a tangle of dark hair. A large tangle. Imagine a trichotillomaniac Morticia Addams who won’t flush….

“It’s not hair,” …[the real estate agent] told me [when I reached her on the phone]. “It’s tree roots.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--