Monday food for Thought Lost,
Two golden hours:
Each with a set of
Sixty diamond minutes!
Is offered, for they are .
Lost for ever!
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) August 20, 2018
On August 7, the New York Times ran a story by Rukmini Callimachi about Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan, a young American couple, both graduates of Georgetown University, who decided to quit their humdrum office jobs and go on an epic bike ride and camping trip that would take them all over the world. “I’ve grown tired of spending the best hours of my day in front of a glowing rectangle, of coloring the best years of my life in swaths of grey and beige,” Austin wrote. “I’ve missed too many sunsets while my back was turned.”
So in July of last year, they flew from Washington, D.C., to Cape Town, and from there bicycled through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Malawi to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania….
You watch the news and you read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place,” wrote Austin during their trek. “People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted….I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own…”
They biked through Kyrgyzstan and entered Tajikistan. It was in that country that their journey came to an abrupt end this past July 29, when five ISIS members deliberately plowed their car into the two adventurers, killing them along with two temporary cycling companions, one from Switzerland and the other from the Netherlands. “Two days later,” wrote Callimachi, “the Islamic State released a video showing five men it identified as the attackers, sitting before the ISIS flag. They face the camera and make a vow: to kill ‘disbelievers….’”
What, then, is the moral of this couple’s story? In the last analysis, it’s a story about two young people who, like many other privileged members of their generation of Americans, went to a supposedly top-notch university only to come away poorly educated but heavily propagandized – imbued with a fashionable postmodern contempt for Western civilization and a readiness to idealize and sentimentalize “the other” (especially when the latter is decidedly uncivilized). This, ultimately, was their tragedy: taking for granted American freedom, prosperity, and security, they dismissed these extraordinary blessings as boring, banal, and (in Austin’s word) “beige,” and set off, with the starry-eyed and suicidal naivete of children who never entirely grew up, on a child’s fairy-tale adventure into the most perilous parts of the planet. Far from being inspirational, theirs is a profoundly cautionary – and distinctly timely – tale that every American, parents especially, should take to heart.
— Robert Lloyd Jr (@lloyd1z) August 17, 2018
In May, Professor Nigel Biggar spoke at the McDonald Centre’s annual conference and discussed the role of the Christian Church in developing and maintaining a politically liberal society. The McDonald Centre, which he leads, is a research institute connected to Oxford University. This year’s conference was titled “Is Religious Liberty under Threat? A Trans-Atlantic Dialogue.”
In his speech, Biggar argued that Christianity, particularly the Anglican Church, is an important part of a free and fair government. In America, we view the separation of church and state as a pillar of religious freedom, but in England, where Biggar teaches, the Anglican Church has been officially linked to the government for centuries. Biggar, who’s ordained in the Church of England, set out to demonstrate that this state sponsored religious establishment is “compatible with liberal rights to religious freedom and political equality.”
When Biggar referred to liberalism, he did not mean it in the way it is used in modern American politics where it is generally associated with big-government and progressive policies. Instead, he uses it to refer to classical liberalism, the political philosophy championed by John Locke, David Hume, Thomas Jefferson, and Adam Smith. Under classical liberalism, the government is restricted to protecting the natural rights of citizens. Economically, these rights are guarded by a free market where consumers are able to freely choose what they buy. This concept is tied to John Stuart Mill’s “marketplace of ideas,” where men are allowed to freely discuss their opinions, and the market will eventually decide what ideology is best.
Liberalism is closely tied to individualism and humanism which promote the ideas that every man is an equal being, worthy of respect and dignity. Biggar claimed that there is a clear link between Christian theology and the values of liberalism and individualism. He stated “the most important political contribution of England’s religious establishment lies in the Christian humanist worldview that it advocates. A world view that generates the virtues necessary for the survival of a liberal ethos.”
— These Islands (@These_Islands) October 31, 2017
It was the big tech equivalent of “drink responsibly” or the gambling industry’s “safer play”; the latest milestone in Silicon Valley’s year of apology. Earlier this month, Facebook and Instagram announced new tools for users to set time limits on their platforms, and a dashboard to monitor one’s daily use, following Google’s introduction of Digital Well Being features.
In doing so the companies seemed to suggest that spending time on the internet is not a desirable, healthy habit, but a pleasurable vice: one that if left uncontrolled may slip into unappealing addiction.
Having secured our attention more completely than ever dreamed, they now are carefully admitting it’s time to give some of it back, so we can meet our children’s eyes unfiltered by Clarendon or Lark; go see a movie in a theater; or contra Apple’s ad for its watch, even go surfing without — heaven forfend — “checking in.”
“The liberation of human attention may be the defining moral and political struggle of our time,” writes James Williams, a technologist turned philosopher and the author of a new book, “Stand Out of Our Light.”
We need to master our devices, not let them master us.
Finding It Hard to Focus? Maybe It’s Not Your Fault https://t.co/zlCQtu1QE3
— Philip Cannon (@epcannon) August 18, 2018
(DG) John Piper visits a Minnesota mainline church services and finds 6 problems+makes 6 observations
5. The emptiness of the conversation with the Muslim leader points to the fact that in the view of this church, contemporary Christianity does not have to do mainly with ultimate reality. It just doesn’t. It’s not a metaphysical issue. It’s not an ultimate reality issue. The nature of God, the nature of Christ, the nature of salvation, the path of holiness, the nature of eternal destinies — that is simply not the issue in contemporary mainline Protestantism. Instead, the dynamics that define relationships between social groups is front and center. That’s really the issue, not ultimate reality.
6. Finally, the fact that this church is made up mainly of old people suggests at least at the present that many younger people doubt the validity of traditional religious forms that no longer embody the claim to offer ultimate truth and ultimate reality and ultimate salvation. I think that they are absolutely right to try to maintain the forms. If you walk into that church, and you didn’t know any better, you’d say this looks like a church from forever ago — this is what church is. Big stained-glass windows, and pastors at the front, a big organ, lots of music, singing about Jesus — what could be more churchy than this? Except there’s nothing there of any ultimate reality.
Read it all (my emphasis).
— FaithfulNews (@faithfulnews) August 13, 2018
Somewhere in the midst of the presentation outlining some of the various reasons why Hell is often not talked about, even in our Biblically faithful churches, the term “Functional Universalism” was mentioned. I immediately thought, that is one of the saddest yet most accurate descriptions of many – not all, but many – Anglican churches.
Universalists don’t lead people to salvation through Jesus because they don’t believe people need to be saved through Jesus. If we, as Bible-believing Anglicans, don’t lead people to salvation through Jesus because maybe we’re too embarrassed to share, or too afraid to invite someone to pray a prayer to repent and believe in Jesus, or any number of other excuses, what is the difference? Isn’t that just functional Universalism? We’re achieving the same results, right?
It is particularly sad because so many of us are Anglicans specifically because we didn’t want to be a part of the Episcopal Church that largely adopted Universalism. As Anglicans, we actually believe all of the Bible is true. We believe where it says that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father except through” him. (John 14:6) Jesus is not “a” way but “the” way to salvation. Yet are unbelievers being saved in our churches? Are we bringing unbelievers into an eternal relationship with the Father through Jesus in our churches? Or do we just talk about local mission and evangelism and feel good about ourselves for not being those bad Universalists?
Now I’m not suggesting that we all start talking about Hell all the time and try to scare people into Heaven (although I personally have always held that I would rather be scared into heaven than blindly walk into Hell). However, I am suggesting that if we took the truth that Hell is real more seriously and that Jesus suffered Hell for us so we don’t have to, maybe we’d overcome our fear of evangelism and start doing it….
After attending @KendallHarmon6 excellent presentation on Hell at #gafcon2018, Canon Mark asks "Are we functional Universalists?" if we don't share the Gospel and teach about Hell? https://t.co/rvSxCoXTeS pic.twitter.com/ZQRvJq55Rh
— American Anglican (@AnglicanCouncil) July 25, 2018
A story to Brighten Your Wednesday–Toddler with spina bifida warms hearts after showing his dog he can walk
— Stephen 🙂 (@StephenAnfield) August 14, 2018
In the Midst of a Campaign of Disinformation, the Diocese of South Carolina releases a Factsheet on the Current Lawsuits
In the Midst of a Campaign of Disinformation, the Diocese of South Carolina releases a Factsheet on the Current Lawsuits https://t.co/i1eMWWAvad #religion #law #southcarolina #episcopalchurch #parishministry #history #polity #anglicanism #ethics pic.twitter.com/IuYiI65bC3
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) August 14, 2018
The premise of confident pluralism is that we can make room for our differences even as we maintain our own beliefs and practices. Doing so requires both legal and personal commitments. When it comes to the law, we must insist that those in power protect our ability to disagree. We must have a shared commitment to allowing for dissent, difference, and divergent beliefs. That means strengthening First Amendment freedoms for everyone.
The personal argument focuses on civic practices rooted in three aspirations: tolerance, humility, and patience. Tolerance acknowledges that people should generally be free to pursue their own beliefs and practices. This is not the same as approval; it is much closer to endurance. We can usually respect people even if we don’t respect their ideas. Humilityrecognizes that we will sometimes be unable to prove to others why we believe we are right and they are wrong. Patience asks us to listen, understand, and empathize with those who see the world differently.
The American experiment in pluralism depends upon legal commitments and civic practices. And we have usually found ways to maintain a modest unity against great odds. We have always done so imperfectly, and too often our political stability has been purchased at the cost of suppressing or silencing those with less power. But in acknowledging our country’s shortcomings, we can also remember some of its successes. The disagreements between white Protestant men at the founding of our country may seem trivial today, but those differences meant widespread killing in other parts of the world. Our debased and dehumanizing political rhetoric leaves much to be desired, but unlike many other societies, we usually stop short of actual violence. In the midst of deep disagreements with our neighbors, we still find creative partnerships in unexpected places. These examples of our modest unity are important reminders that we can live together across deep differences. On the other hand, they do not suggest that we have or will overcome our differences. As I write in the book’s conclusion, confident pluralism will not give us the American dream, but it might help avoid the American nightmare.
“Christians have a much greater reason for confidence, one rooted in the theological virtue of hope… We can engage in this messy and uncertain world because we trust that God is in control.” @JohnInazu #Hopehttps://t.co/WpVeUrnvyr
— Tom Lin (@TomLinNow) August 13, 2018
One year ago, Ken Parker attended the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, but has made a significant transformation after accepting an invitation to a black church. His story is featured in part in the Emmy-nominated Fuuse film ‘White Right: Meeting the Enemy’ on Netflix.
You need to take the time to watch it all.
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) August 11, 2018
IBM announces they will sell a desk top personal computer for use in homes, schools and businesses, this day in 1981. The announcement "sent reverberations through the industry". https://t.co/LDCbomc6Fo pic.twitter.com/WMwZ1XXd33
— NYT Archives (@NYTArchives) August 12, 2018
(The Exchange) Brian Stiller–Secularism and Diversity: Lessons from Canada and its Supreme Court Decision about Trinity Western
…Second, it makes short shrift of the model that within a diverse society a plurality of ideas and beliefs can exist together. This is a huge loss. And when Canada, known for its democracy and public fairness, takes this road, we lose an important example of how pluralism functions.
In today’s cultural, religious, and ethnic stew, to respect and get along with each other is as basic a formula as I can imagine. Justices opposing the majority noted,
The state and state actors [and in this case, provincial law societies] – not private institutions like TWU – are constitutionally bound to accommodate difference in order to foster pluralism in public life. . . . Canadians are permitted to hold different sets of values.
Third, it keeps faith from being public. I hear the justices saying something like, “Live out your faith within your churches, institutions, and private communities, but if you try to bring it into civic life, if we don’t see your beliefs as being inclusive with our values, we will prevent your faith from influencing our public spheres….”
For years, the Episcopal Church and its decline into secularism have been the butt of many a joke in the conservative Christian communities through which I’ve drifted. Membership is down—if baptism rates continue their decline, it will never recover—as the church concedes ever more beliefs in order to accommodate the modern world. Already, many of its members practice in a way that is nearly indistinguishable from the spiritual-but-not-religious folks who visit The Met on Sundays in lieu of a liturgy. Soon they may become like those who spend Sundays at MoMA.
It’s easy to be cynical about the state of the Episcopal Church. But everyone hungers for some salvation. When I entered the chapel, I found ten chairs set up in a ring behind the nave. In front of the chairs, ten flower-embroidered cushions formed an inner ring. Six middle-aged women sat in the chairs. A seventh woman wearing a scarf that looked like a tallit stood in the middle of the ring.
She introduced herself as Ellen and said she would be leading today’s meditation. “Now take a nice deep breath,” she said. “We’re centering ourselves for the exercises. Once you’re in your center, take one more deep breath and then exhale. Take one more big inhale, lift your arms up, and then exhale….”
Ellen addressed my singularity when she sat down on one of the flower cushions.
“Since we have a gentleman among us, I’ll be a little more modest,” she said as she draped the scarf over her legs. “Okay, now let’s just focus on our breath. As you breathe, focus on that breath and when your mind wanders—as it will do—get back to the breath. We’ll do this for about three minutes. Notice your breath. Notice your nose, your lungs….”
'Already, many #episcopalchurch members' practice in a way that is nearly indistinguishable frm the spiritual-but-not-religious folks who visit The Met on Sundays in lieu of a liturgy. Soon they may Bcome like thse who spnd Sundays at MoMA' https://t.co/qFACDjLj0I #religion #usa
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) August 10, 2018
(The State) In one of SC’s smallest churches, The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Spartanburg, 6 people sit in pews meant for 50. Can it survive?
Where does the church go from here?
That depends on who you ask.
Jane Span, 80, who has attended Church of the Epiphany since she was 25, doesn’t have much hope for her beloved church.
“We just don’t have people rushing to join the Episcopal Church,” Span said.
And without a sizable number of congregants, running the church can be expensive, she said. The church needs to be maintained. Except for the priest, everyone who works at the church is a volunteer.
Plus, she suspects that not as many African-American families have continued to raise their families with the Episcopal faith.
“I was born in the church,” Span said. “And I think it makes a difference.”
Keeping the church’s history alive is also difficult.
(The State) In one of SC’s smallest churches, The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Spartenburg, 6 people sit in pews meant for 50. Can it survive? https://t.co/5ZNvLnQZtg #religion #usa #episcopalchurch #prishministry
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) August 10, 2018