Daily Archives: September 6, 2011

Good News on the Health Front–Adult Smoking Rate Edges Down Slightly

Overall, about 19% of adults said they smoked last year, down from about 21% in 2005. The rate for smoking 30 or more cigarettes daily dropped to about 8% from almost 13%.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

Catholic and Anglican bishops speak out on Dale Farm evictions

Bishop Thomas McMahon from the Catholic Diocese of Brentwood and Bishop Stephen Cottrell of the Anglican Diocese of Chelmsford paid a pastoral visit to the Dale Farm site last Tuesday. They talked and prayed with some of the Travellers who face imminent eviction from the site by Basildon Council. Both Bishops also talked to the significant numbers of journalists on the site about their concerns.

The Bishops subsequently issued the following statement: ‘The Travellers’ community at Dale Farm, near Basildon, invited us to visit them today. An eviction notice is due to take effect at 12 midnight tomorrow. We prayed with Christian and non-Christian families and children who are under extreme stress, and expressed our solidarity with them.

‘This is a desperate situation. It is important that people should know that it is a humanitarian crisis, whatever they make of the legality and politics of the situation. The travellers are frightened and anxious people. If elderly and infirm people were shown on TV being forced out of their homes, we wouldn’t think we were watching something happening in England, but that is what will happen here….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Anglican church in Qatar to be fully operational next year

The Anglican Centre in Doha’s church complex will be fully operational by the end of next year, the church rector has said.

According to Father Bill Schwartz, the 35 million Qatari riyal complex, under construction since 2008, will be ready by the end of 2012 and will offer Christian Protestant denominational groups a location to worship.

“Building is moving ahead apace, and moving ahead in line with our expectations. The building should be usable by Christmas next year,” he said, quoted by Qatari daily Gulf Times.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Middle East, Parish Ministry, Qatar

The next Bishop of Winchester announced

Downing Street has today (6th September) announced that the next Bishop of Winchester will be the Revd Canon Tim Dakin.

Bishop designate Tim (53), who is currently head of the Church Mission Society, will be consecrated as the 97th Bishop of Winchester in January and assume the role in Spring 2012.

As well as heading up CMS since 2000 Tim is also a member of the Church of England’s ruling body, the General Synod, an associate priest in the parish of Ruscombe and Twyford in the Diocese of Oxford and an Honorary Canon Theologian of Coventry Cathedral….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(USA Today) Colleges turn to microsites to attract prospective students

Microsites are not new to higher ed Web strategy. But as the creeping aesthetics of the app world make traditional college websites appear tedious, some institutions have begun experimenting with more offbeat microsites to collect information from prospective students and alumni.

“While these have always been around, one of the big differences now is that these sites often have a more cutting-edge, radical design,” says Mark Greenfield, director of Web services in enrollment and planning at the State University of New York at Buffalo and a consultant at the higher ed consulting firm Noel-Levitz.

“It’s as if the creative folk living in a straitjacket of the ‘official’ design format suddenly find themselves with no constraints at all,” says Bob Johnson, president of the higher ed marketing firm Bob Johnson Consulting.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Art, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Education, Young Adults

Kendall Harmon–On Eldad and Medad and the Mysteriousness of Life

The spirit blows where he wills, Jesus said, which means you cannot box God in.

We Anglicans have a particularly hard time with this since we are told to expect worship to be “decent and in order.” But””have you noticed–things don’t always work like that. Life is not so much a problem to be solved as a mystery to be lived. When God is in charge patterns can be broken, expectations can be shifted, and all heaven can break loose.

One biblical story which speaks to this is the tale of Eldad and Medad in Numbers 11. Moses and the people of God are in a dispute about misfortune and food and Moses is getting blamed and feeling burdened. God asks Moses to gather seventy men among Israel’s elders who would be enabled to share the burdens of the people. It had to be done, however, outside the camp at the tent of meeting.

Moses did his part, and God came through also: “the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to ”¦[Moses], and took some of the spirit that was upon him and put it upon the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied (Numbers 11:25).” So far, so good.

But there was a problem. Two other men named Eldad and Medad who were not chosen by Moses and not at the tent of meeting also prophesied. Wrong people, wrong place. Uh oh.

Joshua the son of Nun objected. This isn’t according to Hoyle! It isn’t in the Vestry handbook! Moses, put a stop to it, he says.

But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:29)

Moses is commendably open to letting God be God in a surprising way. Please note, too, that it is the younger Joshua who is unduly limited by the script and the older Moses who is willing to ad lib and go with the flow of the Holy Spirit.

I pray that all of us will learn to be less like Joshua and more like Moses in the days and years ahead, if our Lord doesn’t return first.

–The Rev. Dr. Kendall S. Harmon is Canon Theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina and the convenor of this blog

Posted in * By Kendall, Pastoral Theology, Sermons & Teachings, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

Dorothy Rabinowitz reviews two Television programs on 9/11–A Dark Day's Enduring Life

Even with the armor that 10 years’ distance provides, there is no way to prepare emotionally for a confrontation with the facts of the 9/11 terror attack. That confrontation is the unavoidable result of the anniversary observance, and its most essential one. It is, one could say, the heart of the matter. There will be many speeches on the anniversary, plenty of tributes to the meaning of the day, and plentiful testimony about the universal lessons to be drawn from this occasion.

And yet no testimony could be as fitting as the hard facts of that September day a decade ago””the one, a Smithsonian documentary declares, that changed the world. Of the numerous television films produced in commemoration of this 9/11 anniversary, the Smithsonian Channel’s stands out for the clarity and strength of its narrative (delivered by Martin Sheen), and its focus. A heart-shattering focus, often enough as it takes in the pictures so well remembered, but so expertly deployed that those images seem here more immediate, the stories they tell more abundant. Here again are the scenes of people escaping the inferno of the World Trade Center just in time””crowds of dazed men and women dragging strangers alongside them into the safety of the street.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, History, Movies & Television, Terrorism

Jamie Quatro–God Texts the Ten Commanments

I enjoyed this–check it out.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Anglican Evangelicals, the Conversion of England and the Transformation of the Anglican Church

Read it all (54 page pdf).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

William Witt–Caller ID From the Source of the Universe: Another Providence Sermon

That Jesus is this Creator come among us is the heart of the story of how God deals with the bad things that happen. It is not just that Jesus calms the storm, but that he himself endures the worst storm that his creatures can throw at him. Recall another reference to the Jonah story in the gospels. Jesus stated: “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40) At the deepest level of the biblical pattern of how God deals with evil is the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. In the biblical account, the very Creator of the Universe, who loves and cares for his creation, who does not abandon but rescues those in distress, rescues them by himself becoming one of them, and goes through what they go through. As Jonah sank into the depths, so Jesus faced the cross, and the greatest evil that humans fear, death itself. As Jonah was rescued from the depths, so God the Father rescued his Son by raising him from death on the third day.

In one of my favorite essays, Dorothy Sayers refers to the incarnation of God in Jesus as “The Greatest Drama Ever Staged.” (1) If the incarnation is true, she says, then, for whatever reason that God made human beings, “limited and suffering and subject to death ”“ He had the honesty and courage to take his own medicine. Whatever game he is playing with his creation, he has kept his own rules and played fair,” she writes. And, of course, a subset of the final theme is that the followers of Jesus, his church, share in his death and resurrection as we become his disciples through faith and the sacraments. So from top to bottom, from beginning to end, the Christian version of how it is that God deals with suffering and evil is that God loves and cares for his creation, but also takes it seriously, so seriously that he provides rescue and redemption from evil and suffering in that creation by taking the full consequences of death and evil on himself, and coming out on the other side, and taking us with him.

That has interesting implications….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Apologetics, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theodicy, Theology

(Brookings) Bradford Wilcox and Andrew Cherlin: The Marginalization of Marriage in Middle America

This policy brief reviews the deepening marginalization of marriage and the growing instability of family life among moderately-educated Americans: those who hold high school degrees but not four-year college degrees and who constitute 51 percent of the young adult population (aged twenty-five to thirty-four). Written jointly by two family scholars, one of them a conservative (W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project) and the other a liberal (Andrew J. Cherlin, professor at Johns Hopkins University), it is an attempt to find common ground in the often bitter and counterproductive debates about family policy. We come to this brief with somewhat different perspectives. Wilcox would emphasize the primacy of promoting and supporting marriage. Cherlin argued in a recent book, The Marriage-Go-Round, that stable care arrangements for children, whether achieved through marriage or not, are what matter most. But both of us agree that children are more likely to thrive when they reside in stable, two-parent homes. We also agree that in America today cohabitation is still largely a short-term arrangement, while marriage remains the setting in which adults seek to maintain long-term bonds. Thus, we conclude by offering six policy ideas, some economic, some cultural, and some legal, designed to strengthen marriage and family life among moderately-educated Americans. Finally, unless otherwise noted, the findings detailed in this policy brief come from a new report by Wilcox, When Marriage Disappears: The New Middle America.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Economy, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance

Notable and Quotable

As a set, these letters [to the editor in response to my piece on Ayn Rand] reminded me again how odd and troubling a country America frequently is. Where else could one find a substantial minority who think it possible to be both a practicing Christian and an ardent admirer of a woman whose entire intellectual project was the perfect negation of all Christian values? It confirms me in my conviction that, for all the oceans of Christians that have flooded our shores over the centuries, somehow Christianity has remained strangely alien to our national temperament and to our spiritual tendency toward a bizarre and implausible materialist Gnosticism.

–David Bentley Hart, First Things (August/September 2011), page 19

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Philosophy, Religion & Culture

Kendall Harmon's Sermon from this past Sunday on Matthew 18:15-20

Listen to it all if you so desire.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, TEC Parishes, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty God, only giver of all mercies, whose Son, Jesus Christ, has taught us how to pray aright: Save us, we beseech thee, from all presumption in our prayer, and grant unto us the grace of humility and contrition; that we may, sharing the vision of thine apostle Saint Paul, know that it is by the grace of God alone that we are what we are, and that we can do nothing but through the strengthening of thy Son, Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD more than all that were before him. And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jerobo’am the son of Nebat, he took for wife Jez’ebel the daughter of Ethba’al king of the Sido’nians, and went and served Ba’al, and worshiped him. He erected an altar for Ba’al in the house of Ba’al, which he built in Sama’ria. And Ahab made an Ashe’rah. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.

–1 Kings 16:30-33

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture