Monthly Archives: May 2012

(RNS) Esalen Institute, a California Spirituality center, is searching for its own identity

Perched atop the rugged splendor of the California coast south of Monterey, the Esalen Institute is the mother church for people who call themselves “spiritual but not religious.” Over the last five decades, hundreds of thousands of seekers have come to this incubator of East-meets-West spirituality looking for news ways to bring together body, mind, psyche and soul.

But today, as this iconic hot springs spa and retreat center celebrates its 50th birthday, a bitter dispute has broken out over its future. Like the many “seminarians” who come here after losing a spouse or a job, Esalen now faces its own midlife crisis.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(UCA News) In Pakistan, A Law is sought to bar forced conversions

Christian lawyers and activists have criticized the Supreme Court for its failure to protect religious minority women from forced conversion and urged the government to adopt specific legal protections.

Peter Jacob, executive director of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, said during a consultative meeting with Christian lawyers on Saturday that minority women live under constant threat of abduction and conversion.

“The religious minorities are under threat and hesitant to allow their women to join any profession due to fear of losing a family member,” he said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pakistan, Religion & Culture

Official Launch of Ottawa Theological College to take Place June 13th

Leighton Ford famously described Christian leadership as: learning to be led by Jesus; learning to lead like Jesus; and learning to lead people to Jesus. This is what we hope to do at OTC. We want to equip people to be confident in the person and the work of Jesus Christ.

We believe that the biblical Gospel still ”˜works’, that it is in fact “”¦the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”¦” (Romans 1:16 ESV). So we want to equip individuals to humbly but boldly preach and teach the gospel and the whole counsel of God. We hope to equip people for leadership in a local church that sees the whole world as their mission field. Our College is located in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, which is itself a very rich mission field.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Canada, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Wash. Post) Proms, graduations and teen crashes: The worst season for a police official and father

He wakes up in the middle of the night at this time of year ”” bothered, sleepless. Tom Didone has gone to dozens of traffic fatalities that involve teenagers, arriving at scenes of shattering wreckage and telltale skid lines.

He is always struck by the senselessness of what he sees….

“It only takes a second to take a life,” Didone told several hundred high school students in Burtonsville one day this month, hours before their prom.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Teens / Youth

R. Catholic Bishops Defend Legal Strategy as HHS Mandate Emerges as Election-Year Issue

Last September, the U.S. bishops struggled to raise awareness about an “interim final rule” for co-pay-free contraception, approved by the Obama administration in August 2011.

Now, in the wake of 43 Catholic groups filing 12 lawsuits across the nation on May 21, recent polling confirms that the controversial federal rule, approved Jan. 20, has emerged as an election issue. Public opposition has mounted against the controversial rule, while partisan forces and their media allies argue that Catholic leaders are “carrying water” for the GOP.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Children, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

Clergy blame disunity for Uganda’s underdevelopment

As Uganda gears up for the 50th independence jubilee, bishops from the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox faiths have called on spiritual leaders and politicians to advocate for unity and love to promote peaceful coexistence among Ugandans.

The bishops under Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) came together for a prayer pilgrimage at the Catholic and Anglican shrines in Namugongo Wednesday ahead of Uganda Martyrs’ Day due June 3rd.

The historic day is marked in memory of the 45 Catholic and Anglican martyrs who were murdered on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda for refusing to forsake their faith between 1885 and 1886.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Economy, Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Uganda

Address by Archbishop Eliud Wabukala at the Kenyan National Prayer Breakfast

If we know peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, we must in turn be peacemakers and Jesus’ teaching in our second reading from the Sermon on the Mount takes us right to the heart of the matter. The peacemakers are the people Jesus calls blessed and sons of God. As God in Christ loves us, even though we are by nature his enemies, so we, like him, must love even our enemies.

Do you see how relevant this teaching of Jesus is to the practical matter of a strong democracy in Kenya? If a healthy democracy turns on respect for the law and for one another as created in God’s image, then loving our enemies is a radical way of showing both obedience to God and recognising his image in others, even those who may hate us.

So will you commit with me to take the lead in being peacemakers for our nation in this truly radical way?

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

(Wash. Post) Julia Duin–Serpent-handling Pentecostal Pastor dies from rattlesnake bite

Mark Randall “Mack” Wolford was known all over Appalachia as a daring man of conviction. He believed that the Bible mandates that Christians handle serpents to test their faith in God ”” and that, if they are bitten, they trust in God alone to heal them.

He and other adherents cited Mark 16:17-18 as the reason for their practice: “And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

The son of a serpent handler who himself died in 1983 after being bitten, Wolford was trying to keep the practice alive, both in West Virginia, where it is legal, and in neighboring states where it is not. He was the kind of man reporters love: articulate, friendly and appreciative of media attention….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life

China Christian Council to host World Council of Churches meeting in China

The meeting will take place from 9 to 16 June, organized by the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) and hosted by the China Christian Council (CCC) and the National Committee of the Three Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China. The CCC, with its 23 million members, is the largest member constituency of the WCC in Asia.

The WCC general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit will attend the meeting. This will be his first visit to China since he took office in 2010.

The main deliberations of the CCIA meeting will take place in Nanjing. This will include a seminar on “Understanding China” invoking diverse perspectives on market reforms and development in socialist systems, poverty eradication and environmental sustainability, China’s religions and religious polices, churches in China and other themes.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, China, Ecumenical Relations, Globalization, Religion & Culture

(NPR) With The American Dream Comes The Nightmare

For many Americans, [Dick Meyer, author of the 2008 book Why We Hate Us: American Discontent in the New Millennium]…says, the challenge of near total life freedom …has been that shedding old ties and traditions turns out to be easier than finding meaningful new ones; forming a modern ‘lifestyle’ often ends being narcissistic and consumerist.”

This choice overload, Meyer says, “has proven to be spiritually hollow. We’ve found nothing to replace community, hard morality, religion and vocational pride to guide us through life. We’re existentially in the dark.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Psychology, Religion & Culture

The IEC is Ireland's largest religious event since the 1979 papal visit

The weeklong 50th International Eucharistic Congress, which gets under way in Dublin June 10, will be Ireland’s largest religious event since Pope John Paul II visited in 1979.

The celebration of faith offers a lively mixture of prayer, reflection and liturgy with participation from some of the leading voices in the Catholic world.

Organizers promise an estimated 12,000 overseas visitors the traditional Irish “cead mile failte” –“a hundred thousand welcomes.” Many Dubliners have opened their homes to pilgrims.

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

(Christianity Today) Jayson Casper–Egyptian Christians Back to Square One Ahead of Election

The nation’s Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission confirmed on Monday that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsy advanced to the run-off election against Ahmed Shafik, former president Hosni Mubarak’s last-ditch appointee as prime minister during the revolution’s early days. Both candidates gathered nearly 25 percent of the vote. Only a few percentage points behind was Hamdeen Sabbahi, whose late surge as the revolutionary choice was not enough to displace Egypt’s traditional combatants.

The majority of Copts voted for Shafik, according to Mina el-Badry, an evangelical pastor in Upper Egypt. “Not from love, but to oppose the Islamists,” he said, “because [Shafik] is from the army and will know how to run the transition, and because he is clear and firm in his word and decision.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, History, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(SMH) An increase in 'Desperate Housewives syndrome'–Women with eating disorders in middle age

Experts agree that the way celebrities portray themselves on our screens is piling on the pressure for ordinary older women to look just as good.

There’s been an increase in the number of women experiencing eating disorders in middle age according to Professor Phillipa Hay, Foundation Chair of Mental Health at the University of Western Sydney. Hay says a rise in body image and weight and shape concerns is to blame. “There may be more pressures on older women to retain the appearance of youth,” she says and “there may be more pressures to be a ‘super woman’ ”“ successful in the workplace and at home and ‘looking good’ as well.”

Celebrities, such as Angelina Jolie, “appear to ‘prove’ that thinness in midlife bestows many real-life benefits, for example, sexual desirability, happiness, and wealth that may be particularly persuasive,” said a recent study in Psychology of Women Quarterly co-authored by Professor Marika Tiggemann, a psychologist and body image expert at Flinders University. The research, which looked at the influence of television shows such as Desperate Housewives on women aged between 35 and 55 concluded that “exposure to thin idealised images in media content may have an adverse impact on body image and eating practices in midlife.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Health & Medicine, Middle Age, Movies & Television, Women

A Prayer for the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Father in heaven, by whose grace the virgin mother of thine incarnate Son was blessed in bearing him, but still more blessed in keeping thy word: Grant us who honor the exaltation of her lowliness to follow the example of her devotion to thy will; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O thou who sendest forth the light, createst the morning, and makest the sun to rise on the good and the evil: Enlighten the blindness of our minds with the knowledge of the truth; lift 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 Andrewes (1525-1626)

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