Daily Archives: June 13, 2012

(USA Today) Oliver Thomas–Religious rights vs. the public's right

Religion is a tricky business. It can bring out the best in a person. Think Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer or Mother Teresa. But it can also bring out the worst. Think 9/11, the Inquisition or the Salem witch trials. What I’m saying is that religion can short-circuit your ability to think. You sometimes can’t see things as they really are because irrational beliefs get in the way. I’ll give you a couple of examples.

In New York, ultra-Orthodox Jews are criticizing the Brooklyn district attorney for prosecuting Jewish child sex-abuse cases, according to The New York Times. The newspaper reports that a 16-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish boy was being molested in a Jewish ritual bathhouse in Brooklyn. After his father reported the crime to police, the father said he was shunned, cursed and kicked out of his apartment by other ultra-Orthodox Jews for trying to protect his son.

In California, inmate Billy Paul Birdwell argued that his religion, Asatru-Odinism, required him to have open space and a fire pit. Prison officials gave him the open space and even built a fence around it. But when officials later replaced that space with a non-denominational outdoor area, Birdwell complained that his religious needs weren’t met. Starting to get the picture? To people living within a particular religious tradition, the beliefs always seem reasonable. But there are limits to how far we as a nation can go in protecting the rights of citizens to exercise their faith.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Why one Episcopal Rector canceled all her adult education opportunities and midweek services

…the idea of having leisurely conversations about Jesus is just, well, too slow. The only adult formation things that have been in any way successful are sermon podcasts and daily e-mailed bits of wisdom, prayer or scripture.

A mentor once gave me some good advice: stop doing things that aren’t working. This makes all the sense in the world, but it’s hard to do. It is hard to give up the picture I have in my head about what a church is supposed to look like: people sitting around on couches in the parish hall, Bibles open.

But at least in my ministry context, that just isn’t working anymore. And personally, I’m done with the roller coaster of getting seduced by the latest thing that’s supposed to work, putting mountains of energy into making it really good and then getting cranky with people because they don’t come. So we stopped it all.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Adult Education, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes

(CNN) Reports of airborne attacks rise in Syria; U.N. official says nation now in a civil war

Regime forces pummeled Syrian cities from both the ground and sky Wednesday, opposition activists said, a day after the United States accused Russia of sending attack helicopters to Syria.

The Homs province city of Rastan came under fresh attack from planes and rocket-propelled grenades, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said. At least two people were killed in Homs province Wednesday, the group said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, Syria, Violence

Notable and Quotable Midweek from C.S. Lewis

Some hazy adumbrations of a doctrine of the Fall can be found in Paganism; but it is quite astonishing how rarely outside Christianity we find””I am not sure we ever find””a real doctrine of Creation.

–C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock, ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), p.149

Posted in Uncategorized

Believe in Boro Launched today by the Archbishop of York

Archbishop Sentamu said, “Believe in Boro is a great idea. It’s a chance for Christians across Middlesbrough to come together and show this fantastic town the difference that Jesus makes in our lives. We believe in a God who loves us all, and who reaches into people’s lives to change them from glory to glory. God isn’t distant or uncaring ”“ he loves you – and I hope these events will show people a little of God’s love for them.”

The Revd Canon Erik Wilson, Vicar of St. Barnabas’ Church, is one of the church leaders who has organised Believe in Boro. He said, “Believe in Boro has been a great opportunity for churches of all different denominations ”“ Church of England, Baptist, Methodist, New Frontiers and many more ”“ to work together. . We may have different ways of doing things in our churches, but by coming together for Believe in Boro, we are saying that we are all part of a wider church family in Jesus Christ.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Bailout in Spain Leaves Taxpayers Holding the Bag

After clinching Spain’s €100 billion bank bailout, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy flew to Poland on Sunday for the Spanish team’s soccer match, declaring “this matter is now resolved.”

Not so fast, prime minister.

On Tuesday, Spain’s long-term borrowing costs soared to their highest level since the country joined the euro zone. Investors have apparently concluded that the rescue is potentially a much better deal for the banks and their shareholders than for the government, its taxpayers and bondholders.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Politics in General, Spain, Taxes, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

Andrew Cameron–The modern marriage ideology

I’ve tried to understand what matters most to those who want ”˜marriage equality’. The arguments go like this. Current law affects gay and lesbian mental health because it discriminates against them, and so denies them basic human rights (to marry whomever they want and to not experience discrimination). ”˜Marriage equality’ affirms gays and lesbians in their identity and ends the ”˜state-sanctioned bullying’ they take to be inherent to marriage law. ”˜Marriage equality’ celebrates love and gives people what they want ”“ so extending the freedom of choice that we demand of a liberal society.

Let’s observe the assumptions in these claims.

Firstly, love is the sole defining element of marriage. Second, any assertion that gay and lesbian people are different psychologically damages them. Third, it is the state’s responsibility to limit such damage. Finally, every society and generation can renegotiate marriage as it sees fit. A deep attachment to ”“ and ”˜love’ for ”“ this cluster of ideas drives the quest for marriage revision.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(NPR) As Drone Strikes Increase, So Do Concerns Over Their Use

Without question, drones have become the U.S. weapon of choice in the fight against terrorism. Counterterrorism officials say they’ve come to rely on the pilotless aircraft for their surveillance capability and what officials say is precision targeting. That reliance has led to greater use in the past couple of years, especially in Pakistan and Yemen.

John Bellinger, a State Department legal adviser during the George W. Bush administration, says there are increasing concerns about the frequency of drone attacks.

“We have seen the Obama administration growing more sensitive to the concern that they themselves may be accused of violating international law and more concerned about use by other countries,” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology

Minnesota Episcopal Priest Says Churches Are ”˜Puppets of the State’ When It Comes to Marriage

The Rev. Tom Eklo of Richfield’s St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, after voicing his opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota, went even further recently, saying he’d like to get out of the marriage business altogether.

“I don’t think clergy should be doing marriages,” he said. “We’re basically puppets of the state in that regard.”

According to Eklo the state is responsible for marrying individuals””and because marriage is thus a civil, rather than religious contract””religious organizations, of any denomination, should not be tasked with performing marriages.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Church/State Matters, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government, TEC Parishes

Gavin Dunbar on the Doctrine of the Trinity–Knowing the Mystery

When we speak about the doctrine of God the Holy Trinity, we approach with fear and trembling a great mystery. For many modern Christians, any attempt to think about the mystery is considered impious; but this cannot be: because “unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God”. Not to receive this gift of knowledge is the true impiety. And though the mystery ever exceeds our comprehension, yet “now we know in part” however imperfectly, the mystery which God has chosen to reveal to us. This attempt to understand is not an act of pride, but of humility ”“ ”˜standing under’ the bright heaven of divine truth, in openness to its vitalizing gifts.
In explaining the mystery of God, resort is commonly had to the acts of God in history. Thus, for example, the answer to the question about the Apostles’ Creed in the Prayer book Catechism, “What dost thou chiefly learn in these Articles of thy belief? Answer. First, I learn to believe in God the Father, who hath made me, and all the world. Secondly, in God the Son, who hath redeemed me, and all mankind. Thirdly, in God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth me, and all the [elect] people of God.” That is to say, the persons of the Holy Trinity are revealed in the acts of God in history, the “economy” of salvation.

This is helpful, and yet a false conclusion may be drawn ”“ that the meaning of “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” is expressed fully in the formula “Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier”. The latter phrase speaks of God’s acts in history (in each of which all three persons are involved); the former of God in himself. For that we must engage with the paradoxes of the technical language of theology, developed to uphold the Biblical revelation: that there is but one divine substance, essence, or nature; infinite in power, wisdom, and goodness. Within this unity of substance there is a distinction of persons, each of them fully God, co-equal, co-eternal, consubstantial ”“ and yet “there are not three Gods, but one God”. God is not a committee.

According to Saint Augustine, the best image of the Trinity is in the life of the human soul itself, made in the image of God. When we look at the soul itself, we see a certain image and likeness of God. Robert Crouse summed up Augustine’s teaching: “One says of the soul three things: it is; it knows; and it wills, or loves. And these three powers are one soul: being, knowing, and willing. God is; God knows; and God wills. God eternally begets his Word, the Son ”“ that is the divine knowing; and in that knowing, there proceeds God’s love, God’s will, the divine Spirit. The Word begotten, the Spirit proceeding; Father, Son, and Spirit: one spiritual life, one substance, in which these three are co-equal, co-eternal persons. God is not some abstract principle, physical or mathematical or whatever; God is not some impersonal force in the universe. The actuality of God, being, knowing, and loving, Father, Son, and Spirit, is the actuality of life. He is the living God.” Since our end is to know and to love God, our salvation consists finally in our worship ”“ by knowing and loving ”“ the living God. So the doctrine of the Trinity is not some arcane obscurity, but the truth which shapes the spiritual life of Christians, as they turn to God and grow into his likeness in Christ. To a limited degree we may know God through God’s knowing of himself; we may love God through God’s delight in his own infinite goodness; our knowing and loving God is a participation in the life of God himself. Not to think the Trinity, therefore, not to believe and profess this doctrine, is to shut oneself out from salvation.

—The Rev. Gavin Dunbar is rector of Saint John’s, Savannah, Georgia

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

The Ballad of God-Makers on G.K. Chesterton's soon to be Feast Day

A bird flew out at the break of day
From the nest where it had curled,
And ere the eve the bird had set
Fear on the kings of the world.

The first tree it lit upon
Was green with leaves unshed;
The second tree it lit upon
Was red with apples red;

The third tree it lit upon
Was barren and was brown,
Save for a dead man nailed thereon
On a hill above a town.
That night the kings of the earth were gay
And filled the cup and can;
Last night the kings of the earth were chill
For dread of a naked man.

”˜If he speak two more words,’ they said,
”˜The slave is more than the free;
If he speak three more words,’ they said,
”˜The stars are under the sea.’

Said the King of the East to the King of the West,
I wot his frown was set,
”˜Lo, let us slay him and make him as dung,
It is well that the world forget.’

Said the King of the West to the King of the East,
I wot his smile was dread,
”˜Nay, let us slay him and make him a god,
It is well that our god be dead.’

They set the young man on a hill,
They nailed him to a rod;
And there in darkness and in blood
They made themselves a god.

And the mightiest word was left unsaid,
And the world had never a mark,
And the strongest man of the sons of men
Went dumb into the dark.

Then hymns and harps of praise they brought,
Incense and gold and myrrh,
And they thronged above the seraphim,
The poor dead carpenter.

”˜Thou art the prince of all,’ they sang,
”˜Ocean and earth and air.’
Then the bird flew on to the cruel cross,
And hid in the dead man’s hair.

”˜Thou art the son of the world.’ they cried, `
”˜Speak if our prayers be heard.’
And the brown bird stirred in the dead man’s hair
And it seemed that the dead man stirred.

Then a shriek went up like the world’s last cry
From all nations under heaven,
And a master fell before a slave
And begged to be forgiven.

They cowered, for dread in his wakened eyes
The ancient wrath to see;
And a bird flew out of the dead Christ’s hair,
And lit on a lemon tree.

–G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christology, Church History, Poetry & Literature, Theology

A Prayer for the Provisional Feast Day of G. K. Chesterton

O God of earth and altar, who didst give G. K. Chesterton a ready tongue and pen, and inspired him to use them in thy service: Mercifully grant that we may be inspired to witness cheerfully to the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light riseth up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what thou wouldest have us to do; that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in thy light we may see light, and in thy straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–William Bright

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who receives circumcision that he is bound to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine; and he who is troubling you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. But if I, brethren, still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the stumbling block of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would mutilate themselves! For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another.

–Galatians 5:1-15

Posted in Uncategorized

Secretary of State Clinton Fears Syria Is Getting Attack Helicopters From Russia

The Syria conflict fell deeper into crisis Tuesday as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton publicly accused Russia of supplying attack helicopters to the Syrian government.

Her accusation came as international cease-fire monitors in Syria aborted a fact-finding trip after they came under assault by an angry mob and gunfire, and the top United Nations peacekeeping official said Syria was already in a state of civil war.

Those developments ”” coupled with a newly released United Nations report that accused the Syrian military of using Syrians as young as 8 as human shields for troops ”” overshadowed fresh diplomatic efforts by Kofi Annan, the special envoy to Syria, to advance a peace plan that has basically been ignored since it was put into effect two months ago.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Europe, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, Russia, Syria, Violence