Monthly Archives: August 2012

Shmuley Boteach: Germany's Circumcision Police

There was a head-spinning moment in Germany last week: News emerged that a rabbi had been criminally charged for performing his religious duties. Rabbi David Goldberg of northern Bavaria, who shepherds a 400-member community, is the first person to run afoul of a ruling by a Cologne judge earlier this year that criminalized circumcision, a basic religious rite.

There is some precedent outside of Germany for such a ruling. In 2001, a Swedish law sparked a protest from Jews and Muslims by requiring that a medical doctor or anesthesia nurse accompany registered circumcisers, and that anesthesia be applied before the procedure. The law is still in effect….

The ban by the court in Cologne, however, is the most troubling. For decades Germany has been an example of how a nation can take responsibility for its previous crimes. It is very moving to see Germany’s Holocaust memorial in Berlin, just two blocks from the country’s parliament. But the circumcision ban deserves universal scorn.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Germany, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(CEN) Two Bishops issue strong warning on Church of England’s future

Twin warnings about the Church of England becoming irrelevant ”“ or even sinking into near oblivion ”“ are being sounded in the North.
And the oblivion forecast comes from Bishop of Manchester Nigel McCulloch.
He sounds the grim message in the September issue of Crux, his diocesan monthly.
The doyen of Anglican Church leaders in the York province declares: “We are in a missionary situation.
“Alarming recent projections shared at the General Synod suggest that unless we start growing our congregations now at the rate of three per cent each year, we will decline into near oblivion.”

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

(Church Times) Paralympic skills on show in St Paul’s Cathedral

Organised in conjunction with the British Paralympic Association and the English Federation of Disability Sport, “Courage and Faith: The opening service for the London 2012 Paralympic Games”, was not part of the official programme, but was billed as an “act of worship”, “part of the Christian response” to the Games. Lord Coe was unable to attend, and most of the current Paralympic athletes were too immersed in training to appear….

The wheelchair athlete Anne Wufula-Strike contributed to a sense of living faith, giving her personal testimony to sport as a means of witness: “God sees me as perfect. . . He uses me and has a purpose for me.” She went on to describe how sport could also educate and empower people, especially in the developing world, to fight the stigmatisation of disability and “to be included in their communities”.

In this, she echoed the address by Baroness Grey-Thompson, the Paralympic gold medallist, who described how the Games could “challenge the accepted view of what disabled people can do. . . Paralym-pic sport has the power to change the world.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sports

([London] Times) Outrage over American blackout of the Games

The US television network NBC was branded an embarrassment yesterday for its coverage of the Paralympics as athletes, sports chiefs and disability campaigners called for better recognition by international broadcasters of the world’s second largest sports event.
Fierce reaction to the widespread blackout beyond Britain of the Opening Ceremony on Wednesday night came after a record number of people tuned in to watch the critically acclaimed event live on Channel 4.
The host broadcaster reported a peak audience of 11.2 million viewers, its biggest for more than ten years.
Conversely, NBC will wait until September 16 before screening its 90-minute special on the Paralympics, including edited highlights of the show.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Media, Movies & Television, Sports, Theology

(NY Times Op-Ed) Imraan Coovadia on the recent Horrible Story at a South African Mine

…a mine is a difficult place to learn or teach a principle. As a schoolboy I went down a coal shaft as a guest of the Chamber of Mines, which wanted to encourage children to become mining engineers. For an hour we plummeted into dark heat and noise, passages of shivering wooden pillars, rock ceilings sloping almost to the floor that wept hot water. We passed men bent over their clanging and clattering drills who could not even stand up straight where they worked. To go in and come out of such a place, each day of a short life, was, I suspected, placing too much strain on the human heart. One could do it only if one didn’t know that, in 2011, three Lonmin executives earned the same as the combined salaries of 3,600 rock-drill operators.

In the years since 1994, South Africans chose money, and faith in the growth of gross domestic product, as our country’s story line. It is a strange twist to the narrative that many of the northern mines, despite good platinum prices, are almost unprofitable.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, South Africa, Theology

Albert Mohler: Atheists in the Pulpit–The Sad Charade of the Clergy Project

The Clergy Project is a magnet for charlatans and cowards who, by their own admission, openly lie to their congregations, hide behind beliefs they do not hold, make common cause with atheists, and still retain their positions and salaries. Is this how atheists and secularists groups intend to further their cause? They are getting publicity from the media to be sure, but do they think it will win them friends?

Ministers struggling honestly with doubts and struggles are in a different category altogether. Doubt will lead to one of two inevitable consequences. Faithful doubt leads to a deeper embrace of the truth, with doubt serving to point us into a deeper knowledge, trust, and understanding of the truth. Pernicious doubt leads to unfaithfulness, unbelief, skepticism, cynicism, and despair. Christians ”” ministers or otherwise ”” who are struggling with doubt, need to seek help from the faithful, not the faithless.

Christianity has little to fear from the Clergy Project. Its website reveals it to be a toothless tiger that will attract media attention, and that is about all. The greater danger to the church is a reduction in doctrine that leaves atheism hard to distinguish from belief. And the real forces to fear are those who would counsel such a reduction.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Secularism, Theology

(ENI) Kenyan faith leaders urge calm after Mombasa riots

Kenyan Christian and Muslim leaders are calling for calm in the coastal city of Mombasa after two days of violence over the killing of a militant Muslim cleric.
Churches were torched, vandalized and looted by Muslim youths who were protesting the 27 August killing of Sheikh Aboud Rogo, a cleric the American government has accused of aiding the al-Shabab militants of Somalia, allegedly linked to al-Quaeda. More than eight Protestant and evangelical churches were targeted.
A grenade was hurled at police officers who were trying to save a Presbyterian church. Three officers and a civilian were killed and 14 others injured.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Islam, Kenya, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Aidan and Cuthbert of Lindisfarne

Everliving God, who didst call thy servants Aidan and Cuthbert to proclaim the Gospel in northern England and endued them with loving hearts and gentle spirits: Grant us grace to live as they did, in simplicity, humility and love for the poor; through Jesus Christ, who came among us as one who serves, and who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Son of God, who by thy lowly life hast made manifest the royalty of service: Teach us that it is better to give than to receive, better to minister than to be ministered unto, after thine own example, who now livest and reignest in the glory of the eternal Trinity, world without end.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure. For thou dost not give me up to Sheol, or let thy godly one see the Pit. Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.

–Psalm 16:8-11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer in the Evening of the Day

I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

–Martin Luther (1483–1546)

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

In New Hampshire, a Living history museum is gifted with replicas of 18th-century religious texts

Earlier this month, the Most Rev. Brian Marsh, presiding bishop of the Anglican Church in America, blessed the Bible at a Sunday ceremony that included the Rev. Art Bennett, vicar of Christ Church in St. Johnsbury, Vt., Deacon David Moody of the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd in Charlestown and Wendy Baker, museum director at the Fort at No. 4.

Baker said Tuesday that the Bible and other prayer books enhance the museum, since religion played a vital role in the daily lives of people in the 18th century.

“It adds another dimension to the fort. It adds more depth. We think of religion as being very separate from people’s lives, but in the 18th century, we know that it had control of a lot of activity. It was a different way of looking at the world,” Baker said. “It wasn’t a question of being able to separate your life from your religion or your spirituality, as we would now say.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Continuum, History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

New Book Coming from the Episcopal Bishop of Texas

Read it all there.

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

(Globe and Mail) Gary Mason–The next frontier against drunk driving

In… [British Columbia], if you blow .08 or beyond, you can avoid the justice system ”“ and a criminal record ”“ if you fit certain criteria. Conditions include not having killed or injured anyone or caused property damage as a result of your actions. If you qualify, you can opt for administrative sanctions over the courts.

If you choose this path, you have to go through a rehabilitation program, which could lead to treatment for alcohol abuse. When the person is given the right to drive again, it can only be in a car outfitted with an ignition interlock system, for a minimum of one year. The device prevents the car from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol level is above a certain limit.

“The focus is very much on rehabilitating the driver and not simply punishing him,” says Mr. Murie. “I don’t think just punishing drivers works.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Alcohol/Drinking, Canada, Law & Legal Issues, Teens / Youth, Travel, Young Adults

Notable and Quotable

Peter Berger once commented that if India is the most religious country in the world, and Sweden the least religious, then America is a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes.

–From Phillip Johnson, which I quoted in adult Sunday school last week which brought it to mind this morning

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