Daily Archives: February 8, 2013

Nick Street–How Megan Fox Got the Holy Spirit

In an interview with Esquire that is generating a surprising amount of buzz””and not just because she appears on the magazine’s cover in her underwear””TV and film star Megan Fox talks about her Pentecostal upbringing and her experience of “getting the Holy Ghost.” Ms. Fox’s account of speaking in tongues is proving particularly buzz-worthy, prompting comment in Christian media as well as mainstream news outlets in the U.S. and abroad.

Why the kerfuffle? Didn’t we get our fill of this a couple of years ago with similar descriptions by the Pentecostally raised singer Katy Perry? And what does it mean to speak in tongues?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

Andrew Ferguson on Evil, the Chattering Media Elite, and Sandy Hook

Our news media suffer from a terrible supply-side problem. The number of people paid to offer opinions greatly outstrips the number of things worth having an opinion about. Even now, several weeks after the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, I don’t think the slaughter was the kind of event toward which one can profitably form an interesting point of view. Leaving church one morning, so the story goes, the great Coolidge was asked the subject of his pastor’s sermon. “Sin,” Coolidge replied. And what did the pastor say about sin? “He said he was ag’in it.” Some things don’t require much elaboration.

In an important sense””in the literal sense””what happened at Sandy Hook was unspeakable, which is why, I suppose, the public disputations that followed it were a towering jumble of non sequitur and irrelevance, a rodeo of hobby horses ridden by straw men. The disputations began even before the authorities had released a final count of victims. Indeed, at the time, good information was hard to come by. For as much as 10 hours after the first reporters arrived on the scene, print and TV journalists were misreporting the killer’s name, his place of residence, his relationship to the elementary school, his mother’s line of work, the types and source of the guns he used, the reaction of school officials in the immediate aftermath of the crime””the long string of mistakes we have come to expect when the compulsion to get it first overwhelms the need to get it right.

The slaughter at Sandy Hook wasn’t merely a rebuke to politics or law enforcement or government regulation–it was a rebuke to our desperate hope that evil can be destroyed, or at least quarantined.

–From the February 2013 issue of Commentary, pages 63-64

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theodicy, Theology, Violence

(AP) Islamic summit urges Syria dialogue even as opposition leader’s initiative for talks unravels

Leaders at an Islamic summit on Thursday urged a dialogue between the Syrian opposition and regime just as a new initiative for talks proposed by an anti-government leader appeared to be unraveling.

Like previous diplomatic initiatives on Syria, opposition chief Mouaz al-Khatib’s call for talks made less than a week ago appeared doomed to failure. And with troops and rebels clashing for a second day around Damascus, frustrated Syrians dismissed the calls for dialogue as empty talk.

“All of this does not concern us,” said Iyad, a Syrian fighter on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, which has witnessed heavy fighting in the last two days.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Syria, Violence

Bishop serving in Canada receives Queen's Jubilee Medal

On Saturday, Feb. 2, the Anglican Church of Canada’s first National Indigenous Bishop, Mark MacDonald, will receive the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal at Queen’s Park, Toronto.

Created to mark the 2012 celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne as Queen of Canada, the medal honours Canadians who have made significant contributions and achievements to the country.

MacDonald is being recognized for his “spiritual leadership while serving Aboriginal communities and his contributions to environmental awareness of Canadians,” said NDP MP Craig Scott (Toronto-Danforth), who nominated MacDonald. MacDonald will join 29 other community leaders who will be awarded the medal by Scott. Each Member of Parliament was given 30 medals to present to outstanding constituents in their communities.

“I am very blessed and surprised to receive this honour and very grateful to Craig Scott for his nomination,” said MacDonald in an interview. “It means a lot at a number of levels to me, some very personal, but, most importantly, recognizes and honours the vision of the elders for the future of the People of the Land.”

Congratulations to Bishop Macdonald–read it all (another from the long queue of should-have-already-been-posted material).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Churches and synagogues 'priced out of civil partnership ceremonies'

Religious institutions have been priced out of offering civil partnership ceremonies by high licensing fees, according to Unitarian ministers and liberal rabbis.

Councils are charging churches and synagogues up to 16 times more for a three-year licence to hold civil partnership ceremonies than for a permanent licence to conduct marriages, Guardian research has revealed.

The two-tier charging has been seized on by campaigners for gay marriage as a further sign of the need for reforms.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

Poll–According to 2 UCLA researchers, what % of people who cited a paper had actually read it?

Many psychological tests have the so-called “lie-scale.” A small but sufficient number of questions that admit only one true answer, such as: “Do you always reply to letters immediately after reading them?” are
inserted among others that are central to the particular test. A wrong reply for such a question adds a point on the lie-scale, and when the lie-score is high, the over-all test results are discarded as unreliable. Perhaps, for a scientist the best candidate for such a lie-scale is the question: “Do you read all of the papers that you cite?”

Comparative studies of the popularity of scientific papers has been a subject of much recent interest [1”“8], but the scope has been limited to citation distribution analysis. We have discovered a method of estimating
what percentage of people who cited the paper had actually read it.

The title of the paper is “Read Before You Cite!” No fair clicking the link until you have guessed, then check out their argument–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Psychology, Theology

(Telegraph) Forget hedonism – today's young prefer lenten abstinence

A poll found that enthusiasm for traditional lenten abstinence was highest among students and people in their early 20s and declines as they supposedly mature.

The survey by YouGov for The Church Times found that 35 per cent of people aged 18 to 24 were planning to give something up for lent this year.

It compares with 30 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds and only 21 per cent of those over 35.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, England / UK, Lent, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

(ACNS) Zambian priest calls on Christians in Africa to fight corruption

A Zambian priest has challenged Christians across Africa to stand up and fight corrupt practices that are “soiling the fabric” of many countries on the continent.

The Revd John Kafwanka, currently Director of Mission at the Anglican Communion Office, was speaking following the recent arrest of Ugandan anti-corruption activist and retired Assistant Bishop of Kampala Diocese the Rt Revd Zac Niringiye.

Niringiye and eight other campaigners were arrested on Monday by the police at Uganda’s Makerere University for distributing pamphlets calling for an end to high-level corruption. The group was later released on bond.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Central Africa, Church of Uganda, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Uganda, Zambia

(Detroit Free-Press) Syrian-American Christians–'We're all losing in this battle' over Syria

Growing up as the youngest of seven children in the historic city of Hama in Syria, George Shalhoub led an idyllic life in which he says Muslims and Christians lived together peacefully.

“We lived in a neighborhood that is called the Christian quarter, surrounded by Muslim neighborhoods,” recalled Shalhoub, 63, founder and pastor of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Livonia. “We played in their mosques, and they played in the courtyard of our church. We were safe. We visited each other, and were part of each other’s lives. I never once felt discriminated against by the Muslims.

“It was the happiest time of my life.”

But over the last two years, the civil war has unraveled the threads that bind society in Hama and other places in Syria, leading to sectarian strife and bloodshed. Last month, Shalhoub learned that the daughter, son-in-law and grandson of his 95-year-old hometown priest, Rev. Rafael Basha, were killed.

The discovery added another layer of sorrow for Shalhoub, who often prays for reconciliation in his native land….

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) RE seen as a scary nuisance, Bishop of Oxford complains

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, has briefed the Bishops that, despite the Government’s insistence that RE remains a legal requirement, its policies are sending the subject into “a spiral of decline”.

The letter was written last month, shortly after a meeting of Bishop Pritchard, who chairs the C of E’s Board of Education, with the Minister of State for Education, David Laws.

Bishop Pritchard writes: “It’s clear that the Government has no real interest in RE because they see it as a scary nuisance, and its protected status as a guarantee that all is well. It isn’t.” The Bishop writes of the effect of excluding RE from the EBacc core syllabus, and halving the training places for specialist teachers.

Read it all.

Update: Also, please see Statement from Church of England’s Board of Education on today’s expected announcement of dropping plans for Ebacc.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture

James Taranto on a recent Atlantic Article and the Sin of 'Singlism'

We’re about to comment on yet another interminable sex-related piece from The Atlantic, so let’s start with some comic relief. The article’s co-authors, Lisa Arnold and Christina Campbell, run a website called Onely.com. Its slogan is “Single and Happy….”

[The authors]…[are] aggrieved enough to resort to neology, denouncing what they term “institutionalized singlism, the discrimination of [sic] individuals based on marital status.” What they mean is discrimination against individuals based on lack of marital status.

“More than 1,000 laws provide overt legal or financial benefits to married couples,” they complain. “Marital privileging marginalizes the 50 percent of Americans who are single. . . . Marital privilege pervades nearly every facet of our lives.” Income-tax liability is generally (though not always) higher for unmarried earners; married workers more or less automatically have access to spouses’ health insurance; couples can share individual retirement accounts, and so forth.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Teens / Youth, Theology, Young Adults

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord Jesus Christ, who when on earth wast ever about thy Father’s business: Grant that we may not grow weary in well-doing. Give us grace to do all in thy name. Be thou the beginning and the end of all: the pattern whom we follow, the redeemer in whom we trust, the master whom we serve, the friend to whom we look for sympathy. May we never shrink from our duty from any fear of man. Make us faithful unto death; and bring us at last into thy eternal presence, where with the Father and the Holy Ghost thou livest and reignest for ever.

–E. B. Pusey (1800-1882)

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

–Galatians 5:22-24

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Whitehouse Blocked Rebel Arms to Syria

A proposal to arm Syrian rebels was backed by the Pentagon, the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency, but the White House decided not to act on the plan, reflecting the extent of divisions over the U.S. role in the bloody conflict.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Marine Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Mr. Obama’s top military adviser, revealed publicly for the first time at a Senate hearing on Thursday that they supported a proposal last year by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-CIA director Gen. David Petraeus.

Read it all.

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

Jaweed Kaleem–Death Cafes Grow As Places To Discuss, Learn About the End Of Life

A few dozen Ohioans will meet Wednesday evening in a community room at a Panera Bread outside of Columbus for tea, cake and conversation over an unusual shared curiosity.

For two hours, split between small circles and a larger group discussion, they’ll talk about death. A facilitator may throw out questions to spark the conversation: How do they want to die? In their sleep? In the hospital? Of what cause? When do they want die? Is 105 too old? Are they scared? What kind of funerals do they want, if any? Is cremation better than burial? And what do they need accomplish before life is over?

This is the Death Cafe, an anything-goes, frank conversation on death that’s been hosted at dozens of coffee shops and community centers in American cities from Arizona to Maine since beginning in the Columbus area in July….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Eschatology, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology