Daily Archives: July 24, 2013

(CT) Doug Banister–Rethinking the $3,000 Missions Trip

In some ways, however, what is happening with our urban swim team is more the exception than the rule in our city. Some well-meaning Christians have a theology of mission that seeks to alleviate the spiritual and physical suffering of people far away, but pays little attention to needs here at home.

I know because I was one of them. I spent many years taking mission trips to Tulcea, Romania. We shared the gospel, cared for orphans, and started a medical clinic. It seemed that God moved in powerful ways. Then my friends Jon and Toni moved into one of Knoxville’s marginalized neighborhoods. Jon invited me to go on prayer walks with him on Wednesday mornings. I saw syringes on playgrounds, prostitutes turning tricks, hustlers selling drugs. Our walks led me to volunteer at the elementary school in Jon’s neighborhood. I’d assumed all the schools in our city were pretty much the same. They aren’t. Kids with B averages in Jon’s school score in the 30th percentile on standardized tests. Kids with B averages in my neighborhood score in the 90th percentile.

Along the way, a pastor named Johnny began showing me what the city looked like from the front lawn of his cash-strapped inner-city church. As I spent more time in Knoxville’s at-risk neighborhoods, I realized that I knew more about poverty in Tulcea than I knew about poverty in Knoxville. I was pursuing the common good of a city across the world while neglecting the common good of the place where I lived.Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Missions, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

John Stackhouse–Religion in Canada: De-Christianization Continues Apace

The main plotline is the continued falling away of Canadians from the Christian religion. From the 1860s to the 1960s, Canada was one of the most observant Christian countries on earth. Through the 1940s, weekly church attendance was well above 60% (versus about 40% in the U.S.) and a broad cultural consensus existed around Christian values, institutions, customs, and religious language. As late as the 1970s, Canadian public school children recited the Lord’s Prayer at the start of every morning, and into the 1980s the Lord’s Day was observed by acts that bore its name””businesses were kept closed and entertainments curtailed to foster both worship for the faithful and rest for the weary.

The tight link between Canada and Christian piety has evaporated as Canadians have raced the Dutch for the fastest de-Christianization since the French Revolution. Yes, Quebec led the way with its Quiet Revolution””its rapid and radical secularization in the 1960s. The national story is simply an Even Quieter Revolution of slow, but sure, abandonment of Christian identity by older people and an increasing number of younger people who have never known the inside of a church and are in no hurry to see it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Religion & Culture

(WSJ RTE blog) Majority of Americans Say U.S. Still in Recession

The economy may be sputtering along. But it hasn’t been in recession for more than four years. More than half of Americans think it still is.

A majority of people ”” 54% ”” in a new McClatchy-Marist poll think the country is in an economic downturn, according to the survey conducted last week and released Tuesday.

One bright spot: July’s figure marks the lowest proportion of Americans who have held that view since 2008. About a third of those surveyed don’t think the economy is in a slump, while 8% are unsure, according to the poll. In March, 63% thought the economy was in recession.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(Christian Century) Amy Frykholm–Dying in community: The black church and hospice care

The American hospice movement is thriving. Forty-two percent of all Americans who died in 2010 were in hospice care””up from 22 percent in 2000. The number of organizations providing hospice care has grown steadily, up 13 percent from 2006””from 4,500 to over 5,000””as has the length of time that patients spend in hospice care. More people are spending their dying days experiencing the holistic medicine and dignified care that hospice seeks to provide.

But the growth in the hospice movement has tended to neglect African Americans. African Americans constitute 13 percent of the U.S. population, but only 8 percent of hospice patients are African American””even though blacks have the highest cancer rates of all ethnicities and are more likely to die from cancer than whites.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Theology

Bishop Keith Ackerman's Address

to the Forward in Faith North America Assembly 2013

With thanks to Kevin Kallsen at Anglican TV

Posted in Theology

(Time) The De-Gendering of Divorce: Wives Pay Ex-Husbands Alimony Too

Not long ago, after giving a talk about the growing number of women who are breadwinners in their marriages, I was approached by an audience member who identified herself as a lawyer. She said that she was definitely seeing this trend in her practice ”” nearly 40% of working wives now outearn their husbands ”” and that while economic power is a good thing, overall, for women, it can have one negative outcome many don’t anticipate. Among her divorce clients, she said, more and more were women who found themselves ordered by a court to pay spousal support to ex-husbands. ”And boy,” she said, “are they pissed.”

That these women are angry is to be expected: men don’t like paying alimony either, and writing a check every month has long been, for men, one of the prime impediments to postmarital bliss. But their reaction also suggests that women, while eager to benefit from progress and expanded opportunities, are not so willing to accept the more painful consequences of our success. What’s sauce for the gander is, alas, sauce for the goose. It may or may not make it easier on these check-writing ex-wives to know that they are part of a larger movement: the degendering of alimony and divorce, which is a natural outgrowth of the degendering of roles in marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Men, Women

Notable and Quotable II-On the Dignity of Human Beings

But what is man? About himself he has expressed, and continues to express, many divergent and even contradictory opinions. In these he often exalts himself as the absolute measure of all things or debases himself to the point of despair. The result is doubt and anxiety. The Church certainly understands these problems. Endowed with light from God, she can offer solutions to them, so that man’s true situation can be portrayed and his defects explained, while at the same time his dignity and destiny are justly acknowledged.

For Sacred Scripture teaches that man was created “to the image of God,” is capable of knowing and loving his Creator, and was appointed by Him as master of all earthly creatures(1) that he might subdue them and use them to God’s glory.(2) “What is man that you should care for him? You have made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet” (Ps. 8:5-7).

But God did not create man as a solitary, for from the beginning “male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). Their companionship produces the primary form of interpersonal communion. For by his innermost nature man is a social being, and unless he relates himself to others he can neither live nor develop his potential.

Therefore, as we read elsewhere in Holy Scripture God saw “all that he had made, and it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).

Although he was made by God in a state of holiness, from the very onset of his history man abused his liberty, at the urging of the Evil One. Man set himself against God and sought to attain his goal apart from God. Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, but their senseless minds were darkened and they served the creature rather than the Creator.What divine revelation makes known to us agrees with experience. Examining his heart, man finds that he has inclinations toward evil too, and is engulfed by manifold ills which cannot come from his good Creator. Often refusing to acknowledge God as his beginning, man has disrupted also his proper relationship to his own ultimate goal as well as his whole relationship toward himself and others and all created things.

–Gaudium Et Spes (1965)

Posted in Anthropology, Theology

Notable and Quotable I–Archibald Rutledge on God, grief, and the wood

Passing from a state of keenest grief I came to one of quiet reconcilement—-to the profound conviction that, living or dying, God will take care of us. God seemed very near to me in that wood; the beauty of it all trembled with His grace; the music held His voice. I saw there both life and death—-in the green leaves and the brown, in the standing trees and in the fallen. If one is honest with himself when he asks the question, What is it that perishes? he will be obliged to answer, Everything that the eye sees. In the forest, amid those things that God provided, I came to understand that if we are to hold anything—-and in times of sorrow we must have something to which we can cling—it must be to the unseen. For the strength that is permanent, we have to lean on visions; for immortal hope, we have to trust, not the things that we perceive but those invisible things that our spirits affirms.

–Archibald Rutledge, Life’s Extras (hat tip: DF)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Russell Moore–What’s at Stake with Internet Pornography

…before pornography is a legal or cultural or moral issue, it is an ecclesial one. Judgment must, as Scripture tells us, begin with the household of God (1 Pet. 4:17). The man who is sitting upstairs viewing pornography while his wife chauffeurs their children to soccer practice might well be a religionless, secular culture warrior. But he is just as likely to be one of our church members, maybe even one who reads Touchstone magazine.

To begin to address this crisis, we call on the church of Jesus Christ to take seriously what is at stake here. Pornography is about more than biological impulses or cultural nihilism; it is about worship. The Christian Church, in all places and in all times and in all communions, has taught that we are not alone in the universe. One aspect of “mere Christianity” is that there are unseen spiritual beings afoot in the cosmos who seek to do us harm.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Marriage & Family, Pornography, Religion & Culture

The Church of England Suggested Prayer for the Royal baby

God our Creator,

who knows each of us by name

and loves us from all eternity:

we give you thanks for new life and human love.

Bless William and Catherine

as they welcome their son into the world.

Give them patience and wisdom

to cherish and love him as he grows.

Surround the family with the light of hope and the warmth of your love today and always; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Children, Church of England (CoE), Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(RNS) Evangelicals decry ”˜silence’ on sexual abuse

More than 1,200 people have signed an online petition decrying the “silence” and “inattention” of evangelical leaders to sexual abuse in their churches.

The statement was prompted by recent child abuse allegations against Sovereign Grace Ministries, an umbrella group of 80 Reformed evangelical churches based in Louisville, Ky.

“Recent allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up within a well known international ministry and subsequent public statements by several evangelical leaders have angered and distressed many, both insi

de and outside of the Church,” reads the three-page statement spearheaded by GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment).Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

Australian Church Record Editorial–Preparing for the Sydney Election

In principle, what needs to be known about the nominees can already be known. It is a candidate’s past performance, outside the walls of Synod Hall, that really matters. Evidence can be gathered from the spheres in which his ministry has been exercised, for that evidence already exists in the real world amongst the real people who have experienced his ministry already. There is nothing mysterious about any candidate, the data simply needs to be gathered:

Has he been gospel focussed (or not)? Has he encouraged Christ’s mission (or not)? Does he clarify gospel truth and stand for it (or not)? Has he made good appointments of other people (or not)? Has he built and encouraged a ministry team (or not)? What is his track record of growing a congregation in strength and size (or not), or of successfully planting and growing new congregations (or not)? Does he know the world of the laity””has he encouraged ”˜people like me’ in my part of Christ’s mission-field (or not)? Does he know the weaknesses and struggles of being a human being in a suffering world, so that, having been comforted himself, he can bring the comfort of the grace of God to others (or not)? Does he know how to encourage his fellow clergy to keep at their task of shepherding God’s flock with patience and joyful endurance (or not)?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CSM) Al Qaeda growing, but less focused on US, study finds

Al Qaeda not only remains a threat to the United States, but its capabilities and scope are expanding, a new analysis from a respected think tank has concluded.

“There has been a net expansion in the number and geographic scope of Al Qaeda affiliates and allies over the past decade, indicating that Al Qaeda and its brand are far from defeated,” argues Seth Jones, an analyst at the RAND Corporation and the study’s author.

Why, after a decade of wars ”“ the longest in America’s history ”“ is the terrorist organization that the US military set out to defeat still active and growing? And does it really have an impact on the everyday safety of most Americans?

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Thomas a Kempis

Holy Father, who hast nourished and strengthened thy Church by the writings of thy servant Thomas a Kempis: Grant that we may learn from him to know what we ought to know, to love what we ought to love, to praise what highly pleaseth thee, and always to seek to know and follow thy will; through 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, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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