Daily Archives: July 29, 2013

(USA Today) Fate of Jerusalem looms over peace talks

As Israeli and Palestinian negotiators prepare for preliminary talks in Washington on Monday (July 29), the future of Jerusalem ”” holy to three faiths ”” looms as the thorniest and most difficult issue to resolve.

The State Department announced Sunday that the two sides had accepted invitations from Secretary of State John Kerry to come to Washington “to formally resume direct final status negotiations.” The department said two days of initial meetings will begin Monday evening.

The announcement came shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet approved the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners, a key part of the Kerry-brokered deal.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

Rhode Island Episcopal Bishop W. Nicholas Knisely bridges the religion-science divide

Well before he became Rhode Island’s Episcopal bishop, the Right Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely lived in two worlds. As a priest and rector of a church in Bethlehem, Pa., he looked after people’s spiritual needs. Then he’d hop in a car and travel across the river to nearby Lehigh University to teach physics and astronomy.

His double role came about in part because the school had learned that before he became a priest he had earned degrees in both astronomy and physics. In agreeing to the post, however, Knisely had one condition: that he’d be allowed to teach class wearing his clerical garb.

But as Bishop Knisely recounted to packed pews at a forum last week at St. Andrew’s-by-the-Sea, the priestly attire created quite a stir. Many were stunned to see a man of the cloth teaching science.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, TEC Bishops

(BBC) What do different religions teach about usury and money lending?

The morality of payday loan firms is under the spotlight. But what do faiths say about money lending and interest?

In general, usury defined as the lending of money at high interest rates, is frowned upon by religion. The three Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – take a very firm stance against it.

Several passages in the Old Testament condemn usury, in particular when lending to the poor and destitute. This led to lending money at interest being forbidden in the Jewish community, explains Dr Alastair McIntosh from the Centre for Human Ecology: “In Jewish tradition charging interest was forbidden within the community, but it was permitted to outsiders.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Judaism, Other Faiths, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(WSJ) Crackdown in Egypt Fans U.S. Fears

he Obama administration increasingly fears that Egypt’s military, ignoring American appeals, is deepening a crackdown that could spark a sustained period of instability and lead members of the country’s Muslim Brotherhood to take up arms.

In a series of private messages in recent days, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other American officials warned Egyptian military leader Gen. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi that his clampdown on the Brotherhood risked driving the Islamist group back underground, say U.S. officials involved in the discussions.

Despite those exhortations, Gen. Sisi called for massive demonstrations on Friday, which precipitated the deadliest single incident in the more than two years since Egypt’s revolution. The U.S. also had sent messages urging calm to Brotherhood leaders, but officials said the group, like the military, showed little sign of backing down.

Read it all.

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

(Total Politics) Archbishop's Move: Can [Justin] Welby restore faith in the church?

So how will Justin Welby handle that tension? Rowan Williams’ decade in Lambeth Palace was occasionally difficult and often controversial, with the outgoing Archbishop wearily wishing his successor “the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros.” Where Williams ”“ a Doctor of Philosophy ”“ began to irritate politicians and some parts of the press with his interventions, perhaps Welby’s background gives him a surer platform from which to speak?

“It gives me a public profile which is slightly different, but apart from that I have no more or less authority than Rowan Williams,” he insists. But there is, he admits, a clear difference. “I certainly have a less strong background in philosophy and ethics as a professional discipline”¦ certainly more experience of what happens in practice when you try and apply these things. And you need both.”

But how did that career in oil train him for the work he does today? Welby pauses. “I’m often asked that question. I never know the answer.” But the answer is this: Welby understands the world beyond the church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture

Unemployed and Older, and Facing a Jobless Future

For those over 50 and unemployed, the statistics are grim. While unemployment rates for Americans nearing retirement are lower than for young people who are recently out of school, once out of a job, older workers have a much harder time finding work. Over the last year, according to the Labor Department, the average duration of unemployment for older people was 53 weeks, compared with 19 weeks for teenagers.

There are numerous reasons ”” older workers have been hit both by the recession and globalization. They’re more likely to have been laid off from industries that are downsizing, and since their salaries tend to be higher than those of younger workers, they’re attractive targets if layoffs are needed.

Even as they do all the things they’re told to do ”” network, improve those computer skills, find a new passion and turn it into a job ”” many struggle with the question of whether their working life as they once knew it is essentially over.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

([London] Times) The Church of England ”˜is investing in an imperfect world’

The Church of England’s ethical finance chief has defended its investment policy despite its stakes in businesses blamed for pollution, tax dodging, animal cruelty and child labour.

“Life is not perfectly good or perfectly bad,” Edward Mason said after it was revealed that the Church had been unwittingly bankrolling the payday lender Wonga. “Everything is a mess.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has ordered a review of the Church’s multibillion-pound investments to identify inconsistencies with its moral teachings.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market, Theology

(Prospect) UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks–If I ruled the World

If I ruled the world I would resign immediately. It’s hard enough, individually and collectively, to rule ourselves, let alone others. But if offered an hour before I resigned I would enact one institution that has the power to transform the world. It’s called the Sabbath.

The idea of a weekly day of collective rest was unprecedented in the ancient world. Months and years are natural ways of structuring time, based respectively on the appearance of the moon and the sun. But the seven day week corresponds to nothing in nature; nor does a day of rest.

The Greeks and Romans could not understand the Sabbath at all. They wrote that the Jews kept it because they were lazy. The interesting fact is that within a relatively short space of time after making that judgement, Greece, and later Rome, declined and fell. Without institutionalized rest, civilizations, like individuals, eventually suffer from burnout.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Mary and Martha [and Lazarus] of Bethany

Generous God, whose Son Jesus Christ enjoyed the friendship and hospitality of Mary, Martha and Lazarus of Bethany: Open our hearts to love thee, our ears to hear thee, and our hands to welcome and serve thee in others, through Jesus Christ our risen Lord; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Grant us, O Lord, not to mind earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to cleave to those that shall abide; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

— Leonine Sacramentary

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

When I am afraid, I put my trust in thee. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust without a fear. What can flesh do to me?

–Psalm 56:3-4

Posted in Uncategorized

([London] Times) Community bank offers a lifeline in hard times

Nicola, a young woman with a daughter aged 3, was homeless, unemployed and “sofa surfing” when she sought the help of the community bank at Trinity Centre in Louth, Lincolnshire.

The centre is part of the local Church of England parish and for two hours every Wednesday morning, the bank ”” a credit union run entirely by volunteers ”” opens for business.

Nicola did not even have a bank account. The credit union waived its administrative costs to help her open an account. This meant that she was able to secure an affordable loan through the union that served as a deposit.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(Time) Monks in Egypt’s Lawless Sinai Hope to Preserve an Ancient Library

Just as they have done for 17 centuries, the Greek Orthodox monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt’s Sinai desert and the local Jabaliya Bedouins worked together to protect the monastery when the 2011 revolution thrust Egypt into a period of uncertainty. “There was a period in the early days of the Arab Spring when we had no idea what was going to happen,” says Father Justin, a monk who has lived at St. Catherine’s since 1996. Afraid they could be attacked by Islamic extremists or bandits in the relatively lawless expanse of desert, the 25 monks put the monastery’s most valuable manuscripts in the building’s storage room. Their Bedouin friends, who live at the base of St. Catherine’s in a town of the same name, allegedly took up their weapons and guarded the perimeter.

The community’s fears of an attack were not realized, but the monks decided they needed a new way to protect their treasured library from any future threats.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Egypt, History, Middle East, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Science & Technology

Noteable and Quotable–a Parish Vision Statement worth Pondering

Our vision at St. Helena’s is to be like the Church at Antioch as described in the Book of Acts. The fellowship of believers at Antioch was where the disciples were first called Christians. Antioch was a culturally, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse church where all were welcome to seek the Lord. This church was also the first to be proactive in prayerfully sending out evangelists to proclaim the Gospel of the risen Christ. You will see our vision encapsulated on many of our publications by the words Proclaim, Equip, Pray, Send & Go.

–The vision statement for Saint Helena’s, Beaufort, S.C.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Theology

In the Beginning Was the Word; Now the Word Is on an App

Scott Thumma, a professor at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, who studies large American churches, said YouVersion filled a longstanding vacuum for technological products aimed at a religious market. He called LifeChurch.tv “the most innovative congregation in the country in developing and using technology.”

The app has gained appreciation in the tech world as well.

“This is a remarkable tech start-up by any measure,” said Chi-Hua Chien, a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins and a Christian who has offered informal advice to Mr. Gruenewald. He compared YouVersion with well-known ventures like Pinterest or Path.

Read it all from the front page of yesterday’s New York Times.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology, Theology: Scripture