Daily Archives: August 14, 2013

(Wash. Post) Michael Lindgren–In four books, four different visions for fixing higher education

In a famous episode of “The Sopranos,” Tony takes his teenage daughter on a college trip to an idyllic New England hamlet, only to run across a long-lost informant in hiding, whom he ends up garrotting in the mud while his daughter tours the picturesque ivy-and-brick campus. Those of us who have recently been on college visits may feel that Tony drew the easier assignment. Give me a choice between comparing financial aid proposals and fighting a bad guy to the death, and I’ll be asking you to pass me the wire.

In my youth, the whole process was pretty laid-back. Where you went to college was an important decision, sure, but it didn’t inspire existential gloom, nor did it call into play financial and structural resources exceeding those of some European nations. If you didn’t get into one small, moderately prestigious liberal arts college, then another down the road would be sure to take you, and in 20 years it wouldn’t really matter which one, anyway. Of course, as I’m reminded ”” over and over and over again ”” it’s a different world today.

A classmate of mine at what was then a reasonably but not insanely selective Northeastern college has since become an education consultant. “So,” I asked him casually, “what chance do you suppose we would have ”” ”

“None,” he said, before I could finish my question. “Neither of us would make the cut today. Not even close. It’s that competitive.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Books, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Theology, Young Adults

(RNS) A New book recounts church gardening as a peacemaking ministry

…[Fred] Bahnson, a Duke Divinity School graduate and a pioneer in the church gardening movement, had a different view of farming than the older tobacco farmer. He knew that if he gave back to the soil more than he took out ”” in the form of compost, manure and other soil food ”” he could create an abundant garden.

It was a different way of farming, born of a reverence for the Earth and a deep theological commitment to wholeness, community and peacemaking.

Bahnson’s new book, “Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith,” recounts some of the struggles at Anathoth Community Garden, and fleshes out portraits of four other faith communities ”” places where growing food has produced what he calls “a physical manifestation of God’s presence.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Books, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Former Primate) Peter Akinola says Nigeria’s future under threat

Former Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), The Most Reverend (Dr) Peter Akinola, has raised the alarm that the nation is under siege and its future remains bleak, unless conscious effort is made to wage war against corruption, which has remained the greatest challenge to its development.

The cleric stated this while addressing newsmen at a Media Roundtable on “Breaking the Corruption Jinx in Nigeria,” at his Abeokuta home on Tuesday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(First Things First Thoughts Blog) Rusty Reno on Jean Bethke Elshtain, RIP

Jean was one of the indispensable voices of cultural and political sanity in the post-sixties. She cared deeply about the common good, and she recognized that faith, family, and patriotic solidarity ennobled the lives of ordinary people. So she found herself defending those loves, often setting herself against the academic establishment and its dissolving ideologies. It required determination and courage, both of which Jean had in large, very large, measures.

Read it all (and I recommend taking the time to peruse the comments as well).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Chicago Tribune) Jean Bethke Elshtain, 1941-2013

A provocative ethicist and political philosopher at the University of Chicago, Mrs. Elshtain supported the U.S. war on terror, saying America’s power as a nation meant it had a great responsibility. She was also concerned with the way in which political systems tried to remake family life and with how the human body could be changed through genetic interventions.

“She was always one to protect the little things in life,” said friend and colleague William Schweiker, the Edward L. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor of Theological Ethics in the Divinity School.

Mrs. Elshtain, 72, the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, died of heart failure Sunday, Aug. 11, in a long-term care facility in Nashville, Tenn.
Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

A NY Times profile of Angel Silva, practicer of Palo Mayombe, an African-Caribbean religion

Each morning, to summon the spiritual energy to activate the crystals and heal another wave of New Yorkers, he prays to spirits of nature and of his ancestors. On Wednesday morning, he swigged from a gallon jug of gin and spewed a mouthful of it in a sputtering mist over the shrine as an offering.

“They love gin ”” it revives them,” he said, and then he lighted candles, rang bells and chanted prayers in Spanish to the spirits.

“I just told them I’m going to heal in Union Square today, and I asked the spirits to enter this stone so they could come with me,” he said, putting the stone in his pocket. Then the self-described witch doctor grabbed his skateboard and headed to the N train to reach Union Square in time for the lunch crowd.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Caribbean, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Living Church) Greg Garrett Turns to the Afterlife

If popular culture shapes how 21st-century people understand the afterlife, then some literature and movies are more helpful ”” and truer to the Bible ”” than others. Perhaps a guide can help sift the wheat from the chaff.

Greg Garrett, 51, a licensed lay preacher in the Episcopal Church and a professor of English at Baylor University, hopes to provide such guidance in Entertaining Judgment: The Afterlife in Literature and Culture.

The book, scheduled for 2014 by Oxford University Press, explores how popular ideas of heaven, hell, and purgatory are shaped by what we watch, what we read, and what we’ve derived from religious traditions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Episcopal Church (TEC), Eschatology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CNS) 'Faith, family, football' permeates Steelers team, says Benedictine

Ask Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney why his football team has been training at St. Vincent College since 1966, and he says that the campus has the right facilities, it’s close to Pittsburgh and “for many reasons, it works well.”

Then he adds with a laugh, “And it helps that it’s the Benedictines.”

For the past 48 preseasons, the college and archabbey have welcomed the six-time Super Bowl winners with the spirit of hospitality written in the Rule of St. Benedict.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sports, Urban/City Life and Issues

(LA Times) Deerick Morgan–Verily, Christians disagree on immigration reform

…both The Times and Politico each published an opinion piece by different Christian leaders recently arguing for comprehensive immigration reform using the words quoted above.

Ordinarily, believers do and ought to make their case in the public square using language and reasoning accessible to nonbelievers. But with immigration, some are conspicuously quoting the Bible in a way rarely seen with respect to issues more out of keeping with secular liberal values.

Interestingly, those who ordinarily would gnash their teeth at any hint of religious motivation for a viewpoint have been uncharacteristically silent about the effort of certain religious figures to encourage immigration reform. Set aside the apparent double standard under which the mainstream news media suddenly are eager to print policy prescriptions from an explicitly religious perspective.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Immigration, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Head Squeeze) Why do we laugh?

We don’t just laugh at funny things, the reason we chuckle is that it serves an important purpose in our lives, as James May explains.

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Health & Medicine, Humor / Trivia, Psychology

(Washington Post) Paul Rampell–A high divorce rate means it’s time to try ”˜wedleases’

In real estate, one may own a life estate in a piece of property. This is comparable to the term of a marriage ”” a lifetime. And in real estate, one may hold possession of property for shorter terms through a lease.

Why don’t we borrow from real estate and create a marital lease? Instead of wedlock, a “wedlease.”

Here’s how a marital lease could work: Two people commit themselves to marriage for a period of years ”” one year, five years, 10 years, whatever term suits them. The marital lease could be renewed at the end of the term however many times a couple likes. It could end up lasting a lifetime if the relationship is good and worth continuing. But if the relationship is bad, the couple could go their separate ways at the end of the term. The messiness of divorce is avoided and the end can be as simple as vacating a rental unit.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, most holy, most loving, infinite in wisdom and power: Teach us to reverence thee in all the works of thy hands, and to hallow thy name both in our lives and in our worship; through Jesus Christ our Lord

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 1And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.” And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”

–Mark 10:17-23

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Archbishop of Uganda's Press Statement about the Anglican Communion Crisis and GAFCON

The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali
Archbishop of Church of Uganda
13th August 2013

Good Morning. I greet you in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!

I have an important message for you today. Ten years ago this month, a gay man, who was a divorced father of two children, was elected a Bishop in the Episcopal Church in America. This unbiblical decision on the part of a church threw the entire global Anglican Communion into chaos.

Two months later, the Archbishop of Canterbury convened an emergency meeting of the 38 Primates – Senior Archbishops – of the Anglican Communion to try to resolve the crisis. The Primates issued a statement that said that if the consecration of this gay man proceeded it would “tear the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level.” Even the American Archbishop agreed to this statement.
Yet, immediately after the close of the meeting, the American Archbishop held a press conference just outside Lambeth Palace and told the world that he would proceed with the consecration. And, indeed, he did.

And, as the Primates predicted, the American consecration of a gay man as a Bishop did “tear the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level.”

There were many attempts by the Primates of the Anglican Communion to bring discipline to the American Church, but they were not implemented. And, so the spiritual cancer has spread. It has infected the Anglican Church in Canada, the Church of England, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of Wales, and even the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

In America, they even have a Lesbian Bishop now! Many Dioceses in the American Episcopal Church have approved the blessing of same-sex unions. And, with their recent Supreme Court decision to recognize same-sex marriage, we expect the American Church to promote this even more.

It isn’t any better in Canada – most dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada have also approved the blessing of same-sex unions.

In the UK the Civil Partnership Act was passed in 2005. It allows same-sex partners to enter into a legal relationship with all the same benefits as marriage. Sadly, the Church of England supported this bill.

In the first year after it was passed, more than 50 gay or lesbian priests were “joined” in civil partnership ceremonies and are living together in church housing. Who knows how many more have been joined in such ceremonies in the seven years since then.

In January of this year, the Church of England House of Bishops resolved that clergy in civil partnerships are eligible to become Bishops. I responded at the time by saying, “The recent decision of the [Church of England] House of Bishops to allow clergy in civil partnerships to be eligible to become Bishops is really no different from allowing gay Bishops. This decision violates our Biblical faith and agreements within the Anglican Communion. When the American Church made this decision in 2003 it tore the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level. This decision only makes the brokenness of the Communion worse and is particularly disheartening coming from the Mother Church.”

I have taken time to give you this history because we are at the ten-year anniversary mark of this crisis, and I want to ask, “Where are we?”

We have a new Archbishop of Canterbury who is born again and has a testimony. I have personally met him and I like him very much.

But, the problems in the Communion are still there, and they don’t change just because there is a new global leader. In fact, ten years later, the crisis has deepened. It is worse, and shows no signs of improving.

This is why the Archbishop of Nigeria, the other Archbishops of East Africa, and I have come together and decided to organize a second Global Anglican Future Conference or GAFCON. It will be held in Nairobi at All Saints’ Cathedral from 21st to 26th October. The Church of Uganda will be sending 200 Delegates to this important revival meeting.

The first GAFCON – or, Global Anglican Future Conference – was held five years ago in Jerusalem, the place where our Lord Jesus lived, died, and rose again for our justification.

The first GAFCON was very significant because it created a global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans led by a Primates Council and it also called for the creation of a new Bible-believing Anglican Province in North America. That new Anglican Province has now been created and is thriving. It is called the Anglican Church in North America.

This second GAFCON conference is also very important at this time in the life of our church. We are holding it in Nairobi this time because it is closer to the majority of the Christians who make up GAFCON.

I have called you here today because I want all our Christians to know about it, to pray for it, and to support it financially.

GAFCON is to the Anglican Communion as the East African Revival was to the church in Uganda. At first it was small revival fellowships meeting outside the church structures and church services. But, as the revival spread, it became mainstream in the Church. Now, most of the Church of Uganda is led by clergy and Bishops shaped by the East African Revival.

In the same way, we are going to GAFCON 2 in Nairobi to see that the Biblical faith of GAFCON spreads like revival throughout the whole Anglican Communion, so that global Anglicanism is brought back to its Biblical and evangelistic faith.

So, I am calling on all Christians to get involved in three ways:

First, we need you to pray! Pray for me as your Archbishop. Pray for your Bishop. Pray for your clergy and lay readers that we will all uphold the authority of the Bible in our lives and in our church. Pray for the GAFCON delegates that they will return from GAFCON and lead the Church of Uganda into Biblical truth and living.

Secondly, we need your financial support to ensure that your Bishop and other key clergy, women, and lay leaders from your Diocese are able to go to GAFCON. Please go to them and offer your financial support.

Finally, we need you to ask your Bishop and GAFCON delegates to report back to you after the conference. Ask them to tell you what they are doing to keep the Anglican Church on track.

Thank you for listening. And, thank you for supporting your Church’s leadership in GAFCON.

–(The Most Rev.) Stanley Ntagali is Archbishop of Uganda

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Episcopal Church (TEC), GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates, Instruments of Unity, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Thom Rainer–Seven Reasons Every Pastor Should Have a Blog

The title of this article may seem both presumptuous and audacious. Do I really believe every pastor should have a blog? Yes I do. I speak to pastors in numerous settings, and I am able to share with them the benefits of such a discipline in writing.

Understand that writing a blog can begin simple with little time pressure. The pastor can commit to write 400 words a week in one post. I do recommend that the number of posts increase to at least twice a week later, but you need to start somewhere.

I think you will be amazed how much the blog benefits the church and your ministry. Here are seven reasons why it is so important….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology