Daily Archives: August 27, 2013

(CC) Carol Zaleski–What is it like to be a creature?

As I wonder how it feels to be that mouse, I’m reminded of Thomas Nagel’s famous 1974 essay, “What is it like to be a bat?”””a landmark in the philosophy of mind. Nagel’s thesis was that there is “something that it is like” to undergo particular states of consciousness or being; there is a first-person perspective (for which the technical word is qualia) that will forever elude reductionist explanation. But the inscrutable depths of a laboratory mouse or of his flying cousin are beside the point; what we really want to know is what it is like to be a human being.

Some neuroscientists will tell you that it’s just a matter of time before we possess a complete physicalist map of mental states. I’m certain they are wrong and Nagel is right.

But what is it like to be a human being? The difficulty is that we don’t know which particular experiences specify our humanity; we don’t whether there is some flavor or feel or “pinch of existence” (as William James liked to call it) that goes with being human. Introspection alone can’t answer this question, for our sense of being human is a social acquisition assimilated from our parents, friends and teachers. Faith forms identity: if I accept the religious teaching that I am a creature made by God rather than a man (or laboratory mouse) produced by impersonal mechanisms, it changes everything.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Animals, Anthropology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Food for Thought from Alister McGrath–Global Anglicanism has…a [theological] vacuum

“So is Lewis to be seen as an Anglican writer? It is impossible to answer this question in the negative. Lewis chose to self-identify as a member of the Church of England, both in his public declarations and his pattern of church attendance. Furthermore, Lewis shows a clear literary and theological resonance with the Anglican writers of the late 1500’s and early 1600’s. Lewis may not be a ‘typical Anglican writer’ (a deeply problematic notion, by the way). Yet the historical study of Anglicanism reveals such complex and shifting patterns of Anglican identity that Lewis can easily be accommodated within its broad spectrum.

Yet from about the year 2000, when internal debates over the future directions of Anglicanism as a family of churches began to raise awkward questions about any notion of shared Anglican identity, the question of Lewis’s Anglican credentials is increasingly being framed in new ways. Many younger Anglicans, anxious to affirm both theological orthodoxy and their denominational commitment, are coming to regard Lewis as a benchmark of Anglican identity. For them, Lewis embodies — and, for some, even defines — what Anglicanism ought to be: a theologically orthodox, culturally literate, imaginatively engaged, and historically rooted vision of the Christian faith.

The recent failure of professional Anglican theologians and church leaders to captivate the imaginations and enlighten the minds of a rising generation within global Anglicanism has created a vacuum — which Lewis is increasingly coming to fill. Lewis embodies a liturgically and ecclesiologically unfussy Anglicanism that is rooted in the ‘Golden Age’ of its divinity, rather than being shaped by more recent controversies; that is lay rather than ordained; that speaks in eloquent and imaginatively satisfying ways, rather than in less accessible jargon of academic theology, which so often seems disconnected from personal faith; and which has no desire to dominate or belittle other denominations. Paradoxically, the question that a future generation might ask is not “Is Lewis really Anglican?’ but ‘Why isn’t Anglicanism more like Lewis?'”

–Alister McGrath, The Intellectual World of C. S. Lewis (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), pp. 158-159 (my emphasis) [Hat tip: JM]

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Books, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Globalization, Theology

John Stott–the importance of the mind to glorify God

It was my attempt in those far off days to combat the spirit of anti-intellectualism that I still believe is such a bane on the Christian church today. It was then that I dared for the first time to say, though I have said it often since, that anti-intellectualism and the fullness of the Holy Spirit are mutually incompatible. And I dare to say it because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. Jesus our Lord himself, referred to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth, and therefore, it is only
logical to say that wherever the Holy Spirit is given his freedom, truth is bound to matter. So, I have argued, and argue still, that a proper, conscientious use of our minds is an inevitable part and parcel of our Christian life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(World Watch Monitor) Case hangs over Indonesian pastor; human rights group questions police logic

An Indonesian pastor remains in a tortured psychological state as a legal case against him lingers on.

Palti Panjaitan, who runs the HKBP Filadelfia church in the village of Jejalen Jaya, east of Bekasi, was accused by an Islamic leader of assaulting him on Christmas Eve of last year.

The pastor has always maintained that he did not assault Abdul Aziz Bin Naimun and was in fact the subject of intimidation and death threats by his accuser.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Indonesia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture

(AP) Egyptian Islamist groups seek truce with army

Two former militant groups offered to call off street protests if the government agrees to ease its pressure on Islamists, a move that underscores how a onetime strong Islamist movement is now bowing to an unprecedented crackdown by security authorities.

The proposal comes after the military rounded up hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and other Islamists in the wake of the country’s worst bout of violence, which followed the Aug. 14 clearing of two sprawling sit-in camps housing protesters calling for the reinstatement of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Theology, Violence

(Washington Post) After Syria chemical allegations, Obama considering limited military strike

President Obama is weighing a military strike against Syria that would be of limited scope and duration, designed to serve as punishment for Syria’s use of chemical weapons and as a deterrent, while keeping the United States out of deeper involvement in that country’s civil war, according to senior administration officials.

The timing of such an attack, which would probably last no more than two days and involve sea-launched cruise missiles ”” or, possibly, long-range bombers ”” striking military targets not directly related to Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, would be dependent on three factors: completion of an intelligence report assessing Syrian government culpability in last week’s alleged chemical attack; ongoing consultation with allies and Congress; and determination of a justification under international law.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, House of Representatives, Middle East, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Science & Technology, Senate, Syria, The U.S. Government, Theology, Violence

Why Kevin Holdsworth didn't like Archbishop Justin Welby's Monterrey, Mexico, Sermon

It is deeply unhelpful of the Archbishop to use language which appears to suggest that the risk that those who wish to affirm gay people present is one of a lack or loss of core beliefs. That just isn’t true and is a nasty slur against fellow Anglicans. The US and Canadian churches are not places where God is absent and if the Archbishop needs to find that out, he needs to go there and meet them, something that his predecessor seemed to find impossible to do.

People will read the sermon in the US and Canadian churches and take immediate offence. (I find it offensive here in Scotland, but there it will appear to be a judgement on their national churches). Those who wish to affirm the place of LGBT people do so because of their core beliefs as Christians and as Anglicans, not because of any lack of belief or loss of God.

Does the Archbishop of Canterbury not have anyone on staff from the US or Canada or someone who knows those churches who could look at this kind of stuff and say, “hang on a minute, Father, that might not go down too well?”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(SHNS) Terry Mattingly–Apple and the iSacraments age

The bottom line: Have products inspired by the “Jesus Phone” turned into rosaries for narcissists?

The omnipresent “iPhone provides some of the comforts and a sense of security that religious faith provides,” said [University of Notre Dame business professor Brett] Robinson. “It promises to connect you to the world and to the transcendent. … Yet most people spend most of their time looking at the same five or six sites online ”” like Facebook ”” that primarily are about themselves.

“They spend hours and hours in this intimate ritual of touching those phones, clicking and clicking their way through their own interests, their own desires, their own lives. …”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, History, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Mae Elise Cannon–Mother Theresa and Silence: Finding God among the Poor

Mother Teresa is a profound example of someone who chose to follow Jesus’ example of love and concern by caring for the needs of people living in poverty in Calcutta, India. Mother Teresa’s birthday today reminds us of her profound efforts of love, mercy, and kindness during her many years of service among the poorest of the poor.

Where did Mother Teresa find the strength and the ability to continue to serve in such a life-giving way for so many years? How did she develop her heart and love for the poor? And where did her strength of character and passion for service come from?….

The answers are found in the actions of her daily life, particularly in her regular devotion to prayer and entering into the presence of God by practices of the faith, most remarkably silence.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Church History, India, Other Churches, Poverty, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Women

Christianweek–How one school is making a difference in the lives of at-risk youth

All of our students are at-risk. For what, you might ask? Because of illiteracy or low literacy, many are at risk for dropping out of school, getting involved in gang life, substance abuse and addiction, jail, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, pregnancy, STDs, and death.

But our staff””missionaries, really””love the students with the love Jesus has poured into them. We feed the students breakfast and lunch, or some would have nothing. We teach them to read and do math. We study the Bible and sing worship songs. We play games with these children who haven’t really ever had a childhood….

We are St. Aidan’s Christian School. Our city? Not Khartoum, Sudan. Not El Salvador. No, it’s Winnipeg. In Canada.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Education, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth

(Gallup) Americans Sour Slightly on Quality Jobs Market

The market for quality jobs may be cooling. The 21% of Americans who say now is a good time to find a quality job is down from 25% in July — and the most negative reading this year. Now, 76% say it is a bad time to find a quality job, up from 70% in July.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Jesus, Master Carpenter of Nazareth, who on the cross through wood and nails didst work man’s whole salvation: Wield well thy tools in this thy workshop; that we who come to thee rough hewn may by thy hand be fashioned to a truer beauty and a greater usefulness; for the honour of thy holy name.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

“But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch;for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Watch therefore””for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning””lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch.”

–Mark 13:28-37

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

([London] Times) ”˜Love of need’ is killing marriage, Bishop Baines claims

A selfish “love of need” has contributed to the decline of marriage since the 1960s, according to a senior bishop in the Church of England.

The Bishop of Bradford, the Right Rev Nick Baines, echoed the concerns of the outgoing Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, who earlier this month said institutions such as marriage broke down “when you begin to lose faith and society becomes very, very secularised”.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Theology

(LA Times) John Kerry says that the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria 'moral obscenity'

Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Monday condemned Syria’s reported chemical weapons attacks as a “moral obscenity” and declared that the Obama administration intends to move quickly to hold the Syrian government accountable.

Citing “undeniable” evidence that the government of President Bashar Assad used nerve gas against its population last week, Kerry said that the world must respond to the use of weapons that have long been outlawed by international agreement.

President Obama “believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people,” Kerry said in a brief appearance at the State Department.

Read it all.

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