Monthly Archives: September 2013

(CT) Christ in the Capital of the World–How global Christians are revitalizing NYC beyond Manhattan

There are two ways Christians tend to see the city and God in the city. The first peers through a lens that sees primarily what is wrong with it. It can miss seeing the city as God’s good gift, and the church already active in the city. Because it often moves quickly into problem-solving, like a missions trip to “save” or “bring God to” New York, it can overlook what many churches are already doing and the dynamic ways that cities work.

The second way is to try to see the city through the eyes of God. Listening to the Holy Spirit, it seeks to build on what is already happening, working within existing structures and relationships. Change comes from the inside out, through people who know and live there. They can make a longer commitment and deeper difference than those who stop in and just as quickly leave.

Many forces can prevent outsiders from seeing what God is doing in New York. The city’s booming media industry, from television to film, to fashion and music, has reinforced for many non”“New Yorkers an image of sophistication on one hand or urban grit on the other. But rarely does pop culture capture the religious ferment going on underneath.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Express Tribune) With one eye on peace, India's PM terms Pakistan an 'epicentre of terrorism'

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday that he reciprocated Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s sentiments on forging a new beginning but reiterated that the epicentre of terrorism was located in Pakistan.

Addressing the audience during the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations, Singh said that state sponsored cross border terrorism was of particular concern to India.

“It is important that the terrorist machinery that draws its sustenance from Pakistan be shut down,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Foreign Relations, India, Pakistan, Politics in General, Terrorism, Violence

Justin Taylor–An Interview with Andy Crouch about the Idol and Gift of Power

I have heard a lot of sermons, and read a lot of books, articles, and blog posts, on imitating certain attributes of God and the incarnate Christ (e.g., compassion, love, goodness, mercy, humility). And I have heard a lot and read a lot about avoiding certain vices that are contrary to the kingdom (e.g., selfishness, envy, pride, lust). But I can’t recall offhand hearing much of anything about power””either as a gift to be redeemed or an idol to be rejected. You’ve invested a significant amount of time now thinking about the redemption of power to promote flourishing for the common good. Why do you think the Church has neglected this topic in particular?

That is what prompted me to write this book: a dawning awareness that I was almost never hearing Christians””especially in the dominant culture””directly address power as either a gift or an idol. Now, that is not at all the case in many minority-culture communities. I’ve spent perhaps 50 Sunday mornings of my life, cumulatively, in African-American church settings, and I’d bet that at least a third of sermons I’ve heard in those settings have directly addressed power and powerlessness in the context of American society, and how Christians should respond to those realities.

But of the couple thousand Sundays I’ve spent in majority-culture church settings, I could count on one hand the times the teaching directly addressed those topics. But the privilege of being in a majority is you rarely have to examine your own power closely. You often are not even aware that you have it. Oddly, power is frequently most invisible to the powerful””especially the form of power that I call privilege. So perhaps it is not surprising that majority-culture Christians rarely address it.

Power is a truly tricky topic, and that’s another reason you don’t hear a lot about it directly….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Books, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Politics in General, Theology

Barry Ritholtz with some Historical Perspective on U.S. Government Shutdowns

The good news is that so far, all we have is political posturing. History suggest that nothing happens until at least 12 hours after our September 30th midnight deadline. No one gets serious about any sort of deal before noon on October 1. At that point, political pressure on the House Republicans ”” from constituents, from Business leaders, and from elder statesmen ”” will start in earnest. A few days later, it can become more intense. We see the same sort of patterns with the debt ceiling limit as well (that’s schedule to hit at midnight October 17).

As NBC’s Pete Williams have reported, we have had 17 prior government shutdowns over the past 40 years, including 21 days in 1995 (table below). So while this feels like its new and unusual, it is actually more commonplace than most of us believe.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The U.S. Government, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby's statement on marriage tax breaks

From here:

We welcome all support for family life and we’re pleased that this initiative includes both married couples and those in civil partnerships.” – See more at: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5144/archbishops-statement-on-marriage-tax-breaks#sthash.qFxb8bCl.dpuf

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Economy, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Taxes

(Spectator) David Cameron unveils £1,000 marriage tax allowance

That the Conservatives were going to announce a marriage tax allowance at their party conference had to be one of the worst kept secrets in Westminster since the date of the last general election. So they’ve managed to go one better than the £750 allowance proposed by their 2010 manifesto with David Cameron announcing in the Daily Mail tomorrow that people will be able to transfer £1,000 of their personal tax allowance to their spouse or civil partner.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Taxes

Bruce Larson on Frank Loesch, the Courageus Christian Layman who took down Al Capone

When I was a small boy, I attended church every Sunday at a big Gothic Presbyterian bastion in Chicago. The preaching was powerful and the music was great. But for me, the most awesome moment in the morning service was the offertory, when twelve solemn, frock-coated ushers marched in lock-step down the main aisle to receive the brass plates for collecting the offering. These men, so serious about their business of serving the Lord in this magnificent house of worship, were the business and professional leaders of Chicago. One of the twelve ushers was a man named Frank Loesch. He was not a very imposing looking man, but in Chicago he was a living legend, for he was the man who had stood up to Al Capone. In the prohibition years, Capone’s rule was absolute. The local and state police and even the Federal Bureau of Investigation were afraid to oppose him. But singlehandedly, Frank Loesch, as a Christina layman and without any government support, organized the Chicago Crime Commission, a group of citizens who were determined to take Mr. Capone to court and put him away. During the months that the Crime Commission met, Frank Loesch’s life was in constant danger. There were threats on the lives of his family and friends. But he never wavered. Ultimately he won the case against Capone and was the instrument for removing this blight from the city of Chicago. Frank Loesch had risked his life to live out his faith. Each Sunday at this point of the service, my father, a Chicago businessman himself, never failed to poke me and silently point to Frank Loesch with pride. Sometime I’d catch a tear in my father’s eye. For my dad and for all of us this was and is what authentic living is all about.

–Bruce Larson, There’s a Lot More to Health than Not Being Sick (Garden Grove, California: Cathedral Press, 1981), pp. 55-56 and also quoted by yours truly in yesterday’s sermon

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Christology, Church History, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

C.H. Spurgeon challenging Christian Soldiers to look to their Captain

…lastly, if I want another argument to make you good soldiers, remember your Captain, the Captain whose wounded hands and pierced feet are tokens of His love to you. Redeemed from going down tothe pit, what can you do sufficiently to show your gratitude? Assured of eternal Glory by-and-by, how can you sufficiently prove that you feel your indebtedness? Up, I pray you! By Him whose eyes are like a flame of fire, and yet were wet with tears””by Him on whose head are many crowns, and who yet wore the crown of thorns””by Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords, and yet bowed His head to death for you””resolve that to life’s latest breath you will spend and be spent for His praise. The Lord grant that there may be many such in this Church””good sold iers of Jesus Christ.

Read it all (cited by yours truly in yesterday’s sermon).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Christology, Church History, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

(BBC) Baghdad hit by wave of deadly car bombs

A series of car bomb blasts in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, has killed at least 36 people and injured more than 100, officials say.

Police say the blasts targeted markets and car parks in mainly Shia Muslim districts of the city.

There has been a recent upsurge in sectarian violence, sparking fears of a return to the bloodletting of 2008.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Iraq, Middle East, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

Christopher Howse–A Roman Catholic Mass, with words by Thomas Cranmer

Something extraordinary is happening in English churches. Imagine you arrived at an unfamiliar church just as the service was starting and you heard: “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid”¦” Right, you’d think, CofE, Book of Common Prayer.

But this is the beginning of a Catholic Mass, a Roman Catholic Mass. It is a liturgy approved by the Pope, and it takes lumps of the Holy Communion service from the 1662 Prayer Book. I find the general effect pleasing but distinctly unsettling.

Two questions arise, depending on the direction from which one is coming. A member of the Church of England might wonder why Catholics should want to use the Book of Common Prayer compiled by Archbishop Cranmer (pictured here in 1546). A Catholic might ask: but is it the Mass?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Eucharist, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Michael and All Angels

O everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the ministries of angels and men in a wonderful order: Mercifully grant that, as thy holy angels always serve and worship thee in heaven, so by thy appointment they may help and defend us on earth; 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, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Our God, we believe in thee, we hope in thee, and we love thee, because thou hast created us, redeemed us, and dost sanctify us. Increase our faith, strengthen our hope, and deepen our love, that giving up ourselves wholly to thy will, we may serve thee faithfully all the rest of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as thou art, O LORD, with thy faithfulness round about thee?

–Psalm 89:9

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

In Washington, Shutdown Nears as Impasse Shows No Sign of Breaking

The federal government moved closer to a partial shutdown Sunday as Republican and Democratic lawmakers showed no signs of negotiating through a standoff over the implementation of President Barack Obama’s health law.

The standoff left little prospect that Congress could reach agreement on terms for funding the government by midnight Monday, when the current fiscal year expires. A shutdown would leave essential services operating but prompt federal agencies to suspend many functions and furlough hundreds of thousands of workers.

Early Sunday morning, after a late night of votes, the House passed a bill delaying the health law by one year and attached it to a plan to fund the government through Dec. 15. It also includes a provision repealing a tax on medical devices that is intended to help finance the health law. That legislation now goes back to the Senate.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Medicaid, Medicare, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Theology

The Pittsburgh Steelers Start the NFL Season at 0-4 for the first time since 1968

Many times, the start of Steelers training camp would signal the end of the Pirates season. Today, we have the start of a Pirates post-season pretty much marking the end of the Steelers for 2013.

For the first time in 45 years, back to when miniskirts were all the rage and pro football in Pittsburgh was not, the Steelers lost for the fourth straight time to open a season.

The previously winless Minnesota Vikings turned the trick this time, on another continent but in an all-too familiar way. The Vikings parlayed big plays against a shaky Steelers defense to pull off their first win, 34-27, turning back a furious Steelers comeback that ended when Ben Roethlisberger was sacked from the Minnesota six on their final play and lost a fumble.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Men, Sports, Urban/City Life and Issues