Daily Archives: December 20, 2013

Supreme Court strikes down Canada’s prostitution laws

The court struck down all three prostitution-related prohibitions ”“ against keeping a brothel, living on the avails of prostitution and street soliciting ”“ as violations of the constitutional guarantee to life, liberty and security of the person.

The ruling comes more than two decades after the court last upheld the anti-prostitution laws. It represents a historic victory for sex workers ”“ mainly women ”“ who were seeking safer working conditions.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Ken Garfield–The Billy Graham I know ”” and why he matters

If you and I were talking about all this over a cup of coffee, I’d tell you about the 305,000 people he drew to Charlotte in 1996 for his last hometown crusade. But I’d also tell you about the time he left a message on my answering machine, sharing a long and worried update on his ailing wife, Ruth, a message so long that the machine cut him off. Or, the times I wanted to focus an interview on the world leaders he knew, and he’d turn the conversation back to his childhood and memories of riding the bus to school. The prophetic and the personal, together making a connection.

There’s much that organized religion can learn from Graham.

By setting rules and surrounding himself with honest associates, he remained unsullied by scandal. The Modesto Manifesto was the most famous illustration, established at a meeting in Modesto, Calif., Graham and his colleagues agreeing never to be alone with a woman other than their wives.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Media, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

(NY Times) Defrocking of Methodist Minister Widens Split Over New Sexual Ethic

…far from intimidating others, the trial and defrocking of Mr. Schaefer have galvanized a wave of Methodist ministers to step forward to disobey church prohibitions against marrying and ordaining openly gay people.

Members of the United Methodist Church, the nation’s third-largest Christian denomination, have been battling bitterly over homosexuality for four decades. The church now faces an increasingly determined uprising by clergy members and laypeople who have refused to cede, even after losing the most recent votes, at the Methodist convention last year, on proposals to change church teaching.

“After 40 years of playing nice and attempting a legislative solution, we will not wait any longer,” said Matt Berryman, a former Methodist pastor who said he turned in his credentials because he is gay. He now serves as the executive director of the Reconciling Ministries Network, a Methodist gay rights group.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Race/Race Relations, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Stephen Glover–What does it say about us when a judge is rebuked for speaking up for marriage?

A prominent High Court judge, Sir Paul Coleridge, has been reprimanded by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice, and found guilty of ”˜judicial misconduct’.

It is a serious ruling. Has Sir Paul been consorting with members of the criminal classes? Was he caught driving under the influence? Or perhaps he has delivered a spectacularly wrong-headed judgment?

The answer is that he has done none of these things, or anything at all reprehensible. The Judicial Conduct and Investigations Office, which acts on behalf of the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice, has taken exception to Sir Paul’s views on marriage, of which he is strongly in favour.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

Archbishop John Sentamu–Hope and Hard Times

It’s a sobering thought that austerity measures will be around until at least 2020. What does that say to young people at the start of their working lives? For the nine million people in the UK who live below the breadline, the festivities of the next few weeks will be a test of survival rather than a season of celebration. Times are hard. Whilst reports of an economic recovery are welcome, unemployment remains a massive issue, especially amongst the young.

Indeed, the Government’s plans for further public sector cuts in 2015 means the ghost of Christmas future looms large for many. Eight government departments including the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department for Energy and Climate Change, HM Treasury, the Cabinet Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Northern Ireland Office are all to make cuts of between 8% and 10% in 2015-16. This is going to hurt.

Successive governments have moved public sector jobs to more depressed regions, not exclusively in the North, but the knock-on effect of these cuts in the region is not to be underestimated.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Advent, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Anglican Ink) Episcopal priest clarifies her support for polygamy

Ms. Tumminio told Anglican Ink that she was “not advocating for a change in The Episcopal Church’s teaching on marriage to accommodate plural relationships. If, for instance, I was asked to perform a plural marriage, I would decline, explaining that it is not in line with the Doctrine and Discipline of The Episcopal Church.”

Her support for polygamy was not theological, but based on libertarian principles and a belief in civil religious toleration.

“Like most Americans, however, I do place enormous value on religious freedom, and so I hope that other Americans will be afforded the same freedoms that I am given. To that end, if plural marriage is a central part of another person’s traditions, and if they want to practice plural marriage within the boundaries of their own faith and the limits of the law, then I have no opposition to that.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(TEC Priest) Danielle Tumminio–How I learned to love polygamy

When I heard a federal judge struck down part of Utah’s polygamy law last week, I gave a little squeal of delight.

To be clear, I’m an Episcopal priest, not a polygamist. But I’ve met the family who brought the suit, and these people changed how I think about plural marriage.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology

(ACNS) Clergy concerns grow as South Sudan violence continues

Clergy from South Sudan and elsewhere in the Anglican Communion have spoken out about the growing violence in the world’s newest nation.

Primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan (ECSSS), Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak joined others from various denominations of the churches in South Sudan, and native members from the Dinka and Nuer communities in expressing sadness and concern about the situation there.

The letter, signed by clergy from the country including nine from the ECSSS, stated that they condemned the violence, but that they also “condemn and correct the media statements and reports that refer to the violence as conflict between the Dinka and Nuer tribes. Whatever has happened should not be referred to as ethnic conflict and not between the Dinka and Nuer communities. These are political differences among the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) Party, political leaders of the Republic of South Sudan.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Religion & Culture, Sudan, Violence

(UMNS) Defrocked Pennsylvania Methodist pastor to fight for clergy credentials

The Rev. Frank Schaefer says he is not ready to give up on The United Methodist Church and will immediately seek an appeal of a decision to take away his ministerial credentials.

The United Methodist Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference’s board of ordained ministry made the decision Dec. 19, to follow through with a church trial’s penalty to ask Schaefer to surrender his credentials if he cannot uphold the denomination’s lawbook “in its entirety.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Philip Jenkins reviews 'The Global War on Christians,' by John Allen

Mr. Allen is by no means the first writer to address this phenomenon, but he may be the best qualified. He has through the years established himself as among the best-informed commentators on the Vatican and the state of the Roman Catholic Church, and hearing so many contacts recount stories of persecution and discrimination has naturally sensitized him to anti-Christian campaigns, and by no means only those directed against Catholics.

The range of stories he tells is staggering and offers a compendium of modern-day heroes equal to anything in the church’s long history. We are awed by the story of Catholic Archbishop Christophe Munzihirwa, who died in 1998 trying to safeguard his flock from the mounting carnage in the wars engulfing Congo and Rwanda. Time and again, he stood face to face with oppressors, dictators and genocidaires, until finally some soldiers shot him in the streets.

Mr. Allen’s main point, though, is less to report the persecutions than to ask in bafflement why the West seems to care so little about them.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Church Times) Archbishop Welby says Most Times Church cannot intervene

The Church in the West cannot intervene in conflicts in places such as Syria and Egypt – unless it is invited to do so, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

“We would be delighted to play a reconciliation role if there is one we can play. If someone in a viable position on both sides says, ‘Come and help,’ we’ll be on the next flight.”

But he ruled out any peace mission under present circumstances. “Nothing can be done until people are willing to let something happen. If people want to fight, they fight. When both sides think they can win, they will go on fighting.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Defense, National Security, Military, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Syria, Theology, Violence

(First Thoughts) Dale Coulter–A Liturgy, a Legacy, and an Anglican Band

…while I have refrained from discussing the Orthodox contribution to all of this, it has become clear to me that the theologically robust understanding of the Spirit’s presence in the Divine Liturgy has been a constant stream that a number of theologians from Pentecostal, Anglican, and other traditions have drawn from in order to engage in a theological analysis of worship.

The changes to the performance of the liturgy I experienced at St. Aldate’s in the 1990s were part of a broader discussion about the relationship between the charismatic renewal and liturgical renewal. What intrigues me are the common themes of a liturgical movement toward intimacy and encounter coupled with a corresponding invocation of the Spirit (the epicletic climax of the worship).

The fact that liturgical movement has encounter and intimacy as its goal has offered Pentecostal and charismatic theologians an opportunity to return to sacramentalism and bring the Eucharist back into the life of these churches. At the same time, it has allowed theologians in more liturgical settings to reflect more on the charismatic structure to the liturgical event.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, Father of mercies, who didst so love the world that thou didst give thine only begotten Son to take our nature upon him for us men and for our salvation: Grant to us who by his first coming have been called into thy kingdom of grace, that we may always abide in him, and be found watching and ready when he shall come again to call us to thy kingdom of glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Henry Stobat

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth; and he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints; and they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals,
for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God
from every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on earth.”

–Revelation 5:6-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

CT Interviews Craig Blomberg–The Scary Truth About Christian Giving

Is materialism competing with God for the hearts of his people?

The Book of James famously says that faith without works is dead. What James adds to the key passage (2:18”“26) comes immediately before it, in verses 14”“17, which illustrate what a workless faith looks like. If a brother or sister needs food and clothing, and someone says “keep warm and well fed” but does nothing to help, James asks, “Can such faith save them?” The Greek terms he uses imply a negative answer.

The scary statistic is that 20 percent of self-identified evangelical churchgoers give nothing. It is reasonable to question their faith. If idolatry is what a person who claims belief in God actually gives allegiance to, does anything have greater idolatrous potential than material possessions?

How well are churches modeling sacrificial giving?

Churches need to apply to their own revenue streams the same principles that they encourage among members….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology