Monthly Archives: February 2014

(WSJ) Yair Rosenberg–Religion: As Seen Inaccurately on Screen

Traditionally, members of religious communities misrepresented on screen have taken two approaches. The first is to complain. Pointing to the stereotypical portrait of the Arab world in “Homeland,” a Muslim critic at Salon labeled it “TV’s most Islamophobic show.” Similar sensitivities have surfaced about Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming movie “Noah,” with some Christians expressing concern that it may not fairly depict the biblical narrative.

But angry op-eds and petitions can only go so far. Many more people will see a flawed film than read the criticism of it. That’s why some believers have settled on a very different solution to combating caricatures of their faith: Make culture, not war.

This weekend, “Son of God,” a re-enactment of the life and resurrection of Jesus as told in the New Testament, will open across the country. The film, which has already made $4.1 million in advanced ticket sales, is the product of husband and wife Christian filmmakers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, who produced the movie in consultation with faith leaders….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

Role of African churches 'absolutely critical' says Archbishop Welby

Archbishop Justin met the delegation during their visit to the UK to present the strategic priorities of the African Catholic bishops’ conferences and establish co-operation in addressing urgent issues on the African continent….

Archbishop Justin said: “I welcome the priority being given by SECAM to reconciliation and evangelisation and look forward to opportunities to collaborate in this work.

“As we approach 2015 and the shift from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals, the role of African churches is absolutely critical….”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) How Ad Targeting Works on Facebook

Check it out.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Science & Technology, Theology

ACL President: Statement on the Consecration of Rev Dr Sarah Macneil as bishop of Grafton

Dr Macneil’s Public Teaching
During a series of lenten sermons in 2013, whilst preaching on the parable of the Prodigal (Luke 15), Dr Macneil stated the following:

Although we tend to hear [the parable of the Prodigal] as a parable highlighting God’s welcome to all sinners, expecially those who have lurid pasts, like the younger son, its placement in the Gospel of Luke aims it straight at the religious authorities – the goody two shoes upholders of the faith. Will they join the party? Or will they stick to their rigid adherence to the Torah, tithing even the herbs in their cupboards, but neglecting mercy and compassion?

We can ask where it is that we are working within rules that neglect mercy and compassion.

Is it the Anglican Church of Australia’s reluctance to allow the ordination of gay people in same sex relationships?

While this is a rhetorical question, the intended meaning is transparent. Macneil is advocating for the ordination of people in same sex relationships as something that is good and godly “mercy and compassion”.

In a sermon at St Luke’s Enmore, Sydney, in October 2010, Dr Macneil gave a clear description of Penal Substitution and then labels it as ‘mechanistic and grim’.

It is clear from the gospel [Luke 10:1-9] and from Acts that Luke is not thinking of salvation and atonement in terms of what we now call penal substitution. This view uses the logic of retributive justice and argues that it was Jesus’ death on the cross that saved us from our sins and brought us into right relationship with God. A debt had to be paid for human sin and disobedience in order to satisfy God’s demands of justice. This is what made Christ’s death upon the cross necessary. In his great love for us, Christ is therefore said to had taken the punishment deserved by all humanity upon himself.

This rather mechanistic and grim understanding of atonement, prevalent not so very far from here, was not part of early Christian thought and clearly not part of Luke’s thought world. Nor does Luke regard Jesus’s death as a sacrifice or as an expiation for sin. His focus is more on Jesus’ life and on the wholeness that is brought to humanity through contact with the suffering Messiah.

There is no doubt in the gospel that Jesus is the Messiah, no doubt that he will suffer and die, but the wholeness that comes to people because of him, comes from their encounter with him.

Jesus’ presence is what brings life, peace, forgiveness of sins and right relationship to God

This same redefining of the atoning death of Jesus, is expressed in her Sermon for Christmas 2012:

Of course, some would argue that this is irrelevant – that Jesus’ sole purpose was to provide our passport to salvation, a mission he fulfilled very effectively, if somewhat mysteriously, by dying. He was, in short, a man born to die. If we believe that he is God, then everything will be OK. In this way of seeing things, the focus really belongs on his death and resurrection. The events of the 33 years or so between birth and death were pretty irrelevant really and just show us that he really was the long expected chosen one of God.

But I want to argue a very different kind of line. For I believe that the birth of Jesus as a human child, as one of us, has a much richer significance than that and is indeed infinitely more challenging. The incarnation is not some sort of crazy rescue plan; it is a systematic and timeless revelation to humanity about what it is to be human and about our relationship with God. Jesus’ life is not so much to show us who he is but rather to show us who we are, and who we are in relationship with God.

What Dr Macneil responds to here is a false dichotomy (that those who teach the atoning death of Jesus insist that his life is irrelevant), the same movement away from Jesus’ atoning death to an exemplar life, as she attempted to do at St Luke’s in 2010, is clear.

How Dr Macneil’s teaching conflicts with Anglican formularies and the Scriptures

Read it all from here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces

(WSJ) Nude Webcams and Diet Drugs: the Facebook Ads Teens Aren't Supposed to See

“Who do you like?” asked recent ads on Facebook…featuring young women in alluring poses.

Some of the ads were configured to reach young teens, who were invited to join an app called Ilikeq that let others rate their attractiveness, comment on their photos and say if they would like to date them.

That’s how 14-year-old Erica Lowder’s picture ended up on display to adult men online. Users of Ilikeq, one of Facebook’s fastest-growing “lifestyle” apps, were able to click through to the Indianapolis girl’s Facebook page.

“How can Facebook say here’s how we’re going to protect your kids, then sell all these ads to weird apps and sites that open kids up to terrible things?” asked Erica’s mother, Dawn Lowder.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Psychology, Science & Technology, Teens / Youth, Theology

Allan Haley: What Will the Supreme Court Do with The Falls Church Petition?

The docket sheet in the United States Supreme Court tells the tale. After receiving an extension of time, The Falls Church filed on October 9 in the Supreme Court its petition for writ of certiorari (or review) of the decision rendered by the Virginia Supreme Court last April 18 (and its denial of a rehearing on June 14).

The ever-cocky Episcopal Church (USA) and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, following its lead, declined to file responses to the petition. Four amici curiae (“friends of the court”, being organizations interested in the case) filed briefs in support of The Falls Church: ACNA, the Presbyterian Lay Committee, St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach, CA, and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The case went to conference last December just on those briefs. And — lo and behold! — the Court ordered ECUSA and its Diocese to file a response before it ruled on the petition.

Such a request is noteworthy, because the Court’s Rules explain that the Court ordinarily does not grant a pending petition without first calling for a response to it. Had the Court taken no interest in the petition, on the other hand, it could have denied the petition outright at its December 6 conference…
………..
Watch for the Court’s release of its “Order List” next Monday — and pray in the meantime that the Court be guided to grant review at its conference this Friday.

Read it all and see also SCOTUS Blog Petitions to watch – Conference of February 28 and Issue and Case File

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

Why Anglican Church shut down schools in Enugu

Anglican priests in Enugu State on Thursday blocked the entry gates of eight primary and secondary schools, preventing academic activities.

The schools are located within an environment known as Women Training Centre. They include Urban Anglican Girls Secondary School, Metropolitan Anglican Secondary School and City Anglican Secondary School, as well as five primary schools.

The clerics were protesting an alleged directive to authorities of the schools by the state Ministry of Education that they should cease dealing with the Anglican Church on the ground that government had repossessed mission schools.

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

(Daily Post) Enugu partially shuts down as Anglican Church battles Governor Chime

The simmering dispute between the Anglican Church and the Enugu State Government deepened on Thursday, leading to a shut-down of activities at some parts of the state.

The latest crisis followed moves by the Enugu State Government to reclaim some schools owned by the church.

Before now, the leadership of the Anlican Church in the State had consistently accused the Chime-led government of having some bias against it.

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

Anglican Church appoints first female bishop to lead an Australian diocese

There will be some notable absentees when history is made in Grafton tomorrow.

The Right Reverend Sarah Macneil will attend a ceremony in the Grafton Cathedral to be consecrated as Australia’s first female leader of an Anglican diocese.

But she says some senior figures in the church will not be attending…

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces

(BBC) Ukraine crisis: 'Russians occupy' Crimea airports

Ukraine’s interior minister has accused Russian naval forces of occupying Sevastopol airport in the autonomous region of Crimea.

Arsen Avakov called their presence an “armed invasion”.

But Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has denied that Russian servicemen are taking part.

The other main Crimean airport, Simferopol, has also been occupied by armed men. The men are thought to be pro-Russia militia.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine, Violence

(CC) Isaac Villegas reviews Joshua Dubler's new book "Down in the Chapel"

The seven of us sit in a room in a maximum-security prison. I come and go weekly; they will be there for the rest of their lives. They tell me about their faith. One man has a calloused bump on his forehead, the result of his salat, bowing down to God, pressing his head into his rug, into the concrete floor of his cell: a dedication to prayer. “Allah found me in my cell,” he says. The other men nod their heads, even though they are not Muslims; they are Christians of various traditions: Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness. Yet each knows what it feels like for his God to find him in prison, regardless of profound differences in theological language and faith practices. When I’m with them, I’m within a religious pluralism unknown to me outside of prison.

In Down in the Chapel: Religious Life in an American Prison, Joshua Dubler explores this phenomenon of religious pluralism within U.S. prisons by spending time with the various faith communities that congregate in the chapel at the maximum-security prison in Graterford, Pennsylvania. From the chapel, Dubler tracks the religious practices of the faithful among the 3,500 men confined inside Graterford’s walls. His book is a tapestry of scenes from worship services, small group discussions, and conversations with imprisoned men who open their spiritual lives to him. A Roman Catholic chaplain describes his visitation of the forgotten men on death row as a “ministry of presence”: “to have somebody drop in . . . to show them that they’re remembered.” A correctional officer engages in “Christian apologetics” while policing the chapel. A Muslim prisoner named Baraka’s discussions and debates enlighten the author’s observations of incarcerated life.

Dubler shows up at Graterford as a budding ethnographer and becomes a man captured by friendships””by relationships mediated through religious encounters in prison. “How truly bizarre that this awful place,” he reflects, “should afford such profound pleasure to those who feel called to enter into it and partake in its overflowing meaningfulness.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Books, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Church Times) House of Bishops' Sexuality ”˜fudge’ sticks in critics’ throats

The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, has described the House of Bishops’ pastoral statement on same-sex marriage, which he signed a fortnight ago, as “Anglican fudge”.

The Bishops have also been challenged over the accuracy of their guidance, issued on 15 February. In it, they reiterated the ban on same-sex marriages in church, and stated that clergy may not enter into gay marriages… Several priests have publicly declared their intention to defy the Bishops.

Dr Sentamu, speaking at a meeting of Jewish and Christian students in Durham in the middle of last week, said that the Church of England’s position was that “a clergy person has a right, an expectation, to live within the teaching of the Church, but for lay people and others they should be welcomed into the Church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Expansion of Near Neighbours programme 'gives huge opportunities' says Archbishop Welby

During a visit to a community centre in South London…[yesterday] morning, the Archbishop of Canterbury praised the Near Neighbours programme and its grassroots approach to creating community ties across cultural and religious boundaries

Near Neighbours, a partnership between the Church Urban Fund and the Archbishop’s Council that provides small grants to multi-faith community projects, has been awarded an extra £3m by Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). The extra money will enable projects to expand into other parts of the country, including Luton, Leeds and the Black country.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, our heavenly Father, who so loved the world that thou didst give thine only Son to die upon the cross: Pour thy love into our hearts, we humbly beseech thee; that we loving thee above all things, may give up ourselves, our time, our money, our talents, to thy service; for the sake of him who loved us and gave himself for us, Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord.

–J. R. W. Stott

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Surely the righteous shall give thanks to thy name; the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

–Psalm 140:13

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture