Daily Archives: April 11, 2014

(NYT) Anglican Leader Justin Welby, Under Fire for Remarks, Urges Caution on Same-Sex Marriage

The archbishop of Canterbury, under fire for appearing to link expanded gay rights in the United States to violence against Christians in Africa, said on Thursday that he is advocating for a slow and deliberative response to same-sex marriage, mindful of the global implications.

“I think we need to be aware of the realities on the ground, in our own countries and around the world, and to take those into account when we’re moving forward,” the archbishop, Justin Welby, told reporters in Oklahoma City, where he was meeting with the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and attending a conference on violence.

“It doesn’t mean you necessarily do something other than you feel is the right thing to do,” he said, “but you’re aware of the need perhaps to do it in a different way.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, --South Sudan, Africa, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sudan, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Violence

(F Th) Matthew Frank on the incoherence of the Whitworth Response to the World Vision decision

…changing its employment policies to contradict the entire Christian tradition’s understanding of sin and obedience, vice and virtue where human sexuality is concerned would not be, as the letter’s writers and signers seem to imagine, an embrace of an “agree to disagree” accommodation between Christians who differ on “narrow doctrinal matters.” Such a change would be a capitulation by one side, and a victory by the other, on a question that goes to the heart of what it means to be a Christian organization. World Vision got the message loud and clear from many supporters that they would no longer consider it a Christian organization if it really undertook this capitulation.

The signers of the Whitworth “Response” claim with equal clarity””when they want to be clear””that the Christian thing to do would be toss out the Great Tradition wherever it rests on “a few passages in the Bible” that “have been historically misconstrued.” So again, why do they pretend that a victory for their principle, and a defeat for their adversaries’ principle that they revile, is a sweetly reasonable coming-together-across-differences?

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Kate Havard–The ban on leavened food is inspiring ever-more-artful Culinary Creativity

Traditionally, the weeklong Passover holiday has not exactly been known for its culinary attractions. That was by design: The matzo that Jews eat to remember their deliverance from slavery is a flat bread, unleavened because when the ancient Israelites fled Egypt they didn’t have time to wait for dough to rise. Matzo is known as the bread of freedom. But because the holiday also commemorates the Israelites’ 40-year stint wandering the desert, matzo is sometimes called the bread of affliction””a description that takes on another meaning by about Day Six, when you realize that the matzo you had thought at first tasted delightfully nostalgic is actually about as tasty as a year-old Saltine.

Any food made from grains that are chametz, or leavened, meaning allowed to ferment and rise””that includes wheat, oats, rye and barley””are banned for the holiday. It can put a crimp in menu-planning, but that has always been part of the point of Passover.

Lately, though, a movement has developed that offers deliverance for Jews who might feel that they are gastronomically suffering. The five-star Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem created a stir this month when it announced that it planned to add bagels to its Passover menus when the holiday begins on Monday. The bagels are made with boiled matzo meal, and thus are kosher for Passover, and they come complete with lox and cream cheese.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, History, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

David Cameron on his vicar: "I can’t think of anyone who was more loving or thoughtful or kind"

This is the Rev’d Mark Abrey, vicar of St. Nicholas’ Church, Chadlington, Oxfordshire. He seems to be a quiet and unassuming sort of minister, so you won’t find much written about him anywhere. Indeed, it took His Grace the best part of an hour to unearth a photograph. The Rev’d Mark happens to be David Cameron’s local vicar in his constituency. And this is what the Prime Minister said of him at Wednesday’s Downing Street Easter reception:

..it’s lovely to have here tonight the vicar from St Mary Abbots school, Gillean Craig, and also the vicar who looks after me spiritually in the constituency, Mark Abrey in Chadlington, who, when I often ”“ anyone asks me about the pastoral care that many vicars carry out across the country, I remember 5 years ago when we had to mourn the loss and bury my son Ivan, I can’t think of anyone who was more loving or thoughtful or kind than Mark. And of course, Ivan would have been 12 yesterday, which has had me pause to think about that.

Now, Mr Cameron said an awful lot more in his speech, which spanned politics, religion, the law of Christ, the Big Society and Dyno-Rod. And you may read all of that for yourselves and make up your own minds what you think about it. But His Grace is going to dwell on this single sentence of tribute to a single Church of England vicar, for this speech was extempore – not carefully crafted by some Downing Street hireling. And, clearly coming from the heart, it reveals rather more about the Prime Minister’s spirituality and appreciation of the Church of England’s ministry than anything he has previously disclosed.

Read it all from Archbishop Cranmer’s blog.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Greenville News) Report: Prisons the new 'asylums' for the mentally ill

Three months after a state judge issued a scathing report on the treatment of mentally ill prisoners, a national report is reaching a similar conclusion.

A report by the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriff’s Association issued Thursday ranks South Carolina “near the bottom” in the treatment of mentally ill inmates.

The report found the state ranked near the bottom in the availability of public psychiatric beds, efforts to divert mentally ill from imprisonment, per capita spending on mental health “and almost every other measure of treatment for mentally ill individuals.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, Mental Illness, Politics in General, Prison/Prison Ministry, Psychology, State Government

(NPR) Paying Off Student Loans Puts A Dent In Wallets, And The Economy

Weighing in at more than $1 trillion, student loan debt is now larger than total credit card debt. Morning Edition recently asked young adults about their biggest concerns, and more than two-thirds of respondents mentioned college debt. Many say they have put off marriage or buying a home because of the financial burden they took on as students.

William Elliott, director of the Assets and Education Initiative at the University of Kansas, says the burden of student loans isn’t just a personal, short-term problem for individuals. Loans now make up too large a part of financial aid packages, he tells NPR’s David Greene, “and they’re too big of a part of how we finance college.”

As a result, Elliott says, too many young people are spending years on loan repayment, instead of growing personal wealth through investments like real estate and retirement accounts. In the long-term, he adds, that can be a drag on the economy ”” and create a wealth divide between people who have student debt and those who don’t.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The U.S. Government, Theology, Young Adults

(ABS) America Is Still Generally Pro-Bible, But Bible Skeptics* Now Balance Out the Bible Engaged

After four years of research, American Bible Society has found the Bible landscape in the U.S. is shifting.

A new report released today finds the percentage of Americans who are considered “Bible engaged”i is now equal to the percentage who do not believe the Bible to be sacredii””both at 19 percent. The latest findings are in American Bible Society’s fourth annual State of the Bible survey. Since 2011, this latter category of “Bible skeptics”iii has risen from 10 percent to 19 percent of those surveyed. During the same period, the percentage considered “Bible-friendly”iv dropped from 45 percent to 37 percent, while “Bible-engaged” remained steady. The percentage of those considered neutralv toward the Bible, 26 percent in 2014, has remained statistically unchanged.

The report, conducted by Barna Group, details Americans’ beliefs about the Bible, its role in society, its presence in U.S. homes and other information about the best-selling book of all time. As in previous years, the survey found the Bible remains a highly valued, influential force in America. But beliefs about the Bible and its role in society are becoming increasingly polarized””particularly when the data are examined by age group.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Barna Group) The State of the Bible: 6 Trends for 2014

The Bible has been making its way onto box office screens and home TV screens over the past year: from Noah to Son of God, people have been watching the Bible. But are they still reading the Bible? And do they still believe in the Bible?

Each year, Barna Group partners with the American Bible Society on State of the Bible, a comprehensive study of Americans’ attitudes and behaviors toward the Bible. Asking a national representative sample of adults the same questions year after year allows us to track the country’s shifting perceptions of Scriptures.

This year’s research reveals six trends in Bible engagement: from the Bible’s continued role as a cultural icon, to increased digital Bible reading, to a rise in skepticism toward Scripture, particularly among Millennials.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The C of E Response to Government consultation on future of civil partnership

The Church of England has submitted its response to the Government’s consultation document on the future of civil partnership. The 12 week consultation period opened in January and closes next Thursday (17 April).

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

(Church Times) South Sudan Bps–”˜We face attacks if C of E marriage policy changes’

Bishops in South Sudan have confirmed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s warning that Christians in their country face a violent reaction if the Church of England permits same-sex marriage and blessings.

Archbishop Welby gave his warning during a phone-in on LBC radio last Friday. Asked why the Church of England could not permit clergy to bless same-sex relationships, he said: “The impact of that on Christians in countries far from here, like South Sudan, like Nigeria, and other places, would be absolutely catastrophic.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, --South Sudan, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sudan, Theology, Violence

George Augustus Selwyn's Bio from The Ecncylopedia of NZ for his Feast Day

Selwyn’s prodigious energy and all-round accomplishments impressed both Maori (whose language he had begun to learn on the passage out) and settler. His first visitation tour began only 10 days after his arrival at the Bay of Islands. It took six months, covering about 2,300 miles, one third of which he walked, travelling the balance by ship, horseback, boat and canoe. He became a competent mariner, mastered the art of navigation, and in his small schooner, the Undine, undertook coastal passages in ill-charted waters, as well as ocean voyages to Melanesia. One sailor commented that ‘to see the Bishop handle a boat was almost enough to make a man a Christian’. However, he was much more than the legendary muscular Christian. He was a high-principled idealist as well as a far-sighted man of action, a combination which was experienced by some as inflexibility rather than resolution.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Missions

A Prayer for the Feast Day of George Augustus Selwyn

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy servant George Augustus Selwyn, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to the peoples of New Zealand and Melanesia, and to lay a firm foundation for the growth of thy Church in many nations. Raise up, we beseech thee, in this and every land evangelists and heralds of thy kingdom, that thy Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Lift up our souls, O Lord, to the pure, serene light of thy presence; that there we may breathe freely, there repose in thy love, there may be at rest from ourselves, and from thence return, arrayed in thy peace, to do and bear what shall please thee; for thy holy name’s sake.

–E. B. Pusey

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

–2 Corinthians 4:1-12

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(JTA) Gershom Sizomu–A miracle in Uganda

As we celebrate Passover, it is important to remember that as great as the miracle of the Exodus was, freedom was only the beginning. I know this from reading the Torah, but I also know from personal experience.

I was born in Uganda to Jewish parents at a time when it was illegal to be a Jew in my country. Uganda’s dictator, Idi Amin, was a modern-day Pharaoh, outlawing everything Jewish from prayer to practice. Many of our Jewish elders, including my father, the community rabbi, were beaten and imprisoned. Our synagogue was destroyed. Under these dangerous conditions, most of the 3,000 Jews in Uganda abandoned their faith.

Nearly a decade later, on April 11, 1979, corresponding to 14 Nisan, 5739, Amin was deposed. It was the first night of Passover when the government declared freedom of worship. For us, it was a true Passover miracle.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, History, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Uganda