Daily Archives: April 16, 2014

First woman and youngest priest heads Western Springs TEC church

The Rev. Kate Spelman is the youngest priest and the first woman to serve as rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Western Springs. Just before turning 30, she became the seventh spiritual head of the 120-year-old parish of 300 families.

Q. Where did you serve previously?

A. My first assignment was three years at Christ Church in Philadelphia, an historic church four blocks from the Liberty Bell. They held the Continental Congress there. It’s a big tourist attraction as well as a lively congregation. It was a wonderful position, sort of a boot camp with all sorts of experiences.

Q. How did you end up in Western Springs?

A. I felt it was time for a change. This was the first place I applied to and the last place where I interviewed, including parishes in California, Philadelphia and Virginia. Almost from the first moment, I felt very much at home and at ease here. It felt right.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Boston Globe) Study finds brain changes in young casual marijuana users

Young adults who occasionally smoke marijuana show abnormalities in two key areas of their brain related to emotion, motivation, and decision making, raising concerns that they could be damaging their developing minds at a critical time, according to a new study by Boston researchers.

Other studies have revealed brain changes among heavy marijuana users, but this research is believed to be the first to demonstrate such abnormalities in young, casual smokers.

The Boston scientists also found that the degree of brain changes appeared to be directly related to the amount participants smoked per week.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Theology, Young Adults

(American Interest) Playing Putin’s Game

Given what we’ve seen in Ukraine, the US and the EU need to work much more closely together on policy vis a vis the non-Russian former Soviet states. This policy can’t be seen as simply legalistic or commercial, expanding free trade zones or supporting the rule of law and the development of institutions; security issues are also involved.

More, Europe’s failure to develop coherent energy policy is clearly a contributing factor to Putin’s transparent contempt for the bloc as well as to Europe’s continuing vulnerability to Russian pressure. Europe’s countries have many voices when it comes to energy policy; the United States needs to play a larger and more constructive role in the continent’s musings over energy policy, and the new American reserves now coming on line could be part of a long term strategy to reduce Europe’s vulnerability to energy blackmail.

The US may also need to consider how it can play a more useful role in Europe’s internal debates over economic policy. Europe’s weakness before Russian pressure is both directly and indirectly attributable in part to the fallout from the euro disaster. Economic pain has divided the union, alienated many voters both from Brussels and their national authorities, reduced Europe’s energy and resources for external policy ventures, contributed to the bitterness over immigration and fueled the rise of the extreme right wing parties Putin now seeks to mobilize. Important American interests have been seriously harmed by the monetary muddle in Europe, and Washington needs to think more carefully about how it can play a more consequential and constructive role.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

(ABC Aus.) Michael Bird–How God became Jesus: Bart Ehrman gets it wrong, again

Easter is now [almost] upon us, and we await the predictable onslaught of naysayers who declaim with an almost evangelical fervour that the Jesus story is one big lie. Such tirades by the evangelists of scepticism seem almost to constitute a pastoral responsibility on their part annually to reinforce the ideological conceits of their tribe of followers, thus providing atheists, agnostics and “nones” with reassurance that they needn’t take Jesus too seriously.

The opening salvo this year comes courtesy of the indefatigable Bart Ehrman. For those who don’t know, Ehrman is something of a celebrity sceptic in the United States. A professor of religion at the University of North Carolina, he was formerly a fundamentalist Christian who de-converted to agnosticism, and now writes books exposing the apparently fallacious claims of traditional Christianity. He has several New York Times best-sellers to his name, including Misquoting Jesus: The Story of Who Changed the Bible and Why, Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible and Forged: Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. Ehrman is a regular on the talk-show circuit, frequenting programs like The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, Dateline, CNN, and National Public Radio.

A genuinely erudite scholar of ancient texts and a fierce debater, Ehrman is the bane of traditionalists and the champion of sceptics. A pity, then, that he is almost always wrong.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Christology, History, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Al Mohler) It’s Back ”” The “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” and the State of Modern Scholarship

The language used by the national media in reporting the story this time reveals the lack of confidence now placed in the fragment. The Boston Globe reported that the tests “have turned up no evidence of modern forgery,” but the reporter had to acknowledge that at least one of the scholars writing in the Harvard Theological Review insisted that the fragment is not only a forgery, but an amateurish effort. The New York Times ran a story that featured a headline announcing that the fragment “is more likely ancient than fake.” Note the uncertainty evident even in the headline.

In her major article released last week, Professor King defended the fragment’s authenticity, but acknowledged that ”” all previous sensationalism aside ”” “It is not entirely clear, however, how many women are referred to [in the fragment], who they are, precisely what is being said about them, or what larger issues are under consideration.”

This is a very different message than was sent back in 2012. Professor King now acknowledges that all the references to females in the fragment might be “deployed metaphorically as figures of the Church, or heavenly Wisdom, or symbolically/typologically as brides of Christ or even mothers.” In other words, the fragment might not even conflict with Christian orthodoxy.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Christology, History, Media, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

In Many Cities, Rent Is Rising Out of the Reach of the Middle Class

Apartment vacancy rates have dropped so low that forecasters at Capital Economics, a research firm, said rents could rise, on average, as much as 4 percent this year, compared with 2.8 percent last year. But rents are rising faster than that in many cities even as overall inflation is running at little more than 1 percent annually.

One of the most expensive cities for renters is Miami, where rents, on average, consume 43 percent of the typical household income, up from a historical average of just over a quarter.

Stella Santamaria, a divorced 40-year-old math teacher, has been looking for an apartment in Miami for more than six months. “We’re kind of sick of talking about it,” she said of herself and fellow teachers in the same boat. “It’s like, are you still living with your mom? Yeah, are you? Yeah.” After 11 years as a teacher, Ms. Santamaria makes $41,000, considerably less than the city’s median income, which is $48,000, according to Zillow.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

George Weigel–Remembering the Importance of Flannery O’Connor in Holy Week 2014

This coming Aug. 3 will mark the golden anniversary of Flannery O’Connor’s “Passover,” to adopt the biblical image John Paul II used to describe the Christian journey through death to eternal life. In the 50 years since lupus erythematosus claimed her at age 39, O’Connor’s literary genius has been widely celebrated. Then, with the 1979 publication of The Habit of Being, her collected letters, another facet of Miss O’Connor’s genius came into focus: Mary Flannery O’Connor was an exceptionally gifted apologist, an explicator of Catholic faith who combined remarkable insight into the mysteries of the Creed with deep and unsentimental piety, unblinking realism about the Church in its human aspect, puckish humor””and a mordant appreciation of the soul-withering acids of modern secularism.

Miss O’Connor’s sense that ours is an age of nihilism””an age suffering from by a crabbed sourness about the mystery of being itself””makes her an especially apt apologist for today…

[She believed the world’s]…darkness is rendered darker still by late modernity’s refusal to recognize its own deepest need. For as Miss O’Connor put it in a 1957 lecture, “Redemption is meaningless unless there is cause for it in the actual life we live, and for the last few centuries there has been operating in our culture the secular belief that there is no such cause.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Other Faiths, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology, Women

(RNS) Hobby Lobby’s Steve Green launches a new project: a public school Bible curriculum

The Mustang, Okla., school board voted Monday (April 14) to adopt a Bible course developed by Steve Green, clearing the way for the Hobby Lobby president, whose suit against the Affordable Care Act is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, to enter another charged arena at the borderline of church and state.

The board, whose district is practically in Hobby Lobby’s Oklahoma City backyard, agreed to beta-test the first year of the Museum of the Bible Curriculum, an ambitious four-year public school elective on the narrative, history and impact of the Good Book.

For at least the first semester of the 2014-15 year, Mustang alone will employ the program, said Jerry Pattengale, head of the Green Scholars Initiative, which is overseeing its development. In September 2016, he hopes to place it in at least 100 high schools; by the following year, “thousands.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Children, Education, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

([London] Times) Rev is funny but things aren’t that bad, says Archbishop Welby

The show, which features Tom Hollander as a well-meaning pro-gay inner-city liberal vicar, is “ great entertainment” but it “doesn’t truly tell the whole story,” according to the Most Rev Justin Welby.

Writing in the Radio Times about the Sandford St Martin Trust Awards, which celebrate programmes that explore the relevance of faith, Archbishop Welby says: “It would be no surprise if BBC2’s Rev makes the awards shortlist next year. The show amusingly depicts some of the challenges facing clergy up and down the country. But while it’s great entertainment, it doesn’t truly tell the whole story.

“I have a friend who runs a growing church in Reading city centre, filled with young people with no church background; I have another friend who has had to plant two new churches because his congregation is bursting at the seams.

“Other churches have few people but great impact, again with visionary and inspiring leadership….”

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord, who didst spend this day in quiet retreat at Bethany, in preparation for thy coming passion: Help us ever to live mindful of our end; that when thou shalt call us to pass through the valley of the shadow of death, we may fear no evil, for thou art with us, who didst die that we might live with thee for ever.

—-Arthur Hendry McCheane

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

How the Lord in his anger
has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud!
He has cast down from heaven to earth
the splendor of Israel;
he has not remembered his footstool
in the day of his anger.

The Lord has destroyed without mercy
all the habitations of Jacob;
in his wrath he has broken down
the strongholds of the daughter of Judah;
he has brought down to the ground in dishonor
the kingdom and its rulers.

He has cut down in fierce anger
all the might of Israel;
he has withdrawn from them his right hand
in the face of the enemy;
he has burned like a flaming fire in Jacob,
consuming all around.
He has bent his bow like an enemy,
with his right hand set like a foe;
and he has slain all the pride of our eyes
in the tent of the daughter of Zion;
he has poured out his fury like fire.

The Lord has become like an enemy,
he has destroyed Israel;
he has destroyed all its palaces,
laid in ruins its strongholds;
and he has multiplied in the daughter of Judah
mourning and lamentation.

He has broken down his booth like that of a garden,
laid in ruins the place of his appointed feasts;
the Lord has brought to an end in Zion
appointed feast and sabbath,
and in his fierce indignation has spurned
king and priest.

The Lord has scorned his altar,
disowned his sanctuary;
he has delivered into the hand of the enemy
the walls of her palaces;
a clamor was raised in the house of the Lord
as on the day of an appointed feast.

The Lord determined to lay in ruins
the wall of the daughter of Zion;
he marked it off by the line;
he restrained not his hand from destroying;
he caused rampart and wall to lament,
they languish together.

Her gates have sunk into the ground;
he has ruined and broken her bars;
her king and princes are among the nations;
the law is no more,
and her prophets obtain
no vision from the Lord.

–Lamentations 2:1-9

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Everton Coach) Roberto Martinez's Speech at the Hillsborough Memorial Service at Anfield today

It starts with a reading from John’s gospel and is deeply moving–watch it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Sports

(CT) Andreas Köstenberger and Justin Taylor–5 Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon

The number and identity of the women in the resurrection accounts can be difficult to untangle, which is one of the reasons why we provide a glossary in The Final Days of Jesus as a guide. One of the confusing things, for example, is that no less than four of the women share the name Mary: (1) Mary Magdalene; (2) Mary the mother of Jesus; (3) Mary the mother of James and Joses/Joseph; and (4) Mary the wife of Clopas (who may have been the brother of Joseph of Nazareth). In addition, there is Joanna (whose husband, Chuza, was the household manager for Herod Antipas) and Salome (probably the mother of the apostles James and John).

As you preach this Easter, do not bypass the testimony of the women as an incidental detail. In the first century, women were not even eligible to testify in a Jewish court of law. Josephus said that even the witness of multiple women was not acceptable “because of the levity and boldness of their sex.” Celsus, the second-century critic of Christianity, mocked the idea of Mary Magdalene as an alleged resurrection witness, referring to her as a “hysterical female ”¦ deluded by ”¦ sorcery.”

This background matters because it points to two crucial truths. First, it is a theological reminder that the kingdom of the Messiah turns the system of the world on its head. In this culture, Jesus radically affirmed the full dignity of women and the vital value of their witness. Second, it is a powerful apologetic reminder of the historical accuracy of the resurrection accounts. If these were “cleverly devised myths” (2 Pet. 1:16, ESV), women would never have been presented as the first eyewitnesses of the risen Christ.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Eschatology, Holy Week, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Wash. Post) Heartbleed is about to get worse, and it will slow the Internet to a crawl

Efforts to fix the notorious Heartbleed bug threaten to cause major disruptions to the Internet over the next several weeks as companies scramble to repair encryption systems on hundreds of thousands of Web sites at the same time, security experts say.

Estimates of the severity of the bug’s damage have mounted almost daily since researchers announced the discovery of Heartbleed last week. What initially seemed like an inconvenient matter of changing passwords for protection now appears much more serious. New revelations suggest that skilled hackers can use the bug to create fake Web sites that mimic legitimate ones to trick consumers into handing over valuable personal information.

The sheer scale of the work required to fix this aspect of the bug ”” which makes it possible to steal the “security certificates” that verify that a Web site is authentic ”” could overwhelm the systems designed to keep the Internet trustworthy.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government, Theology

(CNBC) The best (and worst) jobs for 2014

CareerCast is out with their annual ranking of the 10 best and 10 worst jobs for 2014, and let’s just say that math and science guys everywhere are about to high-five.

Nine out of 10 of the best jobs fell into the STEM career category (science, technology, engineering and math), with the “numbers guys,” in particular, locking in 3 of the top 4 spots.

“This absolutely verifies the importance of STEM careers,” said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com and JobsRated.com.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology, Theology, Young Adults