Daily Archives: May 20, 2014

(CT) N D Wilson–Lighten Up, Christians: God Loves a Good Time

We Christians are the speakers of light. We are the proclaimers of joy. Wherever we go, we are the mascots of the gospel, the imagers of the infinitely creative Father, and the younger brothers and sisters of the humbled and triumphant Word. We speak in this world on behalf of the One who made up lightning and snowflakes and eggs.

Or so we say.

Saying things is easy. Meaning them””in the realm of will and emotions””is harder. Knowing what they actually mean is more difficult still. Living out who we know we are and whom we follow with total consistency is, well . . . have you ever ridden a white whale by the light of a blue moon in a leap year?

We say we want to be like God, and we feel we mean it. But we don’t. Not to be harsh, but if we did really mean it, we would be having a lot more fun than we are.

Read it all.

Posted in Theology

Ian McEwan–Church leaders' views on right to die are 'medieval'

Novelist Ian McEwan has criticised the views of church leaders who have challenged assisted dying.

The Atonement author made the comments at the Charleston Festival in East Sussex over the weekend around the publication of his next novel, The Children Act.

The novel explores the issue through the eyes of a high court judge presiding over the case of parents who refuse treatment for their sick child because of their religious beliefs.

“What is ridiculous is the law allows people to starve to death, but when somebody is suffering extreme pain they cannot get the nurse to help them die,” McEwan said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

([London] Times) Hundreds leave the Church of Scotland in row over clergy in Same-sex Unions

Hundreds of worshippers from one of the Church of Scotland’s biggest congregations have left en masse to join the Free Church amid dissent over the issue of ..[clergy in same-sex unions]….

The moves follow the decision by the General Assembly to allow the ordination of openly-gay ministers if this has the support of the congregation. At its General Assembly in May last year, the CoS voted to uphold its historic doctrine on same sex relationships but to also consider a policy of permitting individual congregations to choose ministers in stable same-sex relationships.

Although some Christians will continue to oppose the move at the Kirk’s General Assembly this week, the decision is expected to be ratified as a means of keeping most congregations within the fold.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Scotland, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

High Court judge who supported marriage says he had to resign or be 'publicly hanged'

A High Court judge who stepped down after being disciplined for campaigning in favour of marriage said he would have been ”˜publicly hanged’ if he had spoken out again.

Sir Paul Coleridge launched a stinging attack against Lord Thomas, the country’s most senior judge, for rebuking him after he repeatedly spoke out about the harm that family breakdowns caused children.

He said the judiciary had been ”˜brought into disrepute’ by investigating him for backing a traditional view of marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Theology

Daniel Wani to appeal pregnant wife Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag’s death sentence in Sudan

Wani, a Sudanese man with US citizenship who lives in Manchester in New Hampshire, is now in Sudan to try and help his wife.

“I was considered innocent and the marriage revoked ”” the revoking of this marriage means that my son is no longer my son and the one coming is not my son too, will not be my son ”” so this innocence means nothing and I will appeal for myself and I will appeal for my wife,” Reuters news agency reported.

“Martin [my son] and my wife, they are all in prison and she is pregnant ”” she could give birth at any time, from today to 1st of June, she may give birth. I am afraid that being in prison is dangerous for her so if they would allow me to take her to the hospital that she delivered Martin in ”” even if it was under the watch of security guards, I would be thankful.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sudan, Theology

(Clarion Project) Is Media Underplaying the Islamist Ideology of Boko Haram?

[Boko Haram leader Abubaker] Shekau declared, “To the people of the world, everybody should know his status, it is either you are with us mujahideen or you are with the Christians….”

“We know what is happening in this world, it is a jihad war against Christians and Christianity. It is a war against Western education, democracy and constitution”¦ This is what I know in Quran. This is a war against Christians and democracy and their constitution, Allah says we should finish them when we get them.”

Contrary to [Ahmed] Bedier’s assertion that Boko Haram’s ideology “comes from nowhere,” it does come from well-established Islamic interpretations, even if most Muslims disagree with those interpretations (a mere 2% of Nigerian Muslims view Boko Haram favorably).

Read it all; GetReligion has all been posting on this angle of the story.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Media, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(TGC) Why Youth Ministers Need to Be Theologians

We expect a certain level of theological sophistication from our preaching pastors. They must at least know church history, systematic theology, and hopefully some Greek and Hebrew so they can properly interpret and apply the biblical text. We’re confident that when we approach them with questions about the canonization of Scripture, the implications of the incarnation, and the doctrine of the body and sexuality, their learning will aid us in responding faithfully to such pressing questions in our culture. If anything the world bears down with even greater ferocity on the fledging faith of Christian youth. So why should we expect less theological rigor from our youth pastors who serve them through teaching, counseling, and more? Every youth minister needs to be a theologian, whether formally or informally equipped to handle God’s Word with integrity and care. This new 10-minute video feature insights from David Plant, director of youth ministry at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City; Cameron Cole, director of youth ministries at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, Alabama; and Liz Edrington, who is pursuing her master’s degree in counseling from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando.

Read and watch it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Parish Ministry, Soteriology, Theology, Youth Ministry

(WSJ) Number of 'Underwater' Borrowers Is Down but Remains Elevated, hindering the housing market

Nearly 10 million U.S. households remain stuck in homes worth less than their mortgage and a similar number have so little equity they can’t meet the expenses of selling a home, trends that help explain recent sluggishness in the housing recovery.

At the end of the first quarter, some 18.8% of U.S. homeowners with a mortgage””9.7 million households””were “underwater” on their mortgage, according to a report scheduled for release Tuesday by real-estate information site Zillow Inc. Z +3.48% While that is an improvement from 19.4% at the end of last year and a peak of 31.4% 2012, those figures understate the problem.

In addition to the homeowners who are underwater, roughly 10 million households have 20% or less equity in their homes, which makes it difficult for them to sell their homes without dipping into their savings.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

(Toronto Star) How one Nigerian town–Kachia–became a religious battleground

A mob torched Bature’s evangelical church last Monday, one of at least six churches and mosques destroyed in three days of religious clashes that took over the town of Kachia.

As many as 40 people died, police said, and hundreds of Christians and Muslims are now living in displacement camps.

Kachia is in the northwestern Nigerian state of Kaduna, which makes up part of the middle belt splitting the country’s largely Christian south from the mainly Muslim north. These bisecting regions are often home to mixed populations and have long simmered with sectarian friction.

Kachia sits right on top of the fault lines.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology

(NYT's The Stone) Philip Kitcher's Case for Soft Atheism

To sum up: There is more to religion than accepting as literally true doctrines that are literally false. Humanists think the important achievements of religions at their best ”” fostering community, articulating and supporting values ”” should be preserved in fashioning a fully secular world. That secular world ought to emerge from a dialogue between humanism and refined religion, one in which religion isn’t thrown on the rubbish heap but quietly metamorphoses into something else.

I’m a humanist first and an atheist second. Because I’m more sympathetic to religion than the prominent new atheists, I label my position “soft atheism.” But perhaps I’m a more insidious foe than Dennett and Dawkins. For instead of ignoring important species of religion, I want to prepare the way for their gradual disappearance.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Atheism, Other Faiths, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Alcuin

Almighty God, who in a rude and barbarous age didst raise up thy deacon Alcuin to rekindle the light of learning: Illumine our minds, we pray thee, that amid the uncertainties and confusions of our own time we may show forth thine eternal truth, 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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty God, Lord of the storm and of the calm, the vexed sea and the quiet haven, of day and of night, of life and of death, ”“ grant unto us so to have our hearts stayed upon Thy faithfulness, Thine unchangingness and love, that, whatsoever betide us, however black the cloud or dark the night, with quiet faith trusting in Thee we may look upon Thee with untroubled eye, and walking in lowliness towards Thee, and in lovingness towards one another, abide all storms and troubles of this mortal life, beseeching Thee that they may turn to the soul’s true good. We ask it for Thy mercy’s sake, shown in Jesus Christ our Lord.

–The Pastor’s Prayerbook

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to thee, when my heart is faint. Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I; for thou art my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in thy tent for ever! Oh to be safe under the shelter of thy wings!

–Psalm 61:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Washington Post) Chinese military unit charged with cyber-espionage against U.S. firms

The Justice Department on Monday accused five members of the Chinese military of conducting economic cyber-espionage against American companies, marking the first time that the United States has leveled such criminal charges against a foreign country.

Industries targeted by the alleged cyberspying ranged from nuclear to steel to solar energy, officials said. The hacking by a military unit in Shanghai, they said, was conducted for no other reason than to give a competitive advantage to Chinese companies, including state-owned enterprises.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Asia, Blogging & the Internet, China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology, Theology

(NYT) Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau taunts Nigeria from the shadows

Definitive pronouncements about the group are hazardous, since its communications with the outside world are fragmentary and its tactics and motivations remain murky. Even the group’s leadership is a mystery. The Nigerian government has claimed to have killed Mr. Shekau at least three times, although there is wide disagreement here on whether Mr. Shekau or a secret successor is in charge.

American intelligence officials say they have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the recent video or that the individual who appears in it is Mr. Shekau.

Said to be in his mid-30s to his early 40s, Mr. Shekau was born in a remote village on the border with Niger, in the neighboring state of Yobe. When he was a young boy he was taken by his father for Quranic studies to a mallam, or “learned one,” in Maiduguri, a center of Islamic teaching. “He was the most troublesome of all of his students,” the mallam’s son recalled last week, outside his one-story mud-walled house in a dense neighborhood here. “He was arguing with the mallam all the time,” said the teacher’s son, Baba Fanani.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence