Monthly Archives: October 2014

Salam Al-Marayati and Maher Hathout–Let Islamic Reform Start in America

”˜Muslim communities in the West,” wrote Graham Fuller and Ian Lesser in 1995 (“The Geopolitics of Islam and the West”), “are more likely to exert influence on their countries and cultures of origin rather than receive influences from them; over time they may have a substantive effect on the perceptions of secularization and minority rights in the Middle East.”

This shift””from the American Muslim community being perceived as foreign and an extension of the Middle East and South Asia to American Muslims instead influencing the East””is the direction in which Muslims are heading. Rampant authoritarianism in the Muslim world and the regression of Muslim religious establishments funded by the same autocratic governments currently make Islamic reform unlikely in the region.

American Muslims can significantly contribute to the revival of Islam and restore human dignity as a central principle of the faith. From despotic regimes to religious extremism, authoritarianism in the Middle East and South Asia has devastated modern Islamic thought over the last few centuries. American Muslims have the freedom and the intellectual capacity to create positive change for Islamic reform.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

[John Bingham] Ex-Archbishop quits over Church of England child sex abuse revelations

The former Archbishop of York, Lord Hope of Thornes, has resigned from formal ministry in the Church of England after almost 50 years after an independent inquiry found “systemic failures” in bringing a paedophile priest to justice.
……
It follows the publication last week of a critical report into his handling of allegations against Robert Waddington, the former Dean of Manchester, who abused choirboys and school pupils in York, Manchester, London, Carlisle and Australia, over five decades.

The inquiry, overseen by Judge Sally Cahill QC, found that Lord Hope, who dealt with two of the cases, did not refer the accusations to police or to child protection agencies.

Instead, he revoked Waddington’s right to conduct services but no further action was taken amid concerns over Waddington’s health.

Judge Sally Cahill said Lord Hope’s actions meant “opportunities were missed” to start an investigation which may have led to a prosecution before Waddington’s death in 2007.

Lord Hope said last week that he deeply regretted not having been more proactive in helping victims come forward.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Archbishop of York responds to Abuse Inquiry Report


… I am deeply ashamed that the Church was not vigilant enough to ensure that these things did not happen, failing both to watch and to act, where children were at serious risk.

Any act of abuse committed by someone in a position of authority in the Church is a matter for shame and requires deep repentance. We are called as individuals and corporately to a higher standard and to show God’s love and care as revealed in Jesus Christ. Those who trusted us in this only to be grievously wounded deserve not only our wholehearted apology but also the assurance we will keep a watchful eagle’s eye and act swiftly.

Those I have spoken to have expressed clearly that it is important for them to know whether new policies and procedures adopted after 2004 have created a new culture in the Church of England as a whole, which will ensure that all God’s children are protected. Those concerns are reflected in the report’s recommendations.

I commissioned an independent judge-led inquiry on 13th July 2013. The Judge was asked to investigate how the Church responded to the allegations made in 1999 and 2003/04 that Robert Waddington, a former Dean of Manchester Cathedral, had abused a child in the 1960s when he was headmaster of a school in the Diocese of North Queensland, Australia and also a Manchester choirboy in the 1980s when he was the Dean of Manchester.

In its conclusions the Inquiry has identified systemic failures in the Church’s failing to implement or follow its own procedures and guidelines on the reporting of incidents…

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Lent and Beyond: Prayer for South Carolina on Friday October 31st

Awaiting results of litigation”“
Lamentations 3:59 (ESV)

You have seen the wrong done to me, O Lord; judge my cause.

We entrust this litigation to You, O Lord. Amen.

Please pray it all and there are more prayers for South Carolina here

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

(Quartz) The Roma may be just what Europe needs to recover

The Roma constitute the largest ethnic minority in Europe. While many think the continent would be better off without them, the Roma have lived in Europe for more than 1,500 years, and represent one of Europe’s last, great hopes.

But currently, the Roma are among the continent’s most underserved communities. And like Europe’s Jews, and newcomers from Africa and the Middle East, they’re finding themselves caught up in a resurgence of racism and xenophobia.

The unemployment rate for Roma in Bulgaria was 59% in 2010, and 50% in Romania according to a seminal World Bank report, while average unemployment in Bulgaria was 11.6%, and 7.3% in Romania in 2013.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Eastern Europe, Anthropology, Bulgaria, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Romania, Theology

(Bloomberg View) Clive Crook–a lot of the media portrayal of Ebola Policy in the US is misleading

I accept the doctors’ conclusion — mandatory quarantine is a bad idea — but not the way they justify it. You don’t have to be a cynic, a slanted term, to argue for “better safe than sorry.” The calculus isn’t simple, either. The crucial thing, though, is that the doctors’ sensible conclusion doesn’t rest solely on the science.

It requires a delicate judgment about many different risks and costs — the risk of extra U.S. cases in the short run, the risk of discouraging health workers from traveling to West Africa so that the disease keeps spreading there, the cost in civil liberty of restricting people’s movements, and so on. I agree with the doctors about where the balance lies, but the issue isn’t easy and, in any event, it isn’t just about the science of Ebola.

The doctors conclude, “We should be honoring, not quarantining, health care workers who put their lives at risk…” We should indeed be honoring them — and, unless I’m mistaken, we are — but that comment isn’t science; it’s pure politics. Forgive me for stating what should be obvious, but if the facts about the transmission of Ebola were different, one could imagine that mandatory quarantine would be justified; and if it were, the policy would imply no disrespect to the health professionals involved.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Foreign Relations, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Politics in General, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Anglican Journal) Iraq airstrikes not a solution, says Syrian priest

The U.S.-led airstrike campaign is hardly a plausible solution to quelling the encroaching and horrific reign of Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, says the Rev. Nadim Nassar, the lone Syrian Anglican minister and director of the London, England-based, Christian charity, Awareness Foundation.

“It can’t be the solution because it only adds to the casualties and destruction to the region,” said Nassar, who spoke at a gathering Oct. 28 at St. John’s (Stone) Church. “The only solution is to dry out external resources that it relies on and all the veins that are feeding it.”

Military response merely provides a distraction, he said, ­­ a “show that they are doing something” ””while the situation worsens daily as more than a million dollars a day is pumped into the operations of the Islamic State (known as ISIS or ISIL), a radical group of insurgents in Iraq and Syria and an offshoot of the Islamist militant organization al-Qaeda.

The alternative, said Nassar, is to pinpoint the source of its funding rather than to raise arms.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Middle East, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology

(GR) Dawn Eden on the very poor religion Coverage of the Pope's recent speech on Evolution

As you can see from this archived version, …[RNS] gave a bungled translation that had the pope denying God is a “divine being”:

Francis said the beginning of the world was not “a work of chaos” but created from a principle of love. He said sometimes competing beliefs in creation and evolution could co-exist.

““God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life,” the pope said. “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”

Got that? Pope Francis, according to RNS, said, “God is not a divine being…”

The context makes it obvious that the pope is not intending by any stretch of the imagination to deny God is a “divine being.” He is, rather, denying that God is a demiurge, i.e. lower-case “builder-god” who merely fashions creatures out of primordial stuff and then leaves them to their own devices. For RNS to not only put the words “God is not a divine being” in the pope’s mouth but also refuse to correct its mistranslation would therefore be simply irresponsible.

But that is exactly what RNS did ”“ for forty-eight hours, even as Mohler and others questioned its translation.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Media, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology, Theology

(JE) Jeff Gissing on David Gushee's Change on the Christian understanding of Marriage

If traditional Christian teaching produces despair it is likely that such teaching has somehow been pressed or malformed to obscure the gospel. Whether one identifies as homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual, the hope of the gospel is the same. In the words of Tim Keller, “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” The profound experience of grace in the gospel provides the onus to a life of faithful discipleship. The homosexual need not stop experiencing same sex attraction in order to “earn” salvation just as straight people need not stop experiencing opposite-sex attraction. What he must do is remain chaste, an ancient word with little currency in today’s culture.

There can be little doubt that traditional Christians often communicate to gays that they must somehow stop experiencing same sex attraction in order to make themselves acceptable to God. This is not the gospel. There is nothing than we can do to make ourselves acceptable to God. What the Bible asks of us is, however, to recognize that sexual relationships with people of the same sex violates God’s intention for human sexuality. The Christian tradition directs us in one of two equally valid directions: celibacy or heterosexual marriage.

Reasonable people ought to respect Gushee’s right to change his mind and to do so publicly. However, it’s important to note that Gushee’s capitulation is not the only possible response to the precipitous change in cultural attitudes toward sexuality.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Liberia’s Ebola Crisis Puts President in Harsh Light

The president waited until her family members were seated around the dining table before announcing, with no fanfare, the latest defection from her cabinet.

“I lost my justice minister today,” she said, picking up a spoon before heading out to visit Ebola treatment units.

As the table erupted with questions, the president, having said all that she intended to, finished up her lunch of Libby’s tinned corned beef and rice ”” the Liberian equivalent of ramen noodles ”” and rose.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Liberia, Politics in General, Theology

(Ch Times) Church of England General Synod will debate the confidentiality of the confessional

The “absolute confidentiality” afforded to disclosures made under the seal of confession will be a matter for debate in the General Synod this month.

The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, said last week that he had “every sympathy” with the view, expressed by a survivor who reported abuse to the Cahill Inquiry…, that disclosures that gave rise to safeguarding concerns should not be treated as confidential.

Dr Sentamu told The Times: “If somebody tells you a child has been abused, the confession doesn’t seem to me a cloak for hiding that business. How can you really hear a confession about somebody abusing a child and the matter must be sealed up and you mustn’t talk about it?

“When a child reports abuse, you have an obligation – a duty – to take the matter to the police. If the person who has done it comes and tells you ‘I’ve abused someone, but I’m in a confessional now,’ it needs teasing out. I have listened to those who have been abused, and what I’ve heard leads me to ask a question: ‘Are we really serious about what Jesus said about children or not?'”

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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, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sacramental Theology, Theology

(F Things) Mathew Block–Misreading Scripture Alone, how some evangelicals ran into trouble

This is a more accurate understanding of the Reformation understanding of the relationship between Scripture and Tradition (and, indeed, explains why Lutherans can consider the Lutheran Symbols authoritative). We cannot simply reject the history of the Church. True, where Tradition is appealed to as a source of new dogma, we are right to resist it. But when Tradition codifies and clearly re-presents the teachings of Scripture, it is to be accepted as a norming influence on our individual reading of Scripture.

Philipp Melanchthon explains the Lutheran position well: “Let the highest authority be that of the Word which was divinely taught,” he explains. “Thereafter that church which agrees with that Word is to be considered authoritative.” And again: “Let us hear the church when it teaches and admonishes,” he writes, “but one must not believe because of the authority of the church. For the church does not lay down articles of faith; it only teaches and admonishes. We must believe on account of the Word of God when, admonished by the church, we understand that this meaning is truly and without sophistry taught in the Word of God.”

Christianity Today’s report suggests that some Protestants have forgotten this right relationship between Scripture and Tradition. We are right to trust in Scripture alone; but it is foolhardy to read Scripture by ourselves.

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

(BNG) Shifting sands: Seminaries are at a crossroads

[Daniel] Aleshire says no single story can possibly explain the current status of professional preparation for church, denominational and educational leadership. There are “too many multiple stories that move in different directions.”

Seminary education has been moored atop two primary pillars: higher education and the churches and denominational structures of the community of faith. Both moorings are experiencing their own “significant change.”

“Higher education is dealing with a lot of pressure,” says Aleshire. “Cultural questions are being asked what they weren’t asked 25 years ago: ”˜Is it worth the money? Does it make the contribution needed in American and Canadian cultural society?’”

Fundamental changes blazing through North American religion, and a wilting assumption that affordable access to theological education is assured, leaves seminaries taking blows from two sides.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(CC) Carol Merritt–The church’s new foundation

The church’s best days are still ahead,” said Cam­­eron Trimble. I shared a conspiratorial smile, as I often do when with her. She is executive director of the Cen­ter for Progressive Re­newal, where I am a consul­tant. She was telling me about Con­vergence, a network that she is dreaming up with a group of people, including authors Brian Mc­Laren and Diana Butler Bass.

As Trimble talked about Convergence, I imagined her standing in that long pattern of creation which reverberates through our ancient texts. God spoke into the chaos, and the words formed order as they gathered waters, brought forth vegetation, gave rise to animals, and molded humanity. The birth of Jesus Christ, the answer to longing prayers, is described as the Word made flesh.

We see creation in these grand narratives, and we also watch it unfold in our everyday lives. A 13-month-old toddler has not begun to speak, so she stands before the refrigerator, with her arm out and her tiny fist grabbing at air, and grunts. The guttural noises let her parents know that she wants. Eventually her “meh, meh, meh” will become “milk.” When her parents deliver the magical liquid, longing becomes word, and word becomes object.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from B. F. Westcott

Almighty and most merciful God, who hast given us a new commandment that we should love one another: Give us also grace that we may fulfill it. Make us gentle, courteous, and forbearing. Direct our lives so that we may look to the good of others in word and deed. And hallow all our friendships by the blessing of thy Spirit; for his sake who loved us and gave himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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