Daily Archives: October 3, 2014

(WSJ) Bari Weiss–Crowdsourcing the High Holy Days

Jacob Hecht’s eldest son, Sholom Ber, remembers when his father and his brothers would gather before Rosh Hashana, relying on the eldest, Shlomo Zalman, “the sage who always came up with brilliant ideas.” In the 1990s, the next generation took up the meetings, which became increasingly official. But the crowdsourcing stretches beyond the one evening.

“In preparing for Yom Kippur, I am daily in touch with several of my brothers,” Sholom Ber told me this week. Ultimately, “it’s more than just being able to share ideas,” Rabbi Asher Hecht said. “It’s energizing to know that you have brothers and cousins around the world doing what you’re doing.”

But the Yom Kippur sermon isn’t make-or-break. “Every rabbi has one speech, and one speech only,” Yosef Yitzchak Hecht of Johannesburg said. When it comes to inspiring others, far more important “is the life you live.” Amen to that.

Give ’em hell on Friday night, rabbis””well, at least give ’em Hechts.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Bloomberg) Nigeria’s Boko Haram Leader Mocks Army Claims He Is Dead

A man who identified himself as the leader of the Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram denied that the country’s security forces had killed him.

“I am not killed, I am alive and you are claiming that you killed me,” the man purporting to be Abubakar Shekau said in a video released today that couldn’t be independently verified.

The figure, dressed in combat fatigues, spoke for 16 minutes in a mixture of Hausa and Arabic. He fired a gun mounted on a Toyota Hilux vehicle and said his group had carried out executions as it enforces strict Islamic law in an area of northeastern Nigeria the insurgents claim to rule. Nigeria’s defense ministry said that while it was studying the video, there was no proof when the film was made, and it was confident that Shekau was dead.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Nigeria, Terrorism, Violence

Archbishop Welby's sermon in Ireland: Economic idolatry+incapacity to cope w/ difference

…I want to pick two challenges in our environment in these islands, but generally across Europe and North America. Two challenges which undermine the presuppositions on which we depend as Christians to give us a common language to address the challenges of our society. The first is the challenge of economic idolatry. It has always existed, but the potential of global markets and the impact of technology has reached a level which, as you in this island know better than most, can hide the contingency of life, so that everyone thinks that everything will always get better, and then, as all idols do, topple and betray its worshippers more quickly and severely than at any time in history.

The second challenge, made far more dangerous by the impact of the first, is an incapacity to cope with difference, with diversity, a sense that you win or you lose, but you cannot co-exist. That, again, is something that is made worse by technology because our differences are brought face to face with us in a way that they never have been before in our history. . . And here, in Northern Ireland, that, too, that challenge of the incapacity to live with one another, is something which you have learned, that you go on learning, and in your resolution of it have much to teach the world, because in so many provinces of the Anglican Communion which we have visited around the world over the last 18 months, 32 others, in the places where there is war and struggle, Northern Ireland is seen as a beacon of light and hope, a place which can face deep-set historic division and turn from it. And it is symbolic and significant that Canon David Porter, Director of Reconciliation at Lambeth, and known to many of you, who is here this evening, is from Northern Ireland.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of Ireland, England / UK, Ireland, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Theology

(WSJ) U.S. Job Growth Rebounds in September

U.S. job growth rebounded in September and the jobless rate fell below 6% for the first time since mid-2008, suggesting the labor market is improving faster than previously thought.

Nonfarm payrolls grew a seasonally adjusted 248,000 last month, the fastest pace since June, the Labor Department said Friday.

Revisions showed stronger job growth in prior months than previously estimated. The economy added 180,000 jobs in August instead of the initially reported 142,000. It created 243,000 in July, up from an earlier estimate of 212,000.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Football domestic violence focus hits home for Clemson, other South Carolina schools

Joe Craig got a second chance after his first fight with a woman at Clemson. It didn’t last a year.

The speedy wide receiver was kicked off the football team by head coach Dabo Swinney in February of 2012 after he was arrested at 3:30 a.m. for criminal domestic violence stemming from an altercation with Whitney Fountain, a fellow track athlete and the mother of Craig’s son. Five months earlier, Craig missed the first three games of the 2011 season – suspended for a May fight with another track team member, Marlena Wesh.

Surprisingly, the first incident didn’t involve charges, though both Craig and Wesh were under 21 and a police report said alcohol was involved. But Clemson might not have given Craig another chance in the shadow of domestic violence concern brought on by the NFL’s mishandling of the Ray Rice case, scrutiny that has encouraged college coaches to stress “zero tolerance” rules.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sports, Theology, Violence, Young Adults

(Part of a BBC series) The Roman Catholic Church and me: The Philippines

In the most Catholic country in Asia, The Philippines, the Church has played a significant role for centuries.

Recently the Catholic Church lost a long battle in a bid to prevent a family planning bill which aims to provide contraceptives to those who need it most.

Read it all and see what you make of the video. Please note that this is part of a series, there are also reports for example from Brazil and Ireland and Ghana.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Philippines, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

(Telegraph) Tim Walker–Archbishop Justin Welby snubs the Royal College of Organists

Given that bongo drums were the defining sound of his multicultural enthronement ceremony, I am not entirely surprised to learn that Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has declined to involve himself with the Royal College of Organists.

Still, it represents a break with tradition that stretches back as long as anyone can remember ”” the august body was established in 1864 ”” and sets Welby apart from other leading Church figures who are proud to serve it. “It used to be taken as read that archbishops would want to take a position with us, and certainly Rowan Williams, as a former choir boy, proved to be a doughty champion of organists,” whispers my disgruntled man at their office in Pall Mall. “This has proved to be profoundly dispiriting snub at a time when membership is running low.”

The Queen is the patron of the college. The Archbishop of Westminster, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of London, the Free Churches Moderator, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Lord Mayor of London all currently serve as vice patrons.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(HP) Christian Piatt–Is the Internet Killing Christianity?

No one reasonably disputes that attendance in Christian churches is in sharp decline. The real lingering question is “why?” which is one of the most important questions I take on in my new book, postChristian: What’s left? Can we fix it? Do we care?

Though it’s not solely responsible, the Internet — along with the way it changes the way we interrelate, communicate, seek and consume information — is certainly doing its part to contribute to the decline. And it’s not just Church that is feeling the pinch; any hierarchic system in which the institution traditionally has played the role of guard, gatekeeper or mediator is finding their authority challenged.

As for why now, the answer is more complex than any single factor. On the one hand, changing domestic, social and economic systems have caused us to spread out and move around far more than before. The churches, as a result, are no longer social hubs of neighborhoods any more. And along with being social hubs, churches also served as economic engines, as businesspeople networked after worship or over a potluck meal. Now we just use LinkedIn.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Andy Stanley's North Point Named Largest Church in US; He's Ready to Invest in 30 somethings

A new list published in Outreach Magazine names Andy Stanley’s North Point Ministries as the largest church in America. As exciting as this designation may be, Stanley is already focused on the next best thing, fostering the next generation of church leaders.

In an essay for Outreach Magazine, Stanley explained “One of my favorite quotes that sits on my shelf in my office is from Al Ries in a marketing book called Focus. He says, ‘The next -generation product never comes from the previous generation.’ His point is, whatever’s next is going to be created by the next generation.”

Stanley says he is on a hunt for future leaders. “Our job now is to continue to invest in the 30-something men and women who are the age we were when we started. We need to keep our ear to the ground, and we need to look at who’s messing with the rules around the edges and invest in them.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

(Church Times) UK action in Iraq has Archbishop’s backing, for now

Air strikes ordered against Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Iraq have the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Several Free Church leaders have expressed their doubts, however.

Recalled to Parliament last Friday, MPs voted in favour of Britain’s third intervention in Iraq in 24 years. Since then, RAF Tornado jets have flown a number of sorties into Iraq. It was revealed on Tuesday that British planes had bombed vehicles and fighters in Iraq for the first time, aiding Kurdish forces who are battling IS in north-western Iraq.

Speaking in Friday’s debate in the House of Lords, Archbishop Welby said that this was a just cause. But he warned that the world would not be able to defeat Islamist extremism by force of arms alone.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Syria, Terrorism, Theology

(ABP) Circle of life: Denominational innovation may be the wave of the future

In many ways, the denominational model, in the strictly proper sense, already is largely a thing of the past, said Larry Hovis, executive coordinator of CBF of North Carolina.

Technically, Baptists constitute one denomination. Popularly, most Baptists have viewed their own religious organization within the wider Baptist family ”” Southern Baptist Convention, CBF, American Baptist Churches, the various predominantly African-American National Baptist groups ”” as its own denomination with related organizations at state or regional levels.

Churches in these “denominations” worked together in a system to accomplish shared objectives.

They also provided a theological framework for each other and, in many cases, offered little autonomy to their members, he said.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord, who by triumphing over the power of darkness, didst Prepare our place in the New Jerusalem: Grant us, who have this day given thanks for thy resurrection, to praise thee in that city whereof thou art the light; where with the Father and the Holy Spirit thou livest and reignest, world without end.

— William Bright

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They will perish, but thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment. Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away; but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.

–Psalm 102:25-27

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(B+C) David Davis reviews Andrew Pettegrees new book "The Invention of News:

Equally important to this book are [Andrew] Pettegree’s observations about the history of news and the questions that they raise concerning the current age of information. For example, if, as Pettegree argues, “news is fresh to anyone who hears or reads it for the first time,” then how important is expediency and immediacy to the reader? Furthermore, The Invention of News raises the question of what makes for trustworthy news. While modern audiences trust print and digital media, in “the early medieval tradition ”¦ word of mouth was more to be trusted than a written report.” Finally, why do most people watch or read the news? Do they consume news because it is important to their lives or because it is “an accoutrement of a polite life”?

Pettegree does not seem too interested in uncovering answers to such questions. This is unfortunate for readers who are expecting a more opinionated study, but it is not unwarranted. By keeping these topics at arms’ length, Pettegree avoids any sidetracks that would distract from plotting a clear, historical trajectory of news. This he does very well.

The Invention of News delivers a rich and compelling narrative, which picks away at several common presumptions about the history of news. While he gives leading newspapermen like John Wilkes their due, Pettegree complicates our understanding of the newspaper as an agent of “empowerment and emancipation.” The Invention of News veers away from the sort of Whiggish triumphalism that would set up the newspaper as the pinnacle of democratic expression. This is particularly germane in our own day, as the newspaper continues to decline in popularity and other media compete for its place. As Pettegree explains, the newspaper””a latecomer and late-bloomer in the story of news””has always been one among many news outlets in the culture of Western media.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Evangelicals, History, Media, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology

(AI) Peter Berger–What could monastic life look like in the early 21st century?

Two recent stories in The Tablet (the British Catholic journal) at least give a hint of how one might think about this problem.

The two stories, both dated September 13, 2014, were put under a heading “The New Monasticism”. Story #1, by Liz Dodd, reports further on a development that I had commented upon in an earlier post: the invitation by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, for a group from the Community of Chemin Neuf to live in Lambeth Palace (his historic residence). This project is now taking on a clearer shape. Chemin Neuf was founded in France in 1973 by the Jesuit Laurent Fabre. Originating in a Catholic charismatic prayer group in Lyon, it has now morphed into an international movement that does indeed propose a new model of the monastic life. Affiliates of the movement live together around a daily practice of communal prayer. In that respect the new model of monasticism doesn’t differ much from the classical one. In other respects the difference is radical. There are no vows of permanence, individuals stay for shorter or much longer periods. The mix of people includes clergy and laity, men and women, married couples and singles, Catholics and other Christians. While living in a community, individuals work outside at all sorts of jobs. As of September 2015, twenty individuals will move into Lambeth Palace, and stay for one year. The mix will be much like that of the Chemin Neuf model, though the spirituality will be Benedictine (Welby is a lay affiliate of the Anglican version of that order) rather than Jesuit. The Lambeth experiment will be called the Community of St. Anselm. The name emphasizes its English location, but also the unity of Western Christendom before the great schism of the sixteenth century (Anselm was of Italian origin, a Benedictine monk and one of the fathers of Catholic scholasticism. He was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1033 to 1109).

Story #2, by Riccardo Larini, is about the Community of Bose (a town in Italy), founded in l965 by a Catholic layman, Enzo Bianchi. It is similar to Chemin Neuf in its ecumenical emphasis, though it is closer to the classical model of monasticism in that permanence is assumed. The Community had its origin in the radical student movement of the time and it continues to combine its spirituality with political activism. Its main focus is ecumenical and interfaith dialogue. Bianchi has recently been appointed as an advisor by Pope Francis I. Significantly, Bianchi was a close friend of Roger Schutz, who in 1940 founded the Order of Taize (though it was only called this much later). Schutz was a Swiss Reformed pastor, who during World War II was active in helping Jews escape from Nazi-occupied France to Switzerland. After the war Schutz and a few disciples created a sort of monastery at Taize in the heart of Burgundy. The group developed its own distinctive liturgy, which is congenial to its ecumenical membership””Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox. This too has now become an international order, whose members live and pray together, but disperse into the world in order to work. Taize has become a destination for pilgrims, mostly young people from all over Europe. I was there once, years ago. It is a tranquil place in a hauntingly beautiful landscape.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, History, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer