Daily Archives: December 17, 2014

(NYT Op-ed) Pamela Druckerman–What You Learn in Your 40s

Eight hours of continuous, unmedicated sleep is one of life’s great pleasures. Actually, scratch “unmedicated.”

–There are no grown-ups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.

–There are no soul mates. Not in the traditional sense, at least. In my 20s someone told me that each person has not one but 30 soul mates walking the earth. (“Yes,” said a colleague, when I informed him of this, “and I’m trying to sleep with all of them.”) In fact, “soul mate” isn’t a pre-existing condition. It’s an earned title. They’re made over time.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, France, Middle Age, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(TGC) How to Ruin a Moses Movie A Review of 'Exodus: Gods and Kings'

In retrospect, it appears we may have been too hard on Noah.

When Darren Aronofsky’s movie about a family and a flood was released in March, many of us thought it was going to be the worst big-budget Bible-based movie of 2014. But with two weeks to go before the deadline, Ridley Scott slipped in an entry that is even worse.

Exodus: Gods and Kings had the potential to be one of the greatest films of all time; instead it’s one of the worst movies of the year. Director Ridley Scott aspired to produce the next Ten Commandments (1956) and instead gave us a revisionist version of the story that is almost as lame as the justifiably forgotten Wholly Moses! (1980).

In the future, this movie should be taught in film schools to show all the ways a movie based on a Bible story can go wrong.

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

(C of E) Go-ahead from regulatory authorities given for major church credit union

Fair returns to savers, fair interest rates on loans and the aspiration to be a flagship credit union are among the aims of the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union Ltd (CMCU) which has received formal authorisation from the regulatory authorities today. This has been a rigorous process undertaken by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. CMCU plans to begin to offer its services to those eligible for membership from February 2015.

CMCU has been formed for and with the help of the Church of England, the Methodist Church of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church in Wales. CMCU President, Canon Antony MacRow-Wood, said, “I am delighted at the news of authorisation. CMCU will help many, even in its first year of operation and, in due course, it should become a significant financial resource to the church and individuals throughout England, Wales and Scotland. CMCU will enable a virtuous re-cycling of money within the church community, through a combined portfolio of savings and loan products.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

A Note from the Bishop of Ely on “The Green Report”

The Development and Appointments Group would like to thank Lord Green for this report and for his leadership of the group charged by us and the Archbishops to review the way in which the Church prepares clergy for senior posts and how they are encouraged to develop and grow in their discipleship and leadership in mission once they are appointed. I would also like to thank the members of various task groups who contributed as ideas were developed, and those who have taken part over the longer term – in shaping source material through being members of nomination panels, participating in diocesan consultations for bishops and deans and participating in research projects. This work has emerged from a long period of reflection on the complexity of senior clerical leadership – a ministry in which we are called to be priests, prophets and theologians as well as to be leaders of Christ’ great gift, the Church – a body which needs constant nurturing and stewarding to ensure that its organisational life flourishes and resources our call to mission.

The report challenges the nature and quality of the support currently provided in both areas – a challenge we must take seriously as we become increasingly aware of the extent of the issues facing the Church in its witness to and sharing of the Gospel.

Read it all and follow the link to the full report.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Bloomberg) The Collapse of Putin's Economic System

The ruble meltdown and accompanying economic slump marks the collapse of Putin’s oil-fueled economic system of the past 15 years, said an executive at Gazprombank, the lender affiliated to Russia’s state gas exporter. He asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The higher interest rate will crush lending to households and businesses and deepen Russia’s looming recession, according to Neil Shearing, chief emerging-markets economist at London-based Capital Economics Ltd.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Russia, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

The Economist explains What’s gone wrong with Russia’s economy

Russia is in the middle of a currency crisis. On December 15th its currency lost 10% of its value, having already lost about 40% this year. The central bank increased interest rates sharply, but instead of calming the market the hike was seen as a sign of desperation. The following day the rouble was at one point down a further 20% (and ended the day 10% lower). The central bank reckons that GDP could fall by 5% in 2015. Inflation is currently at 10% but is expected to accelerate rapidly. Russians are panic-buying; banks are running out of dollars. What’s gone wrong with Russia’s economy?

The problems were long in the making. Russia is highly dependent on oil revenues (hydrocarbons contribute over half the federal budget and two-thirds of exports) and over the past decade it has failed to diversify its economy. It is horribly corrupt, has weak institutions and no real property rights. The Kremlin distributes oil money via state banks to firms and projects which it selects on the basis of their political importance and their pro-Putin stance, rather than trusting the market to allocate capital to the most efficient firms. If you look at wealth, Russia is the world’s second-most unequal country. Its working-age population is shrinking fast.

Western sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s meddling in Ukraine have dealt a blow to the economy. But the proximate cause of the turmoil of the last few days is concern about Russia’s corporate sector. During 2015 Russia’s firms must repay $100 billion-worth of foreign debt. But as the rouble falls, paying back dollars becomes more difficult.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(Spectator) Douglas Murray–Why are we abandoning the Middle East's Christians to Isis?

She took the call herself the night the Islamic State came into Mosul. ”˜Convert or leave or you’ll be killed,’ she was told. The callers, identifying themselves as Isis members, knew the household was Christian because her husband worked as a priest in the city. They fled that night.

Like many of their Christian neighbours they sought refuge in the monastery of St Matthew. But Isis took that over, tore down the Cross, smashed all Cross-decorated windows, used it for their own prayers and flew their black flag on top of the church. Across what was Nineveh, Iraq’s Christians spent this year fleeing from village to village, hoping to find safety somewhere.

This woman’s husband and son continued their ministry among the scattered congregations of Iraq. But the wife, who took the call, is now in west London. We spoke there one Sunday morning earlier this year. To attend the morning service in a Syriac church and hear the Lord’s Prayer uttered in the original Aramaic in which Jesus taught it is profoundly moving at any time. But this year the prayers of this beleaguered congregation of Iraqi Christians in Acton have taken on a terrible, plaintive urgency.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(PS) Krishna Chinthapalli–Testing Times for Alzheimer’s

lzheimer’s disease is by far the most common cause of dementia and one of the world’s most feared disorders. By 2050, there will be 135 million Alzheimer’s sufferers worldwide, a threefold increase from today, with three-quarters of cases occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Predicting the onset of Alzheimer’s, let alone preventing or curing it, remains an immense challenge.

Alzheimer’s disease was identified more than a century ago from autopsy results that showed characteristic brain lesions called “amyloid plaques.” The disease is more difficult to diagnose in the living. Doctors rely on observation of memory loss and other thinking deficits (such as reasoning or language comprehension) ”“ signs that plaques are already present in the brain. But any cure would have to be administered before the plaques form, and years before symptoms of dementia appear.

Alzheimer’s might be more predictable if scientists had the time and resources to conduct far-reaching longitudinal studies over many years. Such studies ideally would involve blood, imaging, memory, and medical tests, as well as detailed lifestyle questionnaires filled out by thousands of young and middle-aged people. Study participants would be followed over decades to see who developed the disease, and which tests proved positive before Alzheimer’s was diagnosed.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Theology

Anglican Diocese of Lagos Plans for 2015 Gubernatorial Elections

In its bid to promote free, fair and credible elections, the Anglican Church of Lagos Diocese has planned to mobilise, sensitise and monitor the 2015 elections in Lagos State, as indicated by Rev. James Odedeji, the Anglican Bishop of the Diocese.

He disclosed this in a press conference in Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday. He said that the process had been carried out for the past 15 years and it had been profitable to the state.

According to Bishop Odedeji, with the permission of the federal government, “we have set up a forum for candidates running for the Lagos gubernatorial election to say or read to the people their manifesto in their forth-coming Vintage Government Election Debate to hold in January.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria

A Wash. Post art. on Christians who experience same-sex attraction and remain celibate

The reaction among church leaders themselves has been mixed, with some praising the celibacy movement as a valid way to be both gay and Christian. But others have returned to the central question of how far Christianity can go in embracing homosexuality ”” even if people abstain from sex.

Al Mohler, president of the flagship Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of the country’s most respected conservative evangelical leaders, said in an interview that there is “growing and widespread admiration” for Tushnet and others, including Wesley Hill, an evangelical scholar who founded the spiritualfriendship blog.

Given that LGBT people are coming out and “being welcomed,” he said, “it is now safe and necessary to discuss these things aloud in evangelical churches ”” and that’s hugely important.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

The Revd Libby Lane Announced as Bishop of Stockport

Downing Street have today announced that the new Bishop of Stockport – and the first woman bishop in the Church of England – will be the Revd Libby Lane, currently Vicar of St Peter’s, Hale, and St Elizabeth’s, Ashley.

As Bishop of Stockport she will serve as a suffragan (assistant) bishop in the Diocese of Chester. She will be consecrated as the 8th Bishop of Stockport at a ceremony at York Minster on Monday 26 January 2015.

Libby Lane was ordained as a priest in 1994 and has served a number of parish and chaplaincy roles in the North of England in the Dioceses of Blackburn, York and Chester. For the past 8 years she has served as Vicar of St. Peter’s Hale and St. Elizabeth’s Ashley.

She is one of eight clergy women from the Church of England elected as Participant Observers in the House of Bishops, as the representative from the dioceses of the North West.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Women

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord our God, in whose hands is the issue of all things, and who requirest from thy stewards not success but faithfulness: Give us such faith in thee and in thy sure purposes, that we measure not our lives by what we have done or failed to do, but by our obedience to thy holy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Behold, I send my messenger before thy face,
who shall prepare thy way;
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight”””
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

–Mark 1:1-8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(VOA) Funerals Begin for 141 Slain in Taliban Attack on Pakistan School

The first funerals are being held for the victims of a Taliban school massacre in Pakistan on Tuesday that left at least 141 people dead, most of them young students.

Wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives, seven assailants attacked the military-run facility in the northwestern city of Peshawar, shooting children and adults.

Pakistani officials said 132 of the dead were students about 12 to 16 years old. Nine school staff members also died in the siege, which lasted more than eight hours.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, Pakistan, Parish Ministry, Theology, Violence

(Telegraph) Church of England’s first woman bishop chosen

The Church of England is poised to announce the appointment of its first female bishop marking the end of centuries of all-male leadership.

The Daily Telegraph understands that a female priest has been chosen as the new Bishop of Stockport which has been vacant since May when the previous holder, the Rt Rev Robert Atwell, was made Bishop of Exeter.

The historic appointment comes just four weeks after the Church of England’s ruling General Synod formally enacted a change to canon law opening the episcopate to women for the first time, ending 40 years of legislative wrangling and almost a century of campaigning.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Women