Daily Archives: January 28, 2015

(CC) Sam Wells–Business of the kingdom

The New Testament gives us two inspiring calls to transform our relationship to money. Jesus tells a young man, “Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). The early church had an equally compelling model: “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44”“5).

In the imagination of many Christians there’s a perpetual sense that this is what our relationship to money would be like if we were doing it properly. But on closer look, the picture that Acts 2 offers is different from the one seen in Jesus’ words to the rich young man. The rich young man model is about living vulnerably before God and simply following Jesus. The Acts 2 model is about making a collective commitment and finding the activity of the Holy Spirit in the worship and practices of a community. Both models are compelling, but they’re not the same. The two dominant kinds of medieval monasticism””the mendicant friars and the wealthy monasteries””represent these two poles of the ideal of somehow getting money right. But both models turn out to be flawed when translated into a vision for a whole society.

For the most part the church has found these two models too challenging to implement and too disruptive to be sustainable.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT Economic Scene) Job Licenses in Spotlight as Uber Rises

One study by Mr. Kleiner and Rubert T. Kudrle of the University of Minnesota suggests that tighter licensing of dentists does not improve the quality of dental health. It does reduce the number of dentists. Crucially, it improves their earnings.

The issue goes beyond teeth. Associations for osteopaths have come out in support of North Carolina’s dental board; so have anesthesiologists, midwives, optometrists and even engineers and surveyors.

Supporting the dental board are the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards and the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.

For them, as for the taxi drivers battling Uber, the most important issue is whether they can maintain a lock on their professions and legally keep competition at bay. But is that a legitimate reason for the public to bear the cost of such cartels?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, State Government, Theology

Michael Nazir-Ali's sermon from Saint Helena's, Beaufort, this past Sunday 'In the beginning'

Listen to it all (starts after the gospel reading at about 3:20).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Local Paper) Feds plan to lease waters off South Carolina for oil and gas exploration

The petroleum industry celebrated the proposal, while complaining that it didn’t go far enough. Environmental groups warned of disaster.

“This represents a significant shift in federal policy and, in my view, a threat to the environment, the economy and the lifestyle of living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina,” said Chris DeScherer, a Charleston-based senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “It’s not just the coastal waters, wetlands, and wildlife that depend on them, but the businesses and the tourism industry.”

Erik Milito, director of Upstream and Industry Operations for the American Petroleum Institute, said offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling is much safer today than just five years ago.

“We are now in a new age,” Milito said in a conference call with reporters. “We’ve decreased the risk dramatically.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, The U.S. Government, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby's sermon at Trinity, Wall Street last week

David Sheppard, in his years in Liverpool, worked hand-in-glove with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, Derek Worlock (a third of all Catholics in England are in the province of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool) , and between them they transformed the attitude of the city. When they both arrived, within a few months of each other, they found a city that was still sectarian: it had both the largest Orange Lodge, the Protestant community, outside Ireland, and also the largest branch of Sinn Fein, the nationalist political wing of the then IRA outside of IReland. It was a place of riots. John Lennon sung Imagine – “Imagine there is no heaven” – was written after watching the inter-sectarian fighting in Liverpool. Yet Sheppard and Worlock lived together in harmony, met and prayed together, and set an example which transformed the life of that city and transformed the attitudes of Britain to sectarian difference. In the 1980s there were great riots, the worst riots that Britain has seen until 2011. They tackled with prophetic and powerful words the appalling poverty into which the city had sunk, and they never let up in their work for the common good.

That, as we know, is the theme of this conference, and I want to to explore very briefly some of its more awkward theological angles, to set some context for the next few days.

First of all, to use the old phrase of liberation theology, is God’s bias to the poor. It is very clear in the New Testament reading that we’ve just heard read. We often hear it in our culture as a rather agreeable and heart-warming little ditty about good news for the poor. In the exceptionally hierarchical and deeply unequal society of the time of Jesus it was provocative in the extreme. He had taken the passage, and claimed that in him alone was it fulfilled. It is no wonder that there was outrage.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

([London] Times) Church attendance in freefall but we still believe in Hell

Belief in life after death is as common in Britain as it was 30 years ago in spite of a sharp decline in church attendance, a study suggests.

While the number of people who say they believe in God or call themselves Anglicans has fallen significantly in the course of a generation, some core Christian beliefs appear to be holding their ground.

The proportion of Britons who believe in Hell has risen from 26.2 per cent in 1981 to 28.6 per cent in 2008, while belief in the afterlife held steady over the same period at about 44 per cent.

Over those three decades the proportion of people who hold all five of the religious beliefs covered by the study ”” God, life after death, Heaven, Hell and sin ”” has also slightly increased to almost a third of the UK’s population.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Eschatology, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

Porn on the internet played a part in gruesome real-life murder per Britain’s most senior judge

Britain’s most senior judge has claimed that “the peddling of pornography on the internet” was a contributing factor in one of the most gruesome murder cases he had to rule on last year.

Lord Thomas of Cwymgiedd said internet porn “played a real part” in the actions of Jamie Reynolds, 23, who convinced 17-year-old Georgia Williams to take part in a “photoshoot” with a noose around her neck before killing her and taking pictures of her naked body.

Reynolds was found to have 16,800 images and 72 videos of extreme pornography on his computer at the time of his arrest ”“ and the Lord Chief Justice told MPs yesterday that he felt the killer would not have come up with his meticulous plan had he not taken inspiration from the internet.

Read it all from the Independent.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pornography, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

A lot more Photographs from Mere Anglicanism 2015 available


The photo here is of all this year’s speakers along with hosting bishop Mark Lawrence, second from the right, and the Rev. Jeff Miller, furthest right, conference organizer. The speakers in order from the left are: Alister McGrath, Os Guinness, Tom Wright, Ross Douthat, Mary Eberstadt and Michael Nazir-Ali.

Check them all out courtesy of Joy Hunter, and please note there is a slideshow option (above the top lefthandmost picture).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * General Interest, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Other Faiths, Photos/Photography, Secularism, Theology

For Thomas Aquinas' Feast Day– Archbishop Michael Miller Speaks on Aquinas and Universities

Authentic Christian faith does not fear reason “but seeks it out and has trust in it”. Faith presupposes reason and perfects it. Nor does human reason lose anything by opening itself to the content of faith. When reason is illumined by faith, it “is set free from the fragility and limitations deriving from the disobedience of sin and finds the strength required to rise to the knowledge of the Triune God”. The Holy Father observes that St Thomas thinks that human reason, as it were, “breathes” by moving within a vast horizon open to transcendence. If, instead, “a person reduces himself to thinking only of material objects or those that can be proven, he closes himself to the great questions about life, himself and God and is impoverished”. Such a person has far too summarily divorced reason from faith, rendering asunder the very dynamic of the intellect.

What does this mean for Catholic universities today? Pope Benedict answers in this way: “The Catholic university is [therefore] a vast laboratory where, in accordance with the different disciplines, ever new areas of research are developed in a stimulating confrontation between faith and reason that aims to recover the harmonious synthesis achieved by Thomas Aquinas and other great Christian thinkers”. When firmly grounded in St Thomas’ understanding of faith and reason, Catholic institutions of higher learning can confidently face every new challenge on the horizon, since the truths discovered by any genuine science can never contradict the one Truth, who is God himself.

Read it all from 2010.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Education, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Thomas Aquinas

Almighty God, who hast enriched thy Church with the singular learning and holiness of thy servant Thomas Aquinas: Enlighten us more and more, we pray thee, by the disciplined thinking and teaching of Christian scholars, and deepen our devotion by the example of saintly lives; 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, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Saint Alcuin

Eternal Light, shine into our hearts;

Eternal Goodness, deliver us from evil;

Eternal Power, be our support;

Eternal Wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance;

Eternal Pity, have mercy upon us;

that with all our heart and mind and soul and strength we may seek thy face and be brought by thine infinite mercy to thy holy presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Listen to me, O coastlands,
and hearken, you peoples from afar.
The Lord called me from the womb,
from the body of my mother he named my name.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
But I said, “I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my right is with the Lord,
and my recompense with my God.”
And now the Lord says,
who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
and that Israel might be gathered to him,
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength””
he says:
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the preserved of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

–Isaiah 49:1-6

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Foreign Affairs) Ukraine Reignites-Why Russia Should be Added to the State Sponsors of Terrorism L

Now, with the new offensive in the Dontesk and Luhansk People’s Republics, Moscow is looking to decisively win the battle in the Donbas (the name for these two regions) by propagating terrorism and political instability across Ukraine. The terrorists’ training takes place at Novaya Rus (New Russia) coordinating centres in the Russian cities of Belgorod, Tambov, Taganrog, and Rostov; in Moldova’s frozen conflict zone of Transdniestr; and in Crimea’s port of Sevastopol, home of the Black Sea Fleet. Captured terrorists from the Svat group, who were active in the Mariupol region, have testified to attending training camps in Sevastopol. There, they say, they were taught how to build bombs, wage guerrilla urban warfare, and conduct reconnaissance and intelligence operations behind enemy lines. The Russian military intelligence service (GRU) and Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) lead the training.

At their training, the terrorists are given five strategic goals. First, blow up train lines and key government buildings, launch small-scale hit-and-run attacks on offices at military”“industrial plants, and bomb pro-Ukraine rallies, military recruiting centres, and National Guard training facilities. Second, destabilize the country and provoke panic using whatever means at hand. The third goal is to collect intelligence on the movements of Ukrainian armed forces and National Guard battalions to help plan future terrorist attacks. Fourth, terrorists are supposed to establish underground print shops to publish pro-Russian separatist leaflets and newspapers. And finally, they are told to infiltrate Ukrainian National Guard battalions.

The training, to some degree, is working. …

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Terrorism, Theology, Ukraine

(Bloomberg Busweek) The Car Windshield Is Turning Into a Computer Screen

Cars are running out of screens. The dashboard is a jumble of numbers, icons, indicator lights, and gauges. In some vehicles, the display built into the center console is bigger than our televisions in certain rooms at home. But drivers’ and passengers’ appetite for more information isn’t subsiding, so the dashboard and entertainment console are about to get a companion: the windshield.

At the Detroit auto show, which runs until Jan. 25, you’ll find demonstrations of cars with built-in projectors displaying speed, range, turn-by-turn directions, and other crucial data along the bottom of the windshield. Head-up displays””developed to keep fighter pilots’ eyes on the sky rather than on the instruments in the cockpit””have existed in some form for cars since at least the 1980s, but they’ve mostly functioned as a novelty for high-end clientele. In the past year, however, HUD technology has made its way into some Mazdas and Priuses as a way to manage information overload for everyday drivers.

Automakers have been adding a flood of information designed to keep drivers safe””some requested by customers, others mandated by governments””but it risks having the opposite effect. As weird as it sounds, projecting text and graphics onto the windshield may be less distracting to drivers than forcing them to look down at cluttered in-car screens””or worse, their mobile phones. A HUD, which sits within the driver’s line of sight, would be free of “check engine” and “change oil” lights, and only display the alerts a driver might need at any given moment. Hyundai, Toyota, and General Motors expect the HUD to go mainstream very soon.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology, Travel

(Economist) Education and class–America’s new aristocracy

WHEN the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination line up on stage for their first debate in August, there may be three contenders whose fathers also ran for president. Whoever wins may face the wife of a former president next year. It is odd that a country founded on the principle of hostility to inherited status should be so tolerant of dynasties. Because America never had kings or lords, it sometimes seems less inclined to worry about signs that its elite is calcifying.

Thomas Jefferson drew a distinction between a natural aristocracy of the virtuous and talented, which was a blessing to a nation, and an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, which would slowly strangle it. Jefferson himself was a hybrid of these two types””a brilliant lawyer who inherited 11,000 acres and 135 slaves from his father-in-law””but the distinction proved durable. When the robber barons accumulated fortunes that made European princes envious, the combination of their own philanthropy, their children’s extravagance and federal trust-busting meant that Americans never discovered what it would be like to live in a country where the elite could reliably reproduce themselves.

Now they are beginning to find out…because today’s rich increasingly pass on to their children an asset that cannot be frittered away in a few nights at a casino. It is far more useful than wealth, and invulnerable to inheritance tax. It is brains.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Theology, Young Adults