Daily Archives: January 29, 2015

[Catholic Herald] Ed West: Will Ukip get a foot in the door?

Ukip is an “anti-politics” movement, appealing to voters who see the old parties as socially liberal, politically correct and captured by minority interest groups. Major party membership has haemorrhaged and many people no longer believe in the messages coming from Westminster, proclaimed by baby-faced politicians who speak as if they are members of another species.

This disengagement from mainstream politics echoes the growing detachment from mainstream religious groups. White, working-class Brits have deserted the pews, which are now occupied by immigrants from India, Nigeria and the Philippines. In England’s former Catholic heartlands, such as Liverpool archdiocese, fewer than one in 10 baptised Catholics attend Mass. Nearby in Preston ”“ the very heart of recusant Catholicism ”“ a historic church was about to close before the Syro-Malabar faithful from India agreed to take it on.

The trend is clear: more and more British people no longer belong to our country’s great institutions and care little for our leaders, whether they are bishops or politicians. Instead, they believe in nothing and everything.

Out of this political wasteland has emerged Nigel Farage, whose chief attraction is his very unpolitical way of saying what many think and his ability to annoy the po-faced liberal establishment.
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Nigel Farage is not especially religious, though he describes himself as an Anglican. But recently he has started talking about Britain’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage, a phrase associated with the American religious Right. Woolfe also drops the term into our conversation. For him, the party is more than just a working-class protest vote. He regards Ukip as a true “one-nation party”, with support across the country, and “a natural party for Roman Catholics like myself”.

Catholic bishops would dispute that ”“ but not, it seems, by engaging with representatives of Ukip. If they do regard voting for the party as un-Christian, they have yet to explain precisely why. The same is true of their Anglican counterparts. Ironically, the only Church leader to have met representatives of Ukip, and debated Britain’s Christian heritage with them is the Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, a Pakistani immigrant.

Read it all

Posted in * International News & Commentary, England / UK

Tom Gilson–The Strange Loneliness of Thinking Christianly

I got an email from a reader named Mark this morning, who told me he was frustrated by the lack of decent thinking among many in the Church. He said he’s looking for a higher conversation than is generally available.

Christians, we have to take this seriously. For the past three years or so, at apologetics conferences across the country, I’ve asked numerous groups this question: “How many of you who have a real interest in apologetics, worldview, and other aspects of Christian thinking feel very alone in your church?” In every case, at least three-quarters of the people raise their hands.

That’s the loneliness of thinking Christianly. It’s wrong. In fact, in view of Christianity’s heritage, it’s downright strange.

Christianity is a thinking religion, or at least it was until the late 19th and early 20th centuries…

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Apologetics, Christology, Church History, Education, History, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Ian Paul: 300 and still standing…

… This is my 300th post on the blog, and I thought it might be a good moment to offer a few reflections. I started the blog at the time of a short sabbatical in 2009, but only wrote consistently and substantially after leaving my teaching role in theological education in June 2013. Even in these few years, a lot has changed.

Bloggers have become more influential. A small sign of this is the daily Church of England media release, which alongside newspapers reports and news items includes a number of blog posts. Bloggers’ influence is particularly strong in the States, where there are a good number of serious bloggers, and some substantial discussion takes place.
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Perhaps the most striking thing I have gained in blogging is the sense of disciplining my thoughts. It is one thing to have a view; it is quite another to put it in writing for all the world to see, read, and comment on. I have found this has fed back into my other speaking and ministry. Every time I preach or speak, I am drawing on a number of things I have written about in the blog””which I hope gives substance and plausibility to what I say, but also gives me resources to draw on and confidence in what I present. The blog has become, for me, a personal library of written resources. Perhaps it is the diary or reflective journal that I have never kept…

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet

A. S. Haley–Mere Anglicanism 2015 – a Report (I)

In a nutshell, Dr. Wright tackled head-on how the Church best handles the secular age: not by confronting it head-on, but rather, by being true to the full arc of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, it outflanks it.

He singled out two major characteristics of secularism that open it to this strategy:

First, it has revived the ancient philosophy of Epicureanism by treating God, or the gods, as very distant and indifferent to man or what happens on Earth, thus conveniently leaving man to run things on his own. The result (in secularism, as in Epicureanism before it) is to shunt God upstairs: and thereby to divide heaven from earth, religion from man — and Jesus from His Church.

(The latter happens when the Church all too often allows it, for example, by thinking and preaching that treats heaven as a place to which we go when we die, to live the afterlife apart from this Earth. To the contrary: Revelation teaches that heaven — the new Jerusalem — will come down to Earth, and the faithful will partake in Jesus’ rule here on Earth. Thus, properly read and understood, the arc of Scripture begins and ends with heaven here on Earth, with God at one with His creation, and Jesus at one with His Church.)

Second, the secularist philosophy embraces the notion of progress, by which this latest age is seen as the best of all that came before it. Moreover, it is all man’s doing, with no need for any God or gods along the way. But progress on man’s yardstick is illusory: what it really measures is our increasing alienation from God.

The Church’s strategy in response to secularism has three aspects.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Theology

(Time) The Ebola Virus Is Mutating, Say Scientists

Scientists at a French research institute say the Ebola virus has mutated and they are studying whether it may have become more contagious.

Researchers at the Institut Pasteur are analyzing hundreds of blood samples from Guinean Ebola patients in an effort to determine if the new variation poses a higher risk of transmission, according to the BBC.

“We’ve now seen several cases that don’t have any symptoms at all, asymptomatic cases,” said human geneticist Dr. Anavaj Sakuntabhai. “These people may be the people who can spread the virus better, but we still don’t know that yet. A virus can change itself to less deadly, but more contagious and that’s something we are afraid of.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

In a Homily today, Pope Francis says No to ecclesial elites who privatize the faith

“It’s true, Jesus has saved us all, but not in a general fashion. All of us, each one with their name and surname. And this is our personal salvation. I am truly saved, the Lord looked at me, gave his life for me, opened this door, this new life for me and each of us can say ”˜For me.’ But there’s a danger of forgetting that He saved us individually but at the same time as part of his people or community. His people. The Lord always saves his people. From the moment he calls Abraham and promises to make them his people. And the Lord saves us as part of this community. That’s why the writer of this Letter (to the Hebrews) tells us: ”˜Let us be concerned for each other.’ There is no salvation solely for me. If that’s the way I understand salvation, I’m mistaken and going along the wrong path. The privatization of salvation is the wrong path.”

Pope Francis explained that there are three criteria for not privatizing salvation: ”˜faith in Jesus who purifies us,’ hope that ”˜stirs us to look at his promises and go forward’ and charity: namely taking care of each other, to encourage us all to practice charity and good works.’

“And when I’m in a parish, in a community — or whatever it is ”“ I am there, I can privatize salvation and be there only on a small social level. But in order not to privatize salvation, I need to ask myself if I speak and communicate the faith, speak and communicate hope, speak, practice and communicate charity. If within a particular community there is no communication between people and no encouragement is given to everybody to practice these three virtues, the members of that community have privatized their faith. Each of them is looking for his or her personal salvation, not the salvation of everybody, the salvation of their people. And Jesus saved all of us but as part of his people, within a Church.”

Read it all (Vatican Radio).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Mona Eltahawy–Egypt’s War on Atheism

The contradiction in Mr. Sisi’s aim of keeping the heterosexual, conservative Muslim man at the top of Egypt’s moral hierarchy is glaring. You can’t trump the Islamists in their piety and lead a campaign against minorities like atheists and gay men even as you condemn extremist violence and show solidarity for free speech and free thinking.

This week we mark the fourth anniversary of the 2011 revolution. Although it has not delivered the political freedoms it called for, it did begin an unraveling of authority that has left Egypt’s self-appointed moral guardians disconcerted and scrambling. Armed with social media, more people are insisting on asking and telling ”” about personal belief and sexual identity. A reckoning is long overdue in a country where religion and morality have so often been bent to suit the political expedients of its rulers.

Despite the clampdown, atheists are openly challenging such hypocrisy. Social media has allowed those who “deviate” from the authoritarian template to find one another and express themselves in ways that the regime, its men of religion and its media otherwise deny them. A religious revolution has begun, but not on Mr. Sisi’s or the clerics’ terms. We all stand to gain if fathers no longer testify against sons, and families no longer feel the need to prove their loved ones are “real men.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Vat Radio) Catholic archbishop responds to first woman bishop in Church of England

The Catholic archbishop of Birmingham says he wishes the Church of England’s first female bishop well in her ministry and will be remembering her in his prayers. Archbishop Bernard Longley is the Catholic co-chair of ARCIC, the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. He told Vatican Radio that the consecration of Bishop Libby Lane on Monday was a “historic moment in the life of the Church of England” but noted that there has long been “the presence, the witness and the work of women” as bishops within the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Reverend Libby Lane was ordained in York Minister as the new Bishop of Stockport, after the Church of England voted to adopt legislation last November to allow women bishops. Archbishop Longley said that while the ordination of women presents challenges to the Anglican-Catholic dialogue, this latest development “shouldn’t affect the way in which the dialogue is continued”.

Read and listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology

Andrew Brown– Justin Welby’s Twitter sermon sounds like a plea for ecclesiastical discipline

The Archbishop of Canterbury has posted a blog warning Christians not to tweet their disagreements. Electronic communication, he says, lacks the human touch, and in particular the kinds of modulations of tone and the face-to-face aspects of relationships which make it possible to disagree productively.

“Social media does not show tears in the eye, a hand on the arm when saying something painful, body language that speaks of inner turmoil, deep distress ”“ even gentle respect. It is simply there ”“ usually forever,” he writes.

This seems at first sight ungrateful: there must be people who have turned to God because the internet made them lose their faith in humanity. On the other hand, there is no doubt that the schism in the Anglican Communion would have happened much more slowly and perhaps not at all without the help of the internet. Quite possibly the Reformation would never have caught on without the printing press, either. Nothing so promotes self-righteous outrage like the honest communication of sincerely held beliefs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Justin Welby, --Social Networking, Archbishop of Canterbury, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby–On tweeting and touching

Tone is equally difficult to achieve; electronic media has no volume control. The US President Teddy Roosevelt spoke of speaking softly and carrying a big stick. Electronic media speaks loudly and carries a big stick ”“ through it we have no other means of speaking, especially in the compressed form that is often used.

For disputes within church communities, Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel makes it quite clear that personal interaction is essential ”“ yet all of us feel that when someone has done something wrong, we should all say so! Electronic media breaks through locked doors, and pierces people painfully. It is not for all of us to set everyone right on everything. There’s a point at which we need to leave it to those who know people to speak to them personally and quietly ”“ in spaces where the tone is subtle and full of love. That is how people can be put back together rather than torn apart and left lying around in electronic media space.

Love often says don’t tweet. Love often says don’t write. Love often says if you must rebuke, then do so in person and with touch ”“ with an arm around the shoulder and tears in your eyes that can be seen by the person being rebuked.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Justin Welby, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Baltimore Area Episcopal Diocese asks bishop for resignation following fatal bike crash

Episcopal leaders have asked the bishop accused in a fatal collision with a bicyclist in Baltimore last month to resign her position in the church.

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland made the request Monday in a letter to Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook.

The eight-member panel told Cook it had “agreed unanimously that you are no longer able to function effectively in the position of Bishop Suffragan given recent events.

“Therefore, we respectfully call for your immediate resignation from the position.”

Read it all from the Bal;timore Sun.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Alcohol/Drinking, Alcoholism, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops, Theology

(BBC) Female Muslim converts drawn to ISIS

In a recent study, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue estimated that of the 3,000 Western Europeans thought to have travelled to Syria and Iraq, about 500 were women. It is difficult to know for sure how many of these are British, but accounts on social media suggest they make up a significant proportion.

The report, entitled Becoming Mulan, found that the sentiment of building a new home for Muslims was the main draw for women, although some did express a willingness to fight. The title of the report quotes one girl who tweeted that she wanted to “pull a Mulan” by heading to Syria, a reference to the Chinese legend about a woman who took her father’s place in the army, which inspired an animated film.

The report’s co-author Ross Frenett explains why this was interesting. “We found this particularly striking because the first cultural reference she can come up with is actually a Disney movie, which is fascinating because these people are Western, but also simultaneously loathe Western society,” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Other Faiths, Terrorism, Theology, Violence, Women

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Andrei Rublev

Holy God, we bless thee for the gift of thy monk and icon writer Andrei Rublev, who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, provided a window into heaven for generations to come, revealing the majesty and mystery of the holy and blessed Trinity; who livest and reignest through ages of ages. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Art, Church History, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from John R. W. Stott

O God, our heavenly Father, who so loved the world that thou didst give thine only Son to die upon the cross: Pour thy love into our hearts, we humbly beseech thee; that we loving thee above all things, may give up ourselves, our time, our money, our talents, to thy service; for the sake of him who loved us and gave himself for us, Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so many things in vain?””if it really is in vain. Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?
Thus Abraham “believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are men of faith are blessed with Abraham who had faith.

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be every one who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law; for “He who through faith is righteous shall live”; but the law does not rest on faith, for “He who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us””for it is written, “Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree””” that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

–Galatians 3:1-14

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture