Daily Archives: February 9, 2015

Loneliness a major middle class problem says Church of England clergy survey

Loneliness and isolation are England’s most widespread social problems and are common even in affluent middle class areas, according to a survey of vicars.

The number of clergy reporting that social isolation is a major problem in their area has risen by ten per cent in the past three years.

The survey published by the Church Urban Fund and the Church of England showed loneliness was the only issue to be cited by clergy as a significant problem in the majority of wealthier, as well as deprived areas.

Social isolation was listed as a more common problem than unemployment, homelessness and poor housing by the 1,812 clergy who completed the questionnaire.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Israel Galindo reviews another book on the Question of Universal Salvation

Ambiguity is the devil’s volleyball, said former President of Yale, Kingman Brewster, Jr. Robin A. Parry and Christopher H. Partridge’s book, Universal Salvation? The Current Debate (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003…) gives us a well matched game of back and forth with the theological hot potato that is at the heart of the book’s “debate.” While the writers in this volume are articulate and responsible in handling this (again) current hot topic among evangelicals, if there is one null theme the critical reader may pick up is that the debate is fueled, in part, by the inherent ambiguity of the concept in the biblical text that all sides claim for their points of view. Biblical ambiguity is the one reality few seem ready to confess when conceding an opponent’s point on the issue.

The volume’s “debate” opens with three chapters (Part I) by Thomas Talbott, a professor of philosophy at Willamette University and an advocate of the universalist position (in effect, Talbott argues that Scripture teaches the ultimate salvation of all people, including those in Hell). His treatment and defense for this position is thorough, reasoned, and responsible. Though Talbott’s case for universalism includes arguments from theology and a Pauline interpretation of relevant texts, the strength of his argument is philosophical. His logical treatment of theological thoughts on the subject is exemplary and rigorous. Neither Talbott nor the writers who respond adversarial to his views shy away from claiming the authority of the Bible, or the primacy of Scripture to inform theology, tradition, and reason to put forth their arguments.

The remaining part of the book (parts II to V) consists of rebuttals to Talbott’s arguments by other evangelical scholars.

Read it all.

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

A Statement on the Revd Stephen Sizer by the Bishop of Guildford

“The Diocese of Guildford has taken extremely seriously the reports and complaints regarding Stephen Sizer over the past two weeks. Concerns surrounding Stephen were raised both in response to allegedly offensive materials linked from his Facebook account, and to comments he made to the Jewish News and the Daily Telegraph thereafter.

“Commenting on this matter, the Council of Christians and Jews has helpfully highlighted that:

”˜It is perfectly possible to criticize Israeli policies without such criticism being anti-Semitic, and Christians and others should feel free to do so. However, such legitimate criticism must not be used as a cloak for anti-Semitism, nor can anti-Semitism itself ever be disguised as mere political comment’.

“Having now met Stephen, in my brand new role as Bishop of Guildford, I do not believe that his motives are anti-Semitic; but I have concluded that, at the very least, he has demonstrated appallingly poor judgment in the material he has chosen to disseminate, particularly via social media, some of which is clearly anti-Semitic.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Anglican Provinces, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(London Times) Future of Religion in the UK to be ”˜black and brown’ in faith shift

The future of religion in Britain will be “black and brown” as Islam and newer forms of Christianity overhaul the Church of England. according to a professor of population studies.

White Britons are losing their taste for worship, in contrast to the UK’s expanding population of ethnic minorities. David Voas, of the University of Essex, believes that the strongest areas of religious growth will be Islam and “black-majority” churches.

“Muslims already contribute 10 per cent of British births; within several decades people of Muslim heritage will form 10 per cent of the population, even if immigration came to an abrupt halt tomorrow,” he writes in a blog published today. “If even half are observant, they will form a substantial proportion of the religiously active population. Ethnic minority Christians will have another large share. The future of religion is black and brown.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

(Theos Team Blog) David Goodhew–Secularisation from above, Resacralisation from below

Pointer One: Dodgy Data

Before anything can be said about Christianity in Britain, there is one key caveat; many of the data are seriously dodgy. A good example is the national data of the Church of England. Recent research commissioned by the Church of England on its ”˜greater churches’ had to discount two-thirds of the statistical data due to its poor quality. Overall, Anglican data contain flaws that are serious, widespread, systemic and long-standing.[2] A different example is wider data-sets such as large-scale opinion polls. These have a habit of producing contradictory results ”“ such as the national survey which purported to show a dramatic rise in the number of those espousing ”˜no religion’, which also showed that many who now espouse ”˜no religion’ also like to pray from time to time.[3] All is not lost. We can say some things. But we need to be keenly alert to the limits of what can be said. Any picture of religion in Britain which treats uncritically such surveys or the national data of major denominations, will be substantially incorrect. Multiple measures and data taken from local studies as well as national datasets are essential to obtain a meaningful picture.

Pointer Two: Ethnic Diversity

The ethnic diversification of Britain is one of the key shifts in recent British Christianity. It is often assumed that as Britain gets more ethnically diverse, it gets less ”˜Christian’. But the reverse is the case. Around 500,000 people are members of black majority churches. Roman Catholicism is being significantly boosted due to migration. The Christian communities in key centres, such as London, are now predominantly outside the ”˜white British’ sector of the population.[4] Ethnic diversity has provided a marked boost for British Christianity. By contrast, that segment of the population who, in census terminology, are most secular, the ”˜white British’, are also a decreasing proportion of the population. This shift is likely to become more marked in coming years.

Read it all.

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

Forward in Faith UK announces a new wesite

Check it out and see what you think.

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

(BBC) Big UK firms face crisis of trust, business lobby group says

Big UK firms face a “crisis of trust” and the next government must prioritise better ethics, a lobby group has said.

In a survey, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) found that over three-quarters of respondents think big firms put profits before ethical standards.

Tax avoidance, treatment of suppliers, and late payment were all areas of concern, the ComRes poll of 2,000 people found.

Politicians must stand up for people who play by the rules, the FPB said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(Economist) Britain’s approval of babies with three genetic parents offers lessons for others

The procedure is not yet allowed anywhere else in the world, partly because it is new and untested in people but also because of the opposition that reproductive medicine often inspires. Mitochondria contain DNA, therefore any child born as a result of such intervention will inherit genes from three people””hence the headlines in Britain this week about “three-parent babies”. If the baby is a girl the genetic tweak in her mitochondria will be inherited by her children, and in turn by her granddaughters’ children. It is a “germ-line modification”, and thus irrevocable.

This ethical objection to mitochondrial donation is decisively outweighed by the good that ought to come from it. Mitochondrial disease is a misery to those who have it and a terror to those who fear they might pass it on to their children; curtailing it would be wonderful. The complaint that this is the first step on the road to “designer babies” is as weak as any other slippery-slope argument: approving one procedure does not mean automatically approving others.

A second objection is that this procedure, like any new technique, might not be safe. Those who must bear that risk are not yet born, and so cannot consent to the treatment. But parents already make medical decisions on behalf of their children, even unborn ones….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Theology

(WSJ) Delay to Nigerian Election Denounced at Home and Abroad

This country’s opposition joined the U.S. and local business leaders on Sunday in criticizing the government for postponing a tight presidential election, as the political mood shifted sharply in Africa’s largest democracy.

Many voters here learned Sunday morning that the Feb. 14 election would be delayed six weeks. The decision came the night before from Nigeria’s electoral commission after the military said its campaign against Boko Haram, the Islamist group it has been battling for nearly six years, couldn’t spare the soldiers needed to ensure a safe election.

But the move””taken a week before what polls indicate would be the closest election in Nigerian history””touched a nerve in this country, whose military spent decades overturning or postponing elections until it allowed civilian rule in 1999.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Washington Post) U.S.-backed Iraqi forces face risky urban warfare in battle against ISIS

The Obama administration has touted the modest successes in recent months of Iraqi forces and paramilitary fighters, backed by U.S. air power, as they have fought to wrest towns, villages and parts of Iraq’s rugged countryside from the Islamic State.

Now, the renewed U.S. campaign in Iraq faces a greater challenge as American advisers scramble to prepare Iraqi forces for an offensive to reclaim some of Iraq’s most important cities, which remain under the militant group’s control.

Attempting to take back the city of Mosul, the country’s ­second-largest, as well as Tikrit and Fallujah, will test not only the fighting power of Iraqi forces and the country’s fragile sectarian compact but also President Obama’s indirect strategy for containing the Islamic State.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Terrorism, Theology

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Homeless Female Veterans

FAW: After deployment in Afghanistan, Navy reservist Witherspoon ended up living with her mother and felt, she says, like “damaged goods.”

WITHERSPOON: How did I become homeless? Like where do I begin to look? How do I pick up these pieces, because at that point I felt broken, like somebody just pushed me down, and I just fell apart.

FAW: Deployed abroad twice, Army reservist Chiquita Pena, whose husband was also abroad, was jobless and needed a place to live with her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Nayeli. Final Salute got her back on her feet.

PENA: We stereotype homelessness with, you know, for lack of a better term, a hobo or bum or someone who’s a wino or drinking on the street. This is the new face of homelessness.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Poverty, Theology, Women

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Almighty God, we pray thee, sow the seed of thy Word in our hearts, and send down upon us thy heavenly grace; that we may bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, and at the great day of harvest may be gathered by thy holy angels into thy garner; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Canterbury Convocation (1862)

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Scripture Readings

See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that would compel you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who receive circumcision do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh. But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God.

Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.

–Galatians 6:11-18

Posted in Uncategorized

(BBC Thought for the Day) Anne Atkins–The Incredible Power of being given a new heart

My true-love hath my heart and I have his, By just exchange one for the other given: I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss; There never was a better bargain driven.

New hearts for old. What a risk to take. My father had no idea what it would involve or how painful it would be; and it was, he tells me. One thing is sure: without my father’s recent change of heart, he wouldn’t feel any pain now… or ever again. Indeed, if he hadn’t given his heart away to my mother three quarters of a century ago, he wouldn’t feel any pain this coming St Valentine’s Day. (Nor would I ever have felt the sun on my face.)

Not scientifically accurate, perhaps, but universally understood. If you want love, you have to give your love away: no new life in your veins without losing the old. My two favourite carols end with the same message. Offer thy heart to the infant king. Yet what I can I give him ”“ give my heart.

There’s no knowing where it could lead, or what pain it might entail.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Time Magazine) The Battle for Nigeria

The Nigerian government’s military campaign against the Islamist militants of Boko Haram began in 2009, but it was the abduction of the schoolgirls last year that thrust Nigeria into the spotlight and alerted the world to the growing threat of a force that now controls large swaths of Africa’s most populous country. As the continent’s top petroleum producer and the home to rapidly growing telecommunications and entertainment industries, a secure, efficient Nigeria could be a beacon of stability in tumultuous West Africa. But should the country crumble under economic mismanagement and an insurgency that already has free rein over territory roughly the size of Costa Rica in northeastern Nigeria, it risks pulling much of the unstable region down with it.

Whoever wins this month’s election won’t have an easy job. The next President will be tasked with addressing the corruption, military weakness and economic inequities that have enabled Boko Haram to thrive. He will also have to cope with the plunging price of crude, which has seen the oil-dependent government’s revenue tumble. Recent opinion polls conducted by research group Afrobarometer show that the election is too close to call.

Many Nigerians and outside observers fear that a long-standing rivalry between Buhari’s largely Muslim base in the north and Jonathan’s southern Christian supporters could erupt into bloodshed over election results that would benefit no one but Boko Haram. “You can be sure Boko Haram are watching what is happening with the elections,” says Jacob Zenn, an Africa analyst for the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington-based research institute. “They are likely to take advantage of any instability to carry out attacks.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence