Daily Archives: April 9, 2015

(LA Times) FCC's net neutrality rules open door to new fee on Internet service

Recently adopted net neutrality regulations soon could make your monthly Internet bill more complicated ”” and potentially more expensive.

Every month, consumers pay a small fee on their phone bills for a federal program that uses the money ”” a total of $8.8 billion raised nationwide last year ”” to provide affordable access to telecommunications services in rural areas, underserved inner cities and schools.

Now the fee could start appearing on broadband bills too, in a major expansion of the nearly two-decade-old Universal Service Fund program.Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government

(Yorkshire Post) John Sentamu: Lasting Christian values can help to turn the world upside down

In the eyes of most young people, the status quo has been tried and found wanting. Something far more worthwhile and exciting is needed.

The Prime Minister tried to offer a grander vision with the notion of the Big Society. It sounded promising, but seems to have petered out.

Gordon Brown, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, bravely attempted to define British values, but little came of it.

Worthwhile values are not vague aspirations, but hard won and enduring moral and ethical principles which shape national policies and personal behaviour.

The truth which needs to be told, and of which politicians of all hues fight shy, is that the origin of the United Kingdom’s moral direction is grounded in the Bible.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter

(RNS) Celibate Christian leader Wesley Hill urges faithful to ”˜normalize’ committed friendships

RNS: Let’s get practical. Give me one thing”“only one”“that you think churches should do to promote and nurture your kind of friendship?

WH: I wish more churches would recognize that certain friends are, for gay Christians, our “significant others.” Right now, if you’re gay and celibate in a lot of conservative churches, you’re probably going to feel under suspicion”“or worse. If you sit with your best friend in church, if you go on vacation with your friend, or if you spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with her and her family, you may get raised eyebrows or else just blinking incomprehension. I’d like that to change.

I’d like to see close, committed, promise-sealed friendships become normalized in churches that continue to teach the historic, traditional Christian sexual ethic. What if we treated it as important, honorable, and godly for a celibate gay Christian to commit to a close friend precisely as a way of growing in Christian love? That would make a big difference in how we currently think about homosexuality.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

([London] Times) Britain’s most senior woman judge calls for a major divorce overhaul

The country’s divorce laws should be overhauled to remove the need for allegations of adultery and blame, Britain’s most senior woman judge has said.

Baroness Hale of Richmond said that she wanted to see the acrimony taken out of most matrimonial disputes with divorces granted without a person being held at fault.

At present the 120,000 couples who divorce in England and Wales each year have to cite one of five reasons: adultery; unreasonable behaviour; desertion for two or more years; two years’ separation with consent; or five years’ separation without consent.

Those who want to divorce quickly are encouraged to cite unfaithfulness or unreasonable behaviour, which encourages recriminations, critics argue.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Theology

Fantastic Easter Music for 2015–The Lord is Risen Indeed! William Billings

Liten to it all and you can read more about it, including finding the lyrics, at Lent and Beyond.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

The Paris Review interviews Marilynne Robinson

INTERVIEWER

You once said that you “proceed from the assumption that the distinctions available to us in this world are not arrayed between good and bad but between bad and worse.” Do you ever worry that you’re too pessimistic?

ROBINSON

I worry that I’m not pessimistic enough. My own life is full of profound satisfactions, and I’m distracted from the fact that the world is not in good shape. I cherish time, for instance, and for the most part I have control over my time, which is a marker of a very high standard of living as far as I’m am¨concerned. At some point I created an artificial tropic for myself, where I could do exactly what I wanted to do and be rewarded for it. There’s a puritanical hedonism in my existence.

INTERVIEWER

Puritanical hedonism?

ROBINSON

I read books like The Idea of the Holy: An Inquiry into the Non Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine. Oh, terrific.

Read it all (Hat tip: DM).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Children, Marriage & Family, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CC) Philip Jenkins– Notes from the Global Church: Assyrians under siege

The Assyrian Chris­tians of northern Iraq are among the people who have been massacred and kidnapped by ISIS militants in recent months. Such accounts are depressingly familiar to anyone who knows the region’s history. In fact, this year marks a grim centennial. Besides be­ing the centennial of the Ar­menian Genocide, it’s the centennial of the year that the Ottoman Turkish regime struck at other Christian minorities whom it suspected of being sympathetic to Russia. The Assyrians call 1915 Sayfo, the Year of the Sword.

Assyrian Christians had very deep roots in the region, and their churches use a Semitic language related to Jesus’ own Aramaic. In late antiquity, believers divided over the Person of Christ. The Monophysite branch evolved to become the modern-day Syrian Orthodox Church. Their Nestorian rivals formed the Church of the East, which remained a flourishing trans­continental institution through the Middle Ages.

By the 20th century, the Assyrian community had declined, split between be­lievers affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church (Chal­deans) and the independent Assyri­ans. For historical convenience, the As­syr­ian label is often applied to all the Syriac-speaking denominations, in­cluding the Syrian Ortho­dox. Their combined population in 1914 was around 600,000, concentrated in what is now northern Iraq and the borderlands of modern-day Syria and Turkey.

These people were the targets of the Assyrian geno­cide.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, History, Iraq, Middle East, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Violence

(WSJ) David Baltimore+Paul Berg–Let’s Hit ”˜Pause’ Before Altering Humankind

Modern biological research continues to generate new technology at a staggering pace, bringing to society new challenges and new opportunities. A recent appearance is the so-called CRISPR/Cas9 technology for altering genes in the body’s cells, including, most troublingly, early embryonic cells.

To understand the challenge brought by this technology it is important to make a distinction between somatic cells and germ-line cells. Somatic cells are the run-of-the-mill cells of our bodies: muscles, nerves, skin and the like. Germ-line cells are the egg and sperm cells that, when joined, give rise to offspring. Making gene changes in somatic cells can have dramatic effects, but they are not transmitted to the next generation and therefore fall comfortably into the category of pure therapeutics and generate minimal controversy. It is changes in germ-line cells that create heritable alterations.

The advent of CRISPR/Cas9 again sees a biomedical technology challenging norms and raising concerns. CRISPR/Cas9 makes it comparatively easy to modify germ-line inheritance by inserting, deleting or altering bits of DNA. It may be possible to make these alterations quite precise, with no undesired changes in the genome. Nevertheless, such changes would be inherited not only by the next generation but by all subsequent generations.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology

Easter is Unbelievable!

Easter Spoken Word from Grace Chapel Teaching Team on Vimeo.

Watch and listen to it all carefully from Grace Church, Lexington, Massachusetts

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Eschatology, Evangelicals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Gothic Missal

O Almighty God, hear thy people who are met this day to celebrate the glorious resurrection of thy Son our Lord; and lead them on from this festival to eternal gladness, to the joys that have no end; through the same our Saviour Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

–1 Corinthians 15:41-50

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(FP) ”˜Elite’ U.S. Military Gear Hoarded by ISIS Leaders

Despite the images we’ve seen splashed across the web of Islamic State fighters driving around Syria and Iraq in American Humvees and waving U.S.-made weapons, there really isn’t all that much American military gear floating around out there.

But what equipment has been captured by the radical Islamists has the tendency to float upward toward the leadership who covet the “elite” U.S. gear, according to a group cataloging illicit arms transfers.

Speaking to a small April 7 gathering at the Stimson Center in Washington, Jonah Leff, director of operations for Conflict Armament Research said that American equipment actually “represents a small fraction” of the 40,000 pieces of gear his teams have cataloged in northern Iraq and Syria since last summer. He said that includes only about 30 U.S.-made M-16s and roughly 550 rounds American-produced ammunition.

Read it all.

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

(NOR) Richard Smith–What Does the Anglican Patrimony Have to Offer the Church?

November 2014 marked the fifth anniversary of the promulgation of Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which established personal ordinariates for Anglican converts to Roman Catholicism “so as to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift”¦and as a treasure to be shared.” Anglicanorum Coetibus was not greeted with universal applause among former Anglicans already in communion with Rome, at least not among those of my acquaintance. These converts, who had left Anglicanism for what they had come to believe was the true Church, and who had been attending ordinary Novus Ordo parishes, sometimes for decades, wondered what substantial patrimony Anglicans could bring into the Church. To be sure, Anglicans have (or used to have) splendid liturgies, and their church music was incomparable, at least into the middle decades of the past century. But what do Anglicans have to give to the Church that is not of common inheritance from the pre-Reformation centuries or simply Protestant heresy?

A number of writers has tried to answer this question by taking an inventory of the strong and attractive characteristics of the Anglican heritage ”” for example, the Book of Common Prayer, the King James Bible, theologians like Richard Hooker and Jeremy Taylor, poets like John Donne and George Herbert, not to mention moderns like C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot. This method is useful, if only because it sets us thinking about what Anglicanism really is; but it does not arrive at the essence of Anglicanism.

The answer lies instead in the origins of Anglicanism at the beginning of modernity….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

TEC Bishop Of Washington on Easter: "We don’t know what happened to Jesus after his death"

Someone once asked me if I thought the resurrection was necessary. He meant it in the most sincere way, as a person of both faith and doubt who wondered if we needed to be bound by so unreasonable a proposition that Jesus’ tomb was, in fact, empty on that first Easter morning.

I hesitated in answering, because there seemed to be layers of argument behind the question. My answer was yes, resurrection is the foundation of Christian faith, but probably not in the way he meant it.

To say that resurrection is essential doesn’t mean that if someone were to discover a tomb with Jesus’ remains in it that the entire enterprise would come crashing down. The truth is that we don’t know what happened to Jesus after his death, anymore than we can know what will happen to us. What we do know from the stories handed down is how Jesus’ followers experienced his resurrection. What we know is how we experience resurrection ourselves.

Read it all from 2013.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, Theology

Jerri Savuto–Easter Memories: Escaping the Commercial Trap

As I am in the US for the first time in many years, I find myself longing for the simplicity of Maua, Kenya, during Easter time. There Easter has none of the commercial trappings we find here. As I enter grocery stores, discount stores, and department stores I am shocked at the amount of space taken by the Easter candy, bunnies and stuffed animals, baskets, decorations, and new spring clothing. These items take more space than any grocery store has for all their goods in Maua.

I recently read that an estimated $2 billion will be spent on Easter candy this year in the US. Two billion dollars to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who asked us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty, house the homeless, care for the sick and imprisoned, and welcome the stranger.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Consumer/consumer spending, Easter, Economy, Kenya, Religion & Culture