Daily Archives: April 11, 2015

(Anglican Ink) AMiE on the agenda for London GAFCON primates meeting starting Monday

Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America will be attending the GAFCON/Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Primates meeting in London next week. The gathering set for 13-17 April 2015 is expected to plot the future course of the global Anglican reform movement as well as review the agenda set by its 2013 Nairobi Conference.

Next week’s London meeting is expected to discuss the issue of whether to support a parallel Anglican jurisdiction akin to the Anglican Church in North America for England, and how such support should be shown.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Global South Churches & Primates, Theology

(The Stream) We Western Christians Fail Our African Brothers

More to the point, the Paris attack struck close to home. The victims were journalists and journalists write the news. The terrorists hit a major Western city like the ones where the political leaders and opinion-makers live. The victims were aggressively secular. In marching for the victims, the famous and powerful were marching for themselves and their own.

Which does not apply to the victims in Nairobi and northern Nigeria. They were black Africans, not white Europeans; students, not journalists; living in the developing world, not Europe; and Christian, not modern and secular. No high official is going to fly to east Africa and march for them. The Kenyan and Nigerian victims are not their people.

They are ours. If someone could measure the amount of time American Christians spent reading about the three attacks, and the depth of of our emotional reaction, he would almost certainly find our time and emotional investment nearly as tilted to Paris as the secular Americans’. The more successful in the world, say in academia and publishing, the more this will be true. As a test, ask yourself what details of the Nigerian massacre you remember, compared with how much you remember of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. I remember a lot about the Nigerian massacre, but only because I read about it while writing this. Western journalists, even anti-Christian ones, are “our” people, Africa’s Christians a little less so.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, France, Globalization, Islam, Kenya, Media, Nigeria, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

Reinhold Niebuhr combined tough-minded political realism w a sympathetic understanding of society

This month The Library of America will publish Reinhold Niebuhr: Major Works on Religion and Politics, which gathers four of his books, along with writings on contemporary events from the 1920s to the 1960s, a selection of prayers, and sermons and lectures on faith and belief.

The volume is edited by Niebuhr’s daughter Elisabeth Sifton, an editor and book publisher for forty years and the author of The Serenity Prayer: Faith and Politics in Times of Peace and War. We recently interviewed Sifton on why Niebuhr’s writings continue to fascinate and challenge today’s readers.

What’s the aim of this collection, what sorts of pleasures, discoveries, and insights do you hope readers will find?

Reinhold Niebuhr, my father, was a writer and thinker who engaged fully in his times””from 1914 and World War I, through the heady 1920s, into the Great Depression, then World War II, the “nuclear age” and the Cold War. This book shows how he wrestled with the spiritual and political issues of those times: many of them are with us still, and some are with us always. In America””where he was born and raised, his very German name notwithstanding””he worked for better working conditions for people caught up in the rush of industrialization, he called for social justice in all our communities, and he strove for better relations between races. In international affairs, he ceaselessly advocated policies that would lessen the risk of war, and he argued that a rich and newly powerful nation like the US should learn better how to conduct itself vis-à-vis other nations. I hope readers will find wisdom here that deepens their understanding of our world today.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(The Atlantic) Ian Bogost–The Cathedral of Computation

Algorithms are everywhere, supposedly. We are living in an “algorithmic culture,” to use the author and communication scholar Ted Striphas’s name for it. Google’s search algorithms determine how we access information. Facebook’s News Feed algorithms determine how we socialize. Netflix’s and Amazon’s collaborative filtering algorithms choose products and media for us. You hear it everywhere. “Google announced a change to its algorithm,” a journalist reports. “We live in a world run by algorithms,” a TED talk exhorts. “Algorithms rule the world,” a news report threatens. Another upgrades rule to dominion: “The 10 Algorithms that Dominate Our World.”

Here’s an exercise: The next time you hear someone talking about algorithms, replace the term with “God” and ask yourself if the meaning changes. Our supposedly algorithmic culture is not a material phenomenon so much as a devotional one, a supplication made to the computers people have allowed to replace gods in their minds, even as they simultaneously claim that science has made us impervious to religion.

It’s part of a larger trend. The scientific revolution was meant to challenge tradition and faith, particularly a faith in religious superstition. But today, Enlightenment ideas like reason and science are beginning to flip into their opposites. Science and technology have become so pervasive and distorted, they have turned into a new type of theology.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Media, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Jeff Miller's Easter Sermon for 2015–'A Matter of First Importance'

You can listen directly here or download the MP3 there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

(CC) Fred Kniss reviews 'The Paradox of Generosity' by Christian Smith+Hilary Davidson

The Paradox of Generosity is a tale of two ways of life. Bryan, whom we meet in the book, admits that he is “not Mother Teresa.” At Christmas he prefers to give himself an extra gift rather than making a charitable donation. With his life wrapped up in his own needs, he finds himself overbusy, cranky, anxious, lonely, and prone to over­indulging in alcohol. In the same household, his wife, Shannon, enjoys giving to others, especially at holidays like Christ­mas, and she volunteers as a soccer coach. She has a strong network of friends and has seen improvements in her mental and physical health as she overcomes an eating disorder.

Apparently Jesus was correct when he said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. My mother will be relieved to hear me say that. She was fond of quoting Jesus when my juvenile self-centeredness reared its head too determinedly. Some of us, according to Chris­tian Smith and Hilary Davidson, took our mothers’ admonitions to heart and grew into adults blessed with a spirit of generosity that is demonstrated in our actions. As a result, we enjoy better health, more happiness, and a greater sense of purpose and satisfaction in our lives. Most of us, however, seem to have ignored our mothers and have developed into people focused primarily on acquiring things and holding on to them, seldom sharing ourselves or our possessions with others. Associated with this grasping posture are poorer health, less happiness, and a loss of meaning and sense of purpose for our lives.

Smith and Davidson document this connection in great detail. Paradoxically, despite the positive consequences of generosity, few Americans are generous people. By almost any measure of generosity, the majority of Americans are crowded at the ungenerous end of the scale.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Books, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Wash Post) How military chaplains are finding new ways to treat vets with invisible wounds

…most Americans are less familiar with a related, if distinct, affliction known as moral injury, with roots in foundational religious or spiritual beliefs violated during war. And increasingly, military chaplains are on the front lines, tending to these misunderstood wounds.

Psychiatrists have used the term since the 1990s, but the concept has only recently been the subject of serious research by clinicians, some affiliated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“We’ve come a long way in defining moral injury, but it takes a long time to develop a tool to measure it,” said Shira Maguen, a psychologist at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and one of those developing treatment models for moral injury.

Maguen has helped the VA define an event as morally injurious if it transgresses “deeply held moral beliefs and expectations.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

World Council of Churches joins inter-faith call to action to end extreme poverty by 2030

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has joined over 30 leaders from major world religions and heads of global faith-based organizations today in launching a call to action to end extreme poverty by 2030, a goal shared with the World Bank Group.

The statement titled Ending Extreme Poverty: A Moral and Spiritual Imperative notes that remarkable progress has been made in reducing extreme poverty. Over 25 years the world has gone from nearly 2 billion people to fewer than 1 billion living in extreme poverty. Now, for the first time in human history there exists both the capacity and recognition of the moral responsibility to ensure that no one has to live in extreme poverty’s grip.

“We have ample evidence from the World Bank Group and others showing that we can now end extreme poverty within fifteen years,” the Moral Imperative statement notes. “In 2015, our governments will be deciding upon a new global sustainable development agenda that has the potential to build on our shared values to finish the urgent task of ending extreme poverty.”

“We in the faith community embrace this moral imperative because we share the belief that the moral test of our society is how the weakest and most vulnerable are faring. Our sacred texts also call us to combat injustice and uplift the poorest in our midst.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Other Churches, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Pastor's Prayerbook

O risen and victorious Christ, whose power and love destroyed the darkness and death of sin; Ascend, we pray thee, the throne of our hearts, and so rule our wills by the might of that immortality wherewith thou hast set us free, that we may evermore be alive unto God, through the power of thy glorious resurrection; world without end.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man that had been healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is manifest to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to any one in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people; for all men praised God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

–Acts 4:13-31

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Middle Class, but Feeling Economically Insecure

Median per capita income has basically been flat since 2000, adjusted for inflation. The typical American family makes slightly less than a typical family did 15 years ago. And while many goods have become cheaper or better, the price of three of the biggest middle-class expenditures ”“ housing, college and health care ”“ have gone up much faster than the rate of inflation.

Equally important, Mr. Hirschl found a high degree of income volatility among most Americans in the four decades between 1969 and 2011. At some point in their working lives, a full 70 percent earned enough to put them in the top fifth of earners, and as many as 30 percent reached the equivalent of $200,000 in 2009 dollars, or roughly the top 4 percent.

Similarly, nearly 80 percent will at least temporarily plunge into a red zone, where their income drops near or below the poverty line, or they are compelled to gain access to a social safety net program like food stamps or collect unemployment insurance. More than half of Americans ages 25 to 60 will experience at least one year hovering around the poverty line.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

(CNBC) Obamacare sticks some enrollees with unexpected bill

Last year, a study found that about four out of every 10 people who received financial help from the government while buying their Obamacare health plans had no idea they were getting any assistance.

This tax season, many of those people may be in for a rude surprise when they’re asked to pay some””or even all””of that money back….

“I wasn’t very happy,” said Mike Highsmith, 61, a retired US Airways flight attendant who learned after having his taxes done that he has to pay back every cent of the $6,624 in federal subsidies that helped pay the lion’s share of his HealthCare.gov-purchased plan.

“This shocked me … I didn’t know this was coming.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby's interview with SAT-7

In an interview with SAT-7, the Christian TV station based in the Middle East, Archbishop Justin spoke about the suffering of Christians in the region, among other topics.

Watch and listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Middle East, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Please note:

In light of the recent North Charleston shooting death of Walter Scott, your prayers are requested on behalf of the Scott family, and also for the Rev. Eddie Driggers, the Police Chief of North Charleston, who is an ordained Deacon in the Diocese of South Carolina.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Theology