Daily Archives: June 26, 2015

Food for Thought from J R R Tolkien at the end of a week where it is needed

”˜I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.
”˜So do I,’ said Gandalf, ”˜and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us

Then Frodo kissed Merry and Pippin, and last of all Sam, and went abroad; and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew, and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth; and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore glimmered and was lost. And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last one night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.

–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Poetry & Literature, Theology

President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Statement on Marriage+ the Supreme Court Case

Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.

The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Prominent Evangelicals issue “Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage” Statement

“As evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court’s ruling that redefines marriage. The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image,” the leaders wrote. “We will not capitulate on marriage because biblical authority requires that we cannot. The Supreme Court’s actions pose incalculable risks to an already volatile social fabric by alienating those whose beliefs about marriage are motivated by deep biblical convictions and concern for the common good.”

In the statement, the leaders suggest that the Court’s ruling is part of a negative trajectory on marriage and “represents an aftermath that evangelicals themselves, sadly, are not guiltless in contributing to. Too often, professing evangelicals have failed to model the ideals we so dearly cherish and believe are central to gospel proclamation.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Statement from the Diocese of South Carolina on Today's Supreme Court Obergefell v. Hodges Ruling

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that “all states must license marriage between two people of the same sex” and “recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed “out-of-state.” Despite this change, the Diocese of South Carolina continues to affirm the historic position of the Christian Church: that God has ordained two states of life for His people, singleness or Holy Matrimony ”“ the joining together of one man and one woman into a holy union. By affirming this position, we stand firmly under the authority of Holy Scripture, in continuity with the two thousand year history of the church, and in accord with the vast majority of Christians around the world. Therefore, it is clear that while the Supreme Court may be changing the civil definition of marriage, it has no authority over Holy Matrimony and the Church’s blessing of the union between husband and wife.
The Bible envisions Holy Matrimony as the life long, exclusive union of one man and one woman. While Christians, like others, experience failure in realizing this vision, it is nevertheless the standard we profess and toward which we strive. We believe that marriage, like all areas of life, can be redeemed, and that by God’s grace all married people can be enabled to live into its unique calling.

The full consequences of the Supreme Court’s cultural and legal innovation have yet to be seen, and will be tested over time. It is our strong belief that this same Constitution, to which they have appealed, must protect the rights of all people to the free exercise of religion. In the light of this conviction, the Diocese of South Carolina will faithfully conduct its ministry in accordance with our beliefs, trusting that this freedom will be upheld.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Theology

Washington Post Article on the US Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Decision

The Supreme Court on Friday delivered a historic victory for gay rights, ruling 5 to 4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live and that states may no longer reserve the right only for heterosexual couples.

The court’s action marks the culmination of an unprecedented upheaval in public opinion and the nation’s jurisprudence. Advocates called it the most pressing civil rights issue of modern times, while critics said the courts had sent the country into uncharted territory by changing the traditional definition of marriage.

Read it all and the full text of the decision is there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Sexuality, Theology

(Time) 2015 Will Be the Year of the Gender-Neutral Baby Name

“As usual, baby names are reflecting a larger cultural shift,” says BabyCenter’s Global Editor in Chief Linda Murray. “Millennials are an open-minded and accepting group, and they don’t want their children to feel pressured to conform to stereotypes that might be restrictive.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology

(Yahoo Finance) Rick Newman–Even After Yesterday's decision, ACA still faces big challenges

….the controversial law still faces a bumpy future. Here are five challenges the ACA will face during the next several years:

Healthcare costs are still too high. As many enrollees are discovering, the “Affordable” Care Act is somewhat misnamed. Healthcare costs continue to rise faster than wages or overall inflation, putting a financial burden even on people who have healthcare. A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund found that 23% of Americans who have healthcare coverage are “underinsured,” meaning their out-of-pocket spending on healthcare is more than 10% of their income in a given year. Deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs have been rising because consumers and businesses have been opting for plans with lower premiums””which usually require the patient to bear more of the cost before 100% coverage kicks in. The irony is that insurance has gotten more affordable, but actual healthcare hasn’t.

The ACA includes several long-term provisions meant to explore ways to lower costs, but they may not be nearly enough to offset other trends pushing costs up, such as the retirement of the baby boomers and the development of expensive new drugs. If Congress ever gets serious about improving the ACA rather that faux-repealing it, cost will be the thing to focus on.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Senate, Theology

Layton Williams–Presbyhonest–Why the inclusion of LGBTQ people is not enough

The work of the church is not merely to accept those of us who are transgender, asexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, and intersex. The work of the church is to accept and celebrate that the church””the body””is itself queer. The body of Christ is queer because it isn’t defined or bound by human constructs or binaries. It transcends and subverts norms and boundaries. It contains multitudes. But the body is also queer simply because its queer members are a vital component of its identity. When I was dating a cisgender (i.e., identifying with the gender assigned at birth), heterosexual man last fall, we were in a queer relationship. My queer identity made the relationship itself queer, even though he was straight. The body of Christ is queer in this same way because it contains queer identities.

It is time for the church to sit down nervously at its own Table and confront its internalized queerphobia. It is time for the body of Christ to come out. Some of us who have come out ourselves are happy to be the friend that talks the church through it.

Coming out is not easy. It is not just about moving forward in celebration and inclusion. It is about accepting that in some ways you are just now becoming acquainted with who you really are. It means recognizing you have missed opportunities for relationship, happiness, and growth. It means grieving the years lost to fear and the heartbreak of relationships with loved ones who cannot understand. It means holding with grace the wounds you will always carry.

Read it all.

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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Presbyterian, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) To Many Iraqis, U.S. Isn’t Really Seeking to Defeat Islamic State

In a tent city under a highway overpass in Baghdad, refugees from Iraq’s Sunni province of Anbar were unanimous about whom to blame for their misery.

“I hold Americans responsible for destroying Anbar,” said former policeman Wassem Khaled, whose home was taken over by Islamic State, or ISIS, after the Iraqi army fled from Anbar’s provincial capital of Ramadi last month.

“We all know that America is providing ISIS with weapons and food, and that it is because of American backing that they have become so strong,” added Abbas Hashem, a 50-year-old who also escaped from Ramadi and now lives in the makeshift Baghdad camp that is only occasionally supplied with water.

Such conspiracy theories about America’s support for Islamic State are outlandish, no doubt. But they are so widespread that they now represent a political reality with real-world consequences””making it harder for the U.S. and allies to cobble together Iraqi forces that could regain the country’s Sunni heartland from Islamic State’s murderous rule one day.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Middle East, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology

(Local Paper Editorial) Our nation mourns together

The searing shock and lingering pain inflicted by last week’s mass murder at the Emanuel AME Church hasn’t been confined to Charleston. It has extended across our nation. And Americans’ expressions of sympathy and solidarity have helped bolster our community’s spirit in this time of profound sorrow.

So it’s quite fitting that as our nation mourns the nine good people killed at a Bible study meeting, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, will deliver the eulogy today at the funeral of one of those victims ”” the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who also was a state senator.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Office of the President, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

In Historic Day for Charleston SC, Mourners line up early for Clementa Pinckney service

Hours before first light, they began to line up along Marion Square for what is anticipated to be among the most historic days in Charleston’s long history.

The Rev. Curtis Capers of Summerville was among those first in line when he showed up at 3:30 a.m. Just three hours later, the line would extend from Calhoun Street, up Meeting Street and about 100 yards around on Hutson Street.

Capers, pastor of the Honey Hill Baptist Church in Cottageville, said he came to pay his respects to the Rev. Clementa Pinckney and other victims of last week’s Bible study massacre inside Emanuel AME Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(FP) Rosa Brooks–U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy Is the Definition of Insanity

….I haven’t encountered many defenders of U.S. counterterrorism strikes. Last year, I co-chaired a Stimson Center commission on U.S. drone policy with retired Gen. John Abizaid. The commission, which included former senior military and intelligence officials from both Obama’s and George W. Bush’s administrations, concluded in June 2014 that “the Obama administration’s heavy reliance on targeted killings as a pillar of US counterterrorism strategy rests on questionable assumptions, and risks increasing instability and escalating conflicts. While tactical strikes may have helped keep the homeland free of major terrorist attacks, existing evidence indicates that both Sunni and Shia Islamic extremist groups have grown in scope, lethality and influence in the broader area of operations in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.” In dozens of interviews and conversations with national security experts since June 2014, I have yet to find anyone who won’t admit, off the record, that U.S. counterterrorism policy is flailing badly.

So here’s the question: If no one except administration press flacks thinks the whack-a-mole approach to counterterrorism is working, why are we still using it?

To me, that’s one of the unsolved mysteries of the universe, right up there with “what is dark matter?” and “why do we yawn?” Why do smart people like Obama and his top advisors continue to rely on counterterrorism policies that aren’t working?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology

(Lambeth Palace) Response to the Church of Nigeria on Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s attention has been drawn to a statement forwarded to him from the Office of the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, on the above subject. This statement was first posted on the Church of Nigeria website April 30, 2015.

The appointment of the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office (ACO) is made by the Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) with the approval of the President of the Standing Committee, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(WSJ) David Howard–The Intrepid Missionary Elisabeth Elliot

Last week marked the passing of a woman whose missionary work and writings inspired hundreds of thousands of Christians to live lives of faith and obedience to God, and led thousands to bring the gospel to people in countries around the world. Elisabeth Elliot died June 15 at age 88, but her legacy will continue through the lives transformed by her example. I knew her simply as “Aunt Betty,” as she was my father’s sister.

Elliot first entered the news in January 1956, when her husband, Jim Elliot, and four other missionaries were killed by a group of Auca Indians, today known as Waorani, in the deepest jungles of Ecuador. The five missionaries””three of them, like Elisabeth, were former students at Wheaton College in Illinois””felt called by God to bring the gospel to this fiercest of tribes, one that had no connections to the outside world.

After months of groundwork, the missionaries made friendly contact with three tribal members near the main Waorani village. But two days later, several warriors burst out of the jungle and speared and hacked the men to death. The missionaries were armed, but when the attack came they only fired their weapons into the air, as they had agreed they would in such an event. Why? Because they believed that they were ready to meet their maker, while the Waorani were not. The incident made headlines around the world, including articles in Life, Time and Reader’s Digest magazines.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, History, Missions, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology

Church Times on David Garrison's new Book–Leaving the Qur’an for the Gospels

The “greatest turning of Muslims to Jesus Christ in history” is taking place across the world, the author of a new book, on tour in the UK, suggests.

A Wind in the House of Islam, by Dr David Garrison, a missionary pioneer with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, documents a Muslim “movement to Christ” in more than 70 places across 29 countries. Converts, it says, now number between two and seven million.

Dr Garrison defines a “movement” as being at least 100 new churches started, or 1000 baptisms, within a 20-year period in one people group. He estimates that there have been 82 “movements” across the centuries, of which 69 began, or are continuing to unfold, in the 21st century.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Adult Education, Baptists, Books, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Islam, Missions, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology