Daily Archives: August 28, 2015

Open Thread: What resources may help renewal during spiritual slow downs?

With thanks to Underground Pewster for suggesting this topic
Losing your religion? What resources may help renewal during spiritual slow downs and do you have any experience of using them?

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life

[SMH] Census change: Is Australia losing its religion?

Next year’s census has a very subtle edit that may completely change the way Australia sees itself and have drastic consequences for the way government money is spent on welfare and education.

For the first time since the “no religion” option was introduced in 1991, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will place it first on a list of answers to the question “what is the person’s religion”, and move the “Catholic” option into second position.

As every politician knows, getting to top spot on the ballot paper has a big impact.

In the last census taken in 2011, 5.4 million people picked the “Catholic” box and a total of 13.1 million Australians (61.1 per cent) said their religion was some type of Christianity. Meanwhile 4.7 million (22.2 per cent) Australians picked “no religion”, or wrote down agnosticism, atheism, humanism or rationalism. The “no religion” option was in a difficult-to-find location under the “other please specify” box.
the ACL has previously reminded members about the importance of ticking the right box on the census form. Governments use the ABS data to “plan for services and infrastructure” and “we need to prove the size of the constituency who hold these values,” the ACL told members in August 2011.

So is it possible Australia is no longer a Christian nation? When a similar change was introduced into the New Zealand census the country’s Christians lost their position as the majority and the number of people recording no religion jumped from 35 per cent to 42 per cent.

And placing the ‘no religion’ box at the top of the list could swing the results significantly, according to associate professor Roger Wilkins at the University of Melbourne

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces

[Guardian] China arrests Christians who opposed removals of crosses

Chinese security forces have launched a roundup of church activists who opposed a Communist party campaign to remove crosses.

“At least nine people I know have been taken away by the police and that figure is still rising,” a church leader in the eastern province of Zhejiang ”“ the operation’s focus ”“ told the Guardian on Thursday afternoon.

“We think it is a campaign targeting church leaders across the province. It can only be a co-ordinated action initiated by the provincial government.”

Among those understood to have been detained is Zhang Kai, a prominent Beijing human rights lawyer who had been offering legal support to a number of churches in the region.

Friction between the Communist party and the church has been building in in Zhejiang since late 2013 when authorities initiated a demolition campaign that they said targeted illegal buildings.

Read it all

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, China

[HuffPost] YouTube's battle against ISIS

It wants videos with “reasonable messages, better messages” to drown out extremism, and is recruiting Muslims to make them. But will it work?
On a Thursday night late last fall, after leaving the Manhattan office where he works as a digital products specialist, Aman Ali — a well-known comedian in American Muslim circles — received an unusual email from YouTube.

“We need you,” read the note, which invited Ali to the company’s sprawling, 41,000-square-foot production facility in Los Angeles and promised a free flight and two nights in a hotel. “Muslim community leaders [are] struggling to have their voices heard against the overwhelming extremist and bigoted content currently surfacing the web.”

The words “Islamic State” appeared nowhere in the note asking Muslims like Ali to “change the discourse,” but the message was clear. The terrorist organization’s vast media arm, with its slick recruitment videos, was winning the propaganda war. Muslims needed to figure out a way to fight back and “get your voices heard.”

Read it all

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Terrorism

[Deutsche Welle] Chibok: 500 days in Boko Haram captivity

Aisha Yesufu is the chairwoman of the strategic committee of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign in Abuja.

“We keep on hoping that the girls will be found. We will keep up the fight, there will be no retreat, no surrender on the Chibok girls until each one of them is accounted for,” she told DW.

Activists have organized numerous events this week to mark the 500 days of the disappearance of the more than 200 girls. They included Muslim and Christian prayer services, a tree planting ceremony and a march through Abuja.

Read it all

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Africa, Nigeria

[NYT] Hong Kong Christian Groups Feel New Scrutiny From Mainland

For years, the Rev. Philip Woo, the feisty leader of a small Protestant church here, has delighted in testing the limits of China’s restrictive laws on religion. From his perch in Hong Kong, he has delivered fiery sermons on human rights, led seminars on social problems for mainland students, and ordained pastors in the mainland without permission from the ruling Communist Party.

But Mr. Woo, a longtime Hong Kong resident, was startled when he was summoned across the border recently for a meeting with officials from the State Administration for Religious Affairs. Over tea, he said, the officials rattled off a list of laws they said he had violated, and they ordered him to stop…

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, China

(Church Times) ”˜Liberal elite’ accused of hypocrisy on marriage

A new report suggesting that marriage is “alive and well” among the rich, but not the poor, is evidence that the “liberal elite” are hypocrites, a researcher said this week.

“It’s very striking that the liberal elite will happily tell everyone that it does not matter if you marry or not, yet nearly 90 per cent, even today, get married if they have children,” Harry Benson, research director at the Marriage Foundation, said on Tuesday.

“They talk a good liberal story, but act in very conservative ways for themselves. . . These modern-day Pharisees tell us how to live our lives, but live their own lives in a completely different way.”

The report from the Marriage Foundation, The Marriage Gap, looks at mothers with children under the age of five. In 2012, 87 per cent of mothers with an annual household income of above £45,000 were married.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

[Reuters] Iran may have built extension at disputed site: U.N. nuclear watchdog

Iran appears to have built an extension to part of its Parchin military site since May, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said in a report on Thursday, as part of its inquiry into possible military dimensions of Tehran’s past nuclear activity.

A resolution of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Parchin file, which includes a demand for fresh IAEA access to the site, is a symbolically important issue that could help make or break Tehran’s July 14 nuclear deal with six world powers.

The confidential IAEA report, obtained by Reuters, said:

“Since (our) previous report (in May), at a particular location at the Parchin site, the agency has continued to observe, through satellite imagery, the presence of vehicles, equipment, and probable construction materials. In addition, a small extension to an existing building” appeared to have been built.

The changes were first observed last month, a senior diplomat familiar with the Iran file said.

The IAEA says any activities Iran has undertaken at Parchin since U.N. inspectors last visited in 2005 could jeopardize its ability to verify Western intelligence suggesting Tehran carried out tests there relevant to nuclear bomb detonations more than a decade ago. Iran has dismissed the intelligence as “fabricated”.

Read it all and for the earlier Associated Press report see AP Exclusive: UN to let Iran inspect alleged nuke work site and follow up here

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Iran, Middle East

[CP] Cardinal William Joseph Levada arrested for drunken driving

Cardinal William Joseph Levada, once the highest-ranking American official at the Vatican, was arrested last Thursday in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, for drunken driving and is now set to respond to the charge in court next month.

Read it all

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Food for Thought from Saint Augustine for his Feast Day

O, how wonderful is Thy goodness, for it is unlike all other good things. I desire to come to Thee; and all that I have need of on the way I desire from Thee, and chiefly that without which I can not come to Thee. If Thou forsake me, I perish; yet I know that Thou wilt not forsake me unless I forsake Thee; nor will I forsake Thee, for Thou art the highest good. There is none who rightly seeketh Thee that doth not find Thee. He alone seeketh Thee aright whom Thou teachest aright to seek Thee, and how he should seek Thee. O, good Father, free me entirely from the error in which I have hitherto wandered, and yet wander; and teach me the way in which no foe can encounter me before I come to Thee. If I love naught above Thee, I beseech Thee that I may find Thee; and if I desire any thing beyond measure and wrongly, deliver me from it. Make me worthy to behold Thee.

–Saint Augustine’s Soliloquies, Book I

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Augustine of Hippo

O Lord God, who art the light of the minds that know thee, the life of the souls that love thee, and the strength of the hearts that serve thee: Help us, following the example of thy servant Augustine of Hippo, so to know thee that we may truly love thee, and so to love thee that we may fully serve thee, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

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

Help us this day, O God, to serve thee devoutly, and the world busily. May we do our work wisely, give succour secretly, go to our meat appetitely, sit thereat discreetly, arise temperately, please our friend duly, go to our bed merrily, and sleep surely; for the joy of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved….Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore

Psalm 16:7-8;11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Nielsen: 'Helios'

The Danish composer was inspired by watching the sun rise over the Aegean Sea. “My overture describes the movement of the sun through the heavens from morning to evening, but it is only called Helios and no explanation is necessary.”

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

[Guardian] British Library will lend world's oldest bible to British Museum

The British Library is to lend one of its greatest treasures, the world’s oldest bible, to the British Museum for an ambitious and groundbreaking exhibition exploring 1,200 years of Christian, Islamic and Jewish faith in Egypt after the pharaohs.

The Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world and has only been lent once, in 1990 ”“ also to the British Museum ”“ when both collections shared the same building.

“It is quite phenomenal they they are able to lend it to us,” said Elisabeth O’Connell, assistant keeper in the British Museum’s department of ancient Egypt and Sudan. “We are absolutely thrilled.”

The codex dates back to the 4th century AD. Handwritten in Greek, not long after the reign of the Emperor Constantine the Great, it contains the earliest complete manuscript of the New Testament.

Read it all and there is more about the British Library New Testament here and the full reunited text can be seen here

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture