Daily Archives: June 13, 2016

Moscow Patriarchate: Statement on the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church

Statement of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church

On the situation caused by the refusal of several Local Orthodox Churches to participate in the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church

For many decades the Russian Orthodox Church took and continues to take an active part in the preparation of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church. Since the 1st Pan-Orthodox Conference in 1961 on Rhodes, the outstanding hierarchs and the best theologians of our Church have made their contribution to the work on a great number of the Council’s topics, including those which were not to be included later in the agenda of the Holy and Great Council. For the sake of the earliest convocation of the Council, the Russian Orthodox Church has repeatedly re-affirmed her readiness to achieve decisions mutually acceptable for all the participants in the pre-Council process, even if such decisions diverted from the already agreed rules of the Council’s preparation.

However, the principle of pan-Orthodox consensus has been the invariable basis of the pre-Council process…

Read it all

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Orthodox Church, Other Churches

Prayers for those affected in the Orlando Shootings

Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America: Call to Prayer

Please join me in praying for the victims, dead and wounded, and their families of the horrific shooting attack at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

“Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our understanding: Deal graciously with those affected, in their grief. Surround them with your love, that they may not be overwhelmed by their loss, but have confidence in your goodness, and strength to meet the days to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Greg Brewer, Bishop of the TEC Diocese of Central Florida: A Reflection on the Attack on The Pulse Nightclub

I had to work to take it in. My natural reaction was to keep the horror of this event at a distance- keeping my heart safe from grief and outrage. But slowly, and as an answer to prayer, the sadness, the weariness, the empty silence of mourning poured in. Someone said that the deeper the grief, the fewer the words. That’s how I feel. Words of condolence have little value in the face of this carnage. For right now, all we can do is grieve, pray and support the families of those who have died the best we can.

I will leave it to others to look for someone to blame. Instead ”“ right now ”“ all I want to do is to stand beside, pray, and love as best I can. There will be time later raise questions about security, gun violence, and homophobic rage. There is no justification for this atrocity. I categorically condemn what has happened. Better solutions must be found.

What I do believe is that love is stronger than death. The promise of resurrection brings courage, and the promise of “a new heaven and a new earth” should fuel all of God’s people to help build a better world.

“Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Vatican: Pope Francis decries Orlando massacre and prays for victims

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops

Some Growth Figures from the Scottish Episcopal Church

2015 Membership 32,141 [2014 Membership 32,634]
2015 Total Attendance 12,956 [2014 Total Attendance 13,611]

Read it all from page 65 of the 33rd Annual Report for the year ended 31 December 2015. There was some speculation on this trajectory last year here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Scottish Episcopal Church

[The Wee Flea] Et Tu Episcopus? The Scottish Episcopal Church and SSM

The Anglican Communion throughout the world upholds the biblical teaching on Same Sex Marriage (i.e. that it does not exist because marriage is between a man and a woman). The meeting of the Anglican primates at the beginning of this year was quite clear and they backed it up with promises of discipline for any Anglican communion which went against its ruling. This was no Church of Scotland style, ”˜we believe in traditional marriage but we will allow our ministers to go against that teaching’. Of course the mainly white liberal Anglicans who have the view that they are the progressives and who regard the mainly black/Asian southern Anglicans as backward regressives , proclaimed their defiance. The latest ”˜communion’ to do so is the Scottish Episcopal Church at its meeting last week, which took ”˜the first step’ towards allowing SSM in its churches, by a vote of 97:33 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-36498967

What does all this mean?

The Scottish Episcopal Church is, as the name suggests the Scottish version of the Church of England. Despite the common perception that it is the “English’ church it is not. It does however have an identity problem ”“ in the 2011 census only 8,000 people claimed that they were Scottish Episcopalian, another 20,000 claimed they were just Anglican and some 60,000 claimed they were Church of England. The most reliable statistic is the 2014 return by the SEC that stated there were 34,000 members of all ages. I suspect that in terms of actual attendance there are less than 10,000 in an Anglican church in Scotland on a Sunday”¦The Scottish Episcopalian church is, like most mainstream churches in Scotland, in a steep decline. This decision, if it is carried through, will only increase that decline…

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Scottish Episcopal Church

G.K. Chesterton's Parable of the Gas Lamp for his Feast Day

From here:

Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, “Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good – ” At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is knocked down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.

Let the reader understand.

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

G.K. Chesterton on the Incarnation for his Feast Day

For those who think the idea of the Crusade is one that spoils the idea of the Cross, we can only say that for them the idea of the Cross is spoiled; the idea of the cross is spoiled quite literally in the cradle. It is not here to the purpose to argue with them on the abstract ethics of fighting; the purpose in this place is merely to sum up the combination of ideas that make up the Christian and Catholic idea, and to note that all of them are already crystallised in the first Christmas story. They are three distinct and commonly contrasted things which are nevertheless one thing; but this is the only thing which can make them one.

The first is the human instinct for a heaven that shall be as literal and almost as local as a home. It is the idea pursued by all poets and pagans making myths; that a particular place must be the shrine of the god or the abode of the blest; that fairyland is a land; or that the return of the ghost must be the resurrection of the body. I do not here reason about the refusal of rationalism to satisfy this need. I only say that if the rationalists refuse to satisfy it, the pagans will not be satisfied. This is present in the story of Bethlehem and Jerusalem as it is present in the story of Delos and Delphi; and as it is not present in the whole universe of Lucretius or the whole universe of Herbert Spencer.

The second element is a philosophy larger than other philosophies; larger than that of Lucretius and infinitely larger than that of Herbert Spencer. It looks at the world through a hundred windows where the ancient stoic or the modern agnostic only looks through one. It sees life with thousands of eyes belonging to thousands of different sorts of people, where the other is only the individual standpoint of a stoic or an agnostic. It has something for all moods of man, it finds work for all kinds of men, it understands secrets of psychology, it is aware of depths of evil, it is able to distinguish between ideal and unreal marvels and miraculous exceptions, it trains itself in tact about hard cases, all with a multiplicity and subtlety and imagination about the varieties of life which is far beyond the bald or breezy platitudes of most ancient or modern moral philosophy. In a word, there is more in it; it finds more in existence to think about; it gets more out of life. Masses of this material about our many-sided life have been added since the time of St. Thomas Aquinas. But St. Thomas Aquinas alone would have found himself limited in the world of Confucius or of Comte.
And the third point is this; that while it is local enough for poetry and larger than any other philosophy, it is also a challenge and a fight. While it is deliberately broadened to embrace every aspect of truth, it is still stiffly embattled against every mode of error. It gets every kind of man to fight for it, it gets every kind of weapon to fight with, it widens its knowledge of the things that are fought for and against with every art of curiosity or sympathy; but it never forgets that it is fighting. It proclaims peace on earth and never forgets why there was war in heaven.

This is the trinity of truths symbolised here by the three types in the old Christmas story; the shepherds and the kings and that other king who warred upon the children. It is simply not true to say that other religions and philosophies are in this respect its rivals. It is not true to say that any one of them combines these characters; it is not true to say that any one of them pretends to combine them. Buddhism may profess to be equally mystical; it does not even profess to be equally military. Islam may profess to be equally military; it does not even profess to be equally metaphysical and subtle. Confucianism may profess to satisfy the need of the philosophers for order and reason; it does not even profess to satisfy the need of the mystics for miracle and sacrament and the consecration of concrete things.

There are many evidences of this presence of a spirit at once universal and unique. One will serve here which is the symbol of the subject of this chapter; that no other story, no pagan legend or philosophical anecdote or historical event, does in fact affect any of us with that peculiar and even poignant impression produced on us by the word Bethlehem. No other birth of a god or childhood of a sage seems to us to be Christmas or anything like Christmas. It is either too cold or too frivolous, or too formal and classical, or too simple and savage, or too occult and complicated. Not one of us, whatever his opinions, would ever go to such a scene with the sense that he was going home. He might admire it because it was poetical, or because it was philosophical, or any number of other things in separation; but not because it was itself. The truth is that there is a quite peculiar and individual character about the hold of this story on human nature; it is not in its psychological substance at all like a mere legend or the life of a great man. It does not exactly in the ordinary sense turn our minds to greatness; to those extensions and exaggerations of humanity which are turned into gods and heroes, even by the healthiest sort of hero-worship. It does not exactly work outwards, adventurously, to the wonders to be found at the ends of the earth. It is rather something that surprises us from behind, from the hidden and personal part of our being; like that which can some times take us off our guard in the pathos of small objects or the blind pieties of the poor. It is rather as if a man had found an inner room in the very heart of his own house, which he had never suspected; and seen a light from within. It is as if he found something at the back of his own heart that betrayed him into good. It is not made of what the world would call strong materials; or rather it is made of materials whose strength is in that winged levity with which they brush us and pass. It is all that is in us but a brief tenderness that is there made eternal; all that means no more than a momentary softening that is in some strange fashion become a strengthening and a repose; it is the broken speech and the lost word that are made positive and suspended unbroken; as the strange kings fade into a far country and the mountains resound no more with the feet of the shepherds; and only the night and the cavern lie in fold upon fold over something more human than humanity.

–”“The Everlasting Man (Radford, Virginia: Wilder Publications, 2008 paperback ed. of the 1925 original), pp. 114-116

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

(For G K Chesterton's Feast Day) Philip Jenkins–Remembering G.K. Chesterton's Nightmare

Thirty years ago, a British newspaper took an unscientific survey of current and former intelligence agents, asking them which fictional work best captured the realities of their profession. Would it be John Le Carré, Ian Fleming, Robert Ludlum? To the amazement of most readers, the book that won easily was G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, published in 1908.

This was so surprising because of the book’s early date, but also its powerful mystical and Christian content: Chesterton subtitled it “a nightmare.” But perhaps the choice was not so startling. Looking at the problems Western intelligence agencies confront fighting terrorism today, Chesterton’s fantasy looks more relevant than ever, and more like a practical how-to guide.

Read it all.

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

Archbps of Canterbury and York Joint Statement on the Orlando Shooting

Found here:

“After Sunday’s attack in Orlando, as Christians we must speak out in support of LGBTI people, who have become the latest group to be so brutally targeted by the forces of evil. We must pray, weep with those affected, support the bereaved, and love without qualification.
The obligation to object to these acts of persecution, and to support those LGBTI people who are wickedly and cruelly killed and wounded, bereaved and traumatised, whether in Orlando or elsewhere, is an absolute call on our Christian discipleship. It arises from the unshakeable certainty of the gracious love of God for every human being.
Now, in this time of heartbreak and grief, is a time for solidarity. May God our Father give grace and comfort to all who mourn, and divine compassion to us all.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, America/U.S.A., Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

The LSE RPS blog launches today exploring the place and role of religion in Britain

Check it out.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(CT) Mark Galli–A Meditation on the Orlando Shooting

…there is one particular prayer that Jesus teaches and models. I’m not enough of a world religion scholar to know if it is unique to Christianity, but it is remarkable part of Christian faith and life. It’s the prayer of Stephen as he was stoned and of Jesus on the Cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

It is one way we obey Jesus’ command to love enemies, even murderous ones””whether they target us or those with whom we sympathize.

This struck me afresh recently as I recited an Eastern Orthodox prayer of intercession. In the litany of petitions, this one jumped out at me: “Lord, we pray”¦ for those who hate us and those who love us.”

In the Orthodox tradition, this prayer is to be said every evening.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

The Ballad of God-Makers for G.K. Chesterton's Feast Day

A bird flew out at the break of day
From the nest where it had curled,
And ere the eve the bird had set
Fear on the kings of the world.

The first tree it lit upon
Was green with leaves unshed;
The second tree it lit upon
Was red with apples red;

The third tree it lit upon
Was barren and was brown,
Save for a dead man nailed thereon
On a hill above a town.
That night the kings of the earth were gay
And filled the cup and can;
Last night the kings of the earth were chill
For dread of a naked man.

”˜If he speak two more words,’ they said,
”˜The slave is more than the free;
If he speak three more words,’ they said,
”˜The stars are under the sea.’

Said the King of the East to the King of the West,
I wot his frown was set,
”˜Lo, let us slay him and make him as dung,
It is well that the world forget.’

Said the King of the West to the King of the East,
I wot his smile was dread,
”˜Nay, let us slay him and make him a god,
It is well that our god be dead.’

They set the young man on a hill,
They nailed him to a rod;
And there in darkness and in blood
They made themselves a god.

And the mightiest word was left unsaid,
And the world had never a mark,
And the strongest man of the sons of men
Went dumb into the dark.

Then hymns and harps of praise they brought,
Incense and gold and myrrh,
And they thronged above the seraphim,
The poor dead carpenter.

”˜Thou art the prince of all,’ they sang,
”˜Ocean and earth and air.’
Then the bird flew on to the cruel cross,
And hid in the dead man’s hair.

”˜Thou art the son of the world.’ they cried, `
”˜Speak if our prayers be heard.’
And the brown bird stirred in the dead man’s hair
And it seemed that the dead man stirred.

Then a shriek went up like the world’s last cry
From all nations under heaven,
And a master fell before a slave
And begged to be forgiven.

They cowered, for dread in his wakened eyes
The ancient wrath to see;
And a bird flew out of the dead Christ’s hair,
And lit on a lemon tree.

–G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christology, Church History, Poetry & Literature, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of G. K. Chesterton

O God of earth and altar, who didst give G. K. Chesterton a ready tongue and pen, and inspired him to use them in thy service: Mercifully grant that we may be inspired to witness cheerfully to the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Daily Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, in all the fullness of thy power so gentle, in thine exceeding greatness so humble: Bestow thy mind and spirit upon us, who have nothing whereof to boast; that clothed in true humility, we may be exalted to true greatness. Grant this, O Lord, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God for evermore.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou who leadest Joseph like a flock! Thou who art enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth before E’phraim and Benjamin and Manas’seh! Stir up thy might, and come to save us!

–Psalm 80:1-2

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Charleston community reacts to Orlando mass shooting as Emanuel anniversary nears

[Charleston Mayor John] Tecklenburg also drew parallels to Charleston’s loss almost a year ago at Emanuel.

“One year ago this week, we here in Charleston were brought face to face with the same kind of evil that the people of Orlando are being forced to reckon with today, when nine beautiful souls were viciously stolen from us by a racist gunman in the basement of Mother Emanuel AME church,” Tecklenburg said. “We will never forget the horror of that hot, sticky June night, or of the terrible days and weeks that followed.”

He added that the community would never stop giving thanks for the remarkable courage and grace of the Emanuel families, “who looked beyond their own pain to show us the way to hope and reconciliation.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence