Monthly Archives: September 2016

Martin Marty–What can we learn about the rise of various religious "moments" in History?

[Kenneth] Woodward locates the Methodist Moment as having begun in modern U.S. politics back in 1972, but he notes that it passed quickly after the flop of Methodist George McGovern’s presidential campaign. Yet Woodward finds good reason to talk about a named “moment” because, as it slows or morphs, it leaves behind a changed landscape””think of a glacial moraine, which marks where a glacier once changed a mountainside, then lives on in stony and rocky residue. We live off that residue in the new landscape. Woodward lists many features of this Methodist influence in political movements, some of which he does not favor at all, and others which have to be reckoned with anew.

My interest in “episodes” and “moments” derives from my impulse to caution against utopian visions of causes, the belief that this time “we” have invented or devised or worked for a continually energetic movement or achievement. The concept of the “moment” is a reminder that nothing lasts, but that participants in efforts to change, though they do not win, may well be deserving of investment, renewal, revisitation. Only believers in inevitable and enduring progress, or who idolize their own efforts and causes, forget that episodes and moments come and go””for better and/or for worse.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Religion & Culture

George Mamoulides responds to last week's Kenneth Woodward column on the "methodist Moment

From here:

In reading Kenneth L. Woodward’s “The Democrats’ Methodist Moment” [see there], I am struck by both the views of Hillary Clinton and the observations of Mr. Woodward about the United Methodist Church, other Protestant denominations, the Catholic church and many Jews, and their connection with the progressive Democratic Party’s righteous politics with the attending social-justice traditions.

It’s funny that in an article like this, with all of its religious implications, there is no mention of Jesus Christ, his teachings and place in Christianity. Could it be that’s the reason there are now more “Nones” (people with no religious affiliation) than ever before, and the so-called “Christian church” is in decline? For many reasons, I don’t think that John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, would recognize the United Methodist Church today.

George Mamoulides

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, History, Methodist, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Irish Times) Why Ireland should not be embarrassed by its abortion laws

In The Irish Times, expatriates described how the liberal abortion laws of their adopted homes made Ireland appear regressive in comparison, motivating them to hold their own demonstrations calling for repeal.

One woman, a television producer based in Vancouver, described how living in such a “progressive and liberal society as Canada has made it apparent to me how far Ireland has to go in terms of women’s rights and politics in general”.What was left unsaid ”“ as has become routine in these discussions ”“ is just how extreme the abortion laws are in some of the supposedly more civilised countries we are being asked to look up to.

In Canada, there are no legal restrictions on abortion whatsoever, allowing terminations up until birth for any reason that doctors are comfortable with.

Contrary to its liberal image, the country is apparently uninterested in transparency when it comes to this legal regime, refusing to collect statistics on the number of late-term abortions….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Canada, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ireland, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Theology

(TM) Meet James Bryant, the national embalmer of the year

Bryant has seen many familiar faces on the embalming table. He embalmed his mother, honoring one of her more difficult requests. “She didn’t want anybody else but me to do it. So my mother can say at least I minded her one time,” he says. He’s embalmed his father, brother, aunts, uncles, nephews, and classmates from grade school. When one heavy-drinking friend turned up at the funeral home, Bryant tsk-tsked at the body. “I told him, ”˜Man, I tried to tell you this was going to catch up with you.’”Š”

Bryant is a trim man who wears a Fitbit and works out at Life Time Fitness three or four times a week. It’s one way he copes with the challenges of the job: embalming a child, or someone who’s committed suicide. Once, he worked on a man who’d been shot 54 times. “Dealing with death every day is not for everybody,” he says. “It can be overwhelming.” He takes time off to visit Spain or Morocco with a group of funeral directors (his wife of 33 years is not keen on traveling; his four adult children are out of the house), but he always misses his work.

“I was born to be an embalmer,” Bryant says. “I’ve never been afraid of this. I never struggled with it in school. I picked it up”””he snaps his fingers””“like that. I don’t know what it’s like to have a job; I just get up every day and do something I love to do.”

Read it all (Hat tip:AJ).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks–The Mutating Virus: Understanding Antisemitism

The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews. That is what I want us to understand today. It wasn’t Jews alone who suffered under Hitler. It wasn’t Jews alone who suffered under Stalin. It isn’t Jews alone who suffer under ISIS or Al Qaeda or Islamic Jihad. We make a great mistake if we think antisemitism is a threat only to Jews. It is a threat, first and foremost, to Europe and to the freedoms it took centuries to achieve.

Antisemitism is not about Jews. It is about anti-Semites. It is about people who cannot accept responsibility for their own failures and have instead to blame someone else. Historically, if you were a Christian at the time of the Crusades, or a German after the First World War, and saw that the world hadn’t turned out the way you believed it would, you blamed the Jews. That is what is happening today. And I cannot begin to say how dangerous it is. Not just to Jews but to everyone who values freedom, compassion and humanity.

The appearance of antisemitism in a culture is the first symptom of a disease, the early warning sign of collective breakdown. If Europe allows antisemitism to flourish, that will be the beginning of the end of Europe. And what I want to do in these brief remarks is simply to analyze a phenomenon full of vagueness and ambiguity, because we need precision and understanding to know what antisemitism is, why it happens, why antisemites are convinced that they are not antisemitic.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Judaism, Other Faiths, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(Church Times) The world is our parish, Hull curate says as AMiE agenda is set out

The Church of England should not have a monopoly on Anglicanism in England, the priest set to plant a new church in Scarborough, outside diocesan structures…says.

“In the business world, monopolies are not encouraged; so I do not see why there should be one Anglican service provider in England,” the Revd Lee McMunn said on Wednesday. “Surely we can allow people the option to choose, whether that is future ministers or future members of congregations.”

His Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) church in Scarborough will be the first of hundreds, if the organisation’s church-planting plans are fulfilled. This month, AMiE announced plans to plant 25 churches by 2025, and 250 by 2050. It is seeking to draw up a map of “promising and needy places to plant new gospel churches”, and to recruit people to start AMiE churches and serve as “assistant ministers”. It is also hoping that Anglican churches will form partnerships with AMiE churches, providing money and “mutual training”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Global South Churches & Primates, Parish Ministry, Soteriology, Theology

(NR) George Weigel–The Culture of Death, on the March in Colorado

This past summer, three elderly members of my summer parish in rural Québec received a diagnosis of cancer at the local hospital, a small-town facility an hour’s drive from cosmopolitan Ottawa and even farther from hyper-secular Montréal. Yet after the diagnosis had been delivered, the first question each of these people was asked was “Do you wish to be euthanized?” That is what the new Canadian euthanasia regime has accomplished in just a few months: It has put euthanasia at the top of the menu of options proposed to the gravely ill.

Then there is Belgium, where, as reported in NR’s October 10 print issue, a minor was recently euthanized by lethal injection. You might think that, with the suburbs of Brussels having become the de facto capital of the ISIS caliphate (Euro-subdivision) and a birth rate so far below replacement level that native Belgians will soon be a rare anthropological specimen, the good burghers of Flanders and Wallonia would have something better to do than hasten the deaths of teenagers, even when the teenagers in their distress request just that. But if you thought that, then, as Richard Nixon famously said, “That would be wrong.”
The more apt mot about all of this lethality masquerading as compassion, however, is from the quotable quotes of another Richard, Richard John Neuhaus, who famously said of the morally egregious and its relationship to law, “What is permitted will eventually become obligatory.” Canada isn’t quite there yet, nor is Belgium; but they’re well on their way, not least because their single-payer health-care systems will increasingly find euthanasia cost-effective ”” and because the arts of pain relief combined with human support will atrophy in those countries as the “easy way out” becomes, well, easier and easier.

Read it all (emphasis his).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Canada, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology

An Etching of Saint Jerome in Prayer for his Feast Day

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Jerome

O Lord, thou God of truth, whose Word is a lantern to our feet and a light upon our path: We give thee thanks for thy servant Jerome, and those who, following in his steps, have labored to render the Holy Scriptures in the language of the people; and we beseech thee that thy Holy Spirit may overshadow us as we read the written Word, and that Christ, the living Word, may transform us according to thy righteous will; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Saint Francis of Assisi

O Almighty God, eternal, righteous, and merciful, give us poor sinners to do for thy sake all that we know of thy will, and to will always what pleases thee; so that inwardly purified, enlightened, and kindled by the fire of thy Holy Spirit, we may follow in the steps of thy well-beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They will perish, but thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment. Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away; but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.

–Psalm 102:25-27

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Bloomberg) U.S. Health-Care System Ranks as One of the Least-Efficient in the World

The U.S. health-care system remains among the least-efficient in the world.

America was 50th out of 55 countries in 2014, according to a Bloomberg index that assesses life expectancy, health-care spending per capita and relative spending as a share of gross domestic product. Expenditures averaged $9,403 per person, about 17.1 percent of GDP, that year ”” the most recent for which data are available ”” and life expectancy was 78.9. Only Jordan, Colombia, Azerbaijan, Brazil and Russia ranked lower.

The U.S. has lagged near the bottom of the Bloomberg Health-Care Efficiency Index since it was created in 2012. Hong Kong and Singapore ”” consistently at the top ”” are smaller countries with less diverse populations. Their governments also play a stronger role in regulating and providing care, with spending per capita averaging $2,386 and longevity averaging about 83 years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Theology

(ACNS) Anglican resources to strengthen the Bible in the life of the Church

A new collection of resources to strengthen and support the use of the Bible in the life of the Church has been published by the Anglican Communion. Described as a tool-kit, the Deeper Engagement collection of educational resources has been prepared by the Communion’s Bible in the Life of the Church (Bilc) project “to encourage us, as churches, to engage more deeply with the Bible,” the co-ordinator Stephen Lyon said in a letter to Primates.

Deeper Engagement is a collection of around 120 different educational resources from different parts of the Communion. They have been gathered “to help us in our engagement with Scripture,” Mr Lydon said. “Most have been used to great effect already and those responsible for creating them are enthusiastic about sharing them with others in the Communion.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Adult Education, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(1st Things) Carl R. Trueman–Remembering the Reformation but Celebrating What?

…do not imagine that indifference on these matters offers you an escape route. If you doubt that infant baptism or the Real Presence are issues worth dividing over, then you will find no real place at the Reformation table, either. As Lyndal Roper’s excellent new biography of Luther shows, the Real Presence was central to Luther’s thinking, and to say otherwise is to domesticate him beyond recognition. On this point, even Calvin and Zwingli could be categorized under the “S”-word as far as Luther was concerned. And perhaps we had better not mention what a serious deviation from the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity would have earned you. Michael Servetus could sadly testify to that.

The problem is that the Reformation is only really congenial to modern American evangelicalism if it is reduced to little more than the doctrine of justification by grace through faith. The sixteenth-century Reformation was about a whole lot more””and a whole lot that sits uncomfortably with the modern evangelical faith. So, like Bonhoeffer and C. S. Lewis, the Reformers and the Reformation must be bowdlerized, and by a strange domesticating metamorphosis, become modern American evangelicals. The truth is: The priorities and concerns of American evangelicalism have a highly tenuous and ambiguous relationship to those we find embodied in the confessions and catechisms of the Reformation and exemplified in the attitudes and actions of the Reformers.

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

(CEN) The Rev Peterson Feital –A pioneering ministry to the country’s Creatives

He is known as the ”˜Red Carpet Curate’, but the ministry of the Rev Peterson Feital is far more significant than the tabloid nickname would suggest.

Last year he was appointed the first Missioner to the Creative Industries by the Diocese of London. It was just the latest of innovative new appointments that is being made by the Church of England as it seeks out new mission opportunities.

But what does this post of Missioner really entail? Sitting in the heart of Soho, he told me about the vision he has for his strategic role. Surrounded by creatives on every side ”“ London’s arts and media specialists contribute over £70 billion a year to the UK economy ”“ he is very aware of the unusual environment in which he finds himself.

The people he has in his patch include film-makers, actors, designers, advertising executives and many other professionals. But their lifestyles are rather different to the people around them.

Read it all (may require subscription).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Art, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays, Urban/City Life and Issues