Monthly Archives: November 2016

I interviewed the OSU attacker on the 1st day of school; It felt important. Now its chilling

When I introduced myself, Artan initially seemed surprised. It was his actual first day of classes at Ohio State, as he had just transferred to one of the largest college campuses in the country from a community college nearby. But he opened up quickly. He was soft-spoken, in a slightly accented voice, and friendly.

In a 20-minute, wide-ranging conversation, Artan told me about his major in logistics management. He told me about his family fleeing Somalia when he was about 10 years old ”” including fuzzy memories of his native, war-torn land ”” and then about living for years in Pakistan and how much he enjoyed it. He bemoaned what he felt were western misconceptions about Pakistan: “It’s not like people believe.” He told me about his family’s journey once they got to the United States just a few years earlier, first spending some time in Dallas before coming to Columbus, which has a large and vibrant Somali expat community.

Artan spoke calmly but seriously about his acute awareness of what he saw as major American misconceptions about Islam, his religion. From memory, he ticked off examples of Islamophobia that garnered media attention, such as the police being summoned because a man in Avon, Ohio, was speaking Arabic in a parking lot or when a college student was removed from a plane after he said “Inshallah” in a phone conversation with his uncle.

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Education, Media, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence, Young Adults

Are Chip and Joanna Gaines ”˜Cultural Heretics’ for attending a tradtnl sexual ethic church?

Cosmopolitan and Buzzfeed recently discovered that the church Chip and Joanna Gaines attend, Antioch Community Church, is led by a pastor who does not support same-sex marriage and who believes that homosexual practice is a sin. In other words, Chip and Joanna Gaines attend a historically Christian congregation on the matter of sexual ethics.

Now, not all Christians will agree with some of the statistics cited by the Gaines’ pastor, his linking homosexuality in most cases to abuse, or his portrayal of the “gay lifestyle.” But there is nothing newsworthy about a Christian church teaching that male-female marriage is God’s original design and that newly invented definitions fall short of God’s intention for human flourishing.

What is newsworthy is the religious undertone of the Cosmopolitan article. It reads like a heresy hunt. The magazine has “uncovered something many fans will likely want an explanation for””a startling revelation that has left many wondering where Chip and Jo stand.”

Buzzfeed is seeking clarification from HGTV, hoping (apparently) to hear the Gaines recant their pastor’s heretical beliefs. Until then “their silence speaks volumes.”

Read it all from TGC.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Time) Penelope Wang-The Next President’s Financial Imperative: Fixing Social Security

Today some 60% of Americans age 65 or older rely on Social Security for 50% or more of their family income”“the average payment is a modest $1,300 a month. For some 33% of families, the benefit makes up 90% to 100% of their income.

There’s a lot at stake for the overall federal budget as well, since entitlement programs are grabbing a larger and larger overall share of federal expenditures. Social Security alone accounts for $1 out of every $4 spent, and Medicare and Medicaid spending make up another 25%. Together these entitlement programs account for most of the future growth in spending, not including interest payments on debt, says MacGuineas.

The surge in Social Security spending is chiefly driven by the aging of the U.S. population. The leading edge of the baby-boom generation of 75 million began heading into retirement just as Obama took office. Back in 2009, the nation’s worker-to-retiree ratio stood at 3.0 to 1. Today, with more boomers having exited the workforce, the ratio has dropped to 2.8 to 1, and by 2035 it is projected to shrink to 2.1 to 1.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Social Security, The U.S. Government, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Andrew

Almighty God, who didst give such grace to thine apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of thy Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give unto us, who are called by thy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; 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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Euchologium Anglicanum

O Lord God, author of our salvation, who desirest that all men should live in Christ Jesus: Grant that we may begin this new year in our spiritual life knowing our need to increase our faith and to enlarge our repentance; assist us in thy mercy to live as in a state of grace, and to regard this life as part of our eternal inheritance; grant that difficulties may not overthrow us nor temptations defeat us, but that we may go forward on our journey through this life in the spirit of courage and godliness; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

–Isaiah 2:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Look Back to 2013–Bob Mayo–The End of the Traditional Parish

Read it all from the CEN.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Telegraph) Theresa May says her Christian faith helps her make difficult decisions

In a revealing personal interview with the Sunday Times, Mrs May confessed that the Brexit debate is keeping her awake at night, but that her faith was guiding her decision making.

She said that while the issues were “really complex” she is also “very conscious” that the government needs to get on with delivering a deal for Britain.

She said: “Well, it is a moment of change. It is a hugely challenging time. And we need to get on with the deal in terms of Brexit. And I’m very conscious of that. I want to make sure that everything we do ensures Britain is a country that works for everyone.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

Roman Catholic and Anglican churches slam Andrews government over treatment of young offenders

Melbourne’s Catholic and Anglican archbishops have condemned the Andrews government’s imprisonment of teenagers in “the harshest of adult prison settings”, warning that teen offenders’ welfare and chances of rehabilitation are at risk.

Catholic Archbishop Denis Hart and his Anglican counterpart Philip Freier have taken the “unusual step” of writing a joint letter to Mr Andrews offering to boost chaplaincy and pastoral care services to “the most vulnerable and impressionable children” in the care of the state as the youth justice crisis deepens.

Earlier this month rioting teen inmates damaged the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre at Parkville. In response, Premier Daniel Andrews’ government moved some inmates to the maximum security Barwon Prison, making “no apology” for the plan.

Read it all from The Age.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

(Christian Today) Is the BBC in danger of failing to take Religion seriously?

A senior BBC presenter has criticised the corporation’s attitude to religious programming in a rare intervention by an insider.

Roger Bolton of Radio 4’s Feedback says: “Just six months after the Archbishop of Canterbury called in these very pages for broadcasters to take religion seriously, it seems the BBC is doing anything but.”

Bolton spoke out after the BBC decided to drop the post of Head of Religion and place corporate responsiblity for religion and ethics under Factual Scotland “to simplify the existing mangement structure”. James Purnell, the former Labour minister who is head of radio and education at the BBC, is to take responsibility for religion as part of his remit.

Writing in the Radio Times, Bolton says this will threaten the coverage of religion on the BBC.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Media, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Church Times) Fresh Expressions shakes off critics

The Church of England is finally acknowledging the significance of Fresh Expressions, a national conference of 600 participants heard on Saturday.

The event, Catching Sight, hosted by the diocese of Leicester, was designed to take stock of the movement, which dates back to 2004 and has registered 3400 different groups. It has a parallel in pioneer ministry.

Canon George Lings, director of the Church Army Research Unit, took a Screwtape approach to demonstrate the unwillingness of the inherited Church to accept the positive findings of reports such as The Day of Small Things and From Anecdote to Evidence.

This manifested itself, he suggested, in everything from ignoring the reports, to complacency ”” “Cathedrals now sing Graham Kendrick songs so we know we’re up to date” ”” and ridicule: “Five Christians meeting at a bus stop, so it must be a Fresh Expressions church.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(GAFCON) Peter Jensen–Beware when Words are Used as Weapons in the debate over sexual ethics

There have always been examples of unkind attitudes, bullying and discrimination towards people who appear to be, or who identify as, homosexual, just as there has always been racism, snobbery and other ugly traits. Sadly, Christians have sometimes been guilty of this, and in doing so we are failing to follow the way of Christ.

However, in recent years the accusation of ”˜homophobia’ has been levelled not just at these unkind attitudes towards gay people, but also reasoned biblical convictions about problems associated with homosexual practice, and any expression of concern about the power and intolerance of pressure groups. We are told that no matter how compassionate a person is towards gay people, if we do not fully embrace the goodness of the gay identity and lifestyle we are homophobes. We are said to rely on irrational feelings and thoughts to reject and damage homosexual people.

You cannot argue your way out of such a moral judgement. You are not being accused of using bad arguments to support a case, but of reacting viscerally in an immoral and damaging way.

Not surprisingly, in the West in particular, those who wish to argue for a traditional sexual ethic have been intimidated by the word.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Joshua Ryan Butler–Evangelism, Without the Weird Aftertaste

You write that evangelism “trades in stories more than propositions.” What do you mean?

I’m not against truth propositions. But stories are important for a couple reasons. First, Christian faith is a story: the work of God through creation, the fall of humanity, and the establishing of a people, out of whom come the Messiah and redemption.

Second, this approach makes space for people to engage their own richly textured life stories. How do we acknowledge that, honor it, and reframe it in this larger narrative of who God is and how he operates?

Third, stories better prepare us for a life of discipleship, not least because they allow room for emphasis on joy. With propositions, it’s easy to get moralistic: “Here’s what we need to believe, so here’s how we need to act.” There’s certainly a moral life that flows out from following Jesus, but we need to guard against moralism, where morals become an idol.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

Tuesday Morning Encouragement–this NFL Star Traded Football Field for the Farm Field

Former NFL player Jason Brown was earning millions of dollars on the gridiron but, at the height of his career, he left it all behind to pursue a wildly-different life on the farm focused on giving.

Watch it all from NBC. For those interested, there is more there.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Sports, Stewardship, Theology

(New Statesman) Rowan Williams–Mass democracy has failed ”“ it's time to seek a humane alternative

The problem is deeper. Trump’s campaign succeeded in spite of the cast-iron demonstrations of his total indifference to truth (not to mention decency). It has offered not a connected strategy for national reconstruction, but an incoherent series of crowd-pleasing postures; as if Trump’s real aim was not to do anything as president but simply to be president, to be the most important man in the Western world. This election represents a divorce between the electoral process and the business of political decision-making. It is the ersatz politics of mass theatre, in which what matters most is the declaration of victory.

As such, it is the most cynical betrayal of those who are disenfranchised. It confirms that they have no part in real political processes; they can only choose their monarch. They have become detached from the work of politics by the erosion of liberties and economic opportunities ”“ one reason why there is such pressure to displace this on to a feverish defence of archaic “freedoms” such as gun ownership, and on to whatever scapegoated minority can be held responsible for unemployment or general insecurity.

The politics of mass democracy has failed. It has been narrowed down to a mechanism for managing large-scale interests in response to explicit and implicit lobbying by fabulously well-resourced commercial and financial concerns (ironically, one of the things that Trump has undertaken to change). The 2008 financial crisis sent a tremor through that world but failed to change its workings. The effect has been a growing assumption that what goes on in public political debate does not represent any voices other than the privileged and self-interested. And so, for significant parts of a population, “theatrical” politics comes to look like the only option: a dramatic articulation of the problems of powerlessness, for which the exact details of economic or social reality are irrelevant. This delivers people into the hands of another kind of dishonest politics: the fact-free manipulation of emotion by populist adventurers.

Read it all.

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

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, America/U.S.A., Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Office of the President, Politics in General, Theology