Daily Archives: December 19, 2016

(CC) Philip Jenkins–A Christian governor in Jakarta

The world’s largest Islam­ic nation is Indonesia, where Muslims represent a large majority of a population of some 250 million. Christians make up about 10 percent of that number, and relations between the two faiths have on occasion been rocky. Matters reached their worst in the late 1990s, a time of economic crisis and the collapse of the long-standing military dictatorship. During the chaos, Christian minorities in regions like Sulawesi were subjected to ethnic cleansing and Chinese Chris­tians in major cities were targeted for violence and mass rape.

In large part, these crimes resulted from economic grievances””Chinese merchants were targeted as scape­goats. Active Islamist terror movements also appeared, with ties to al-Qaeda. For some years, Indo­nesia seemed to epitomize Muslim-Christian tensions at their most alarming.
Subsequently, conditions have improved enormously, or rather, reverted to traditional norms of tolerance. Although Christians must be very cautious about any attempts at evan­gelism, congregations worship openly, and Indonesia is now home to some spectacular megachurches.

The most encouraging man­i­festation of improved attitudes is Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is commonly known by his Chinese nickname, Ahok. Since 2014, Ahok has been governor of the nation’s capital, Jakarta, a city with a population of 10 million, with some 30 million in the larger metropolitan region.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Indonesia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Yorkshire Post Q and A w Archbp John Sentamu on his favourite people and places

What’s your favourite part of the county ”“ and why? That is a bit like asking a parent ”˜Which is your favourite child?’ Whether it is the glorious beaches of the east coast, the stunning countryside of the moors, the Dales and the Wolds, or the vibrancy of the cities like Hull, Leeds, Sheffield and Middlesbrough, Yorkshire really does have something for everyone. What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, out in Yorkshire? Every day starts with a prayer. A perfect one would have to include spending some time with my family, and also getting out to explore some of the hidden corners of this amazing county. As many of you probably know, I love my cooking, and Yorkshire has some fantastic produce, so maybe a little time in the kitchen? Do you have a favourite walk ”“ or view? This year I spent six months walking the Diocese of York as part of my Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing and each step offered something different ”“ whether it was the beauty of Thixendale, the rugged expanse of the North York Moors, or coming around a corner and catching sight of an iconic structure like the Humber Bridge or York Minster. Fabulous.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE)

The ES profiles the Rev Canon Dr Alison Joyce, rector of St Bride’s

What do you collect?

Back issues of Private Eye. Members of my congregation tend to feature in it quite regularly so it’s helpful to be able to keep tabs on them.

First thing you do when you arrive back in London?

Go to the Millennium Bridge, with it’s fabulous views of the city ”” ancient and new….

What would you do as Mayor for the day?

Raise awareness levels of child poverty, which in some areas is really quite shocking.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Guardian) Meet the vicar who’s swapping the sacristy for the surgery

For rector Sarah Lunn, it’s only a stone’s throw from the small sandstone church of St James to the purpose-built surgery in the tiny Cumbrian village of Temple Sowerby where she often meets troubled parishioners referred to her by one of two GPs.

Lunn, who looks after 12 agricultural parishes nestling between the Lake District fells and the Pennines from her home base at Long Marton, is not at the surgery to talk to patients about Jesus, but simply to listen to whatever they feel they need to get off their chest ”“ and at the same time take the pressure off struggling local primary health services.

The GP practice run by doctors Jo Thompson and Helen Jervis is up against it ”“ like many others in Cumbria ”“ because it is two doctors down and can’t attract anyone else to replace them, despite the beauty of the area.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(1st Things) Gabriel Reynolds–The Crisis of Christians in Egypt

On Monday, December 12, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi walked alongside the Coptic Pope Tawadros (Theodore) II at the funeral procession for victims of the bombing that had killed at least twenty-five people at the chapel of St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo the day before. At the funeral, Sisi announced that the government had identified the suicide bomber, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahmoud Shafik Mostafa, and arrested four other people””three men and one woman””in connection with the attack. He also had strong words of condemnation: “Those who commit acts such as this do not belong to Egypt at all, even if they are on its land.”

This series of events was strangely similar to what had taken place almost six years ago in another Egyptian city. In the early morning of January 1, 2011, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the midst of a large crowd of worshippers who were leaving al-Qiddissin Church in Alexandria. Twenty-three people died. Soon thereafter, President Hosni Mubarak appeared on state television to condemn the attack: “The blood of their martyrs in Alexandria mixed to tell us all that all Egypt is the target and that blind terrorism does not differentiate between a Copt and a Muslim.”

Much has changed in Egypt since 2011. Mubarak is no longer in office. He was ousted by a peaceful popular uprising a little over a month after the Alexandria attack. Mohamed Morsi””the Muslim Brotherhood”“backed candidate who became the first democratically elected president of Egypt in 2012””has come and gone. He was ousted by a coup d’état led by Sisi in 2013. Sisi is still in power, having won an “election” (with 97 percent of the vote), and he has aggressively opposed his rivals, notably the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet with all of these developments, one thing has not changed: Attacks against Christians have continued.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(TLC) Is Anglicanism Growing or Dying? Statistics, the C of E, and the Anglican Communion

Overall, there has been significant decline in English Anglicanism since 1980, but limited growth as well. Between 1980 and 2013 the number of members on the electoral roll (a loose list of those who are church members) dropped by 41 percent and usual Sunday attendance dropped by 37 percent. The number of infants being baptised remains large, but is now decidedly a minority of the birth cohort (around 20%). All dioceses, apart from London, have shrunk in recent years. But the decline is highly varied. Dioceses farthest from London, such as Truro and Durham, have tended to decline fastest. In both cases, their usual Sunday attendance has halved between 1990 and 2014.

But such broad-brush figures about England conceal as well as reveal. The Diocese of London, having declined in the 1980s, saw its adult membership rise by over 70 percent between 1990 and 2010, rebounding back to where it was around 1980. It is unclear to what extent London is an outlier or a harbinger of the future. All other dioceses have seen their electoral roll fall in that time, most by substantial amounts. Below are the “top five” dioceses measured by electoral roll in 2013, compared with 1990. This measure has its flaws, but the picture it presents is backed up by other data.

Read it all from David Goodhew.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Evangelism and Church Growth, Globalization, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Daily Mail Article on what MAY be the next incremental step in the C of E on same-sex marriage

Under current Church rules, gay clergy wanting to enter into civil partnerships are required to assure their bishops they will remain celibate ”“ in line with traditional Church teaching that sex is only permitted within heterosexual marriage.
Such clergy also have to make similar official assurances to their archbishop before they can be promoted to the rank of bishop.
But sources said the bishops could now call for the rule to be scrapped so that clerics living with same-sex partners would no longer have to make a solemn vow.
They would still be expected to remain celibate.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Great O's of Advent to Begin the Day

O Wisdom, that camest out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from one end to another, firmly and gently ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of understanding.

O Adonai, Captain of the house of Israel, who didst appear to Moses in the flame of the burning bush, and gavest him the law on Sinai: Come and deliver us with thine outstretched arm.

O Root of Jesse, who standest for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall shut their mouths, to whom the nations shall seek: Come and deliver us and tarry not.

O Key of David, Sceptre of the house of Israel, who openest and no man shutteth, and shuttest and no man openeth: Come and bring forth out of the prison-house him that is bound.

O Day-spring from on high, Brightness of Eternal Light, and Sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

O King of nations, thou for whom they long, the Cornerstone that makest both one: Come and save thy creatures whom thou didst fashion from the dust of the earth.

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of all nations and their Saviour: Come and save us, O Lord our God.

(for those interested in more about this, please read further there).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to thee, when my heart is faint. Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I; for thou art my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in thy tent for ever! Oh to be safe under the shelter of thy wings!

–Psalm 61:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Atlantic) Samuel Tadros–The Actual War on Christians; Egypt's Copts are under attack

Little could dampen the enthusiasm of 13-year-old Tony Atef as he wore his soccer outfit and headed to Egypt’s most successful club, Al Ahly, to partake in the team’s junior soccer tryouts. After Tony scored two goals, a coach approached him, asking for his name to record among those accepted. But his dream of making the team died quickly, when the coach noticed the small tattoo of a cross on his wrist. Tony was quickly sent home. There would be no place for a Coptic Christian on an Egyptian soccer team.

Tony’s case soon went viral, after his brother took to social media to decry bigotry and discrimination. Embarrassed, the club invited Tony for another tryout, but it was too late. Similar stories soon emerged of other Coptic kids being rejected by other soccer teams. A newspaper pointed out that there wasn’t a single Copt among the league’s top 540 players. In fact, there had been only five Copts among the league’s players in the last few decades, and some of them spoke out about the discrimination they faced.

During Mass this past Sunday, an Islamic State suicide bomber made his way inside St. Peter and St. Paul’s Coptic Church in Cairo and detonated his bomb, leaving 25 people, mostly women, dead. The bombing, the deadliest since the 2010 New Year’s Eve bombing of the Two Saints Church in Alexandria, drew swift condemnations from governments around the world. But as much as such attacks remind the world of the plight of Copts, it is their daily encounter with discrimination and persecution that poses the greatest threat to their future.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Middle East, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(AJ) Quebec Anglican bishop goes on medical leave

On December 13, Bishop Dennis Drainville, of the diocese of Quebec, announced that he will “step aside” from episcopal ministry for an unspecified period of time due to health reasons, and that Coadjutor Bishop Bruce Myers will serve as commissary in the interim.

In a letter to his diocese, Drainville, 62, says that “as the months have passed it has been increasingly difficult to continue to put in the hours and continue travelling throughout the diocese,” and that his doctor has recommended he take this action.

While the letter does not disclose the nature of Drainville’s medical leave, in an interview with the Anglican Journal earlier in December, he said that he was suffering from an undiagnosed degenerative illness.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

In Pennsylvania, One R Catholic congregation of former Anglicans is seeing growth

St. John the Baptist Parish was formed through the merger of two smaller local congregations that broke away from the Episcopal Church because of concerns about changes within their denomination: St. Michael the Archangel, which worshiped in Philadelphia’s Mount Airy section and Blessed John Henry Newman, which worshiped in Wayne.

Last year the St. John’s community arranged for a lease to purchase the former Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, an Italian personal parish in Bridgeport, which had merged into Sacred Heart Parish in nearby Swedesburg in 2014.

Father David Ousley, the pastor of St. John the Baptist, expects arrangements for the purchase will be finalized in the near future. His congregation, which has about 100 members, is financially stable and he expects further growth.

“Our primary focus is Catholicity for Anglicans who see a need for it,” he said. “Usually they see a need for the sacraments or the need for sound and concrete teaching.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

On this day in Christian History–Dorothy Sayers was Born

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Books, Church History, England / UK, History, Theology, Women

(Economist) Divorce is on the rise in China

With his slick navy suit, silver watch and non-stop smoking, Yu Feng is an unlikely ambassador for Chinese family values. The office from which he operates, in Chongqing in western China, looks more like a sitting room, with grey sofas, cream curtains and large windows looking out on the city’s skyscrapers. Women visit him here and plead for help. They want him to persuade their husbands to dump their mistresses.

Mr Yu worked in family law and then marriage counselling before starting his business in 2007. He charges scorned wives 100,000-500,000 yuan ($15,000-75,000); cases usually take 7-8 months. He befriends both the two-timing husband and the mistress, encouraging them to find fault with each other, and gradually reveals that he has messed up his own life by being unfaithful. Most clients are in their 30s and early 40s. “This is the want, buy, get generation,” he says; sex is a part of China’s new materialism. But changing sexual mores and a rocketing divorce rate have prompted soul-searching about the decline of family ties. Mr Yu claims a 90% success rate.

The ernai, literally meaning “second wife”, is increasingly common. So many rich men indulge that Chinese media sometimes blame extramarital relationships for helping to inflate property prices: some city apartment complexes are notorious for housing clusters of mistresses, paid for by their lovers, who often provide a living allowance too.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Children, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Sociology, Theology

Terry Mattingly: Tom Oden's pilgrimage into ancient Christianity

This [Will] Herberg challenge radically affected Oden’s work in the 1970s, as he evolved from backing an edgy liberalism to spreading an ecumenical approach to orthodoxy in shelves of books. Oden kept publishing into the final years of his life, until his Dec. 8 death at the age of 85. “Here was a guy who — until his mid-40s — had been a success on that career track in the contemporary academy,” said Seamands. Oden had a Yale University doctorate and thrived in an era “built on the idea that new is better and that you looked down on anything old. You were supposed to idealize whatever people called the latest thing. That’s how you got ahead.”

In the 1950s, Oden embraced Marxism, existentialism and the demythologization of Scripture. He was an early leader among Christians supporting abortion rights. In the 1960s he plunged into transactional analysis, Gestalt therapy, parapsychology and what, in one of my first encounters with him, he called “mild forms of the occult.”

As he dug into early church writings from the ancient East and West, Oden came to the conclusion that “I had been in love with heresy.” In a 2012 interview with Good News magazine, Oden explained: “My basic question early on in the 1970s was, is the Resurrection really just an idea or is it a fact of history? … Did this Jesus rise from the dead? Not symbolically, not just as a fragile memory of the earliest Christian rememberers, not just as an ever-questionable matter of fallible human remembering, but did Jesus actually rise from the dead. And finally, I did believe. And that changed my life.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology